A few weeks ago I embarked on a new project, #ProjectDigitalSurvival. The goal of the project is to try to develop a website in Mailchimp with zero budget. The idea behind the project was really motivated by (1) my curiosity with Mailchimp's new website builder tool and how far we can test the limits of what’s possible in that system, and (2) the desire to develop a framework that anyone could adopt to develop something with little technical experience or very little money. Thus far in the project, I’ve been able to secure a domain name and host a new site, www.emanuellusca.com, for free for the next five years, set up a mass email system for free, configure a Square account on my site to sell products, and eliminate all merchant account processing fees.
On my journey to laying down a foundation to further develop and test, I have already discovered some limitations with the Mailchimp website builder. I’ve learned that custom scripting of any sort is not allowed, and I’ve learned that there are limitations to logo design and the image editing tool in Mailchimp’s Content Studio, primarily the inability for you to create an image from scratch. That was a big issue…
Naturally, my immediate reaction was to open Illustrator. Yet, with zero budget, and assuming the average user doesn’t know how to use Illustrator or Photoshop, I looked for alternatives. That’s when Canva came to the rescue!
Canva is a great program that anyone can access for free, no download necessary. With Canva I could develop new graphics from scratch, or use a template. Canva combined with imagery from Unsplash, unlocks your ability to create amazing images that can be used across your website, email campaigns, social posts, and even print for snail mail. Your options truly are endless.
The setup was simple. The first step was to go to your account in the top right corner in Mailchimp (where your name appears), then click Connect>Integration. On the Integrations page, you’ll find a variety of tools that truly unlock the power of your Mailchimp account. We will definitely explore more of this soon! For now, though, find the Canva integration, then click the Connect a New Site button.
A pop-up will display that will allow you to log into your Canva account. If you don’t have an account create a new account (remember it’s free!). Take a minute and explore. There is a lot Canva has to offer.
With the goal of creating a new logo in mind, in the main search bar under “Desing Anything”, I typed Logo and selected the logo template. From there, the design editor displayed and provided a variety of options that I could use to start my design.
I started with a predefined template, added my text “Digital Survivalist”, and played with the transparency of the hashtag mark in the background. I added my domain name below in smaller text. The idea was to include a reference to the website so that I can reuse the logo as a watermark in other marketing assets in the future. Take, for example, the main image at the top of this Medium story.
With the logo completed, it was time to save the logo in the Mailchimp Content Studio. Canva makes this super simple. Click on Publish in the top right corner. In the search box that displays, type in Mailchimp, then type in Save. The first time I tried this, I had to resync my accounts and enter in my Mailchimp username and password, but once that was reentered, I was set. At that point, I could have called it quits, but I was unhappy with the lack of a transparent background. Logos should have a transparent background to maximize the versatility of your logo and its placement in various types of content. To resolve the transparency problem, I pressed the download icon next to the publish button, check the transparent background option, and downloaded it to my computer. I then uploaded the transparent version and cropped using the native image editor tool in Mailchimp.
The next step was to place the logo on my website. In the header section of your website template, Mailchimp forces you to place your logo in the left top corner. The primary navigation menu is placed to the right of the page. To add your logo to your site, click on the styles option then upload your logo.
Once you have your logo placed, you have some options, to adjust its position, and to add a link to it. Those settings are all available by clicking on the logo. The image properties will display in the right pane. Click on the item labeled Link and enter in your domain name.
I now have an awesome logo highlighted on my website. Check it out on emanuellusca.com. Best of all, I have an awesome tool integrated with Mailchimp that will allow me to continue developing new imagery across all my marketing efforts.