You might make the best strawberry preserves on the planet, but you won't get many buyers if you don't market them well. An attractive label is an all-important marketing tool, because people look at the label first, buy the jar and then taste the product. If you're starting a small food business, consider investing a fair amount into making an eye-catching custom label. On the other hand, if you're just making the preserves for friends and family, a small, handmade label does just fine.
How to Make Food Labels
Go shopping for ideas. Look at the hundreds of labels on food items in the market to get inspiration. See what jumps out at you from grocery shelves, and adapt some of the concepts or colors to your needs.
Buy a high-resolution inkjet printer that lets you create stunning, full-color labels yourself. You may pay up to $1,000 or more, but a quality printer can serve you well into the long life of your business.
Buy software specifically for label design, or use general design software such as Adobe Illustrator. If you're not fairly proficient in design, take a class on how to use the software. Your food labels will end up looking much more professional.
Buy acid-free photo labels designed for your printer. Compare prices, but also consider quality. Look for permanent adhesive and a coating that makes the label smudge free.
Print a few samples and show them to friends. Be open to feedback. Perfect your design, and start printing your labels.
If you want to go a simpler route, use a permanent marker to label your food products. You also can buy a simple electronic label-making system, which prints words on tape that you can adhere to jars or other surfaces. Expect to pay $40 to $100 for a labeling system.
If you make your own wine or liqueur, you can print custom labels for the bottles free of charge. Just buy label paper, and follow the instructions on a label-making website. (See Resources.) You can order blank labels on that website—they cost about $20 for 100 labels.
If you're not artistic, pay someone else to make your labels. You can find custom ones, with typical costs between 15 cents and $1.25 per label. You also can buy smaller, multipurpose labels from online printing companies. These aren't as fancy as the custom ones, but they're great for homemade food gifts and cost less than $10 for a few hundred.