Packaging on a Budget

Part three of the how to run a handmade business on a budget series

When you’re a small business, especially a handmade small business, your packaging can be a great way to show your customers how much their business means to you.

When a customer opens their happy mail, the way it’s packaged and presented is going to be the first impression they have of your business.

Just throwing your finished piece into a poly mailer and sealing it closed could imply to your customer that you don’t really care about your products, your business or your customers.

As makers, we know slopping packaging could just mean that your shop has been really busy recently (Cha-ching), and you’re a mom, and you’re a wife and you have band recitals and basketball games and cheerleading competitions to go to, we get that, but your customers probably won’t.

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may recieve a small commission from items purchased at no extra cost to you.

I like to send my packages out in such a way where my customers feel like they have received a gift. I wrap my beanies in custom made “Handmade with Love” wrap labels that are branded for my business and I place them in a white organza bag with a business card and a handwritten “thank you” note.

I get a lot of positive feedback for the handwritten note, people really love that extra step to make them feel appreciated.

Occasionally, I will attach a tag or trinket to the outside of the organza bag too, just for a little extra pizzazz! I almost always ship my products using polymailers because they are lightweight and more cost-efficient.

Before I started using the organza bags though, I wrapped my beanies in recycled tissue paper (I was that person at birthday parties collecting and folding the tissue paper) and a pretty piece of washi tape.

I designed thank you cards on Canva that thanked my customer for their purchase and encouraged them to share pics wearing their new beanie.

Canva is my secret weapon to running a small business! You can sign up for 30 days free of Canva pro here.

I got my thank you cards printed from the Shutterfly app for free on 4×4 photo paper, just pay to ship.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money kill it at the packaging game, actually, if you’re just starting out, you probably shouldn’t spend a lot of money on your packaging because most likely you haven’t found your style yet or it will soon change as you become more aware of your branding.

Here are tips to think about for saving money on your packaging, then we will break some of these down into further detail.

  • Use recycled materials as much as possible. These are FREE things yall, like tissue paper from parties, hoard it, keep it somewhere safe, and use it for your business!
  • Invest in a custom stamp. There are lots of places online where you can order custom rubber stamps. Get one with your business name (or logo if you have one) and suddenly anything that can be stamped can be branded!
  • Make your own tags and thank you cards. Pretty scrapbook paper goes on sale all the time at craft stores! When it does get a bunch, try to think ahead for things you might need. Maybe seasonal paper, holiday paper, or just stick to paper that has colors that are “on brand” for you. Making thank you cards and tags are so simple, the paper is super pretty and they’re fairly inexpensive to make!
  • Make your own fabric product bags. Taylor Lynn Crochet has an awesome tutoril for DIY fabric product bags!
  • Design your own Inserts using Canva, or purchase inexpensive PDF downloads from other handmade business owners. Then you buy the PDF one time and you can print as many inserts as you want.
  • Save money on professional printing at Office Depot/Max by using a Store Purchasing Card number I share with you in this post.
  • Make your own square boxes, rectangle boxes, and gift bags.
  • Get creative when you see things super cheap at craft stores or bargain stores. If you see something that is a great deal, think of how you could use it to spice up your packaging.

Use Recycled Materials

I did this a lot when I first started out, and I still try to use recycled materials in my business as much as possible today.

Everyone can get behind “going green”, we all live on this planet together so no one is going to give you a hard time for using recycled materials.

In fact, it may just have the opposite effect! Your brand may become well known for using recycled materials and caring about our planet and that may end up being one of your biggest marketing points.

I gave the example for tissue paper already, but what are some other ways you can use recycled materials?

I hand make my own gift bags out of recycled road atlases that I find at yard sales or get donated. This has helped me stand out at markets because people see other people carrying around map bags and wonder where they came from.

I always get a lot of compliments on them too when I hand a customer their product in a handmade, recycled map bag!

You could also reuse materials you get when you make online purchases. Bubble mailers, boxes, bags, stuffing, find a place to collect these things, then when you need to ship out an order you can look through your recycle drawer first!

You could even design a packaging sticker that says something like “Your item has been packaged using recycled materials” with a picture of the earth being hugged, and stick them on the outside of your package.

Be careful to make sure all the previous mail carrier stickers are removed or covered up so they get to the right place.

Using scrap yarn is another great recycle material!

You can use it for attaching your tags, tieing a cute bow around a package, or make some funky colorful pom-poms and attach them to your packages! Everyone loves a pom-pom!

  Quick Tip: I use my clover pom-pom maker to make yarn poms and love it!

Invest in a Custom Stamp

I ordered a stamp with my logo from Hello World Stamps on Etsy a few months ago and love it! I stamp anything I can! I’ve stamped the backs of my thank you cards, blank stickers, boxes, even my map bags!

It’s so easy to put your logo/business name on nearly anything if you have a custom stamp made!

My custom stamp is 1.5 by 1.5 inches and includes the wood handle option, I plan on ordering a bigger one in the future too, just so I have more options.

Make your own tags and “thank you” cards

There are so many different ways you can make your own tags and “thank you” cards.

I have a free “Handmade with Love” tag pdf you are welcome to download and use HERE, and Megmade With Love has some super cute free downloads as well!

Every Wednesday I send out a free sheet of “Handmade with Love” wrap labels to all my blog subscribers, often times they come with matching “thank you” card PDF as well! Subscribe to my blog so you can start collecting and using those too!

Taylor of Taylor Lynn Crochet just released a free tag printable too AND a full tutorial on how to use them!

If printables aren’t your thing though, you can just make your own by hand! Here’s what you will need to make “thank you cards”…

If you have a scoring board, score your paper at the 3, 6 and 9-inch marks across the top. Then turn your paper and score at the 6-inch mark going across all the scores you just made.

If you do not have a scoring board, fold your paper in half, both ways, so that you now have 4 equal squares. Then fold the two sides (not the top and bottom but the sides), in, to touch the centerfold. Your paper should now be divided up into 8 equal rectangles.

Using your scissors, cut the rectangles apart then fold each rectangle in half.

Using your corner round punch, round-off all the corners. This is an optional step but I think it really gives the “thank you” cards a nice finished look.

Write/stamp/sticker thank you on the front, write your message on the inside and stamp the back with your logo stamp and voila! DIY “thank you” cards that are sure to express how special your customers are to you!

You can also make tags by hand! Here’s what you’ll need

Using your scoring board, score your scrapbook paper at the 3, 6, and 9 inch marks both vertically and horizontally

Quick Tip: If you want rectangle shaped tags instead of square, only score at the 3, 6 and 9-inch marks on either the horizontal or vertical side.

If you don’t have a scoring board, fold your paper in half and then in half again both vertically and horizontally.

You should now have 16 equal squares on your paper.

Cut the squares apart, round the corners and hole punch a hole in the center of the top side. Write/stamp/sticker “Handmade with love” on the front and that’s it! Piece of cake.

  Quick Tip: If you want to make your tags a different size, the scoring bored can really come in handy

If you make your own “thank you” cards and tags, you can use matching or coordinating papers to help your package look more branded.

Make your own fabric bags

This tutorial by Taylor-Lynn Crochet is so simple and makes the cutest fabric bags!

She finishes her bags off by stamping her logo on them with a custom logo stamp

Again, if you don’t have a logo yet, you can just get your business name made into a custom stamp and that would work just fine.

These little bags are a great way to make your products stand out and your customer feel special.

You could even get creative and use some recycled materials to make your bags! Maybe cut up some old (clean) t-shirts, sheets, curtains, tablecloths, whatever you have on hand! 

Also, skim the clearance section of fabric in craft stores, sometimes people return bits of fabric they had cut and the stores sell them at clearance prices.

Design your own inserts using

Designing your own inserts can be very cost efficient, and you can make them completely branded for your business.

If you want tips on how to use Canva you can check out this blog post or this youtube video I did as part of this Budget Business series.

There are also lots of great, inexpensive PDF options for inserts as well.

Debrosse has some really classy design for Care Tags ($5) and The Knotty Boss on Etsy has these lovely Care Tags PDF, Product Tags PDF and Thank You Tags PDF. All for only $4 each.

If you are going to go the PDF rout, I highly suggest reading my How to Save Money on Printing post.

I explain in detail how to get your PDFs professionally printed at Office Depot/Max for only .25 a sheet! That is a full color, 110lb cardstock sheet too, so the good stuff! It’s regurarly .69 a sheet.

Get Creative

Whenever I am out shopping, I always try to walk through the clearance aisle, especially at craft stores.

Lots of times there are cute nick-nacks and such that you can use in your packaging. Look at what’s available and try to think outside the box for how you could use it for your packaging.

One time, I bought a bunch of packs of small tassels for just a few cents, I ended up tying them onto my organza bags for a little pop of color.

This is especially true after a holiday or the end of a season. Sometimes you can find the perfect packaging supplies this way.

After Valentine’s Day, you may find some red and pink crinkle paper you can use as filler for your packages, after Christmas you may find some plain gift boxes you can use.

Look for stickers, washi tape, tissue paper, gift bags, anything you can use to spruce up your packaging and make it look like you really went the extra mile to give your customer a great shopping experience.

I hope you found this information helpful! I know starting a small business can be stressful and it is my goal to give you tips and tricks that will make the whole process easier.

Running a small business is hard work, you should be super proud of yourself for chasing your dreams and even more proud for doing your research and trying to grow!! You are going to do great things with your handmade business!!

Happy Packaging

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