Adobe InDesign is one of the 3 main software programs in the Adobe Create Suite. It’s a powerful tool used by professional designers to create designs that involve two main components — multiple pages and a lot of text.
It's also a massive program with a huge learning curve, and it’s not uncommon for designers to be afraid to even open it. But once you become familiar with the program and all the features it has to offer, it can be a powerful tool to have in your arsenal for both client and internal work.
Here are 4 reasons to start using Adobe InDesign for your business, and one great way to learn — plus a free download at the end that I think will help you see how to best use Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign for a variety of projects. Let’s dive in!
1 | Knowing InDesign is an added value to your clients and an asset to your business
Many designers are afraid to open InDesign, let alone design in it. If you’re one of those, what do you do when a client needs a project completed that calls for InDesign? What do you do when you have an idea for a new product or offering, but you know it will require InDesign to make it happen?
Instead of trying to piece it together in a word processor or free design software, knowing InDesign will give you confidence in what you’re producing for yourself or your client.
There are a lot of great free resources out there for creating graphics for your blog or business, and these can be a good avenue for beginners. But as your business grows and matures, there comes a time when professional design software will be the next step.
I’ll give you an example. If you hired someone to build a house for you, and they showed up to the job site with a kid’s playset of tools, you’d be a little worried about who you hired, right? Don’t do that to your clients. Show up for the job with the best quality tools, and a working knowledge of industry standards. This adds value to the service you’re selling — no matter what industry you’re in.
2 | Use InDesign to streamline your internal business documents and promotions with your branding
You’ve probably heard it a million times by now — brand consistency is a very important part of your business. Keeping your brand consistent across all touch points and facets of your business or blog will help build trust with your audience. You want everything they see from you to be clearly from you.
InDesign can play an important role for this purpose. Even the most boring of documents can be beautifully designed and streamlined using InDesign, so your brand is always on-point. Documents like contracts, invoices, quotes, service guides, product catalogs, media kits, sponsorship / advertiser info, style guides, launch promotions, and portfolios can all be created with ease using InDesign.
Infusing your brand into these types of internal documents will tell your customer that you take your business seriously, and in return, they will too.
Here are some examples of internal business documents I’ve created for my own brand using InDesign:
3 | Use InDesign to create digital products to sell as passive income
One of my favorite things to use InDesign for is to create products to sell as passive income.
The term “passive income” is very popular right now and can sometimes get misunderstood. Once the work is done, then the income becomes passive — but it requires a lot of real work upfront to get there.
That’s where InDesign comes in. If you plan to diversify your streams of income by introducing some passive income products, InDesign will be a vital tool to have to create that. Using InDesign, you can create products like e-books, PDF guides, workbooks, worksheets, cheat sheets, printables, checklists, and complementary resources for larger digital products like membership e-courses, email courses, webinars or workshops.
If digital products are in the future of your business, I would highly suggest having a working knowledge of InDesign in your back pocket.
Here are a few examples of digital products I’ve created for myself and others using InDesign:
4 | Integrate InDesign with Photoshop and Illustrator for maximum impact and quality
Lastly, a common question I get about InDesign is about how it can work together with Photoshop and Illustrator.
Using InDesign in this way adds to it’s value and the quality of your work. Each of these 3 programs has it’s strength. Photoshop is best for photos and rendered graphics, but is not a good choice for text. Illustrator is best for illustration and vector graphics, but doesn’t handle photos well. InDesign can bring these two worlds together, plus allow for multiple pages, lots of text, and an overall streamlined look.
Using the linked files tool, you can place Photoshop or Illustrator files directly into your InDesign document.
For example, if you’re creating a brand board or style guide, you can create your brand’s patterns, textures, or photo treatments in Photoshop. Then you can place that file directly into your InDesign file by selecting File > Place.
This will open a window for you to select the file you’re wanting to link to.
Select your file from your computer, then click Open, and the places file appears in the shape or frame you had selected. InDesign accepts a wide variety of file types as links including the common PSD, AI, JPG, GIF, TIFF, PDF, PNG, and EPS.
If you have Illustrator files for your logo, icons, or other illustrations, simply place the linked Illustrator files for those in the same way.
From there, you can create your text and other shapes or lines in InDesign. This sounds like a lot of steps, but this will produce the highest quality outcome rather than just doing it all in Photoshop or Illustrator alone. InDesign lets each program stay within their strengths, while bringing them together to create one unit.
Knowing which program to use for which project can get confusing, so I’d love to give you a free cheat sheet pulled straight from my new e-course, The InDesign Field Guide. This cheat sheet explains when to use each Adobe program, what their strengths are, and a quick reference chart showing some common design projects and which program would best suit each one. Click here to download this free cheat sheet and start using it right away for your own projects.
To bring this all home, Adobe InDesign is a powerful tool that, if used correctly, can be a huge asset to your business in regards to both client work and internal work. It’s a huge program that has a wide array of features and tools. It can be scary to open, and maybe even scarier to start using it, but the value of the tools inside are worth it. If design is a big part of your business, you need to utilize InDesign.
About the Author
Kelsey Baldwin is the owner and designer at Paper + Oats, which is one-part branding + design services for digital products, and one-part online shop selling printable planners + organizers. Kelsey is a single mama to her little girl Poppy and crazy dog Cooper, and recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee. She loves helping creative small businesses put their best foot forward, so she’s launching an e-course in October called The InDesign Field Guide teaching you the ins and outs of InDesign so you can learn to use the program for your business or for client work. You can signup for an exclusive Elle & Co freebie pulled directly from the course right here.