When I started this column back in 2006, blogs were thought of as this somewhat quirky tool that few businesses considered important. Fast-forward almost five years and blogs are now an integral part of many companies online marketing strategy. Many label converters have embraced blogging, with dozens of blogs now being updated regularly by converters around the globe.
I have been happy to ride the wave of blogging and help readers understand how this new medium can really benefit their businesses. But now it is time for me to move on. As many of you know I left the label industry last year after the sale of my company, Lightning Labels. While I will always have a great deal of affection for both the label industry and the many wonderful people I have met, my business interests are now focused outside this industry.
So here I give you my last Blogsmith column. I have reviewed over 140 blogs since launching this column and I thought now would be a good time to revisit the most relevant ones. So here are what I consider to be the five blogs that are the most useful for today's label converter.
Duct Tape Marketing (http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/)
The Dieline (http://www.thedieline.com/)
The Dieline bills itself as the world's No. 1 package design website, and who can argue when you see the beautiful packaging it displays. It is quite likely the most visited packaging site on earth. While very popular with package designers, it is a site that all label converters should also visit. Here you can see new creative label and packaging designs every day, so you can keep current with what is new and interesting. They have also recently launched a design site just for the wine industry (http://wine.thedieline.com/).
There is a huge amount of pressure in business today to get more done with fewer resources. Many companies are seeing sales rebound after the recession but have been reluctant to hire new workers. We all desperately need to be more productive. The Business Hacks blog is all about business productivity. It provides tips on such things as using Excel spreadsheets more effectively, getting your email under control, more productive conference calls, creating presentations more easily and how to protect your PC from hackers. The articles are always short, so you can read them in a minute or two, and I know from experience they can really improve your productivity.
Small Business Trends (http://smallbiztrends.com/)
The small business owner (and most label converters are small businesses) is faced with a myriad of challenges everyday. Everything from personnel issues, cash flow, marketing, taxes, safety, technology to customer service might occupy an owner's time any given day. On top of all that an owner needs to keep abreast of changes not just in label converting but also in all these other areas. The Small Business Trends blog can help. It is focused on helping the busy small business owner stay on top of the latest business trends, providing practical advice on how to deal with the changing business climate.
Box Vox (http://www.boxvox.net/)
Box Vox is a package design blog from Randy Ludacer, a partner at Beach Packaging Design. Why this blog rounds out my top five is because he not only features unique and interesting packaging on his blog, he also provides thought provoking commentary. Whereas the Dieline provides beautiful examples of packaging, Box Vox will provide a critique or why it is good and how it could be improved. By reading this blog the label converter can help stay on the cutting edge of label and packaging design.
I have enjoyed bringing you The Blogsmith column these past few years. I hope it has proven to be informative and that you will continue to read and explore new blogs. This medium has something for everyone, particularly for business people. As for me, I will continue to educate myself by reading blogs every day. I hope you do the same.
Peter Renton is the founder and former co-owner of Lightning Labels, an all-digital label printer in Denver, CO, USA. He is currently chief blogger at the Social Lending Network, a niche finance blog about peer-to-peer lending.