Printing Your Own Labels vs. Professional Label Printing

Professional digital press operator printing supplement labels.

As your business grows, what worked well at the beginning may no longer be sufficient moving forward. That’s especially true if you’ve been printing your own labels. But it isn’t always easy to know when it’s time to size up to a professional product label printer. In this post, we’ll cover the basics of home label printing, the pros and cons of printing your own labels vs. hiring the pros, some signs your business is ready to upgrade to professional label printing, and how to find the best professional labeling company when the time comes.

How to Print Your Own Labels

Printing your own product labels is a pretty straightforward process. Most new small businesses opt to use a standard color printer rather than a more expensive one that’s designed especially for making labels. Regular color printers don’t produce professional-grade labels, but they’re inexpensive, easy to use, and can produce serviceable product labels for a business that’s just starting out. 

Many options are available for label design software. Canva has an online product label maker tool. Some print-at-home label makers like Avery have their own proprietary software designed to work with their line of printable label sheets. You can choose to use a pre-designed label template or upload your own custom label design. Before printing, be sure to check for typos and any errors in the design, and test that your product label is optimized for the size and shape of the printable label you’ve chosen. Before you print a full batch, print off a single sheet to make sure everything looks right. 

Check out our guide on how to make print-ready design in Canva to ensure your label looks great.

Pros and Cons of Printing Your Own Labels vs. Professional Printing

Printing your own labels at home comes with some perks, especially if your business is new. You can create labels on-demand with no wait time. Since you’re doing the printing and order fulfillment yourself, you can print the labels as you need them. If you’re producing small batches of product or testing out a seasonal or special edition offering, you don’t have to worry about meeting a minimum order requirement. And if you’re just printing a handful of labels at a time, printing your own labels at home can be more cost-effective too.

Printing your own labels comes with some drawbacks though. One of the most significant downsides is access to a more limited range of label shapes, sizes, and materials. Traditional print-at-home labels are unlikely to hold up well when exposed to moisture, heat, or oils. Professional product label printing companies use a more sophisticated printing process to create higher quality labels with superior crispness and ink adhesion. And they have a wide selection of label materials designed to withstand moisture, oil, heat, and UV rays. Labels are also generally cheaper when they’re mass-produced, so you can save quite a bit of money if you’re printing a larger quantity. Additionally, custom label printing companies can offer industry expertise and advice on label design, materials, and finishes. 

When to Consider Upgrading to Professionally Printed Labels

There’s no rule to follow, but here are a few signs that it may be time to partner with a professional. 

  • Failure to Represent Your Brand — The most obvious sign is when you recognize that the labels you can produce on your own are no longer the best representation of your brand. When the design or print quality of your labels don’t reflect the quality of your product or business, it’s time to upgrade to a professional printer.
  • Unable to Access the Label Material You Need — Printing product labels in-house means forfeiting access to a much wider range of label materials and finishes. As you grow your company, upgrading your product labels with stronger materials or high-end finishes is a natural part of that progression. 
  • Lack of Time — Another telltale sign is the increasing amount of time you spend creating labels. Making your own labels may not be the most effective use of your time — time that could be spent on planning and marketing efforts. 
  • Rising Costs — Printing your own labels is most cost-effective in very small runs. Larger quantities of labels produced by a professional printer are typically less expensive.

How to Find the Best Professional Label Printing Partner

When you’re ready to partner with a custom label printer that offers high-quality label printing, here’s what to look for.

  • Excellent Reviews — Learn from other people’s experiences. Google and website reviews offer a wealth of information about people’s experiences with companies you may be considering working with. Before picking up the phone to call a product label printer, check out their online reviews. 
  • Strong Customer Support — Being able to quickly reach someone to answer questions and provide help is invaluable. Once you have a shortlist of prospective custom label printers, see what customer support options they offer. Do they have a live support line you can call or just a contact form or live chat to submit support requests? If they have a customer support line, call it and ask some questions. Being able to test drive a customer support experience ahead of time can give you a better feel for what it would be like to be one of their customers.
  • Expertise — Gaining access to years of industry experience is arguably the biggest benefit of partnering with a professional label printing company. Some companies have been in business longer than others. Ask how long the company has been in business and what types of labels they specialize in. 
  • Quality — When it comes to partnering with a professional label printing company, pinching pennies can come with some drawbacks. Focus on quality first. Many companies will send out product samples. Request to see samples in the materials and finishes you’re considering for your own product labels.
  • Minimum order — Some custom label printers have minimum order requirements. Check to make sure that the run of labels you’ll need meets any minimum order requirements.

Label Printing to Support Your Brand

Product labels are often the first visual contact prospective customers have with your brand. How labels look to consumers can either increase sales or cause shoppers to look elsewhere. The decision to make product labels in-house or hire a professional label printing company is an important one that depends on your company’s stage of growth. But for many businesses, the advantages of outsourcing custom label creation often outweigh the drawbacks. Partnering with a  professional label printing company unlocks industry expertise and a wider range of choices, making it easier to produce high-quality labels that set your products apart.

If you have any questions about label selection or printing, don’t hesitate to contact the Experience Team by phone or Live Chat! Our team is ready to serve your business with care and excellence.

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