A Little Confused, A Little Frustrated, A Lot Tired!!!

Decorating By lolobell Updated 9 Feb 2011 , 6:39am by Ninky

lolobell Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 4:08am
post #1 of 46

Okay...the cake i added today that says Happy Birthday Alexis...was a cake for a good friends daughter. i told her i would just charge her what it cost to make it...i did..$48.90 (yes, i kept track)..so, i charged her $50. apparently, she and her husband were upset that i would charge that much. sigh.

I am a self taught cake decorator who has little knowledge of what i'm really doing so these darn cakes take forever for me to make yet i never charge for my time... i am getting better and faster all the time but people have no idea how much work goes into creating a cake. especially for someone like me.

I know $50 was a lot but we are a one income family...i cannot keep doing cakes for free or cakes for next to nothing anymore..my DH has had it and i am frankly sick of the lectures!!

MY QUESTION IS THIS (lol..finally huh?)...how does one know exactly how to price cakes/cupcakes/cookies? i want to finally make a price list so i don't have to keep guessing and tallying and decided what to charge...any help or advice would be appreciated and thanks so much for listening.

45 replies
jason_kraft Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 4:21am
post #2 of 46

A good guideline for pricing any product is to calculate your total cost and add a 20-30% profit margin. Your total cost includes the ingredients and packaging, labor (the number of hours it took to make the product * a reasonable hourly wage), and overhead (rent, insurance, utilities, etc. on a per-product basis).

To add up your costs, you can use anything from a pen and paper to an Excel workbook to cake boss software.

Which state do you live in? If you make your cakes at home you should check local laws to make sure it is legal to charge for food products made in your home kitchen, in most states you would need a separate commercial kitchen.

lolobell Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 4:27am
post #3 of 46

thanks for all the advice .. icon_smile.gif

cake-angel Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 4:32am
post #4 of 46

Okay - $50.00 was not an overcharge on that cake and chances are they know they couldn't have gotten it for less or even for the same anywhere else. Cakes of that size and detail are generally in the hundred dollar range (and that is low ball - they are often more). I think that they absolutely do not realize the time or the cost of ingredients that goes into making cakes like that. I know when I made my brother's wedding cake and he came shopping for ingredients with me and I loaded up 16 pounds of butter he just about fell over. At near $4.00 per pound it adds up quick. And then he got to see me buying all the rest of the ingredients too and he just kept looking shocked. LOL - still makes me giggle a bit. Not only that but the then got to witness me slaving in a kitchen for 3 days from 7am till 2:30am each day to get it done and safely to the wedding. Needless to say he brags about his cake and was very appreciative that it was a gift - even more so after a friend of the family told them what she would have charged for it. Made me feel good. My point of that story is that if they didn't know what went into it it would have been easy for them to say it is just cake. I know we cannot make everyone understand what was involved but boy I wish we could. The truth is that if they are unwilling to pay $50 for such a beautiful creation then they really don't deserve all the time, care and effort that went into that gorgeous cake. I cannot tell you much about pricing cakes as I only do them as a hobby and give my cakes as gifts to the people that are close to my heart. Once in a blue moon if someone flatters me enough and I have had a long enough cake hiatus I will do one for them but most often I just say no because I don't want to sacrifice that kind of time for everyone. I truly hope your friends realize what an amazing cake it was and that you were very generous in your price.

lolobell Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 4:41am
post #5 of 46

cake angel : thank you so much first for the very kind compliments on the cake. i truly worked hard on that one.... and i really do not think they were expecting me to charge them at all....i was very generous with the price i thought but i think they are so used to me doing what you do...just making them has gifts etc. But, as with most people right now, times are tough..and i need to at least cover the cost.
Your story and comments have made me feel much less frustrated and i thank you for that. icon_smile.gif
Your brother is very lucky to have you!
Your cakes are beautiful by the way!

cakeandpartygirl Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 4:44am
post #6 of 46

I would take this as an opportunity to educate them on the cost of making a cake! Pull out all of the receipts and show them. Tell them next time that you have to make a cake invited one of them over to see how long it takes you, etc. But I honestly bet that they thought that it was going to be about $10, you know a box of cake mix, a few eggs, a bag of powdered sugar and margarine icon_smile.gif :LOL:

lolobell Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 4:48am
post #7 of 46

cake and party girl: hilarious! love your work too by the way!! and funny you should say that because i will be seeing her tomorrow and i AM going to bring the receipts to show her...!!!!

cake-angel Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 4:56am
post #8 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolobell

cake angel : thank you so much first for the very kind compliments on the cake. i truly worked hard on that one.... and i really do not think they were expecting me to charge them at all....i was very generous with the price i thought but i think they are so used to me doing what you do...just making them has gifts etc. But, as with most people right now, times are tough..and i need to at least cover the cost.
Your story and comments have made me feel much less frustrated and i thank you for that. icon_smile.gif
Your brother is very lucky to have you!
Your cakes are beautiful by the way!




Thank you for your compliments. I too am mainly self taught apart from a few Wilton courses. I just love doing it, part of me would love to do MORE but like you said - I cannot afford to give too many away either they cost too much in dollars and time and I pay for it in lack of sleep since I usually decorate after the kids are tucked into bed. You really have to love someone to be willing to pull an all nighter on their cake when you know you have a million things to do the next day and won't get to take a nap. LOL.
I think your cakes are beautiful too! I really like the one with the dragonflies. They are my favorite "bug"

lolobell Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 5:29am
post #9 of 46

ah, yes, i have to work too when my daughter is in bed! so, i am ALL too familiar with the all nighters and the lack of sleep issue!!! boy are we nice or what?!?! icon_smile.gif

i love helping people and 'giving' when i can..i truly do but yes...the costs add up! not to mention my daughter and husband have to deal with a lot when i take on a project!!!! LOL!!!!!

TexasSugar Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 3:36pm
post #10 of 46

http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-694973-pricing.html

Have you seen this thread on pricing.

Non cake people really just do not understand the expense that goes into making a cake. I had to do a demo at Michaels this weekend and I had an older lady that was standing there talking to me and she had made the comment about knowing how to do cake could save you money. I really wanted to go, well not really. I could have bought tons of cakes with the money I have put into cake decorating items. I don't even want to begin to add up how much I have spent, because I know over the last 10 years it would be probably be several thousand when you really start adding it all up.

People just don't get it. I'd be nice if they did, but they don't. There are a couple of ways to teach them, but honestly I think a lot of the time, when family and friends ask 'hobbiest' for cakes, they really are looking for a cheap deal. I won't say everyone, because there are some great family members and friends that get it.

Tclanton Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 5:11pm
post #11 of 46

Wow - beautiful cake!! Well done! They should have been thrilled to get such a great deal!!!

lolobell Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 9:36pm
post #12 of 46

thanks for the kind words everyone.. and yes, i agree...i don't even want to tally up what i've spent over the past few years "learning" and "doing"...i showed my friend the receipts today (and her husband who was there too) and he took them and looked them over. I MEAN COME ON!!!!!!!! they are friends..do they really think i would cheat them? and they KNOW what i go through etc....i was a bit ticked to be honest but then realized that they are who they are and this won't get in the way of our friendship, it's not worth it...he said he was over it now but next time they will only get cupcakes and have me make a FAKE CAKE for pictures.. HAHA! okie dokie!

Did i mention that this cake was for sunday..which means that i baked them on friday..filled them and crumb coated friday..so they would be ready for decoration saturday...and friday night she called me at 9:00pm and asked if she could switch it to cupcakes instead! WHAT? UH NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! now that i know her husband was upset...that is probably why she called to ask. i told her that i already put time and money into the project...and she would still have to cover the cost of what i just did...so, she stuck with the cake.

thanks for all the support and advice!

Sucrea Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 10:10pm
post #13 of 46

To be honest, they don't sound like they are very good friends. I would have been very upset to think that they thought I was cheating them and would have told them so. I would so no more cakes or cupcakes for you. Sorry but I believe in giving my precious time to someone who appreciates it!! Your cakes are beautiful and you should be compensated for them and your time!

cabecakes Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 10:38pm
post #14 of 46

If you calculate a 8" and 10" tier x 4" in height at only $3.00 a serving that $129.00 for that cake. If I am correct that it was an 8 and 10" x 4". These cakes ingredients are not cheap and they keep getting more expensive every day. You friends shouldn't try to take advantage of you, but you should try to set up a price list of what your ingredients cost you so you can give them a general idea how much it is going to cost them. It could be they just weren't expecting the ingredients to come to so much. I know my neice went into sticker shock over her wedding cake. I told her I would make it for a gift, but she would have to buy the ingredients. I gave her a list, so she would see that I wasn't exaggerating the estimate I gave her on costs. It was actually a little more then I estimated because of price increases in certain products. I would suggest sitting down with a pen, paper, and a cash register reciept to see how much these cakes are costing you to make. Don't forget to include transportation to store and back, electric or gas to bake, and transportation of cake to location (if required).

Eisskween Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 11:05pm
post #15 of 46

From the looks of that beautiful cake, you undercut yourself dramatically. When all was said and done, you may have paid yourself $1.00, if that. Your friend is no friend. Even and Walmart you couldn't get a two-tier for that price.

cake-angel Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 11:09pm
post #16 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolobell

next time they will only get cupcakes and have me make a FAKE CAKE for pictures.. HAHA! okie dokie!




Be wary of that request. It could cost you as much or sometimes more than just doing a cake. Just because cupcakes are shaped different doesn't mean they cost less in ingredients and then with a fake cake you would be paying for the styrofoam rounds and still the cost of all the fondant to cover them.

When you are calculating your costs remember they will be similar for cupcakes since they use the same ingredients.

Evoir Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 11:22pm
post #17 of 46

Agreed - I charge 80% of my full cake tier price for 'fake' cake tiers.

I want to grab every newbie cake decorator out there, with love, and just shake them until they agree to sit down and add up their costs INCLUDING charging for hours of labour!!! Doing cakes for nothing for people who still think you are ripping them off is a recipe for madness.

countrygirll Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 11:54pm
post #18 of 46

lolobell,
your cake is absolutely beautiful and I agree with all the other comments about undercharging. I recently posted a question about pricing on a 200 person wedding cake--well I gave the bride the price and she was upset and was hoping to pay 500.00 for a very elaborate wedding cake. I was asked today at my job if anyone (that means me) plans on making a cake for someone who is leaving the job on friday! I just ignored the question because they think it takes just a couple minutes to make and decorate a cake...so frustrating!!!!! I am really debating purchasing the cake boss to help me stay on track with my prices.

Evoir--I'll take one of those shakings from you...I'm a newbie and learning how difficult it is to convince people how much work goes into these cakes---and time!

lolobell Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 5:14am
post #19 of 46

OH MY how happy I am I'm not alone!!! I think the thing that gets to me is that these 'friends' have no problem paying a lot of $$ for other things..such as $35 in balloons....i get that it's a 'cake' and people eat it up however....i put HOURS into that cake and really did my best...

I am known for either not charging or way under charging so i could have used that shake last year when word got out....because it's been nothing but "will you" "can you"..."oh please you must" ever since.

I have improved my skill of saying "no" and "that will cost ya" but i still get suckered into a lot more than i really have time for. such as my cousins baby shower and the graduation cake for my daughters preschool this year and, and...and!!!!!

i guess i was never fully confident in my skills so i thought i shouldn't charge or i shouldn't charge much since nothing was 'perfect'....but, i'm quickly learning that no-one is perfect and it's a matter of my time, how much I'm shelling out to make the cake and my DH who is getting whiplash from shaking his head so hard and so often!!!! LOL

I greatly appreciate all the compliments, advice and stories that you are all sharing with me! icon_smile.gif

sebrina Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 6:07am
post #20 of 46

I had a friend who was throwing a bridal shower for a mutual friend. She asked me to make petit fours - "20 pieces. 15 people. Decorated like little presents, not flowers." When I told her it would be $35 she said - "Are you able to go to $25? Winn Dixie quoted me .99 each on the petit fours last week." thumbsdown.gif
I ended up gifting an entire cake to the bride-to-be instead. I'd rather gift my talent than sell to someone that is unappreciative.

CupQuequito Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 6:48am
post #21 of 46

I get yelled at every time I mention a cake I do for a "friend", by my grandma. I'm nowhere near as talented as most, but I still charge $3 a person, and go up from there. I do have the luxury of a free commercial kitchen, so I don't worry about someone low balling me, because I do it "out of my house".

The last cake I did, was suppose to be for 10-15 people. I told her $40, because it was to look like a magician's hat. I did a final head count, and she said 30-40! I told her we needed more cake. I know very well, she couldn't afford more, but I felt bad, so I made it bigger... MUCH bigger!

After I delivered it, no so much as "thanks for making it bigger". That's when I took a step back, and said not next time! I have gotten better icon_smile.gif

Just need to put your foot down! Next time you say no, they'll wander to some grocer, tell them what they want, and then they'll get a dose of reality!

Apti Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 7:03am
post #22 of 46

lolobell, How good a friend? Had you charged for ingredients for cakes for them previously? Have they ever heard you talk about how it takes 12 hours to make a cake? Had any previous cakes been free? Did they (OR you) have any idea it would cost $48.90 for ingredients? Did they think they were doing you a favor "because she loves to make cakes?".

They were probably upset because they thought they'd be getting a $20-$25 bill, tops. Then, AFTER you got all the ingredients and it cost $50, it was too late for them to say, "Oh My! We NEVER planned on spending $50 for the cake!". But at that point, because you are friends, they HAD to pay $50.

Even though your cake was flawless and would have cost $100-$150 in a custom shop, have your friends ever purchased a birthday cake for a 5 year old from a custom shop? Most people will never get a custom cake in their lives except for a wedding cake. Anyone in my family, including me, would pass out and die before purchasing a $50 for a cake for a 5 year old, let alone a $100-$150 cake. Even if you are only quoting the cost of ingredients and no time, the person "ordering" the cake needs to know how much BEFORE you buy a single ounce of powdered sugar.

cathyscakes Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 7:21am
post #23 of 46

I think the problem here is that you didn't communicate the cost beforehand. People don't realize how much a cake like this costs. Did you discuss the design with them? I know its worth every penny, but maybe they would have been happy with a sheet cake for 20 dollars if they knew it would cost alot more. Your cake is beautiful, you did an awesome job, but when you say you'll do it for cost, they way under estimate, believe me I know. I did an under the sea cake, tons of work, modeled many sea creatures, and a friend slipped me a card with 25.00 inside, smiling thinking they were really giving me extra for the cake. I never ask for money, so it was a nice gesture, but I had over 35 dollars in the cake. People that don't usually buy custom cakes and are use to buying walmart priced cakes are really shocked.

lolobell Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 8:21am
post #24 of 46

oh, they knew enough beforehand...when she told me a two tier cake, i warned her right then that it would be more expensive. her comment to me was, "you know i don't care about that..do whatever and tell me how much".....when we discussed design, i laughed so hard because i, too, would never, ever, ever spent that on a child's cake...but you would be surprised. i had 4 people on the spot at that party ask me to make one similar and one lady wants it 3 tiers for a 6 year old. i make special cakes for my daughter every year and I always think, "boy are you lucky because in NO way would i buy something like this!!!" icon_smile.gif

on the flip side of that pancake...you are all right that I should have sat down and figured it all out and then let her know...asking, "do you still want to proceed." i have totally learned my lesson and in some ways I feel responsible for some of their distress.


this was a big lesson kinda cake...lessons all around!!
thanks for helping work through this cake saga!!

Ninky Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 8:36am
post #25 of 46

icon_biggrin.gif I love your cakes and think $50 is nothing at all to pay for all that work. Sad to say the same has happened to me too.
At my very first cake decorating lesson, my teacher warned us of this exact thing. Sadly she said, "friends will take advantage" and she was right. People have NO idea of the time, effort or soul we put into our work. You have every right to be cross with this friend and every right to be proud of your wonderful work!

Relznik Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 8:46am
post #26 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolobell

i make special cakes for my daughter every year and I always think, "boy are you lucky because in NO way would i buy something like this!!!" icon_smile.gif



Oh absolutely! There's no way I would pay the prices that I charge for a kid's birthday cake! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

Right... I really must put a cake on! It's my son's birthday today! icon_biggrin.gif

solascakes Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 9:47am
post #27 of 46

All I can say is.....they are not your friends.

lolobell Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 3:44pm
post #28 of 46

Happy birthday to your son!! how old today? you do beautiful work by the way. as does everyone that has took part in this forum! icon_smile.gif

i know they don't seem like good friends by this story...but sometimes you just have to meet people where they're at...meaning....this doesn't define who they are...it's just a piece of their character..and i knew it when i took on the cake. i won't allow this incident to impair our relationship. life is too short. I won't say i wasn't a bit hurt and absolutely frustrated.....but, i can let it go.

life lessons...they come in all shapes and sizes!!!

sebrina Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 3:56pm
post #29 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolobell

i won't allow this incident to impair our relationship. life is too short. I won't say i wasn't a bit hurt and absolutely frustrated.....but, i can let it go.

life lessons...they come in all shapes and sizes!!!




Wow. Huge heaps of respect to you, lolobell. Not to often people remember that others are human as well! thumbs_up.gif

Cupcations Posted 8 Feb 2011 , 3:58pm
post #30 of 46

That is absolutely a beautiful cake & I agree with everyone you undercharged them, sometimes I wonder why friends are always a weak point for us thumbsdown.gif

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