To Charge Or Not To Charge That Is The Question!

Decorating By stiffalus Updated 27 Oct 2010 , 12:07pm by Scotch__Mist

stiffalus Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 6:13pm
post #1 of 23

i started to decorate cakes when it was my dads 50th. and as i have 3 boys age 7 6 and 4 i decided that it would be fun to do their birthday cakes for them to make it more personal. my sister in law then asked if i could do my niece and nephews cakes for their birthdays too which i didnt mind coz its fun to do.
the dilema i am having is when i drop a cake off to her i get her neighbours and her in laws asking me to make cakes for them. my neighbours knocking on my door for cakes and my mother in law demands them for her friends and if i said no it would cause a major family bust up!!!!! i dont feel like i am good enough to go into business my cakes are nowhere near the standard i want them to be although i try and put alot of effort into each and everyone. some people are offering to pay me but really minimal amounts such as £15 which doesnt even cover the costs.
the thing that gets me is that i spend all night decorating a cake and people ask me really matter of factly like it only takes me an hour to do! if i was better at what i did i would charge them properly for my time but really dont feel as though i can!
i only started primarily for my kids and now find i am getting inundated with people asking for cakes which takes up all my time and leaves me out of pocket! aargh sorry for long post just feeling a bit overwhelmed with it all. does anyone else get this? and how do you know when you are good enough to do it as a business because i have about 30 different cakes between now and christmas being asked for at the mo! and also being reserved for next years dates too. its crazy thats alot to just do for cost isnt it?

22 replies
pag41989 Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 6:19pm
post #2 of 23

I think your cakes a beautiful! If you feel bad charging your family and friends for time I would at least charge them for supplies so you aren't paying out of pocket for all these cakes.

homebaker12 Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 6:31pm
post #3 of 23

totally agree.....make them at least pay for the ingredients!!! But remember you are only gonna get better......so get them used to paying something icon_smile.gif

luv_to_decorate Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 6:45pm
post #4 of 23

I don't know what your requirements are where you live but if you can do this legally in-home, then charge for them. This has gotten way out of hand and if you don't put a stop to it or start charging you will get burnt out. You do good work and you should be paid. With that many cakes, just charging for your costs is not enough.

Rosiepan Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 6:56pm
post #5 of 23

I thought I was reading my life story here. I have been where you are and brought the T.Shirt. At first I was so flattered that people were asking in the first place and I really hate to say no. In the end it was getting ridiculous. When I started out I would make them as gifts and most of my cakes still are, because I like to bless people and want to try out new things but then people realise they can get bespoke cakes at bargain basement prices ,friends and family can be the worst in expecting a cake without expecting to pay. In all honestly it would be cheaper to buy a present than make a freebie cake. So when I got to a stage where you are now and people would ask for a cake If I thought people were trying it on I would say, I should be able to but it depends on what you want, when you want it and how much you have to spend. The look on some peoples faces are interesting but it does seperate the the ones who are prepared to pay and those that are not.I also tell people I need a months notice as I have to source everything at different places to get the best prices because cake decorating is so expensive and also I tell them I only commit to about 2 a month as I work as well and need to fit it in.
As it is just an hobby I only ever charge for costs when I do charge but I have learned when people ask how much I will say well it cost me x amount to make not counting gas, time and equipment most will give me over what I stated for doing it.
You will need to grow a backbone as all the while you let people take advantage they will and some people do not have a clue about time and costs so you need to educate them.
Some people say that I should go professional and I tell them that if I did they couldn't afford me and honestly if you were to go professionaly they wouldn't be able to afford you as your work is excellent for the short time you have been doing it. You have excellent modelling skills. I would never attempt a Buzz lightyear like you have and it certainly wouldn't have looked as brilliant as yours.

cai0311 Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 6:57pm
post #6 of 23

I don't understand why you won't charge (unless of course because it is illegal where you live). I offer family and friends a 10% discount. I don't advertise it because just because I know you doesn't mean you are a friend - so don't expect a discount right away. I always make sure they know the discount. "Your cake is $100 but with the family and friends discount you only owe $90". Then when their friend or neighbor asks what they paid (assuming they are smart) they will answer "the cake would cost you $100" and leave out the fact that they got a discount.

tsal Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 7:56pm
post #7 of 23

Your cakes are beautiful and I agree that you have wonderful modelling skills. I, too, am a hobby baker but have learned to speak up and I always explain to everyone how much time and effort is involved. I used to never say no, but then I had a family member call me to request a carved 3-D cake for her daughter for the next day! I also stopped posting my creations on Facebook because I would get people from highschool, whom I haven't spoken to in 20 years asking for cakes for $20.

Now I let people pay for ingredients. I'm not comfortable charging because I'm not in business.

stiffalus Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 8:00pm
post #8 of 23

aw thankyou all for your really kind comments. it isnt illegal here to set up from home i just dont feel like i am competent enough to go proffesional yet if that makes sense i would love to go proffesional one day though!
i guess i am just going to have to get sterner as you have said i will end up burning myself out. i just cringe when it comes to money and things. i hate talking money! lol!
it is just so overwhelming getting asked all the time for cakes especially as i only ever wanted to just do my boys cakes. after i do a cake it feels like a good sense of acheivement and i do love it! just wish i could be stronger with pushy people. i just fall in the hopeless catergory of never wanting to offend people or make them feel awkward but it seems people dont mind making me feel awkward! icon_redface.gif when did any of you amazing cakers realise it was time to go into business just out of interest? was it volume of people asking you for cakes or was it when you felt a million per cent happy with your cakes? how do you know if your cakes are good enough? sorry for lots of questions just curious to how everybody else goes about it all. x

Scotch__Mist Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 8:02pm
post #9 of 23

I feel like I'm in a similar situation. I tried cake decorating about 10 years ago when I still lived with my parents and not sure why but stopped. I took it up again last year although have only made a few cakes since then but really have the bug now and can get lost on this site for hours!

I feel that when I look at my cakes they are quite rough around the edges although I can see them improve with each cake I make. I work full time but have more time and space as I now have my own place. I would love to make more to get more experience.

A few people have asked if I take orders for them so would assume they are willing to pay and others who just ask so I'm not sure if they'll pay or not. Although I am really flattered that they are interested and think they are good enough, I am just really really nervous to commit to a) making a cake for someone other than family or b) making a cake for money.

I am used to making a cake to my design when I decide if you know what I mean, I don't always tell the person so feel that if something goes wrong I can amend the design to cover (!) or if needed not give the cake (although I've never had to do that).

I really want to make more cakes to get more experience but can't afford to do them for free and not sure how much to charge as I'm not sure how much they'll pay. So confused.

oh and my bf didn't help, even though he loves the cakes and always compliments he said 'yeah you could sell them for about £10 or £20 as people wont want to pay any more than that just for a birthday cake'

Just a little rant.

Sorry
Pamela

stiffalus Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 8:24pm
post #10 of 23

lol at your bf scotch_mist! that is exactly what my husband is like.
a cake covered in fondant and made from scratch costs way more than that to make tho so i always think whats the point in doing it as a business. everyone round here always says that sort of price range too. its ok with a basic cake then it covers costs but it really doesnt account for all the hours spent making/decorating them too. i really wish i had the skill and confidence to say i charge and make it worth my while but even as freebie i panick about my workmanship lol! its so tricky! i am the same about design aswell. if i am doing it of my own accord i am quite relaxed but as soon as somebody asks for something particular i panick! i get asked allsorts of crazy things and i dont think my family realise how hard it is to acheive what they ask! it makes me laugh at how adventerous the requests are getting lately but also makes me have beads of sweat across my forehead lol! icon_cry.gif its a nightmare! i think cake decorating is definitly an under estimated and under valued skill!!!!!

Apti Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 8:25pm
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by stiffalus

i just cringe when it comes to money and things. i hate talking money! lol!
it is just so overwhelming getting asked all the time for cakes especially as i only ever wanted to just do my boys cakes. after i do a cake it feels like a good sense of acheivement and i do love it! just wish i could be stronger with pushy people.




I want to say "If you can't say NO, then just suck it up and bake the cakes", but that comes across as awfully "pushy" which is the kind of person you need to be more assertive with. Ask yourself, WHY can't I say no? Is it because you are flattered they like your cakes? Is it because you enjoy creating your cakes? Is it because you are afraid they will hit you? Is it because you are afraid they will get mad and never speak to you again in your entire life? Obviously, they are not going to hit you and they are not going to get mad and never speak to you again. So.....it must be the first two reasons. Practice saying the "N" word. Then make a firm pact with yourself to say NO! to the next 3 people that ask you for a cake. Once you've said NO! to 3 people, the next 3 will be easier, and the 3 after that even easier.

Are you rich? If you are, then you don't work for a living and have a lot of time and money and you can afford to give a free $30-$50 gift to everyone who says "I want cake". If you are not rich, you are taking that money FROM YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY! Hello!

Is your mother-in-law rich? Then she can pay for every single, tiny, itsy-bitsy ingredient, supply, gas, electrical, etc. cost associated with your cakes and also pay for a babysitter to watch your children while you bake the cakes she "demands". Again, that's not going to happen in the real world. So...the next time she "demands" a cake, MAKE HER COME OVER AND HELP YOU UNTIL THE ENTIRE CAKE IS FINISHED! As you bake, frost, and decorate, tell her in a chatty, conversational tone: "Wow, MIL, I'll bet you didn't know that Wilton butter extract costs $XXX for each cake. Do that for EACH ingredient.

Good Luck!

kristiemarie Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 8:27pm
post #12 of 23

If they are good enough that people want them, they are good enough to charge for! I'd start with just telling them you would appreciate them paying a small fee to help offset the cost of the cake.

If they were making the cake themselves, no one would expect to buy their cake supplies for free or get a free cake any where else so why would they expect to get it free from you?

Good luck with this one!

brincess_b Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 8:32pm
post #13 of 23

for me, the main reason to become a business is because if someone sues you they will be entitled to your car, house whatever. friends and neighbours want cheap cake... they also wouldnt feel bad about taking your money like that!
in the uk its so easy compared to the states - environmental health will do basic inspection, and you can get very cheap insrance from www.bsguk.org (although look else where if you predit a high turnover - also have excellent forums, and local meetings which are brilliant too) which protects your personal assests.

and without all that, you cant accept any compensation for the cake, even just towards ingredients.

but as much as cakes and all the basic business stuff is important, do you really want to have a business? it sonds like you already know that running a cake business is far more than simply making the cakes. if ur happy to just do cakes for family, dont feel pressured into setting up cause so and so wants to buy your cakes - when you start charging £50 for a simple 8 inch cake, you can bet they wont be wanting to use your services then! (market research - target your self at people that can pay!) customers will delay paying, miss collection times, and you will have to say no a lot. so suddenyl its a lot less fun!

how to know whens its time... its not when you have 50 people asking you to make a cake for cost or free - people know a cheap steal when they see one, and they probably are not the people that will financially support your business.
its not when your always happy with your cakes - that day will probably never arrive!
its time when you feel ready... its very simple if you want to set up to be able to charge people you know, if you want to build and grow and chase business, it takes more work, and more business capabilities - more time away from hobbies and family. but its better to get paid fairly for your sacrafices than to be doing it for free!
xx

stiffalus Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 8:42pm
post #14 of 23

APTI- Yes i do enjoy decorating cakes and am flattered they are asking me to make cakes for the people that are special to them. the only thing is i dont have confidence in myself to charge so end up not charging but not even being offered a few quid for my trouble and as a whole i do just crack on and do it to keep people happy but as i say its just got to a point where its costing a bomb and taking so much time.( i am going to have to grow a pair arent i .lol) just realised how pathetic i sound also i sound like a right moaning minnie! sorry! all your comments have been fab and made me feel a bit more empowered to put my foot down more! thanks everyone!
and as for the mother in law that is a really good idea making her stay with me while i do a cake hahahaha! she is a stubborn bugger and noone stands up to her. prob the trickiest member of my family. she doesnt ask she tells and everyone does so it is quite intimidating lol!

stiffalus Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 8:46pm
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by brincess_b

for me, the main reason to become a business is because if someone sues you they will be entitled to your car, house whatever. friends and neighbours want cheap cake... they also wouldnt feel bad about taking your money like that!
in the uk its so easy compared to the states - environmental health will do basic inspection, and you can get very cheap insrance from www.bsguk.org (although look else where if you predit a high turnover - also have excellent forums, and local meetings which are brilliant too) which protects your personal assests.

and without all that, you cant accept any compensation for the cake, even just towards ingredients.

but as much as cakes and all the basic business stuff is important, do you really want to have a business? it sonds like you already know that running a cake business is far more than simply making the cakes. if ur happy to just do cakes for family, dont feel pressured into setting up cause so and so wants to buy your cakes - when you start charging £50 for a simple 8 inch cake, you can bet they wont be wanting to use your services then! (market research - target your self at people that can pay!) customers will delay paying, miss collection times, and you will have to say no a lot. so suddenyl its a lot less fun!

how to know whens its time... its not when you have 50 people asking you to make a cake for cost or free - people know a cheap steal when they see one, and they probably are not the people that will financially support your business.
its not when your always happy with your cakes - that day will probably never arrive!
its time when you feel ready... its very simple if you want to set up to be able to charge people you know, if you want to build and grow and chase business, it takes more work, and more business capabilities - more time away from hobbies and family. but its better to get paid fairly for your sacrafices than to be doing it for free!
xx







thankyou that is really helpfull advice. much appreciated x

sappy42 Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 9:19pm
post #16 of 23

Wow, it's like I wrote this! I was just thinking the same thing. I made an ambulance cake for a a family friend's birthday and I've already got people asking me to make ones for their kids. I'm torn.. while I'm flattered and want to challenge myself to do these projects, I'm not nearly good enough to go into business and charge for them, but I'm not made of money either! Granted I do have friends who have said they would pay me, but I'm not licensed (only a hobby baker) and don't want to do it illegally.

IDK is it legal to accept money for just ingredients even if you aren't licensed?

stiffalus Posted 26 Oct 2010 , 9:24pm
post #17 of 23
Quote:
Quote:

IDK is it legal to accept money for just ingredients even if you aren't licensed?




thats what i wondered aswell actually?

Apti Posted 27 Oct 2010 , 3:16am
post #18 of 23

stiffalus, You Go Girl!

(p.s. as for "growing a pair", umm, you already have a pair, they are just above your belt and below your neck.....hee hee hee [couldn't resist]

brincess_b Posted 27 Oct 2010 , 9:29am
post #19 of 23

No, you can not accept money in any way if you not licensed. If it came down to it, the law sees that as payment, and then your in trouble.

My advice comes from experience - I know what it's like to still be up at 2am, or to b in the kitchen while fun stuff happens in the lounge - so I soon learnt to say no (it was brilliant!) and made the decision I'd better start charging!
xx

stiffalus Posted 27 Oct 2010 , 10:37am
post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apti

stiffalus, You Go Girl!

(p.s. as for "growing a pair", umm, you already have a pair, they are just above your belt and below your neck.....hee hee hee [couldn't resist]




hahaha that made me chuckle! icon_lol.gif

and thats so true brincess_b, thanks for the advice i think i will just have to be more choosy about who i do my cakes for until i feel ready and confident enough to charge otherwise i will end up cooking the whole of my towns cakes for nothing! lol x

Scotch__Mist Posted 27 Oct 2010 , 11:29am
post #21 of 23

brincess_b I'm not sure if this is a stupid question but when you say licensed what do you mean? Do you mean register with the local authority?

Do you mind me asking if you have a business or do it along with another job?

I've only recenlty started looking into this as I would like todo more cakes to gain experience so would like to charge 'something' to recover some costs but I'm obviously not wanting to break the law. I would only be wanting to do a few cakes now and then as well as my full time job so wouldn't be looking to start a proper business, advertising etc. I'm assuming you would also need to register somewhere to pay NI & tax? Would this make charging for a few cakes worthless if you have to make these contributions from the price you charge for the cake?

brincess_b Posted 27 Oct 2010 , 11:48am
post #22 of 23

by licensed i just mean registered with the council, and inspected by them.
im in the proces of setting up my business, and working full time. i really recommend looking up business gateway - they run amazing free courses (its run by someone different in england, but the same thing exists)
the tax thing is complicated (im going on a business gateway course to figure it out!), there are lots of relevant posts over on www.bsguk.org that explain it a bit more. it only becomes a big issue when you earn over £5000, under that i *think* you only pay a very small amout of tax - need to fill in a self assesment form. but i havent looked too hard into that side of things!
xx

Scotch__Mist Posted 27 Oct 2010 , 12:07pm
post #23 of 23

Thanks for your quick reply. I'll have a look at Business Gateway.

I had seen something about earning over a certain amount but thought that that might apply if I was earning over that in my full time job! It's a bit confusing. I'm finding it difficult to relate to some of the info on the web as I only want to get registered etc to do the odd cake along with full time work. I'm not intending to make loads of profit so wouldn't want to fork out alot in the beginning. Would like to do it all legally of course and over time would hope that cake orders might increase.

I'll keep trawling through the internet icon_smile.gif

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