I Need Help Pricing My (Maybe) First Cake Sale!!!

Business By amanda924 Updated 5 Aug 2009 , 2:02pm by FromScratch

amanda924 Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 5:56pm
post #1 of 61

Hi all,

I am brand spanking new to cake decorating, and am trying to figure out how to have a cake business from home (as I know of at least 2-3 ladies in my hometown who do). I have read that you have to have a seperate kitchen with all those sinks, etc etc but I KNOW the other ladies in my town don't have all of that. So, long story short, I was on a forum for our town on a thread about cake decorating, and asked the question "how are all these ladies getting around that", hoping one of them would help me out or at least just verify they're doing it illegally. I didn't get a reply from any of them -- but I did get a reply from a girl who wants me to bake a cake for her!

If I WAS going to do it (still not sure about the legality and if I SHOULD) but just for argument's sake, if I was, how would I price it? Please copy and paste the link she sent me (below). This is what she wants. She said her budget is $30 - $35 which I'm assuming is why she's asking me...she said other people told her anywhere from $60 - $140. I'm sure she's thinking since I'm new and not licensed yet I'll give her a great deal. I'm still not even SURE I'll do it but not knowing how to quote someone is just freaking me out. I wouldn't want to ask for much since I am a beginner, but is $35 just way too cheap to do something similar to that cake? Link below:


She also mentioned if it can't be done for that price, to just do a two tier round with little foot prints on the side, and a bow in front. That is probably more doable for $35, right?

Thanks in advance ladies I have been lurkinig here for a couple of days, I'm really excited to join this community!

60 replies
Karema Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:08pm
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ok I'm bored so I will bite. First of all you know that it is illegal and you asked about it someplace else and someone you don't know just happened to say "can you make me a cake?" And you are thinking yes I should make it for $35? Ok what happens if this person is with the heath dept and is just trying to bust you and give you a fine? And secondly, $35 are you kidding me? Even if it is a two tier it $35 wouldn't even cover your materials. If you are going to break the law and make a cake for a stranger at least learn how to price cake and know that bakers charge per serving. You have to look at how much cake they need and what size layers you will need than come up with a price based on that. Which means you have to add up
The cost of food, plus the cost of electricity and or gas it would take to make the cake, gas in your vehicle to go to the store to buy supplies, plus the time it would take for you to make the cake, plus not food supplies that is needed like cake boards, boxes, etc.

Please don't take this the wrong way and I don't mean to sound snarky but do your research first instead of just coming here asking what everyone else would charge because a cake that size would be around $150 and you would give bakers everywhere a bad name if you do it for $35 and think you are doing them a favor. I wish you the best in your endeavors but you need to get the facts straight first before you just jump into the business.

__Jamie__ Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:16pm
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Yay! Karema's back! I never got to see a pic of that baby. icon_wink.gif

awestervelt Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:18pm
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I would probably charge 50. Looks like it's just square cakes with buttercream. Depending on what state you live in some places will let you do cake out of your home as a hobby as long as it's not more than 2-3 cakes a month. My husband does BBQ and he is allowed to do 6 catering jobs a year without being inspected. Check with the state you live in. I always double whatever it cost me to make the cake. Usually that covers my cost and gives me a profit. I live in a small town and nobody I know around here would pay 150.00 for that cake. You can only charge what people are willing to pay.

Karema Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:20pm
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Jamie I have a picture in the thread labeled Introducing Justice in Lounge.

__Jamie__ Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:20pm
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Double what your ingredients cost you, completely disregarding time? Ay yi yi...I'm getting out of here.

__Jamie__ Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:21pm
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Originally Posted by Karema

Jamie I have a picture in the thread labeled Introducing Justice in Lounge.

I saw that, and the pic wasn't there when I looked at it the first time. Thanks!

DefyGravity Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:22pm
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As I'm sure you've discovered, never ever ever mention baking illegally on this site. There are more than enough resources to help you do it the right way so you don't have to fear being "found out" by the big bad HD.

Good luck in your up and coming business!

amanda924 Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:23pm
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Wow Karema, you totally put me in my place. icon_redface.gif Of course you're right on many counts. Yes I'm aware that bakers charge by the serving, but I figured that as experienced as most of the people on here are they could estimate at a glance what they would charge for it...sorry to waste everyone's time, I guess I got overly excited at the thought of someone actually wanting to hire me...I'll try not to be so naive in the future and I won't be rash and ask any more questions out of excitement, obviously I should have researched it more and not wasted people's time on here... and it never occurred to me it could be someone trying to bust me, for a couple of reasons...1, why try to bust someone who's not even in business when there are about 6 names of people who ARE in business that they could look at? and 2, since I wasn't trying to sell cakes, I was just asking the ladies who are doing it how they are getting around the law. About the pricing, cakes just don't really cost that much around here I guess. I bought a cake two years ago for my daughter's birthday that was a LOT more elaborate and complicated than that and a lot more cake too...and I was only charged $50.00...so I guess it's the market...

Thanks to those of you who politely offered up a suggestion, even though I was out of line in my question.

Again sorry and no one else needs to waste their time replying. I do apologize,


indydebi Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:27pm
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Those look like 8" square cakes, which serve 32 each = 128 servings times my BC rate of $3.50 per serving = $448

If they are 6" square cakes, which serve 18 each = 72 servings times $3.50 = $252.

And she wants them for $35???????? icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

And in Kentucky you cannot bake out of your home. (Where's leahs ... we need her in on this one.)

amanda924 Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:35pm
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Thanks indydebi, I know in KY you can't bake out ofyour home without a seperate kitchen but the thing is I know of a LOT of people who are doing it without a seperate ktichen...and this whole thing started by me trying to figure out HOW they're doing it...or if they're ALL just illegal...because I dont' WANT to be illegal...

I really don't even think I'll end up doing it but what freaked me out was being shown a cake and not having a clue how to quote it...since I'll never be able to afford to add on a seperate kitchen, I dout I'll ever have to worry about it anyway...

Thanks though.

Karema Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:35pm
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You asked a question I answered. I told you be careful because it could be a set up and I gave you the advice to make sure you are getting paid well to compensate for your time and cost of material. So if you got offended because I was trying to help that is not my problem. If you don't want a truthful answer then don't ask questions. I was trying to be helpful so you don't have to feel like you shouldn't ask questions but just be ready for you answer when you ask.

awestervelt Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:35pm
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You were not out of line with your question. That's what this website is for. I'm a nurse in my regular job and we have a saying " Don't eat your young". I think maybe a few people aroud here should think about that. You were just asking for oppinions which you got. Don't appoligize for asking a simple question.

pouchet82 Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:41pm
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Amanda- No need to apologize and you were not out of line. There are certain topics here that can stimulate a very heated conversation, you will learn that the longer you hang out here. But we are here to help you! I know that there are plenty of bakers doing this illegally from home- but there are also some people here who will rat you out for it as well. We are just trying to look out for you, and if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.... it might be someone fom the HD trying to bust you. At thia point if you plan on doing this from home, stick to friends and family, and even friends of friends; people you know who won't get you in trouble.

Linz0507 Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:43pm
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I agree...but I'm also a newbie...so let's hope I don't get put in place!! JK...LOL!!!! Let's not forget that the website is here for bakers in all stages of their career...good luck with your cake...if u do it. I'm in the same situation...I live in a very small town where cakes are not valued at what they are worth icon_sad.gif People don't realize how stressful and how much work cakes are!! Good Luck girl!!! LEt me know how it goes...I'm interested in what u do!!


amanda924 Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:44pm
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Karema...If I was offended I probably would have given a very different reply...humbled is more like it....after reading your first reply I simply realized that it probably wasn't appropriate. I felt incredibly naive and my reply of apology was meant to reflect that, not offense or an aversion to truthful answers. I was apologizing because they things you said made me feel as though I'd asked something out of line...and it's not the "first impression" I wanted to leave.

I'm not sure where you're coming from telling me "not to ask questions if I don't want a truthful answer" and telling me if I'm offended it's "not your problem"... it seems as though I've somehow offended you. I actually appreciated your honesty and was simply stating a reply that reflected what that honesty made me feel about the situation. After realizing how naive/inappropriate it was, I regreted asking, therefore the apology.

Hope you all have a great day,


DefyGravity Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:48pm
post #17 of 61

You know what, as it stands, you haven't broken any laws. You didn't know, and you were just trying to learn. Now you know. I really hope you didn't get offended by any answers.

See if there is a place you can rent out to do your business. When you're legal, you will be able to openly advertise, so you'll be one up on those other ladies doing it from home.

My biggest fear when I saw some of the responses that you got was that you wouldn't post here anymore, and I hope that it doesn't become the case. There is a lot of knowledge to be had here, and if you really are interested in taking the straight and narrow, lots of people are willing to help you!

amanda924 Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:55pm
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Thank you so much for your kindness, defygravity. My fear is that I have now left the complete wrong impression on people (I'm one of those who wants everyone to like me icon_wink.gif ) so for me that's the worst. I'm not offended at all by anyone's reply, but I do think I have decided to definitely NOT worry about trying to do the cake. I will find a way to do it right, or not do it at all. I was really more concerned with knowing how to price it anyway, but obviously I just need to do a lot more research! icon_smile.gif I just got a little excited, but I've calmed down now and realized I need to take it slow. icon_smile.gif

Thanks again.

indydebi Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 7:04pm
post #19 of 61

Here are some serving charts that you might keep handy:

Wilton chart is a 1x2x4 serving size (basic wedding cake serving). This is also a good size for little kids' birthday parties (plenty of cake for 5 year old). http://www.wilton.com/wedding/wedding-cakes/wedding-cake-data.cfm

Some use Earline's chart, which I think assumes a 1.5 x2x4 serving size. This is 50% bigger than Wiltons. Wiltons is 8 cubic inches and Earlines is 12 cubic inches of cake. http://www.earlenescakes.com/ckserchart.htm

HEre are pics of cut pieces of cake 1x2x4: http://www.cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1156785

Here's my step by steps on how to cut a wedding cake to achieve the wilton servings: http://www.cateritsimple.com/id10.html

My best advice is to pick one of the serving charts and stick with it to determine your pricing. Dont' jump back and forth between them ... it'll just cause you problems.

Karema Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 7:06pm
post #20 of 61

Sorry Amanda it is hard to hear the tone of someones voice over the computer. So when you said you guessed I put you in your place I thought you were saying it like I offended you. Also when you mentioned that you wouldn't ask anymore questions to waste anyone elses time I thought you were upset. I just want you to be safe and that was my whole point. I don't want you to get caught out there with fines or get cheated out of your time and end up losing money on a cake order.

Trust me I'm not one of those people who get upset if someone is not legal. When I first started I wasn't legal. I baked from home to support my family and didnt have any idea it wasn't legal. I didn't get caught but I was lucky. I just didn't want you to be in trouble because you sounded so excited but I don't trust people. It sounds odd that you were asking about being illegal and this person just happens to say can you make me a cake and I will pay you? It doesn't sound right. Just be careful.

Don't think that you can't ask questions on here but I was just trying to be honest and I'm glad that it could have helped. You can ask anything you want and welcome to Cake Central.


amanda924 Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 7:07pm
post #21 of 61

Indydebi....Great advice, thanks...that info in your post is more or less what I was looking for/needed to know for future reference (if I can ever find a way to start doing it (legally, of course!!!). That helps immensely and I appreciate your effort in putting that together in a post for me.

Thanks so much!

cakemaker30 Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 7:09pm
post #22 of 61

I have been in business for about a year now and I still need to get out my chart and look up how many servings some cakes are and do the math based on my per serving price to give a quote to a customer. On 3D cakes I always tell them I will get back to them with a quote so I can figure out how much it will be. There is nothing wrong with not knowing right off the top of your head how much a cake should be. Unless it's an exact replica of a cake you have already done then you are going to need time to figure out the cost of it. With that being said, if you are going to go into business legally then you will want to figure out some kind of basic pricing structure for your cakes to make it easier for yourself and consistent for your customers. Everyone figures their prices differently and a lot of that will depend on your area. One of the first things I did was check out the competition and what they were charging. Then I listed ingredients, time, overheard, etc. and figured out if I could still make a profit staying in the same price range as my local competition and that is where I set my per serving slice. There's a lot of thought and work that needs to go into price setting if you are going to run a business and make some money. If it's just a hobby where you make a few bucks here and there then it doesn't have to be as involved and you can do cakes at cost or just for practice. I hope that helps a little bit and I hope you continue to post questions so you can learn from the people on this site. You can get a lot of good information.

indydebi Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 7:12pm
post #23 of 61

I would probably charge 50. Looks like it's just square cakes with buttercream.

$50 per cake or $50 total? If you mean $50 total, that's only $12.50 per cake. icon_eek.gificon_confused.gif

amanda924 Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 7:14pm
post #24 of 61

Thanks Karema. I do appreciate that so much. You're absolutely right, it's hard to catch someone's tone and I can see how that could be interpretted wrong. I was more or less joking at that statement. Truthfully I was quite embarrassed after reading your reply and felt that I was not presenting myself very well to the community. That's what I was upset about, you know? I want to make friends here icon_biggrin.gif . Not look like an idiot or waste anyone's time.

I'm sorry we misunderstood each other, I appreciate you looking out for me by pointing out the potential pitfall. I think it's best if I just let the whole idea go, I don't want to get myself into trouble. It's just dissappointing since I know so many people around here just do it, and therefore I never stopped to think there might be legal requirements BEFORE I jumped into this venture. I have spent all this money on classes/supplies with dreams of selling cakes...only to discover I can't rightly do it...and now it appears that dream won't become a reality anytime soon since I can't afford to build a new kitchen icon_rolleyes.gif lol.

But again thanks and I appreciate your honesty and your insight icon_biggrin.gif

amanda924 Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 7:18pm
post #25 of 61

Good advice! thumbs_up.gif Nice to know that I don't actually need to be afraid of not being able to come up with a quote out of thin air! icon_wink.gif and yeah I was just going to do it pretty much for a hobby, maybe I can just make cakes for family and friends for free (for practice) until *one day* having the money to open a business. (One can dream....)

Thanks! thumbs_up.gif

Originally Posted by cakemaker30

There is nothing wrong with not knowing right off the top of your head how much a cake should be. If it's just a hobby where you make a few bucks here and there then it doesn't have to be as involved and you can do cakes at cost or just for practice.

TheBlonde Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 7:24pm
post #26 of 61

I'm really sorry some people jumped down your throat Amanda. That wasn't right at all. I'm new to selling cakes as well and I asked a question just like yours 2 weeks ago and one woman was very helpful. No one jumped down my throat or made me feel unwelcome.

Please continue to post here and just ignore the people who may be rude to you. We all get excited, we all have questions, that's what this place is for. So ask away! icon_smile.gif

Heather715 Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 7:25pm
post #27 of 61

I do not sell cakes, but was asked to bake a family members wedding cake. I asked a question here and was told that I probably couldn't do it because I am not licensed. I had no idea before that post that there could be a problem with baking a cake at home for a family member. Fortunatly, the person who answered my post was not rude. Apparently most venue's don't allow cakes to be brought in by someone who isn't licensed. I had to tell the couple that I would not be able to make their cake.
I am curious about what it would take to become licensed, but have had a hard time finding that information. I am content with my day job and baking cakes for family and friends, so it is just a curiosioty. I wouldn't dare ask on here for fear of having my "head bit off."
I am sorry that someone was rude to you for asking a very innocent question.

Karema Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 7:30pm
post #28 of 61

Who was rude? Who jumped down her throat or made her feel unwelcomed?

__Jamie__ Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 7:40pm
post #29 of 61
Originally Posted by Heather715

I am curious about what it would take to become licensed, but have had a hard time finding that information. I am content with my day job and baking cakes for family and friends, so it is just a curiosioty. I wouldn't dare ask on here for fear of having my "head bit off."

Really?? icon_confused.gif You really think someone is going to bite your head off for asking a question on how to become legal? icon_mad.gif For crying out loud...here, knock yourself out. http://www.cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-forum-18.html

Oh wait, we're already IN the proper forum.

The shrinking violet and innocent little delicate Bambi acts are really getting old. What is this place? Hold-Your-Hand Central and kiss the puppies and kitties Forum?

Google. Your local health department. This place. All places with great info. And if someone really bites your head off, and isn't really just telling you something you don't want to hear, then tell em' to ki$% your a$&. And if you aren't up for it, better get some cakeba**s fast. This is serious business. And a lot of us in here tend to treat it as such. This isn't the "I just finished Wilton class 3, I'm ready to SELL" forum.

indydebi Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 7:51pm
post #30 of 61

Since I have no life except all-thing-cake, I'm pretty much in almost every thread on this site. And I don't recall ever seeing anyone get their head bit off for asking how to get legal. To the contrary, most folks bend over backwards to share good solid info to help folks take that next big step.

Heather, your story is a great addition to the info on this site. Many folks have no idea that hotels and venues will refuse a cake if it does not come from a commercial kitchen. Many folks assume if Aunt Sally makes it, then it MUST be ok (I mean, it's not like just 'some lady' made it ya know! icon_lol.gif ) So your experience and story is very valuable info, in additional to the 'get legal' stuff. thumbs_up.gif

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