Did I Learn My Lesson? Am I Done Ripping Myself Off!!!!

Decorating By CarrieBear Updated 31 Oct 2009 , 8:22pm by CarrieBear

CarrieBear Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 2:38pm
post #1 of 28

Ok, I dont usually vent but Ive about had it.

I am done being nice and 'giving cakes away' , I never charge people enough.

Ive only been doing a cakes just barley a year now, just for family and friends, so I figured I would just do them for 'practice' to get experience. Well family and friends turned into coworkers and and my families co-workers.

The last 2 cakes I just did, I started asking materials cost and let people know that I would appreciate a donation to the Free Cakes for Kids program that I am part of.... what a STUPID idea!!!

I assumed people would pay me more than what they have, I really dont think people have a clue what goes into these cakes! I am making some where around 75 cents labor on these things.
Its not worth my stress and headache. Never again will I just take a 15$ donation for a 15 hour cake...

sorry for the rant. I just had to let it out.. just wondering who else had to learn their lesson the hard way.

icon_sad.gif

27 replies
KHalstead Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 2:46pm
post #2 of 28

I had to learn it the hard way as well!!! Mine wasn't "giving them away" I was charging, just not enough...so in the end I WAS giving them away (I just didn't realize it at the time)

I learned my lesson on my first topsy turvy cake, I quoted the lady $50.00 and she hesitated, and then said ok! I spent 36 hrs. on the gumpaste flowers, plaques, carving, decorating (this didn't include time spent shopping for supplies OR baking OR cleaning up) and by the time I sat down and figured out how much in supplies it COST me, it was $46.00. yep, you guessed it....I got paid $4.00 for 36+ hrs of work. After that I sat down for a couple hours and made up a pricing list and I STICK to it, I give 10% off your first order up to $100.00 for new customers (part of an advertisement I have) other than that you pay full price UNLESS you're my husband, or my BFF, my mother won't even let me give her a discount!

Get yourself a price you can live with (even if you COULD get more), start with one you can live with and STICK to it.

I have raised my prices (as a way to slow down my orders) about 3 times, my original tiered cake prices were $1.25/serv. (which is what the going rate is where I am) I now charge $2.25/serv. and $3.00/serv. for carved cakes and I stick to the price and guess what?? I still have to turn down orders because I don't have the time (I do anywhere from 5-15 cakes a week depending on the amount of time each one will take)
Don't be afraid to charge what you're worth, if they don't want to pay it then they won't have appreciated the work that went into it anyhow!

CarrieBear Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 2:52pm
post #3 of 28

yeah, I figured I will have to do some reasearching one of these days to see what a good price is for the kind of cakes I do.
I do mostly fondant cakes, and half of them have been carved/sculpted.

wow!! that stinks that you got ripped off by that cake BIG time. but I guess you learned a good lesson.
I know I did...

Pauldo Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 3:12pm
post #4 of 28

CarrieBear I completely understand. I started of doing simple cakes for friends and family as well but I have attended classes and spent hours in the kitchen trying to perfect my skills. And I use to charge about $25 for my cakes and then I realized I was getting jipped. Today I still charge on average about $40 for a cake and 90% of my cakes are fondant inspired (that stuff alone is $50 a container).

I too have gotten fed up with something that I love to do because I find myself having to bargain a deal with my cake. I told a bride I would do a 3 tier wedding cake to feed about 100 for her last minute (I had a week) for $150. She told me that was too much and out of her budget. So I lowered it to $125. I didnt hear back from her until 3 days before the event. Obviously she had tried to call around for better deals and ended up "sh** out of luck" because I refused to do her cake as well.

I have even gone as far as to purchase the cake boss which will give you a price based on what you enter in as your hourly rate and ingredient fees. I have yet to even open the program.

So, yes you are correct people dont appreciate this "art". They dont seem to understand that they can open a box of Betty Crocker and still not be able to create the masterpieces that we have spent hours on (if they could then they wouldnt be calling us). But my conscience still gets the best of me and I feel bad when people start dropping their orders from 50 to 20 people because that will cut the price in half. Then I feel like I dont have the right to charge higher prices because I am not a licensed business yet.

So what to do...what to do? I will be following up on your post to see what others say. Because I too not only want to profit but be happy with what I do. You dont enjoy spending 36 hours on a cake knowing you only going to make $4 in the end.

CarrieBear Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 6:15pm
post #5 of 28

yeah if you think about all the other services out there people have no problem handing money over for that they dont know how to do.

I wonder if people think just becuase they have made a cake before that just anyone can do it and that its not worth paying for.
Some times I wish people really knew what was involved. Its alot more than just throwing some ingredients into a bowl...

three_sets_of_twins Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 6:25pm
post #6 of 28

funny enough I should stumble across this tonight! Ijust spent the last 2 days doing two large orders, a wedding and a shower, and SWORE to myself thats IT, if they cant afford me, they cant have me. I just got a call for a huge cupcake bouquet and gave them my NEW ME WHAT I AM WORTH PRICE. I told them all they have to do is reply to my message and I'll start. Well so far no reply LOL. But you know what? I feel GOOD. I'm NOT disappointed! I will NOT do all that work for an amount that makes me in the end feel like I ripped myself off. Heck even with my old prices they thought I was expensive!
I'm proud of you that you came to this decision! And if people stop calling for a while, big deal. They'll eventually call when they see your beautiful work being raved about by people who appriciate your time!! You may think of it as theyre letting you practice but sweetie, those people are ripping you off with those measley donations and I know how backbreaking this is!! Wish you all the best!

cathyscakes Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 6:38pm
post #7 of 28

I know what you mean, I did a cake for someone's baby shower and I didn't give her any price. I usually just do cakes for friends for free. So I never ask for money. Anyway, when she saw the cake she thought it was so nice that she gave me a card with some money in it. She said don't open it now, and I was worried about how much money she had put in it, didn't want her to give me too much. The card had $30.00. Right then I realized how little people think cakes are worth. I spent way more than that in ingredients. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, I didn't want any money, its a hobby for me, but she acted like she was giving me more than it was worth. Its the under the sea cake in my pictures, it had alot of gumpaste figures, took alot of time. I just find it funny.

three_sets_of_twins Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 6:52pm
post #8 of 28

well hey! just to update, the woman messaged me back and agreed to the price! Didnt even argue! Good luck carrie bear!!!

bethola Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 6:53pm
post #9 of 28

What? You mean you can't make a wedding cake for 100 people for LESS than $150? WALMART CAN! LOL Just kidding. I think you have to make up your mind that it IS up to you what you charge. If you just wait for people to pay, or make a donation.....usually you are disappointed.

sunsecret Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 6:55pm
post #10 of 28

I took a class with the sole intention of birthday cakes for my daughter. Well, that turned into "Did you know your MIL used to make cakes?", "Oh, yeah, I used to do that, that's how I bought all my fun stuff for the house and trips! You should do blah, blah, blah!" icon_rolleyes.gif
Then came, "I told so-n-so that you would do the cake for great-grandma's bday." Now, I am to the point that I want to bake a box mix, slap a can of frosting on it, and stick a candle in it. Happy Birthday 2nd cousin we have never seen in 10 years! icon_twisted.gif
I, ONCE, did a wedding cake. After putting pen to paper, found out I put $80+ of my own money into the cake. So I lost money on that, gave the bride and groom a huge present of free service, (not even knowing them well enough to buy a congrats card) and didn't even get a thanks from any family member. icon_mad.gif
Never Again!! I make cakes when I want for the events I want! icon_biggrin.gif

Darth_Aerdna Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 7:13pm
post #11 of 28

I too have had experience with this.
When I was first learning to decorate I would make free cakes for friends and coworkers.
The $$ stated to add up. It seemed like every other week was someones birthday and they always were asking me to make a cake.

When I finally said to my coworkers - I cant afford to make cakes for everyone anymore,
They decided to take up a collection for birthdays- AND BUY A CAKE FROM THE GROCERY STORE!!!!!!

That was the end of me making free cakes for anyone at work

Texas_Rose Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 7:13pm
post #12 of 28

Either charge what you think your cakes are worth, or tell yourself that you're charging for the supplies so you can gain experience...and then charge enough for the supplies, all the supplies, not just the ones that you don't already have on hand.

If you're charging for the cake, then figure out how many hours of your time they have bought and put that amount of work into the cake.

Personally, I do not sell my cakes because TX doesn't license home bakers (although I am getting pretty tempted, we're trying to get together the down payment for a house and the cake devil is sitting on my shoulder whispering, "Just sell the things!" icon_razz.gif). Anyhow, I make cakes for friends and family. They pay for supplies, I get to play with cake for free. If I have to buy a pan for that particular cake, they buy it. I have gained speed with practice so that cakes that used to take me 10 or 15 hours now take three or four at the most. I've also managed to get some nice photos of the things I've made, and I am more confident about transporting a stacked cake than I was before, so I have been profiting from the deal, just not in $$$.

Rosa2745 Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 7:13pm
post #13 of 28

Know what you mean. I got to the point where people could call me the day before for a cake and I would gladly do it. But after attempting to deliver a cake on Saturday that was intended for Sunday I said "no more", I placed myself under a lot of stress working full time and then RUSHING home to bake and make fondant decorations. I have already turned two cakes down and I was asked for a quote for another. I will quote that cake fairly because I am tired of working countless hours on a cake only to get a very small profit. If people can't afford a nice cake then they can head on over to Walmart for a sheet cake. My sanity and my family are worth much more than that.

CarrieBear Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 7:54pm
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosa2745

I placed myself under a lot of stress working full time and then RUSHING home to bake and make fondant decorations. .




ok yep, sound like me right there


work 10 hour days
rush home
make dinner.
its 6pm and i get to work on some one free cake for 3-4 hours 3 days in a row for free.
not fun.
and being the perfectionist that I am, I stress myself out big time..
interesting to see I am not the only one out there who's been there done that.
thanks for all the replies everyone.

cas17 Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 8:10pm
post #15 of 28

wait for the customers that will pay what you are worth and they will tell THEIR friends about you. that is the customers you want to have. you provide a service where there is a fee, you are not a local volunteer cake decorator icon_smile.gif

susanscakecreations Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 8:16pm
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarrieBear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosa2745

I placed myself under a lot of stress working full time and then RUSHING home to bake and make fondant decorations. .



ok yep, sound like me right there


work 10 hour days
rush home
make dinner.
its 6pm and i get to work on some one free cake for 3-4 hours 3 days in a row for free.
not fun.
and being the perfectionist that I am, I stress myself out big time..
interesting to see I am not the only one out there who's been there done that.
thanks for all the replies everyone.




You're definitely not alone...........I'm no pro (yet! haha) but I love to do this!
I work 8 hours a day, then come home to try and cook dinner before I have to pop some cakes into the oven, and spend the course of the whole weeks' evenings working on cakes....and feeling that I don't charge nearly enough..........not that I have one to do every week, but my business is growing............and with that growth I'm getting more stressed.....so, I know where you are coming from!!! icon_wink.gif

Rosie2 Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 8:33pm
post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarrieBear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosa2745

I placed myself under a lot of stress working full time and then RUSHING home to bake and make fondant decorations. .



ok yep, sound like me right there


work 10 hour days
rush home
make dinner.
its 6pm and i get to work on some one free cake for 3-4 hours 3 days in a row for free.
not fun.
and being the perfectionist that I am, I stress myself out big time..
interesting to see I am not the only one out there who's been there done that.
thanks for all the replies everyone.


Yikesssss you ladies follow the same schedule I do!!! ---oh, and the perfection's stress too---

BTW, all my cakes are 'free for all' icon_smile.gif

cylstrial Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 8:51pm
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by three_sets_of_twins

funny enough I should stumble across this tonight! Ijust spent the last 2 days doing two large orders, a wedding and a shower, and SWORE to myself thats IT, if they cant afford me, they cant have me. I just got a call for a huge cupcake bouquet and gave them my NEW ME WHAT I AM WORTH PRICE. I told them all they have to do is reply to my message and I'll start. Well so far no reply LOL. But you know what? I feel GOOD. I'm NOT disappointed! I will NOT do all that work for an amount that makes me in the end feel like I ripped myself off. Heck even with my old prices they thought I was expensive!
!




Can I ask what your old prices were? And now what your new prices are?

I love your bride and groom brownie pops! They are adorable!!

icon_biggrin.gif

sugarandslice Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 8:55pm
post #19 of 28

When I thought about selling cakes I made a special trip to the supermarket with a list of all the ingredients I could possibly use to make cakes (went through all my recipes first) and priced up every ingredient. Then I went home and sat with my calculator and opened a new spreadsheet on the computer. I now have a complete list of how much every ingredient costs per gram. It was a real eye-opener about exactly how much a cake costs. And it stops me from thinking just about what I don't have in my cupboard for a particular cake.

I then made another spreadsheet of how much all my other supplies like baking paper and cake boards cost. Not just the raw cost but with postage added on where I buy online.

I now know that whenever I do a quote for a cake every single element is covered and I can give a really detailed quote if that's what the client wants (never ingredient-by-ingredient, but each size cake, ganache, fondant, gumpaste, cake boards). Most people don't want that level of detail but I've not yet had anyone question my pricing. I also put my $/hr for my labour (this is where I'm probably still under-charging! icon_redface.gif )

Just some more thoughts for you. For me, doing this kind of preparation work was well worth the time.

HTH
Emma

CarrieBear Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 8:58pm
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by cas17

you are not a local volunteer cake decorator icon_smile.gif




sorry I just had to giggle... icon_lol.gif

not for everyone Im not..

I am a volunteer cake decorator for the non profit org. Free Cakes for kids program. so they are the only ones I will be volunteering my time to free for.

icon_smile.gif

CarrieBear Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 9:03pm
post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarandslice

When I thought about selling cakes I made a special trip to the supermarket with a list of all the ingredients I could possibly use to make cakes (went through all my recipes first) and priced up every ingredient. Then I went home and sat with my calculator and opened a new spreadsheet on the computer. I now have a complete list of how much every ingredient costs per gram. It was a real eye-opener about exactly how much a cake costs. And it stops me from thinking just about what I don't have in my cupboard for a particular cake.

I then made another spreadsheet of how much all my other supplies like baking paper and cake boards cost. Not just the raw cost but with postage added on where I buy online.

I now know that whenever I do a quote for a cake every single element is covered and I can give a really detailed quote if that's what the client wants (never ingredient-by-ingredient, but each size cake, ganache, fondant, gumpaste, cake boards). Most people don't want that level of detail but I've not yet had anyone question my pricing. I also put my $/hr for my labour (this is where I'm probably still under-charging! icon_redface.gif )

Just some more thoughts for you. For me, doing this kind of preparation work was well worth the time.

HTH
Emma




yeah and I actually started and excell spreadsheet about a couple months back that i can plug in prices and formulas in to calculate costs. so right about now I am thinking finishing that would be a smart Idea icon_wink.gif

cas17 Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 9:14pm
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarrieBear

Quote:
Originally Posted by cas17

you are not a local volunteer cake decorator icon_smile.gif



sorry I just had to giggle... icon_lol.gif

not for everyone Im not..

I am a volunteer cake decorator for the non profit org. Free Cakes for kids program. so they are the only ones I will be volunteering my time to free for.

icon_smile.gif




yes but that is different and pretty awesome thumbs_up.gif

CarrieBear Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 9:26pm
post #23 of 28

icon_biggrin.gif

sugarandslice Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 10:05pm
post #24 of 28

CarrieBear I've also drawn up a table of the cake types and sizes that I bake a lot so I'm not working it out each time. Eg: 9" choc mud costs $X and 10" WASC costs $Y; filling and covering 8" in choc ganache costs $Z.
You get the picture.

If you want examples of any of these just pm me. I'm happy to share (but it's all in Aussie dollars! icon_smile.gif )

Emma

Cathy26 Posted 29 Oct 2009 , 11:48pm
post #25 of 28

Ive been caking for a year now and yeah at the beginning my prices were horrific!! i started charging £25 for a 10 inch cake with filling, fondant, gumpaste figures and flowers, writing, etc, £20 for an 8inch, £40 for a 6 and a 6 two tier, etc and realised that it was undercutting myself for no reason. at the beginning i just wanted orders and wasnt confident to charge a lot in case i made a mistake but now im confident to take on most things so my prices are now reflective of the work involved. my basic 8 inch with one figure is £30 now and £35 for a 10 inch, its £5 extra for each figure and basically i just quote individually based on what the cake will be. Im still very competitive and probably still on the low side but im getting my ingredients pretty cheap and making now about £7-£10 an hour so im happy.

there is no point undercutting yourself, cause some nights when your working on a cake your not that into (for me its sport related cakes) you'l really wish you were actually seeing some benefit in all the time your spending so get those prices up NOW!!

wildwolves Posted 30 Oct 2009 , 5:10am
post #26 of 28

Oh i'm so glad that i am not the only one that is going through all this too icon_smile.gif Its nice to know that there are a lot of use out there that are not getting paid for what we are worth!
Guess we should all learn from this and get a realistic price list togther and stick to it no matter what!!
Thanks everyone for the motivation to get a price list going for myself lol icon_biggrin.gif

KSMill Posted 30 Oct 2009 , 5:43am
post #27 of 28

As you can see, you're not alone! I started the same way and have crept my prices upward. I'm still not quite what the bakeries are and my cakes aren't frozen. They're made fresh to order. What I don't get is that people don't seem to flinch when they pay $5.00 or $6.00 for a piece of cake in a restaurant (of course the icing is just slapped on in 30 seconds and then the cake is cut) but will faint when a wedding cake costs $2.00/slice. I know the serving sizes are a bit different, but they're still generous sizes. I say "DON'T APOLOGIZE FOR YOUR PRICES! RESPECT YOUR OWN TIME AND CREATIVITY"

CarrieBear Posted 31 Oct 2009 , 8:22pm
post #28 of 28

thanks for all the replies! icon_smile.gif

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