I am just starting out and not sure exactly how to go about finding customers. the only thing i know of is posting ads on craigslist.
what are other forms of advertisement that you have found to do?
someone mentioned to get a spot in front of a store and have a bake sale
another mentioned to donate a cake to a local club as advertising such as one of the local dance clubs like square dancing and give them a western theme cake or something
I would start a website. There are a lot of companies out there to help you with that. I personally use vistaprint.com. Also facebook is a great way to advertise. You can make your own page for your business as well as run an ad. Also business cards help greatly and word of mouth of course. : )
website - a must have.
Business cards - give them out everywhere. Heck, I've given them to girls in the Wendy's drive thru window when I saw an engagement ring on their finger!
Card table in front of a store doing a bake sale - omg no don't do that! Nothing says "I'm cheap and informal and not a real business" more than that!
Wedding website listings: Get on every free one you can find. I was on over 21 of them.
Networking groups: Chamber of commerce, Rainmakers, BNI, local wedding networking groups. The difference between a networking group and "just any organization" is that a networking groups primary purpose is to refer business back and forth to the members. One of the first questions a new member is asked is "What kind of customer can I refer to you?"
Speaking of networking, once you get started being a good networker, you should be collecting and giving out 10 to 50 (or more) business cards a day. My most dreaded and exciting part of the job was sorting and filing the 100+ biz cards I collected each week.
Refer to the August '10 issue of CC magazine and my article on "How to Get 'In' With Wedding Vendors", then make some "let's get to know each other" appointments with wedding chapels, venues, photographers, and especially wedding planners. The vendors I know tell me "dropping off a free cake and a card, and telling me 'send me some brides' isn't going to cut it." They are looking to build relationships.
Be patient. Our product is not something that people buy everyday. They need a special cake once, maybe twice a year. So they may pick up your card in February but not need a cake until October. it takes time.
I literally picked up my first cake pan and spatula in December. Faced with the fact that I had to leave my Nursing career, I needed something from home. I've always loved cooking but had no idea how to bake. Decorating intrigued me so here I am.
That was a few short months ago. Now? I am booked solid until September. Long story short: I did darn good at getting my name out there!
-FACEBOOK. Goodness that stuff is viral. I made a FB page and had a $50 toward-a-cake giveaway when I hit 300 fans. People sure do spread your Page when they may get something for free...sheesh.
-Google is your friend. I Googled "custom cakes Corner Brook Newfoundland", "Wedding cakes Corner Brook Newfoundland" and so on and basically what you get are search engines for Wedding planners. Register on those sites.
-Business cards - I have mine in a pretty holder at flower shops (ask permission first) and on bulletin boards.
-WORD OF MOUTH. Take advantage of this! I staple a few business cards to every order's box. If someone asks my info, the host(ess) can hand out my card.
I'm lucky TBH: I am in a smaller place with like 2 other decorators and one of them stinks. I'm friendly and approachable and find my customers get an emotional attachment to me and help me out a lot.
You don't try to find customers when you aren't a legal business and caking from your home kitchen in Texas is illegal. Craigslist will only bring those wanting to buy a cake at grocery store prices so if that is what you want to do then go for it.
Moving to the Cake Decorating forum.
well i guess im going to scrap the whole idea of decorating cakes from home so we dont loose our house cause im not about to get a ticket or go to jail for trying to bring in just enough money each month to pay a $200 bill or so. it isnt worth it. guess the saying you have to have money to make money is true. gotta be rich to not become dirt poor. if your semi poor your destined to stay poor. way to go state of texas thats a way to run you states economy into the dirt.
My biggest form of advertising was word of mouth..Everytime I sent a cake out to a kids party I would get at least 2 or 3 emails asking if I can make a cake for them..It just grew...One thing about the kids birthday cakes is people never stop having babies and always want a nice cake for their party.My website was also a must!!
As crappy as the law is, we aren't talking about the State of Texas keeping anyone from making money. We are talking about the state limiting food products that come out of people's houses and are sold to the general public, honestly I think that isn't a horrible thing. Having the Food Cottage Law would help, but there would still be things you would have to do to qualify for doing it, and in the end, there will still be people that may not be able to do it.
For extra money, are there other things you are good at? Can you make jewelry? Do you know how to sew?
There are many other crafts and hobbies out there that you can do and sell for extra money, that do not involve food.
If you really enjoy cake decorating why not visit wilton.com and look to see if they have any openings for Wilton Instructors in your area? I do that as a part time job. While it isn't a steady income, since how much varies from month to month, it is nice for bringing in extra money. On average I work 3, 6 or 9 hours a week (I teach in the evenigns) doing it, so it isn't too bad when you have to consider child care.
Great post TexasSugar. Making cakes from home is convenient, but by far not the only thing to do to make money. You have to find something else to do that doesn't involve a license designed to protect the public. Texas and many other areas, mine included, have one set of requirements for the food industry. Restaurants and home businesses are the same. Many other people have small businesses that only require a business license and a tax ID #. Look online and find the many opportunities for small and home businesses. Another opportunity is to work outside the home opposite the other parent to save babysitting.
I have ran a licensed day care from my home which required home visits that also had kitchen inspections. I just cant understand how home day care providers can cook meals from their home as part of their business to earn money but we cant bake in the same exact kitchen that has already been inspected. to me it doesnt make since. I completely agree that It can be a good thing as there are many many very dirty nasty homes so they want to make sure that people are washing their hands and using clean tools and all that stuff. but couldnt they require sanitation classes, food safetly classes just like our county requires every single food service employee to do in order to work in food in our city??? I thing requiring the proper sanitation training class and food safety class to learn how long certain foods are good for and such would be great. and it would be a win win for everyone. us home bakers could legally earn money from our home and the state would get part of our money from our liecensing fees each year and our classes we would be required to take. thats all im saying. that would make more since.
I have tried many other things but not everyone wants jewlery, or diaper cakes, or anything sewn together. I love making baked goods. I dont want to do something that I hate to do.
I am waiting for the Texas cottage law to pass as well. Go on Facebook and look for Texas Baker's Bill. This will inform you on all the progress that is being taken place to get the cottage law passed in Texas. I pray everyday for that!!
i went to the facebook site there is also a texas bakers hand written letter event. you should do!!!! write it tonight and they want all letters postmarked by tomorrow. here is the link http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/event.php?eid=151002811628484&index=1
yep..... i am hoping i will be able to make the Austin trip when the bill is being read. if you "like" them on FB you will get updates on the progress of the bill as well. its a wealth of information
Krista, until there is a law, like the Food Cottage Law, there is no way to have those requirements. Because if in general it was legal for everyone to bake out of their home without the inspections and so forth, how would they make sure people were doing the right thing.
That's the way I see the Food Cottage Law, a way to regulate home baking. They have to figure out what is allowed and not allowed and so forth, and figure how to inforce everything.
I also understand wanting to do something you love, but sometimes when it comes to making money, you have to do a few things you don't exactly love. It just depends on how bad you need the money.
I love teaching the Wilton Classes. I have actually found that I don't feel the need to make as many cakes any more, because I get to play with icing, fondant and gumpaste in class.
If you do like making jewelry, then check out the craft stores. I know Michaels are trying to start back jewelry and scrapbooking classes. Hobby Lobbies often have painting classes and such. Alot of people sell things on Esty.com. There is make-up, kitchen goods, and candle companies you can sell for. Those would also allow you to set your own hours. And there are some people that make money off of blogging.
While I love making cakes, I love doing it on my time. I had decided long ago, that if I did cakes as a full time business I wouldn't like it so much. It wouldn't be play, it'd be a job. If I had other talents, I'd probably look at doing them for extra money, because we can all use some extra money.