Home Bakers - Charging For Your Work

Decorating By imartsy Updated 29 Mar 2009 , 6:01pm by imartsy

imartsy Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 1:52pm
post #1 of 31

This is not a thread to discuss home bakers vs. licensed bakers... it's just a question for people who do bake out of their home for friends and family.

Do you ever feel like you never get to make the cakes you want to make b/c no one would pay for them? I mean - I understand - I feel guilty right now charging people 3 - 3.50 for a slice of cake. And I'm making like probably $10 profit on a cake (if I don't count the time I've spent creating it).

I love cake decorating - but people's budgets are always so small and sometimes they have such boring ideas.... no one ever wants the awesome stuff I have in the 20 cake books I have downstairs...

So what do you all do? Do you charge more and just have a lot less cake orders? Do you charge a "fair" price - meaning it at least pays for ingredients?

And do you ever get to do any of the awesome cakes you see in the magazines or in cake books? How do you get to do those?

30 replies
Cakeonista Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 2:03pm
post #2 of 31

Very good questions.....I feel like I'm in the same boat as you. Maybe we'll see some good answers here.

michellesArt Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 2:13pm
post #3 of 31

i sometimes gift a cake for a shower or party i'm attending then i get to do what i want (lots of inspiration here and from books and mags too) then, no budget concern, others can see the scope of what i can do and i get to do something i've been wanting to do (like a purse and shoe cake for a good friend of mine) but don't think i go around giving away all my cakes-this way i can have the patience to wait for those who will pay what i'm charging or through a spell of more typical/"boring" cakes

bakingatthebeach Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 2:19pm
post #4 of 31

I love making cakes, so when I want to practice with something fun, I take advantage of holidays and different events at work and do a cake. People, friends included, are aware of the time put into them, so they are fine if I charge 2.50 a slice (3.50 for fondant) and even more for more elaborate stuff.
Just recently a coworker wanted a sweet 16 cake for her daughter. For 60 people. When she was told it was 2.50 a slice and if she wanted a more elaborate cake it would be more, she scoffed "thats 150 dollars, and Im on a budget", I told her that was fine but she doesnt come to work for 10$ an hour and I dont work for 10$ a day! Later she emailed me to tell me her husband got a GREAT deal on cupcakes from Costco that would be shaped into the number 16 with a heart around it.
Friends are friends and business is business, my friends get alot of free cake at work when I practice, any other time it has to be paid for. Funny thing is, when I did feel guilty charging 20 bucks for a simple sheet cake, they would usually give me 10 or 20 more which made me realize I should charge what they are worth.

alanaj Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 2:19pm
post #5 of 31

I'm a legal home baker (I actually have to rent a commercial kitchen) so I have to charge a "fair price" for me and the customer. I charge about $2.75 a serving but I find it easier to charge for the cake some of the time instead of the "per serving". That way, if someone's budget is $50, I can still create a beautiful cake but I know how detailed I can get for that price. Sometimes it's a more creative design (like a purse, etc.) but a smaller cake and vice versa. For friends and family I have a new rule of $2.00 per serving and I go as fancy as I want. All of my friends are having babies right now so I've also offered to do all the 1st birthday cakes as a gift.

Kitagrl Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 2:21pm
post #6 of 31

YES oh my word I have been griping about that this week LOL because I'm licensed from home and everything but my portfolio seems so incomplete because nobody wants to pay me to do anything "big". I'm slowly getting a few "bigger" orders like nicer weddings and stuff but still.... I have rarely been able to find anyone who will pay me for those fancy wedding cakes that they have out there.

I keep telling myself I need to make cake dummies but either I don't have time (cake business and four boys) or I don't feel like wasting fondant (and I don't care for buttercream as much although I probably should just DO it so I have SOMETHING in my portfolio).

I feel my prospective clients do not have a full idea of my capabilities because I have not had the opportunity to fully "show off".

I really just need to do cake dummies. Period.

bakingatthebeach Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 2:30pm
post #7 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

YES oh my word I have been griping about that this week LOL because I'm licensed from home and everything but my portfolio seems so incomplete because nobody wants to pay me to do anything "big". I'm slowly getting a few "bigger" orders like nicer weddings and stuff but still.... I have rarely been able to find anyone who will pay me for those fancy wedding cakes that they have out there.

I keep telling myself I need to make cake dummies but either I don't have time (cake business and four boys) or I don't feel like wasting fondant (and I don't care for buttercream as much although I probably should just DO it so I have SOMETHING in my portfolio).

I feel my prospective clients do not have a full idea of my capabilities because I have not had the opportunity to fully "show off".

I really just need to do cake dummies. Period.


Your probably right, they arent aware of your capabilities. Everyone used to think I could just do great birthday cakes. Then I did a co-workers wedding cake who is a good friend of mine (left handed cause I broke my arm 2 weeks before the wedding) and everyone was amazed saying, I didnt know you could do stuff like that. Then I did a suitcase/hatbox as a going away cake for a co-worker and got alot of orders from just people seeing that. I also have a my cake album on my facebook page and all my friends who arent co-workers are amazed and surprised at what I can do. Make little mini wedding cakes with your dummies, get a facebook page and post your practice cakes. That might help. Your friends on face book will have friends looking for cakes and they can send them your way.

sarduengo Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 2:34pm
post #8 of 31

I agree that it's hard to get people to pay our 'fair' price if they haven't seen what we can do. I have a few friends who order cakes from me regularly. Sometimes I ask if I can try something new and they usually say yes. When I am trying out a new idea, technique, etc., I don't charge them the 'upcharge' for a fance cake. So it's not a bad deal - they get a really special cake, when it turns out, for a good price; and I get something I can add to my portfolio.

I always have to ask them, though, to not tell people what they paid because that's not what it would cost! They're friends so they understand. It's always paid off in more orders for me, so it seem to be working.

Good luck!

Niliquely Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 2:44pm
post #9 of 31

Kitagrl - I don't think you should feel that your portfolio is imcomplete!!! I viewed your album and your cakes are INCREDIBLE!!!!

solascakes Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 2:44pm
post #10 of 31

I charge what i think i'm worth,if the cake is free,i make my own design.I just try to balance it out, but the days of crying cos i feel cheated when customers come to pick their cake is soooo OVER,i also have my cakes on my ipod which i take everywhere, so i have something to show people.I am not cheap and not afraid to say it,i'm also cheaper than the local bakery,so the choice is the customer's. icon_biggrin.gif

Kitagrl Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 2:47pm
post #11 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Niliquely

Kitagrl - I don't think you should feel that your portfolio is imcomplete!!! I viewed your album and your cakes are INCREDIBLE!!!!




Thank you so much...but still, I don't get alot of brides yet (not alot of wedding cakes in my portfolio) and then also there is the issue of pay...I get alot of customers who want a "small" 3D cake which even though I start at $150, still, its not a big profit for the work as compared to tiered cakes.

I do get big orders now and then, just not regularly.

costumeczar Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 2:56pm
post #12 of 31

[quote="bakingatthebeach Later she emailed me to tell me her husband got a GREAT deal on cupcakes from Costco that would be shaped into the number 16 with a heart around it.
[/quote]

Good luck with that...Have you seen the cupcakes "cakes"on cakewrecks? Hee hee! icon_twisted.gif

bakingatthebeach Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 3:00pm
post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

[quote="bakingatthebeach Later she emailed me to tell me her husband got a GREAT deal on cupcakes from Costco that would be shaped into the number 16 with a heart around it.




Good luck with that...Have you seen the cupcakes "cakes"on cakewrecks? Hee hee! icon_twisted.gif[/QUOTE]Yeah, we all laughed at work. She also told me in the email that maybe I can do one of my "scrumpcious" cakes for her birthday. I think I will be too booked but Costco has some great deals!

Kitagrl Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 3:01pm
post #14 of 31

I feel like too sometimes people expect a cheaper price from a home baker. When I quote specialty baker prices some customers are a bit taken aback.

myslady Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 3:04pm
post #15 of 31

You should not feel guilty about what you are charging.

I think the boringness comes from that's all people are used to seeing. When grocery stores decided to add bakeries, they marketed cakes that could be reproduced quickly and typically you do not see more unless the cake has a character on it or it is for a holiday.

One way you could market the cakes you want to try is to put together some printed brochures of pictures of cakes you have made that are are in a certain price range. I wouldn't recommend using the actual pictures out the books unless you get permission because of copyright laws and some people are sensitive about their cakes.

This way when someone goes to order a cake from you, you can give them the brochure or brochures to look at before ordering and they know all the possible options they have.

costumeczar Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 3:05pm
post #16 of 31

Hey, bakingatthebeach...That's a really nice lady there. She'll cheap out on cupcakes from Costco for her daughter's 16th birthday, but for her own she's ready to get a good one from you! What a riot!

Kitagrl Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 3:06pm
post #17 of 31

I will say, on the other hand, I will have a customer buy what I think is a "plain" cake (a cutout flat shape or something) and I have to charge my regular "per serving" price which makes it TOTALLY higher than your regular local bakery...and people seem so pleased with it even though the price is nothing close to what I would pay.

I guess the trouble comes in when you get to the cakes over $500...its way harder for me to get those because people consider the bigger bakeries to me more "reputable" I guess.

bakingatthebeach Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 3:13pm
post #18 of 31

Costumeczar... you are so right, didnt think about that. My daughters Sweet 16 is in August, she is planning on me doing a huge cake that will "blow everyone away". Cant wait to show the co-worker what her daughter could have had!

indydebi Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 3:33pm
post #19 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by imartsy

I understand - I feel guilty right now charging people 3 - 3.50 for a slice of cake. And I'm making like probably $10 profit on a cake (if I don't count the time I've spent creating it).




Are you using super high quality (expensive) ingredients? I ask because $3.50 is my BC-per-serving price and I make WAY more than $10 profit on a cake (even when I was an at-home baker). If you are, then you need to market that .... point out that what you offer just can't be obtained at a grocery store.

Right on my website (dessert cakes page), I tell 'em, "You wont' find grocery store prices on here .... but you won't find cakes like this at a grocery store either!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

I feel like too sometimes people expect a cheaper price from a home baker. When I quote specialty baker prices some customers are a bit taken aback.



Start out with the Duff example .... "I LUV Ace of Cakes, too! Did you know," she said in a conspiratory loud whisper, "that he has a one THOUSAND dollar minimum on his cakes? The good news is I'm not QUITE that expensive. Now ... what were you looking for?" icon_biggrin.gif

Dont' be shy about giving them a small laugh and saying, "I'm not Walmart and can't buy cake ingredients by the truckload, so my costs are WAY higher than theirs on a cake. But you're not getting a mass produced cake that looks like everyone else's cake, either."

Kitagrl is right, though. I had a, shall we say "indepth" conversation with a groom once, right before I moved to the shop. He was an accountant and was telling me that my pricing would be higher when I moved to the shop because I'd have more overhead, implying I should be cheaper than a "real" business since I was at home right now.

I tried to explain to him about added baking capacity, being able to take on more work, spreading those costs out over more cakes, actually REDUCING the overhead per cake. God bless his little no-life-experience heart, this young accounting guy just didn't get it. I can now make 3 wedding cakes (100 servings each) in LESS time that I could make one wedding cake before.

I think this is the biggest barrier a home baker has ... getting the clients to understand your costs are not always cheaper. Sometimes they are, sometimes they're a wash, sometimes they're higher.

Niliquely Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 3:43pm
post #20 of 31

Indydebi...you have to be by far one of the wisest cakesters I've ever met! Everytime I read your posts I think "Wow she's smart!"

CookiezNCupcakez Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 3:47pm
post #21 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Niliquely

Indydebi...you have to be by far one of the wisest cakesters I've ever met! Everytime I read your posts I think "Wow she's smart!"




I agree ! Indydeb knows her stuff thumbs_up.gif

Kitagrl Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 3:50pm
post #22 of 31
Quote:
Quote:

I tried to explain to him about added baking capacity, being able to take on more work, spreading those costs out over more cakes, actually REDUCING the overhead per cake. God bless his little no-life-experience heart, this young accounting guy just didn't get it. I can now make 3 wedding cakes (100 servings each) in LESS time that I could make one wedding cake before.




SOOOOOOOOOO true!!!!!!!!!!!

I worked at that catering place and we were cooking out 8 really nice wedding cakes per week plus tons of desserts and cookies and stuff. Of course we had a couple of us working...and then huge mixers...and a huge oven, and a huge walk in. The way we worked it, they had a day of baking (spare time spent on desserts and cookies...), a day of filling and crumb coating (then working on desserts), a day of icing the cakes (then more desserts) and then decorating. Somebody else did the delivery, or the cakes stayed on site.

At home, I do my own consult, my own dishes, my own baking, my own supply purchasing, and my own making and delivering (unless hubby does that part). I do not buy in bulk, and I only have one regular oven (although its large capacity for a home oven). I do have two cake fridges and one cake freezer.

Anyway...rambling on...YEAH if I'm only doing 4 cakes in a weekend, and three of them are party cakes....I can't charge bakery prices or I may as well just close up shop and spend time with my boys and catch up on my laundry. Ya know?

whisperingmadcow Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 3:55pm
post #23 of 31

I am a home baker too and I am still pretty new with everything. For me, I love to make cakes as a hobby and hope to learn more and do more down the line.

I like to make a couple cakes a month just to play with and practice on for my own fun. I am at a stage where I am greatful for any sells I get even if I am only making a small profit because its less money that I am spending on my hobby but I am still getting the practice. Every time I fire up the KA is a chance to learn so down the line I can ask for more money.

Maybe this isn't the best way to look at it, but I am comfortable with it for right now.

Kitagrl Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 3:59pm
post #24 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by whisperingmadcow

I am a home baker too and I am still pretty new with everything. For me, I love to make cakes as a hobby and hope to learn more and do more down the line.

I like to make a couple cakes a month just to play with and practice on for my own fun. I am at a stage where I am greatful for any sells I get even if I am only making a small profit because its less money that I am spending on my hobby but I am still getting the practice. Every time I fire up the KA is a chance to learn so down the line I can ask for more money.

Maybe this isn't the best way to look at it, but I am comfortable with it for right now.




I totally agree....I guess when you get to the point I'm at, and I've actually made this a real "business" and our family does rely on at least some of the income from it...it gets to where you really have to get serious about pricing, and attracting bigger orders.

I did it on the side like you are for quite a few years first though...enjoy!

indydebi Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 3:59pm
post #25 of 31

Ah heck! that just shows that I've mastered the art of bullsh*t and I've got ya all snowed! icon_biggrin.gif

tinygoose Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 4:06pm
post #26 of 31

I wanna be Indydebi when I grow up.

solascakes Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 4:19pm
post #27 of 31

People that order from me usually come to my house first to choose or discuss a design from my work which is stored on my laptop,so at least they have a good idea of what i can do.They can then make changes etc.

solascakes Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 4:27pm
post #28 of 31

And as a home baker,there have also been times that i have had to say to customers straight "sorry it's not worth my time and energy", go to costco or asda(a sub. of walmart).That gives them an idea of how much work is involved.

Niliquely Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 4:35pm
post #29 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinygoose

I wanna be Indydebi when I grow up.




Me too!

debbed Posted 28 Mar 2009 , 7:11pm
post #30 of 31

I too wanna be indydebi when I grow up. I'm real close to grown up....and I have the right name, just don't spell it right! Debby

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