In business, the tools you use matter. If you want to grow and be taken seriously, then you need to invest in the right equipment for the job.
Now, while you're in start-up phase it's completely understandable that you'll do things differently. Your budget will be tighter, and you will still be testing the waters with your product and finding that ideal audience. It's not necessarily going to be the time to dive all in and spend up big on tools that you're not sure will be helpful or even needed in a year's time!
However, as you move past that side-hustle/start-up phase your mindset starts to shift. You're now experiencing some success - people are pickin' up what you're puttin' down, so to speak! You're onto a good thing and starting to make some consistent income from what you do. So naturally, this is the time where you start to invest in some more professional tools. This is necessary now, to help you improve the quality or scope of your product/service, streamline your processes and improve your marketing efforts to continue increasing your sales.
Now these tools could be anything from the brand of paint you use in your handmade art products, to the software you use to host your online course.
The specific tool I want to focus on here is your graphic design software.
There are many programs available for graphic design. One that you have likely heard of (and maybe currently use) is Canva. Now please don't get me wrong, programs like Canva have their place.
They're perfect for side-hustlers, start-ups and community groups in need of fundraiser invitations. That's because there's a low learning curve, plenty of pre-made templates and a free version... making it highly accessible for pretty much anyone!
(I'm a huge fan on Canva for all these reasons. I genuinely believe it serves a really important purpose and fills a much-needed gap in graphic design software for these groups).
However, if you're a business owner looking to develop a unique brand identity and produce a range of professional quality materials for print or digital, then it's time to consider investing in a program that is designed to meet those needs.
That's where Adobe InDesign comes in. Adobe InDesign is the industry-leading layout and page design software for print and digital media. And it industry-leading for a reason.
Too often, I see business owners shy away from InDesign, choosing instead what they believe to be the 'easier' or 'cheaper' option. While this may solve their problems short-term, I've seen time and time again that as these businesses grow so too do their expectations and requirements of their design program. And it doesn't take long for them to outgrow the 'easy' and 'cheap' programs, leaving them frustrated by the constraints and limitations they pose.
(I totally went through this phase myself with a number of marketing tools I was using early on in my biz! Read more about the mistakes I made, and what I learnt here).
And look, I get it. InDesign can be daunting. There is a significant learning curve involved. But to be completely blunt with you - so there should be! It's a powerful program ... there's a lot to learn because there's a lot that it can do
But that doesn't mean you can't learn how to use it (trust me, it really isn't 'that hard' once you've been taught the basics).
So I want to breakdown for you here some reasons why it is worth persevering with the InDesign learning curve...
And I mean, completely customisable.
The thing that does my head in with Canva is the restrictions within the design. Yes, the templates are fantastic - super helpful if you're rushed for time or lacking inspiration.
However, what my business needs in terms of image placement and text isn't always going to fit into the pre-defined templates that someone at Canva has whipped up.
Further, as an established business I have a particular 'look' (i.e. a style guide) that I want followed throughout all the designs and documents that I produce. I don't need (or want) a different template style for everything I do - that would actually be detrimental to my business, lowering the professionalism and brand recognition.
That's why a program like InDesign is what a serious, growing business needs.
With InDesign, you have complete, 100% control over every aspect of your design - from where you place images, to literally every aspect of the text plus the inclusion of features like automatic page numbers and embedded hyperlinks.
You know all those beautifully printed books you flick through in book stores? Those magazines sitting on your coffee table? They've all been professionally printed, and they've all been designed in Adobe InDesign.
Professional printers have technical requirements, including:
Programs like Canva do not cater for all this, whereas an industry-standard program like InDesign is.
I love streamlining wherever possible - as a business owner juggling many hats, there's no sense in doubling up or repeating tasks if there's a way to streamline!
That's why InDesign is such a useful tool, particularly as I find I'm having to recreate certain documents on a regular basis, such as:
Yes, I know Canva has some ability to duplicate designs. But with InDesign it is a whole new level, with features such as:
InDesign allows you to setup your workspace so that it works for you. Because not only can you completely customise each aspect of your design, you can actually customise how the program looks as well!
This includes being able to move different windows around so that the tools you use most frequently are within easy reach. It also means you can change the colour of the interface, and set the units of measurement.
Plus, there's the integration with other Adobe products! For instance, if you edit a photo in Adobe Photoshop, you can embed that photo as an editable .psd file directly into InDesign (with Canva, you would need to export as a JPG or PNG first and then upload from your computer to Canva). The reason this matters? Say you need to make another edit to that photo in Photoshop. Because you've embedded the .psd file into InDesign, you can update the image within InDesign with one click ... rather than having to delete the image, and replace it with the updated JPG/PNG image (which you'd have to do with Canva). Basically, it allows you to seamlessly work with images across both Photoshop and InDesign... saving time and avoiding inadvertent errors like using an outdated image.
Canva offers fantastic support, there's no denying. But so does Adobe!
Because it's such a well-established, industry-leading program, there are thousands of tutorials available online to help you with almost any aspect you can think of.
And best part? Most of it is free!
The previous points have all focused on specific features of InDesign. I want to end by addressing some mindset.
Investing in a professional program that will facilitate the development of unique designs that reflect your businesses' 'look' and 'vibe' is worthwhile. Investing in a professional program that is going to help you save time and streamline, is worthwhile. it's sort of like choosing to invest in proper accounting software, rather than doing all your budgeting and invoicing with pen and paper. It helps you feel like a serious business. And there's genuine value in that!
Everyone always goes on (and on) about Canva being free. Yes, there's a free version! And that's fantastic. But they are a business, just like Adobe. And a very savvy one at that. In recent times, they have been developing and fine-tuning their pricing model.
At most recent check, the Canva Pro version costs A$167.88 a year (although it's worth noting that more expensive options are required depending on your enterprise needs and employee numbers).
By comparison, InDesign is A$343.07 a year. So yes, it's about double the price.
Again, I'm going to be blunt.
If you're serious about your business, you need to be serious about investing in the tools and software that are going to help you grow your business. Some of those tools won't be the cheapest (although, of course it's completely possible that they will be!) I've personally found that it was a piece of software that was the price of four other 'cheaper' tools combined that has actually been of the greatest value to my business (and ultimately helped me save thousands, and earn a lot more in sales! Read about it here.)
So to be clear, I'm definitely not saying unequivocally that InDesign is the tool you need to be investing in. But I do want to highlight that it is important, as a growing business, that you give due consideration to investing in professional tools and weigh up the value and potential they offer to the growth of your business.