There’s a lot of seriously good-looking shipping packaging out there, right?

Some of it’s complex, using multiple pieces of packaging to create memorable unboxing experiences. And others are incredibly simple and effective, using the bare minimum to create an impact (like a certain company and their arrow that looks like a smile).

If you’re a small business owner looking to get into the custom packaging arena, you’re probably wondering how you’re supposed to compete with all that. And the answer is, you absolutely can.

With the way the world is turning, thanks to things like ecommerce and the internet, there are more options and tools available to advance your business than ever before. Custom packaging is more affordable than ever thanks to lower minimum order quantities and digital printing techniques.

But what about designing the custom packaging itself? Packaging design can seem intimidating, especially considering how prohibitively expensive design programs can be. But thanks to that world-turning we were talking about, you have a few options now.

So, how exactly do you, a small business owner with a lot of heart and hustle (and ideas), become a packaging designer?

Pay for an art or design diploma at a college

There are plenty of choices when it comes to choosing a design program. There are lots of esteemed colleges with proven track records. And lots of options for specialization and direction, like graphic design, industrial design, and of course, packaging design. Even programs teaching design fundamentals pay off in plenty of business and marketing projects.

But it’s also a commitment. Education like this is often a full-time endeavor, taking years and several thousands of dollars to complete.

It’s a long route with a price tag attached. And it’s absolutely a good route if you plan to make design your career choice. But if you’re simply looking to quickly create good-looking custom boxes and custom packaging tape for your shipments, there’s a better choice.

Use the free packaging design tools in our Custom Shop

One of the barriers to entering the custom packaging world is the need for tools and know-how. If you can’t design it yourself, you’ve got to hire someone to design it for you. And that can be pricey.

That’s why the custom packaging options in our Custom Shop have their own online packaging designers. Each has a set of tools that makes the design process easy and fun. Simply gather together the elements that you want to use—like logos, colors, images and text—and upload them into the online designer.

From there, you can add, move and resize elements until you’ve created the custom packaging you’re most satisfied with. And since these online packaging designers are free, you’re not stretching your packaging budget to accommodate outside help.

Of course, the counterpoint to all of this is that design isn’t for everyone. Just like how not everyone can sing or dance or hit a home run, not everyone has the eye required for great design work.

But, if you’re simply looking for something that’s at least nice and functional, you have options. You can become a packaging designer in the moment. You can stay involved in your business. And you can remain just as competitive in your category as you always were.

Online custom packaging design with The Packaging Company: Fast. Fun. Free.