(Link alert! I tried to make this post as awesome as possible, and sometimes I link to different places in my website and outside of it to show you what I mean. Oddly enough there are no affiliate links inside this post - but I do provide a fair amount of visual images as examples :) Happy Reading or Happy Listening Here!)
You know the expression ‘Everything but the kitchen sink’?
Well today we're talking about the Business Tool that you can not only use to design all your branding, social media graphics, and business collateral, but also make your PDF printables, eBooks, checklists, and digital goods.
What is it?
*fireworks* *balloons* *confetti* *spirit fingers* *jazz hands*
(that's right spirit fingers and jazz hands)
Why all the hoopla?
Well because this is honestly my favorite program in the world (though strangely enough AutoCad is a close second #throwbacktomycollegedays).
I first learned InDesign back in design school. I have a major in Interior Design with a minor in Architecture, so I pretty much did interior architecture for commercial spaces such as restaurants, boutiques, shops, and office spaces.
A big part of the program was all about presentation - how you built your models, rendered your interiors, and how you presented them on your design boards.
I pretty much fell in love with InDesign right away.
Ours was a simple lover's tell. We were introduced and then I spent all my spare time learning about it and all its little intricacies. I began to see all it's possibilities and it's potential - saw it in a light that others couldn't. I became know as the go to person in my program for all things InDesign. We were inseparable.
And we've been going steady ever since....
41 Reasons Why InDesign is The Best Design Tool for Your Business:
This will be the most versatile design tool for your business - especially if you plan to sale digital products, make printables, create social media graphics, or even design your own simple logo.
You see, the possibilities for this program are endless but to keep things short and sweet (haha, that’s laughable) I'll list 40+ of them now.
Ya know, just so you can get the gist:
For PDF Lead Magnets, Content Upgrades, or Email Opt-Ins
Whether you call them lead magnets, content upgrades, or email opt-ins, this perhaps the most important reason to use InDesign if you're a side hustler or business owner. Allow me to briefly explain.
Lead magnets are (usually) free resources that help attract your ideal customers and clients by sharing knowledge or breaking a process down into actionable steps, lists or visuals. Typically you give this resource in exchange for an email address, but I also have seen others use it to entice people to join their facebook group.
Content Upgrades are the same as lead magnets, only they’re more specific ‘upgrades’ to a particular piece of content like a blog post or podcast (see this one as an example). Again, this is usually in exchange for an email address.
Email Opt-Ins are the exact same thing as lead magnets - they just go by a different name. The point of both a lead magnet and an email opt-in (and a content upgrade) is to help build your email list, which is why you offer them in exchange for an email.
This is extremely important in the online business world as an email list the one place you’re able to consistently appear in front of your audience without worrying about social media algorithm changes.
And over the next few examples I'll explain some very common & useful lead magnets/content upgrades/email opt-ins that you can create using InDesign in addition to all the other amazing benefits that it has to offer.
Your can use printables to create helpful reminders, lists or pretty graphics. I create printables for my personal use and for the every day (and I'm looking to share those more with you here as I take you Inside My Hustle).
Printables can take any shape or form and I tend to use them as pretty graphics that either list or visually communicate what I’m trying to say very clearly. Common printables are about everyday tasks such as meal planning, cleaning charts, blog posts checklists, etc.
Something that may surprise you is not everyone prints a printable. But in InDesign you can quickly change a documents settings to maximize it for print (CMYK) or for web (RGB).
I love making checklists and recommend making them to every side hustler, as they can be applied and used in any business niche. I currently have travel and moving abroad checklists that I use as content upgrades for my YouTube videos on expat living. I’ve also sneaked them into other business resources I create to make them more useful as well.
And with InDesign you can make interactive checklists that allow you to check off items right on your computer screen - so you don’t even have to print them out! This adds extra value as people can begin to check off items as soon as they get the download while also providing a ‘green’ option as well.
3. Resource Guides
Resource guides are like mini eBooks that focus around one specific topic or idea (like this one here). They are meant to go a little deep on a topic rather than something that’s easily digestible like a checklist.
With InDesign I also will link to other helpful resources such as blog posts, recommended items, or useful outside sources through hyperlinks that readers can click on right within their computer screen or smartphone.
4. Comparison Charts
These are very useful for comparing lots of information or similar items. I use the table feature inside InDesign to make charts and play with the table settings to get it looking just the way I want.
You can check out my Side Hustle Starter Tools Comparison Chart (which compares Wordpress vs. Squarespace, Convertkit vs. Mailchimp, Wave vs. Freshbooks, etc.) as an example.
Workbooks are super versatile. These can be physical printed products for a live course or workshop or can be a digital download for an online course or webinar. Workbooks are at least a few pages in length and are meant to be used in conjunction with another resource, like a video or audio recording.
I make all my workbooks in InDesign using a template that I created once. Now I just duplicate it for each new workbook resource that I create. I then switch up the questions and adjust the layout as needed. I also optimize all my workbooks in InDesign so that you can ‘tab’ through them on your computer screen for easy typing.
6. Worksheets & Handouts
Worksheets and Handouts are like condensed workbooks that can stand alone without an additional resource like a course or webinar to supplement it. Some people even fondly refer to them as adult homework.
The nice thing about InDesign is that you can create fillable text boxes that people can type directly into on their screen - so once again they don’t have to print it out if they don’t want to.
7. Trackers, Roadmaps, & Flowcharts
Trackers, Roadmaps, and Flowcharts are visual ways to show progress and processes. In InDesign I make simple shapes for trackers, colored boxes for roadmaps, and easily create arrows with the line tool by adjusting the endpoint for flowcharts.
Physical & Digital Products
With InDesign you can create both Digital Products and Physical Products. You can also make any of the previous resources for sale as well (workbooks, resource guides, printables, etc.), but here are some common physical and digital products that people have definitely exchanged money for:
8. Published Books
While I have not used InDesign for this yet (though I definitely will one day), this is where professional books are created and formatted. InDesign allows you to create beautiful custom layouts and you can get as creative as you want (look at my Create a Biz on the Go Guide in my examples below) in order to help get your message across.
There are sooooo many tools in InDesign geared towards book making, but you can also keep it really simple and just use a template to get you started.
This is just like a physical book, only it comes in a digital format. But if you create an eBook in InDesign there are some other features that can be added that’s not possible in a physical book. These features can lead others back to your website or point them to additional resources that can help them out even further. Which brings us too...
10. Interactive eBooks
With an interactive eBook in InDesign you can add the previous features that we talked about in the Lead magnets section. You can add fillable text boxes, clickable text boxes, and hyperlinks to anywhere you want. You can even hyperlink within a document so readers can jump ahead to certain sections (I tend to do this on Table of Contents sections).
With InDesign’s interactive capabilities you can also add video and audio files directly inside a document - which is preeeetttyy awesome. I have yet to try this, but I definitely have it in mind for a future product...
11. Professional Magazines
This is what the pros use to create professional magazines. If you want to create beautiful editorial layouts this is the tool that you use. Remember magazines aren’t just for print anymore, they’re new ones popping up everyday online.
Think of combining an online magazine with the interactive capabilities that we just talked about and you could create a phenomenal monthly or quarterly experience for your readers.
12. Planners & Calendars
I make my own calendar templates for use in my side hustle & everyday life. Yes, I use them for personal use in addition to business use (because I’m low key obsessed with this program, if you haven’t already gathered).
In InDesign I can personalize calendars and planners around my life. I created a template once and just expand upon every time I want to switch things up. It’s like my own digital bullet journal :)
13. Recipe Cards & Cookbooks
Because of the ‘place’ and ‘frame’ features, InDesign makes it easy to create layouts filled with images and text. You can even create character styles (which I highly recommend and teach in my free InDesign course), that easily format layouts to save you time. Again this is what the pro designers use to create cookbooks and other image filled resources, so if you’re a food blogger this is something you may want to consider.
Social Media Graphics
I create ALL my social media graphics using InDesign (with the exception of a few Instagram posts). I set up a document to the dimensions of the social media platform I want to make graphics for and create a baseline ‘template’. Then every time I need to make a new post I just duplicate a previous page and change the text as needed. Super easy and super efficient.
(look at some examples in the ‘things I created using Adobe InDesign’ below):
14. Blog Post Templates
Yup, all my blog post templates were designed in InDesign as it just makes creating a layout super simple, and it’s also intuitive. You can take a look at my current blog posts images to see what I mean waaay down below. Mine are currently formatted for Facebook as my Squarespace template thumbnails images are horizontal rectangular.
15. Pinterest Templates & Infographics
Pinterest templates are commonly the same as blog posts templates, but I listed them separately because 1. They’re not the same for me and 2. I create SEVERAL images on Pinterest of different styles that all lead back to the same post or resource. With InDesign this is very simple to do, as I create several different styled templates and just rinse and repeat with new text and resource mockup images.
Infographics are also something you can create in InDesign. If you’re attempting to make one I recommend keeping it simple and using colored blocks (using the rectangle tool) to separate each section.
My Pinterest Board Cover Images (click on one to see it in action):
16. Social Media Templates
Once again, it should be no surprise that I create all my social media templates in InDesign. I tried once to start creating them in Illustrator, but the file got too big and very slow, so it became annoying to work with :( Because InDesign is designed for books and magazines with a lot of pages, a large file doesn’t take any extra time to save or maneuver through. So I love InDesign for creating all my social media graphics.
17. Social Media Banners (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Platforms like Facebook and twitter have cover images that allow you to express your brand. Pinterest does too for each board, and of course all mine were made using - you guessed it - InDesign. And I do so for the same reasons listed in the previous ‘tip’ that further demonstrates my point on InDesign’s awesomeness.
I also make my YouTube banner in InDesign suuuupppppeeerrr easily with a template I created that shows the different dimensions for different platforms. Making YouTube banners is usually very difficult (if you’ve ever tried, you’ll know what I mean) but the functionality in InDesign makes this very easy to do. Again, this program is awesome.
18. YouTube Thumbnails
I listed this separately from the other social media graphics because generally the design aesthetic is different from those of Pinterest & Instagram, plus YouTube thumbnails seem more permanent. I ‘place’ an image into my YouTube thumbnail template, add some color and some text and I’m good to go.
19. Resource Roundups
You ever see those beautiful resource roundups that make you want to replace everything you own in your house (or your beauty cabinet, or wardrobe)? Well, you can make those using InDesign and here is an example of one I created waaaaayyyy back in the day:
Branding is something that is easily to do in InDesign. Since I am a designer I do use Illustrator as well for this, but if you’re just starting out and are only interested in using one program, InDesign is where it’s at. You can create simple logos and other site graphics very easily.
Personally I have created all my site banners/headers, paid product mockups, free resource mockups, and category buttons (though I currently don’t have a sidebar) in InDesign. I also use InDesign to quickly ‘faux’ crop images (which I’ll explain more in just a mo’).
Full disclosure I did not create my current logo in InDesign. I used Illustrator, but I’m a designer and this is what I do. However, if you’re looking to create a simple text based logo or even icon, InDesign has some great and easy features to help you do just that.
All you have to do is choose the text you want and perform the “create outlines” command to change it up a bit. And, there are some different tips and tricks to get it to function like Illustrator “create outlines” command. But again, if you’re not a designer you can more than make this tool work for you.
21. Brand Style Guide
You can create your own brand style guide using InDesign, because again, InDesign is the queen (and king) of layouts. I wouldn’t want to create it in any other program and you can search online for inspiration and for pretty awesome one page examples.
22. Site Banners
Just like I do for social media banners, I do the same for my website. I first find out the size thumbnail needed for my Squarespace template, and then create a document sized to those dimensions. Next I create one as a template, then duplicate that page and just change the photo and text. Easy peasy.
23. Website Icons
These are to add visual interest to your site like you see on my homepage. Some icons I create from scratch myself and some I alter using free resources like Font Awesome (which integrates with InDesign as long as you download the Font Awesome font for free on the web). All you have to do is right click to “create outlines” and you’re able to alter it to get it how you like.
24. Category Buttons
This feature is really popular on blog sidebars as it helps alert visitors about the type of content you create and encourage them to click through to find similar info. You can create category buttons in InDesign by creating different shapes likes circles or squares (or use the polygon tool to create unique ones). Next add text in your style with maybe a border outline or some awesome effects that you can use inside of InDesign as well.
25. Mockups & Layouts
Yes, all my mockups for my free resources and paid products are created in InDesign. I have 3 different files that I use to create them - one long horizontal file, one square-ish/rectangular sized file, and one vertical-ish file (that I use for ipad mockups). I place page images of the resources I create then add a drop shadow to give it a cool effect. I love creating mockups in InDesign so much, I even included them in my InDesign Info Product Pack.
26. Social Media Icons
I use InDesign with Font Awesome (for free) and just like with some of my website icons, I customize these to the colors to my brand (you can see an example of this at the bottom of my newsletters).
27. Quickly ‘Faux’ Crop Images & Place Images Inside of Text
Okay, technically not a resource, but it's my fav trick in InDesign that quickly and easily 'crops images' without actually cropping them. I simply place an image in a frame. If I double click on the frame I can alter the image inside by moving it up, down, right, left, or rotating it, or making it bigger or smaller.
So if I place a large image but only want to show a small portion (without actually cropping the photo), I just place a frame around whatever it is I want others to see. You can also place images inside of text, which is how I got the ‘wood’ effect in my Moving Abroad Checklist (see the example below. So needless to say the ‘place’ tool is one of my FAV tools evvvaaaaa.
For Clients & Professional Collateral
Do you have clients and are trying to stand out among others in this digital world?Perhaps you need professional presentation boards and portfolios to show future clients?
Or maybe you’re a biz professional that likes to do some things old school and have something that physically represent your brand. In any scenario InDesign once again has you covered, so let’s see what you can do:
28. Inspiration & Mood Boards
You can create boards of any size (again, this is what I used to design my massive presentation boards back in design school). Once you set up your layout all you have to do is ‘place’ images into the frames and it’s sooooooo easy to change them out.
So you’re able to set up a template one time, and continue to reuse with new images and content for years to come.
Yearly vision board: check.
Client mood board: double check.
29. Welcome Packets
When I was designing graphics and workbooks (workbooks using InDesign of course) for clients, I always sent them a welcome packet that had the important dates, a visual timeline of my process, detailed info on what their package included, client homework questions, and links to their client folder in Google drive - all within the PDF packet!
And where did I make these epic welcome packets? I think you know the answer by now...
29. Proposals & Contracts
When I first started taking my own clients I created beautiful proposals using InDesgin. While they were fun to create, when it came down to sending an invoice or contract it’s admittedly easier to send them through online services that specialize in delivery (Wave, Freshbooks, Hellosign).
That said, if you’re creating these documents to impress clients and intend to print them, I’d recommend using InDesign.
*Pssst - if you do have clients and want to know my top resources and tools for working with them (all free) click here.
Again, back in my design school days creating portfolios (for an interior/architecture student) was essential. I spent a lot of time playing with layouts and coming up with desgin ‘concepts’ within different portfolios I created (because it’s fun for me #dontjudge).
31. Presentation Boards
Need to create an amazing visual of various thoughts at once (think magazine)? This is the best program to do it, because again, InDesign is meant for creating awesome layouts.
Designing presentation boards for my school projects is what gave me my start with InDesign. I saw that other students were using it and I was curious about it, so I decided to give it a try. And as they say, the rest is history.
I think that every resume I’ve ever created was designed using InDesign. I created a cool basic template once and I just update it as needed. I get complimented on it and I think it helps me stand out as it looks nothing like a microsoft word template. It’s unique and original, and I’m pretty sure that’s also the message you’d like to send to a future employer.
(this image is purposely blurred to not release any sensitive info, but I'm sure you get the idea: )
33. Business Cards
Yup, you can create business cards using InDesign too, and if you google ‘InDesign Business Card Template’ you’re able to find tons of free ones to get you started. My favorite business card printing company even has templates for you to use with their services.
34. Letterheads & Note Cards
Yes, I’ve designed letterheads and note cards using InDesign as well (that matched my resume). One of the presets for getting started in InDesign is a 8 ½ x 11 sized document. They’re tons of other options as well or you can create your custom sizes which is what I do for social media graphics.
35. Thank You Notes
Thank you cards and notes are great for clients or customers. It can be for working with them, for sending out birthday cards, or even for them ‘just cause’. Also keep in mind that these can be digital. You don’t have to print them and send in the mail. As long as it’s personalized with their name (which is easy to do in InDesign), the thought will be much appreciated :)
Just like with business cards, it’s easy to find free envelope templates for InDesign. So if you are interested in creating business collateral you can easily do it with this program.
Plus it’s also as great for printing as it is for digital products as well (again think magazines and books which come in both formats).
Advertising & Marketing
Maybe you’re hustle is as an real estate agent. Or maybe you plan events or are a side hustling wedding planner. Or perhaps you sell hand sewn towels on Etsy or make your own skincare products.
Again, InDesign makes it easy for you to market your products and events and here are a few examples of how:
37. Posters & Flyers
One thing I have yet to mention is that I love working with type inside of InDesign. There’s a tool that quickly allows you to change case (all uppercase, title case, sentence case, lowercase) and there are character styles that allow you to set up your font style preferences and then use them across every document if you’d like. Plus you can create as many font style preferences as you want!
And because you can create documents of any size you want, it’s easy to make posters, flyers, handouts, etc. and tailor them to be more ‘portable’ or extremely large. The choice is yours.
38. Invitations & Postcards
Are you an event planner or planning a live event with your business?
Well, if you didn’t want to go the poster and flyer route, you can just as easily create card sized invitations using all the same great features. Again, if you only need one program to do pretty much everything, then InDesign is your girl.
39. Pamphlets & Brochures
Think tri-fold and bi-fold printed documents.
Need to do some fancy printing and can’t figure out the logistics for yourself (if i want this image to be on the back of this page, how do I do that?). Well again, awesome templates for this is only a google search away.
This might be useful for real estate agents, travel agents, or anyone who needs a brochure to communicate some awesome features.
40. Product Labels
Sooooooo….. I make labels for fun for natural beauty and cleaning products that I make a home. Yup it’s true and as you’ve gathered by now, it’s easy to do in InDesign. You can design them and then print them on stickers with companies like Moo.com.
41. Retail Tags
Let’s say you have your own fashion boutique or sell awesome things on Etsy. Let’s also say you want some retail tags to accompany those items to help build more brand recognition. Need a place to design them that also let’s you create all the other things you could possibly need for your business?
The answer is…. wait for it… InDesign.
(tried sooooo hard to fit ‘legend…. wait for it dary’…. in there, but perhaps another post *sigh*)
I just listed 40+ uses for InDesign in your business and I bet there are even more.
I believe that this is the only design program you’ll ever need to learn because, as stated before, the possibilities are endless. I mean, if you're going to invest your time and energy into bootstrapping and branding yourself, why not do it with a program that can grow with you?
Now I think you’ve got the point of all the amazing awesomeness that is InDesign, so let’s move on to some questions that you may have.
How To Use InDesign for Your Business
Think of 1 free resource that you can create that could be a great benefit to potential customers or clients.
And then make it .
And if you need some help creating it (or designing it) and you're interested in learning InDesign to create digital products, printables, and more for you business then check out my FREE InDesign for Info Products course.
In it you'l learn how to set up your workspace and how to create branded colors, text styles, and template pages (aka master pages) easily for creating resources in efficient and time saving ways.
Plus you'll learn the best keyboard shortcuts with a handy little guide (that I made in InDesign of course) as well as my fav trick for faux cropping images. You'll also learn how to save documents for print (aka printables) or save them as interactive PDF's that allow you to create clickable check boxes and fillable text boxes as well.
Before You Go:
I've hope you've seen why InDesign is the Alpha and Omega of all design programs and are interested in giving it a try for yourself.
Make sure to check out the free course on using it to create awesome digital products & printables for your business as I'm pretty sure you'e seen how it plays a pivotal role in mine.
And to be honest, even if I didn't have a side hustle I'd still use InDesign. Only because I like to nerd out and make personal planners, calendars, checklists and more for my everyday life (hence why the travel planner & moving abroad checklist were born).
That's all for today. I wish you well on your InDesign journey and hope you'll grow to love it as much as I do.
Until the next time I relate a business tool to a 'rom com' (that's short for romantic comedy for all you GOT fans out there)...