Let me start off by saying that I live in Ohio and home bakeries are legal as long as nothing in the cake/baked goods have to be refrigerated. I understand and agree with the several members on CC that always bring this matter up. But, then those threads usually turn into a legal discussion and the original topic is forever lost. So, I am stating upfront that what I am doing is legal.
That being the case, how do I drum up more business? I know there have been several other threads along the lines of this topic. Many have mentioned that they use Facebook. Okay, I will be honest. I am not a member of Facebook, My Space, Twitter or any other social networking website (except for CC-the best ever). I never saw them as a way to advertise, but only as a way to keep in touch. I figured if I liked someone enough to be their friend, I would call them.
So, how does using Facebook as a way to advertize work? Do you post pictures of your cakes? Is it an easy website to use? (I think I am the only person in their mid-20s that has never been on any of these sites-ever.) Would anyone that uses Facebook be willing to send me a link to their page so I can look at it?
What other avenues of advertizing have you used-free or paying? What worked best, what was a waste?
At what point did you make a website? My husband and I have been talking with a friend of ours that designs websites for a living, but I want to wait until I get more pictures. Is that smart, or should I just bite the bullet and do a website with only a few pictures and slowly add?
You need a web site. When I was shopping for vendors for my daughter's wedding, if they didn't have a web site with their services and prices, I passed them by. I didn't pick up the phone and call them.
Consider having a booth at any wedding shows in your area. They're expensive, but if you get a couple of bookings, they pay for themselves.
Find out if any department stores in your area do any shows where you could have a booth. These are often free.
Find the caterers in your area that don't do cakes and introduce yourself to them. Take a book with your pictures and some of your cards or brochures and ask them if they'll pass your information to people they meet with for catering. Ask for their cards and tell them you'll pass their info. along to people meeting with you.
Go to bridal salons, venues, florists, DJs, etc. and ask them if they'll let you leave your cards or brochures at their place. A lot of them have an area for other vendors' cards. Always be sure to ask for theirs and let them know you'll promote their business, too.
I've made some good contacts just by talking with other vendors at the wedding shows. A six-pack of cupcakes is always a nice thank you when you meet with businesses, and it gives them a chance to taste your wares.
i dont' do business with anyone who doesn't have a website. not having a website today is like not having a fax machine in the 80's or a phone at any time.
Flickr.com is a free website designed to hold LOTS of photos. It's free up to a certain capacity. I think i managed to get 150-200 photos on there before I had to pay the $25/year fee.
Join the local Chamber of Commerce and attend their After-Hours, their breakfasts and other events. I've gotten LOTS of catering bookings from my chamber membership. (Everyone who hosts an After-hours needs food!).
Find and join a local BNI group (bni.com) Best advertising dollar I've ever spent! My first year, I received over $10,000 worth of business thru my fellow BNI'er referrals.
Start a blog on blogspot.com. It's free. put a link on your website and I even have a link in my email signature ... so every email I send, I tell them about my blog! You can post pics, talk cake, etc.
You absolutely need a website. 77% of brides shop FIRST on the InterWeb. If you're not there, they'll never find you.
And you need to have control of the website. Even if you pay someone else to design it for you (I didn't) then have them teach you how to upload pictures and make simple changes.
GoDaddy has an easy template driven web creator and hosting for a 5 page site that extremely inexpensive.
I'm with Debi on BNI. Very expensive, but well worth it.
These days, if you don't have a website, you just don't exist.
Website is a must. Vista print has unlimited webpages with a lot of extras including a pay pal shopping cart for $14.97 per month with the first month being free! So you could even accept payments and deposit online if you have a paypal account.
My friend lives in Miami and she makes cakes. She posts her new creations on facebook and she's gotten a whole lot of new business thru her postings. She also has a website and a blog. Good luck to you,
What part of Ohio are you in?
I agree, a website is a must these days.
I'm just starting up my business too and I've found a number of directory-type websites which offer free ads. I've got some business in particular from parent network websites. (I'd give you the names of them but I'm in Australia, so it wouldn't help much). I'm happy doing kids' birthday cakes ATM but you could also look up wedding directory sites for your specific area.
I have a Facebook page. It's only small because, like you, I'm still building up my photo portfolio.
Hope that link works
I was able to get there but I had to log on first so my question is how does that work if one doesn't have a facebook page?
Yes a website is a definate must, even if its a blog. You need something online with photos of your work and information about your location, prices, policies, etc.
As for FB, Yes it takes time to figure out but to me is much easier than myspace and the others. If you go to the group section, look for the little box that says "Search groups". It will ask what kind youre looking for and you can type in cake decorators, home bakers, whatever. Youll see many pages of people like us who are advertizing through facebook.
I also attach several business cards to each order. If you do cupcakes and cookies, attach a card to EACH one. Usually when someone orders many cupcakes or cookies from me, the person who opened the box and passes them out is the only one who sees the cards. The wedding favors I just made, I put all my info on a sticker and stuck it to each box, since the woman wasnt crazy about the idea of placing my cards on the tables. At least now I know every single person at that wedding will get a favor and see my info.
Some people have gotten lots of business from free samples left in public places, that didnt work for me personally but I dont think I chose the right places.
Find other vendors, like florists or caterers or even toy stores (great for ppl looking for Bday cakes) ask them if they would be willing to let you put some brochures or business cards at their shops, and you would return the favor by advertizing for them on your website or something.
And remember the best advertizing really is word of mouth.
Here's my vote - website now! I totally agree with leah-s. Learn how to upload your own pics if you have someone else do it for you. If you're going through a website designer, they usually charge a fee to do updates like this. (Disclaimer: Not trolling for hubby's business here, he's busy enough. Just using an example.) My hubby also designs websites and he did one recently for a friend of ours who was just getting into the home inspection business. He went from getting 4 booked inspections a month to 40 - no exaggeration! People do shop around and get a good idea of the work you do from pictures.
I wish I could remember the thread I read this in, it was a long time ago. But, someone suggested that you make a few cupcakes and flyers/business cards and bring them into the offices you frequent (doctor's, dentist, insurance co.). That way they get a taste of your yummy treats and will think of you when they need a cake. Yes, it is giving away your money to do this, so you'll have to decide if you think it's worth your time and money and if you will get a return from this in the future. Good luck!
Thanks for the responses. I am taking them to heart and having a website made. Once it is up and running (a few weeks) I will start a new thread asking for opinions/suggestions. I have also contacted several vendors in my area to start a little network going.
ttehan4 I am close to Akron.
I am in the Columbus Ohio area myself, I started with a blog by just putting my pictures on there and talking a bit about what I did and the flavors of cake I used and such.
Then I created a facebook page but not for the cake business part just for fun but what happened was I ended up getting many referrals from friends, people would see my cakes and ask me to do a cake for them and before I knew it I was talking about my cake business all the time and getting plenty of orders. So I am one of those who believes in facebook to help in getting customers.
I agree with the others about a website being a must, I started with Yahoo, they had many templates to choose from which made the designing much easier.
I was one of those who baked cakes for practice and then gave the cakes away at local car dealers, doctors, and other business offices in my area. I just went in with the cake, cupcakes, Cookies all wrapped and looking very professional. I told them I was a local cake decorator and wanted to give them some samples of my work and if they ever needed a cake etc. in the future to keep me in mind, I always made sure to give them business cards as well. Doing this was something that worked out very well for my business.
If you have any other questions that I can help you with please don't hesiate to ask!!
Website is a must!