I know this will vary widely, but I would love to see all the ranges! A client asked me to make a white cake with strawberry mousse and BC to serve 30 ppl. They did not specify any specific decorations, just "something nice". I told them I could email some ideas, and so far I have come up with the one I would like to do, but will of course need their approval. I would like to do a hat/gift box that is propped open with flowers coming out of it. The cake would be covered in fondant, with some gumpaste flowers. So what would you charge per serving in your area? Are you in a low/med/high cost of living area? TIA!
Nevermind the area I live in, that doesn't affect what I charge for what my work is worth. Some will pay, some won't. You will find this to be the majority of answers from people who honestly care about their bottom line and aren't of the mindset of what they themselves would personally pay....ok, got that out of the way before anyone like that tries to pass that line off on you.
That is some serious work, and talent involved to make it look fantastic. So, personally, I would start at $6.00 per serving. Might go up. I'd have to have a final sketch in front of me and some other details.
The cake part would be $5/serving (an 8" square is 30 servings) and the floral work would vary depending on what's in the arrangement, but would probably run in the $75-125 range. My guess is that this person isn't going to be down with a price like that since she didn't contract you for that caliber of work. I know it's tempting to do something awesome to get business when you are starting out, or just because you want to make a design, but if you do all of that work for cheap money, this is what they will expect all the time. There's nothing wrong with doing a more modest cake and keeping the work proportionate to the cost paid for the cake. Not saying you were planning on doing on the cheap, but just for argument's sake.
I live in a small town in New England. Definitely not a rich place, but I don't take that into consideration when pricing my work. If people can't afford the price for something over the top they won't order it and I'm okay with that. I'm not workin' for pennies so someone can have what they want for the price they want to pay. It just doesn't work that way. You can't afford to pay $225+ for a gift box cake with gumpaste flowers coming out of it? That's okay... you can get a cake that fits your budget... I am not taking a loss to make the cake fit your budget. Most people around here are the "let's get a cake at Wal*Mart" crowd, but little by little word of mouth gets around and before I knew it I was getting booked solid some months. It's amazing to me what someone will pay for originality and bragging rights... ... and I'm so glad they do.
Do you know what the client's budget is? Before I start any cake design, the first question to the client is always "What is your budget for this cake?"
You know she needs to serve 30 people, now you need to find out what she's willing to spend. She may say she wants *something nice*, but to her that just may mean simple piping and roses.
Definitely before you do anything else find out her budget and let that be the deciding factor. The cake you described is very time consuming.
Do you have a pricing matrix in place for all of your cakes? If not that's your next step. Figure out all of your costs per serving and theirs your base price. Design, flavors, intricate flowers and figures all drive that price up.