Getting Business Off The Ground

Business By cupcakelizardsandrockets Updated 10 Aug 2011 , 6:45pm by cupcakelizardsandrockets

cupcakelizardsandrockets Posted 5 Aug 2011 , 5:31am
post #1 of 25

I have hit a wall and I am not sure what to do now. how do you get a homebased bakery business to be profitable? I have had nothing but compliments and happy customers but not enough customers. I dont know how you advertise a home bakery. how do you get customers? word of mouth is just not working. i need for this to work and I am not sure how much longer I can keep hanging on. I know others have turned home bakeries into actual shops in Ohio out of necessity due to the business getting too big . What should I be doing ? please if anyone has any advice or tips I would be eternally grateful.

24 replies
Motta Posted 5 Aug 2011 , 6:08am
post #2 of 25

Google Adwords increased my business greatly so you could try that. Also, a Facebook page is a good idea...brides are on FB a lot. Your webpage is Ok but a little hard to navigate because it goes down to the bottom of the page first then I had to scroll up to get to the "home" page area.

You have lots of cupcake flavors and they would be showcased better by reducing the amount of flavors and then not categorizing them all. It's almost too much to read through to make a decision.

Your flavors look really yummy and your decorating skills are good so there's no reason you can't get more business. You just have to make it easier for people to find you on the internet! Good luck!!!

scp1127 Posted 5 Aug 2011 , 11:36am
post #3 of 25

I agree with Motta on Google Adwords. I can't get on this site, or any site that has to do with baking without seeing my business. As a newer business, it gets you everywhere while you work your way up in the searches. And if you don't have a great web designer, your climb to the top will be even slower. I spend about $100 per month and get most of my general inquiries by this method. My site is so big that specific searches, such as turtle cupcakes, will come up right away. But I'm still too new to be at the top of main searches, like, "birthday cake". Be very careful to get those three lines to perfectly work for you. My site and the name look like a national company, so my lines are, "local bakery, Hagerstown, Martinsburg".

FB does great when I stay on top of it. My mom had a stroke a few weeks ago and I haven't touched it. When I post a picture every other day, I get activity.

I started Twitter and have developed its applications for my business. It will work well, but again, put on hold. My mom just got home and now it's a drive to rehab every day. That takes 4 hours of my day. Then there are all of the other stops involved. When this changes, I will use FB and my sampling to go full force again.

Luckily, a debt-free business allowed me to adjust my life to this crisis, but a few free cupcakes to the right places will put me in full swing again. It was too easy to start the first time.

I must credit my site to the immediate success of my business. I designed it on pages of graph paper, complete with colored pencils. But I paid pros to design it and to do the unseen work that makes a site work to its highest potential. I also had them only do the shell. All copy, pictures, pages, and posts, we done by me for two reasons... to save money and to teach me how to manipulate the site myself.

Before I ever created my site, I branded my business and my products. This serious attention to detail gives the customer the assurance that the same attention goes into their order.

After the groundwork is done, a superior tasting product will quickly spread by word-of-mouth.

susiekoos Posted 5 Aug 2011 , 11:58am
post #4 of 25

I advertise on yellowbook.com and that puts me in the top 5 on google in my area. It's 50.00 a month, so it's reasonable. FB and Google maps are also great networking. We have a monthly chamber of commerce breakfast networking meeting in our area that has been very helpful. How about taking some cupcakes to your favorite radio station ? They will usually give you a big thank you on the radio.
Hope this is helpful icon_smile.gif Good Luck !

esangston Posted 5 Aug 2011 , 12:11pm
post #5 of 25

I don't know if my experience will be helpful as I only really do off the wall sculpted cakes and such but I sent a cake to hubby's work and it increased my business. I also have business cards in various places with a link to my fscebook page so people can see what I can do. I've noticed it's all mostly about word of mouth here but our local bakeries don't offer what I do so that could be why. Good luck with it.

cai0311 Posted 5 Aug 2011 , 3:47pm
post #6 of 25

Hey, I am living in Ohio too.

I don't use Google Adwords, but I do have a Google place page that brings me tons of business for free. I have signed up on every bridal website that allows a free listing. I pay for a listing on the knot - which has worked really well for me.

Set up an account (like google) and ask clients to leave reviews. Future customers (especially brides from my experience) use the reviews a lot.

To help with profit from current orders, I would say raise your prices. I live in Ohio too and charge quite a bit more than you for my cupcakes and people pay that all the time.

You charge $1/cupcake for orders over 5 dozen is insane to me. 5 dozen cupcakes is nothing (I mean that is a small order). I don't discount for any quantity but if I did it would be more like any order over 40 dozen and it would only be like a 5% discount. I make at least 18 dozen cupcakes for most orders (I do almost all wedding cakes/cupcake orders). They are a lot of work and worth way more than $1 each.

Are you figuring all your expenses. I use a software to help me keep track and I track very carefully because I want to make sure my records are accurate because it is not worth the time if I am not making at least $20/hr after all expenses paid. I would hardly make any profit charging $1/cupcake let alone making it worth my time on an hourly basis.

thecakeprincess Posted 5 Aug 2011 , 3:54pm
post #7 of 25

GREAT INFO!!!

Noobz Posted 6 Aug 2011 , 9:38am
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

I agree with Motta on Google Adwords. I can't get on this site, or any site that has to do with baking without seeing my business. As a newer business, it gets you everywhere while you work your way up in the searches. And if you don't have a great web designer, your climb to the top will be even slower. I spend about $100 per month and get most of my general inquiries by this method. My site is so big that specific searches, such as turtle cupcakes, will come up right away. But I'm still too new to be at the top of main searches, like, "birthday cake". Be very careful to get those three lines to perfectly work for you. My site and the name look like a national company, so my lines are, "local bakery, Hagerstown, Martinsburg".

FB does great when I stay on top of it. My mom had a stroke a few weeks ago and I haven't touched it. When I post a picture every other day, I get activity.

I started Twitter and have developed its applications for my business. It will work well, but again, put on hold. My mom just got home and now it's a drive to rehab every day. That takes 4 hours of my day. Then there are all of the other stops involved. When this changes, I will use FB and my sampling to go full force again.

Luckily, a debt-free business allowed me to adjust my life to this crisis, but a few free cupcakes to the right places will put me in full swing again. It was too easy to start the first time.

I must credit my site to the immediate success of my business. I designed it on pages of graph paper, complete with colored pencils. But I paid pros to design it and to do the unseen work that makes a site work to its highest potential. I also had them only do the shell. All copy, pictures, pages, and posts, we done by me for two reasons... to save money and to teach me how to manipulate the site myself.

Before I ever created my site, I branded my business and my products. This serious attention to detail gives the customer the assurance that the same attention goes into their order.

After the groundwork is done, a superior tasting product will quickly spread by word-of-mouth.




Cool site, but its a bit slow to load on my PC.

FleurDeCake Posted 6 Aug 2011 , 10:25am
post #9 of 25

this was very good info thanks all

kelleym Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 1:45am
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noobz

Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

I must credit my site to the immediate success of my business. I designed it on pages of graph paper, complete with colored pencils. But I paid pros to design it and to do the unseen work that makes a site work to its highest potential. I also had them only do the shell. All copy, pictures, pages, and posts, we done by me for two reasons... to save money and to teach me how to manipulate the site myself.

Before I ever created my site, I branded my business and my products. This serious attention to detail gives the customer the assurance that the same attention goes into their order.

After the groundwork is done, a superior tasting product will quickly spread by word-of-mouth.



Cool site, but its a bit slow to load on my PC.



Is this it...? http://www.justdessertsdelivered.com/category/bars-brownies-whoopie-pies-cookies/

If that's it... just a suggestion, have you ever considered having your food professionally photographed, or getting a DSLR camera and making your own homemade lightbox? Perhaps I've been spoiled by the many different baking blogs I read, but I think your food could be presented better. The descriptions sound really good, I just think they deserve photos to match. icon_smile.gif Other than that, the site is FANTASTIC! thumbs_up.gif

JoanieB Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 1:54pm
post #11 of 25

I agree with another poster that you need to raise your prices. Thank goodness I recently purchased CakeBoss software....I was GROSSLY undercharging. I raised my prices and now use them as BASE pricing. Customers that appreciate my work don't even blink when I give them a quote.

Now, a good website that is content rich is key. I designed my own through Vistaprint and pay a little extra for the search engine optimizer....but the content is your responsibility. They explain on their site how to increase traffic and it usually takes 6 weeks to be indexed by google, yahoo, etc. I pay $30 a month. It shows me too the searches people enter to hit my site. Certain searches I'm on the first page.

But it's a work in progress, like someone mentioned you have to keep on it. I don't make the kind of revenue yet to justify paying $50-$100 a month for a website. Most of my business is word of mouth. I do wish though that my pictures were more professional.

scp1127 Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 2:18pm
post #12 of 25

kelleym, that's not the home page. If you notice, some pics are better than others. Some were made in the beginning of my project. I did not have the site until about a year later and I didn't have proper settings. Especially with pics like the celebration cakes because I had no intention to go this route. I now have a better camera and setup. Because I make to order, I can't use a pro. I replace pictures as I go. My customers want the pictures, even if they aren't great. Example: Whoopie Pies, they were fantastic, but because I didn't intend to sell them, the photo was taken on my phone. I'm too busy to just make a batch for a photo, so they will stay like that until I happen to make them again.

I have certain items that sell over and over and other items that have never sold. The frequent ones have better pictures.

Thank you for the compliment!

imagenthatnj Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 9:12pm
post #13 of 25

Very nice, scp1127. I actually think your pictures look good enough...maybe because the descriptions are so enticing that I don't care much about the photo after reading! I love the pretty girl on the home page showing the pink packaging and how the product will be delivered, and your bakery is beautiful!

Overall, I love how cleanly the website is designed, everything in order, with none of that moving and blinking that some websites are crowded with these days.

scp1127 Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 9:43pm
post #14 of 25

Imagenthatnj, that is my 16 year old daughter on the home page. She looks older than my 24 year old daughter on the "About Us" page. They both help with the business and will one day get it. I did it for them. They do turn heads on a delivery.

zespri Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 10:15pm
post #15 of 25

I agree, the girls look lovely, and the bakery is so pretty! Just so you know, when I click on 'wedding cakes' it takes me to the index of celebration cakes.

scp1127 Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 10:30pm
post #16 of 25

zespri, thanks, I'll check that.

scp1127 Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 10:53pm
post #17 of 25

zespri, those are actual cakes I have done as wedding cakes. I have never done a traditional wedding cake. I have my first white cake in October. I am asked to do the oddest cakes, probably because these are the types of cakes I have made for different occasions.

I never had any intention of doing weddings after a year of lurking on CC. But I keep getting people insisting I make their cake. If you google my area and look at the leaning, uneven, Wilton-style-only pictures of some of my competition, maybe that's why I am asked. I will continue to do only the cake styles I want, so I'm lucky. I am also the only scratch baker. My cake flavors are so unique, I think the brides bend to my abilities. I put the vegan cake and cupcakes in there because it took me forever to develop that cake and I think I am the only one to offer any vegan alternative in the area. So you can see that I just put what I am willing to do vs. traditional cakes. The good thing about being selective is that I don't get the dreaded impossible brides. With my crazy collection of wedding cakes, I still get about 30% of my inquiries as weddings. I don't take but the few I really want to make. The small cakes that are never seen on most sites get lots of inquiries. People still like a cake even if it is for twenty people. I'm starting a new line of petite cakes. Some will be fondant-covered. They will be about $50 to $70. I hope they are used as mini wedding cakes a well as special occasion cakes. And none are white traditional cakes.

zespri Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 11:06pm
post #18 of 25

oic!!

I like that you only do the cakes you want to, that would be the only way I could ever get paid for cakes, if I didn't have pressure to HAVE to take every order. If there's no fun, then what's the point.

FromScratchSF Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 11:30pm
post #19 of 25

All this time, SCP1127, all this time, I have wondered about your business... and now I can stalk you proper! LOL

icon_biggrin.gif

crushed Posted 8 Aug 2011 , 3:45am
post #20 of 25

scp1127 -- I did a bit of hunting on the web and found your site a few weeks ago. I have to admit, I was so intrigued when you talked about not posting your website that I made it my mission to find it. icon_wink.gif

I am very impressed by you and your business model. I'm glad to hear that it's working so well for you in your area.

scp1127 Posted 8 Aug 2011 , 1:54pm
post #21 of 25

I didn't want to post it because I know other locals are on CC, but I've been found. This trhread will fade soon enough.

FromScratch, I would have given you the site a long time ago. I have your cream cheese smbc copied and filed in my multitude of binders... OCD on that too. But if I have a problem, I have all the aanswers filed. Yep, I know your site by heart.

FromScratch, off topic, what do you know about Miette Bakery?

Zespri, part of that is because I don't have enough experience piping buttercream swirls, etc. My hand starts to shake because I'm not conditioned to do them. I've done them ,but I hate them. In my area, I think I'm just getting the crazy fondant crowd because there is little competition.

Crushed, I have to get back on topic because Adwords has changed how easy it is to find me. Every time I google something that remotely has sugar in it, I am all over the place. In WV, I'm behind pages of illegal bakers. Just google "cake Martinsburg" and you will see my frustration. Over the line in MD, they lay low. In MD, I'm just too new still. I was forced to be innovative in my marketing approach. But I paid an incredible web design company to do my site. Once it gets up there, I will be hard to beat. The good news is that people are googling the strangest things (my site stats tell me) and because of the complexity of the site, I'm being found. Even my blog attached to the site was for exactly that reason. I can control the searches by blogging about what I want to emphasize. For example, people google blueberry muffins, Bailey's Cake, coconut cupcake tower... kind of makes you wonder how valuable wedding cake and birthday cake are in the searches. A site filled with words will get you the best results when people use obscure searches. This is why I say that I credit my designers. I created the look on paper and she surprised me with her results, but the bones of the site are ready for a bigger application, if I choose.

Lita829 Posted 8 Aug 2011 , 2:19pm
post #22 of 25

Great info. Thanks for sharing your business sense!

As always....CC and it's members are the best!

cakegrandma Posted 8 Aug 2011 , 2:56pm
post #23 of 25

I agree that you do need to raise your prices on your cupcakes. What is shown are really good work and you should be getting paid for doing all that work. Let us know how your business is going in a few months, after you had put into effect some of the advise you have received.

Swantje Posted 8 Aug 2011 , 5:04pm
post #24 of 25

I took a look at you pictures here at cc and I looked at your homepage/blog.

First of all: take the advice of others on here and get a real homepage. Get off of blogspot and create a real homepage. Either do it by yourself or pay someone to do it (if you really want to have a serious business - pay someone!). Create different pages - one for pictures of cupcakes, one page with prices, one with flavors, one with contact info. Right now I find your blog hard to navigate - as a customer if I cannot find what I look for immediately, I turn away faster than you'd like. I can scroll almost indefinitely on your blog - flavors and prices are to find on the sidebar with lots of scrolling. I like to see everything I need at a glance.

Get a fond that is easy to read, and watch out for a big contrast with fond and background colour (unlike your yellowish fond for tipsy cupcakes - that's hard to read).

Fix your spelling-mistakes. I'm not an English native (second language for me), but even I found spelling-mistakes on your homepage.

You got a cute logo on your business card - use that more to seperate yourself from your competitors - show it off on your homepage.
And I personally think that your name does not match the "gourmet cupcake creations". The name - to me - implies a business that would be more like "cupcakes for the whole family". Make those two things match up better. Either change your name (since you apparently don't have lots of business, should be easy to do now rather than later) or change your gourmet cupcake creations-line.

Others already suggested better pictures. Find out how to take great pictures and get something consistent throughout your pictures (like always one of each cupcake and then a picture of a group of cupcakes with one of each kind, taken with a plain background (choose colours that suit your business-colours and your homepage background colours - I personally like mostly pictures with light-colored backgrounds).
If you only take one or a handful of cupcakes for your pictures, people also won't notice differences in the cupcakes so easily. Like in the "our teachers are remarkable" picture - you can really notice that the cupcakes have different sizes (and some look browner than others). The same with other pictures. As a customer I want at least to be fooled into thinking that every cupcake I get is exactly the same as the other.

Find your own unique style and build upon that and get better at it than everyone else in your area. Some of your cupcakes look awesome (like the baby-shower ones on the display that were apparently your first job, or the buttercream-flower ones that are named "for school function", or the tiffany-cupcakes with the little bows on top - super cute!), while others look like even a slightly-above average experienced homebaker could do them ( I think the topping on the peanut butter explosion cupcakes looks *umm* not sooo yummy).

Calculate your prices! Make sure you make some kind of profit. It's easier now to raise prices than when your business is in full swing. You want to offer gourmet cupcakes? Make them come with gourmet prices! There is the saying "if it's free it can't be any good". If I were to buy cupcakes for $1 per pice I would think that you don't sell gourmet cupcakes but that you get the cheapest ingredients possible (with the cheapest quality coming along) in order to make some profit.

Last suggestion: find your very best cupcake-flavors and stick with them. Look out for ingredients that you can always keep on hand for good prices and that are always easy to get. With all of the flavors you offer right now you will have to keep tons of different supplies on hand for your cupcakes if your business grows bigger, and you cannot tell me that the prices for the specialty-recipes are the same than those for plain-vanilla cupcakes.
Maybe think about having a handful of beyond-amazing but common cupcake flavors always on stock and then have 2 additional flavors for a limited time only (like a month) and rotate them. You could even do flavors that match the season (like pumpkin during fall, christmas cupcakes with lots of spices in december and a fruity one during summer, etc.) You already advertise seasonal flavors but you do not specify when exactly you offer them. I personally would also stay away from flavors with alcohol. I would not like to have a kid eat some alcohol by accident. There's also people that do not consume alcohol for religious reasons. But it might be only my personal preference.

I hope I don't come along as rude or impolite icon_wink.gif I just wanted to give you my opinion and a couple of suggestion. If you use them or not - completely up to you!

cupcakelizardsandrockets Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 6:45pm
post #25 of 25

no i totally agree i hate just having a blogspot but it was the most cost efficient(free) idea at the time. i am not computer friendly and most of the work i do on it is at the wee hours of the morning. i know you have to spend money to make money. i will get a real web designer to help me with a real website. i am also a terrible photographer the cupcakes are much better in person i definately do not do them justice. i wanted to charge more but have had people cringe at the price now. i will take everyone's advice and see what i can make happen

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