Canva Business Model: An Examination of Freemium

At the crux of Canva’s successful venture in the tech industry is its innovative application of the ‘freemium’ business model. This model is essentially Canva’s primary strategy for revenue generation.

The freemium model in Canva’s context provides users with an array of basic features at no cost. Simultaneously, it charges for advanced features, effectively creating a “free-to-play, pay-to-win” dynamic.

The underlying rationale is that users who appreciate the platform’s value from the free version will upgrade to the premium version to access enhanced features and tools.

Canva Freemium Model: The Tiers

Canva’s freemium model is split into three distinct tiers: Free Users, Canva Pro, and Canva for Enterprise.

  • Free Users: This category of users has access to a wide variety of features such as more than 8,000 templates, free images, and basic design tools. It is the entry point for new users and serves as a gateway to the paid services;
  • Canva Pro: Canva Pro, priced at $9.95 per user per month (billed annually), offers a wider range of features such as the brand kit, magic resize, unlimited storage, and access to over 60 million premium stock images, videos, graphics, and much more;
  • Canva for Enterprise: This tier, custom priced for larger teams or businesses, includes everything in Canva Pro plus additional features like built-in workflows, team controls, and 24/7 enterprise-level support.

Canva Freemium Model Tiers

Free UsersFreeOver 8,000 templates, free images, and basic design tools
Canva Pro$9.95 per user/month (billed annually)Everything in Free Users plus brand kit, magic resize, unlimited storage, over 60 million premium stock images, videos, graphics, and more
Canva for EnterpriseCustom priceEverything in Canva Pro plus built-in workflows, team controls, and 24/7 enterprise-level support

Revenue Streams: The Pillars of Canva Monetization

The freemium model serves as the foundation of Canva’s business model. However, there are other important revenue channels that contribute to Canva’s bottom line.

Subscription Fees

Canva’s primary source of income is derived from subscription fees. The company offers two main subscription plans: Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise. Users who opt for these plans pay monthly or annual fees, contributing a substantial portion to Canva’s overall revenue.

Subscription Plans

  • Canva Pro: This subscription plan is designed for individual users, including professionals, freelancers, and small businesses. It provides access to advanced features, additional design elements, and enhanced collaboration tools. The Canva Pro subscription can be purchased on a monthly or annual basis;
  • Canva for Enterprise: This subscription plan caters to larger organizations and businesses with more extensive design needs. It offers additional features tailored for team collaboration, brand consistency, and workflow management. The Canva for Enterprise subscription is available on a per-user basis and is billed either monthly or annually.

Pricing Structure

The subscription fees for both Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise vary based on the chosen billing cycle (monthly or annual) and the number of users (for Canva for Enterprise). Canva’s pricing structure is designed to accommodate the needs of different users and organizations. The following table outlines the pricing details:

Canva Pro:

Billing CyclePrice (USD)

Canva for Enterprise:

UsersMonthly Price per User (USD)Annual Price per User (USD)
101+Custom PricingCustom Pricing

Revenue Contribution

Subscription fees constitute a significant portion of Canva’s overall revenue. The consistent and recurring nature of subscription payments provides a stable income stream for the company.

These fees contribute to Canva’s continuous investment in product development, customer support, and platform improvements, ensuring a high-quality user experience for subscribers.

On-Demand Purchases

In addition to subscription fees, Canva generates revenue from on-demand purchases. This revenue stream allows users to purchase individual graphic elements that are not included in the free version of the platform.

These elements typically include premium images, illustrations, icons, and other design assets that users can incorporate into their projects.

Benefits of On-Demand Purchases

  • Access to Exclusive Content: On-demand purchases give users the opportunity to access a wide range of premium and exclusive graphic elements that are not available in the free version of Canva. These elements often include high-quality images and illustrations that can enhance the visual appeal of designs;
  • Flexibility: Users have the flexibility to choose and purchase only the specific elements they need for their projects. This allows for greater customization and ensures that users are only paying for the assets they require.

Purchasing Process

When using Canva, users can easily browse through the available on-demand graphic elements. These elements are typically categorized based on different themes, styles, or types. Users can then select the specific elements they want to purchase and proceed to the checkout process.

The pricing for on-demand purchases varies depending on the type and quality of the graphic elements.

Revenue Contribution

On-demand purchases contribute to Canva’s overall revenue by offering users the option to enhance their designs with premium graphic elements. The availability of exclusive content and the convenience of purchasing individual elements attract users who require specific assets for their projects but may not need a full subscription plan.

By catering to these users, Canva diversifies its revenue sources and expands its customer base.


Although not the primary source of revenue for Canva, advertising still plays a role in the company’s financial ecosystem. Canva offers brands and businesses the opportunity to promote their services or products through advertising on its platform, leveraging its extensive user base.

Benefits of Advertising on Canva

  • Wide User Base: Canva boasts a large and diverse user base, including professionals, freelancers, and small businesses. Advertising on Canva allows brands to reach a broad audience and potentially connect with their target customers;
  • Creative Opportunities: Canva’s design platform provides advertisers with various creative tools and templates to design engaging and visually appealing ads. This enables businesses to showcase their offerings in a visually compelling manner and effectively communicate their brand message.

Advertising Options

Canva offers multiple advertising options for businesses to promote their products or services on the platform. These options include:

  • Sponsored Content: Brands can collaborate with Canva to create sponsored content that is seamlessly integrated into the user experience. This can involve sponsored templates, design elements, or curated content that aligns with the brand’s objectives;
  • Display Ads: Canva provides display ad spaces within its platform where businesses can showcase their advertisements. These ads can be strategically placed to capture users’ attention while they are creating or browsing designs;
  • Targeted Promotions: Canva leverages user data and behavior to offer targeted advertising opportunities. Brands can target specific user segments based on demographics, interests, or design preferences, ensuring their ads are seen by the most relevant audience.

Revenue Contribution

While not the primary revenue source, advertising contributes to Canva’s overall income. By offering advertising opportunities to brands and businesses, Canva generates revenue streams from advertising fees and partnerships.

This additional revenue diversifies Canva’s income sources and supports the company’s ongoing investments in product development and platform enhancements.

Partnerships and Collaborations

Canva’s strategic collaborations with other businesses and software applications play a significant role in expanding the capabilities of the platform and generating additional income streams.

Through these partnerships, Canva integrates services and functionalities into its platform, resulting in mutually beneficial relationships and revenue-sharing opportunities.

Benefits of Partnerships

  • Enhanced Functionality: Collaborations enable Canva to offer users access to additional features and tools that are integrated seamlessly within the platform. These partnerships expand the capabilities of Canva, providing users with a more comprehensive design experience;
  • Extended Reach: Partnerships with established brands or software applications allow Canva to tap into new user bases and reach a wider audience. By integrating with popular tools or services, Canva increases its visibility and attracts new users who may not have previously been familiar with the platform.

Types of Partnerships

Canva engages in various types of partnerships and collaborations with businesses and software applications. These partnerships can involve:

  • Integration Partnerships: Canva integrates its design platform with other software applications, allowing users to access Canva’s design tools directly within those applications. Examples include integrations with productivity tools, project management platforms, or social media management software;
  • Content Partnerships: Canva collaborates with content providers to offer users a diverse range of high-quality design elements, such as images, illustrations, and templates. These partnerships ensure that users have access to a vast library of content to enhance their designs;
  • Brand Partnerships: Canva forms strategic alliances with well-known brands to offer co-branded design templates or exclusive content. These partnerships leverage the brand recognition and expertise of both parties to deliver unique and engaging design options to users.

Revenue Contribution

Partnerships and collaborations form an additional income stream for Canva. The specific revenue structure varies based on the nature of each partnership. Revenue-sharing agreements or fixed fee arrangements are typically established, allowing Canva to monetize the integrated services and functionalities.

These partnerships contribute to Canva’s overall financial success and support the company’s continuous growth and innovation.

Canva Growth Strategies: Expanding the User Base and Enhancing Retention

Canva’s impressive growth curve is due to its well-implemented strategies that target both individual users and businesses. The company’s strategies revolve around two core aspects: user acquisition and retention, and business acquisition and retention.

User Acquisition and Retention

The following factors play a crucial role in acquiring and retaining individual users:

  • Simplicity and User-Friendliness: Canva’s design platform is highly intuitive and easy to navigate, which appeals to new users and encourages them to continue using the service;
  • Constant Innovation: By regularly introducing new features and improving existing ones, Canva ensures that its product remains appealing and relevant in the rapidly evolving digital space;
  • Community Building: Canva has a strong emphasis on building a vibrant and engaged community. It frequently organizes webinars, tutorials, and design challenges to keep its user base active and engaged.

Business Acquisition and Retention

The strategies for acquiring and retaining businesses differ from those for individual users:

  • Integration: Canva’s compatibility with a wide array of apps and software means businesses can easily incorporate Canva into their existing workflows. This seamless integration is highly valued by businesses;
  • Custom Solutions: Canva for Enterprise provides businesses with tailored features specific to their needs. This personalized approach significantly enhances businesses’ productivity and efficiency;
  • Security and Support: By offering robust security measures and 24/7 support, Canva becomes an attractive option for businesses. This focus on security and support helps Canva stand out from its competitors.

Key Partnerships and Collaborations: A Competitive Edge

Beyond its primary revenue streams and growth strategies, Canva’s collaborations have played a critical role in its success. These partnerships not only bring in additional revenue but also enhance the platform’s offerings, thus making Canva more appealing to potential users.

One of Canva’s most strategic collaborations is with stock image providers such as Getty Images and Pixabay. This gives Canva users access to a vast library of high-quality images. Canva has also partnered with print and delivery companies to offer an integrated design-to-delivery solution for printed materials.

Moreover, Canva’s integration partnerships with platforms like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Instagram provide a seamless user experience. Users can directly import photos or save their designs to these platforms, thereby making Canva an integral part of their digital ecosystem.


Through a blend of strategic growth tactics, collaborative partnerships, and a carefully crafted freemium model, Canva has created a profitable and scalable business model. Its success is a testament to the power of combining user-centric design with smart business strategies.


What is Canva’s primary revenue source?

Canva’s primary revenue source is the subscription fees from its Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise users.

What are some of Canva’s key partnerships?

Canva has formed key partnerships with various companies, including stock image providers like Getty Images and Pixabay, print and delivery companies, and platforms like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Instagram.

How does Canva attract and retain its users?

Canva attracts and retains users by offering an intuitive and user-friendly platform, continually innovating, and building a vibrant community through webinars, tutorials, and design challenges.

What strategies does Canva use to attract and retain businesses?

Canva uses strategies like seamless integration with other apps and software, offering tailored solutions through Canva for Enterprise, and providing robust security measures and 24/7 support.

What are the different revenue streams for Canva?

Canva’s revenue streams include subscription fees, on-demand purchases of graphic elements, advertising, and income from partnerships and collaborations.