Starting a food-oriented small business can be more than a dream. Whether you’re starting from a home or commercial kitchen, producing professional packaging on a budget has become much more accessible.

There are many considerations to take into account when designing packaging for your food business—from the size and material of the container to the label style and design.

For example, label printers often include custom software that gives small business owners the ability to design a wide variety of labels.

Labels are durable, and the combination of pigment inks and synthetic material makes them suitable for refrigeration and freezing applications. Furthermore, the ability to print single proofs and quickly edit labels on the fly decreases waste.

Packaging and labeling decisions, particularly for cottage businesses, need to be strategic. Eye-catching design often is as important as the product itself for attracting the buyer, regardless of whether you’re selling at a traditional retailer, from a farmer’s market, or online.

Here are some tips for designing food packaging and labels:

1.     Who is your customer? Spend time thinking about who is likely to buy your product, and how you are going to make them the best kind of customers—repeat customers. As the “buy local” movement goes mainstream, specialty food products have gained appeal with a wider demographic. Imagine what your customers’ expectations might be for your product, and how your product can fulfill their desires or solve a problem. A quality such as freshness can be conveyed by images of vegetables, such as those you might see on a jar of salsa.

2.     Who is your competition? Identify and research your competition. Pay attention to how they package and label their items, and think about how you can differentiate your product. Your label should stand out from similar brands. This doesn’t mean you should put every color of the rainbow on your label or display the product’s name in all caps. Simple and elegant can make as much of a statement as bright and eye-catching.

3.     What is special or unique about your product? Is it organic? Farm-to-table? Your product label needs to showcase what makes this item both delicious and worth it for the consumer to buy. Include awards or meaningful accolades on the label to set your product apart.

4.     Packaging has three primary goalscatch the eye of the buyer, offer post-sales information and list required nutritional information. What’s the story of your product, and how can you convey that on your label? If it’s your grandmother’s recipe, say so. If you quit your law firm position to produce homestyle frozen side dishes, tell your customers that. Including an interesting tidbit that shoppers can relate to or appreciate can create connection and inspire loyalty.

Creating packaging and labels for food products can be both challenging and fun. That’s why investing in a label printer can help get your products on the shelf and into consumers’ shopping carts.