Baking Courtesy Cakes For Practice?

Business By PattyDif Updated 20 May 2012 , 12:37am by vgcea

PattyDif Posted 16 May 2012 , 2:58pm
post #1 of 26

I would eventually like to sell cakes that I decorate. The state that I live in does have cottage food laws. It's just that I'm a beginner decorator and am not ready to put a price on my cakes yet. I want to practice more. Do you think it's ok to ask friends and relatives if they are interested in me baking and decorating a cake for free for them as a promotional kind of thing for future selling? Or do you think I would be short changing myself considering the cost?

My intent for the future is not to make a career out of this, just a side job for extra cash and my enjoyment.

25 replies
MimiFix Posted 16 May 2012 , 3:09pm
post #2 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by PattyDif

Do you think it's ok to ask friends and relatives if they are interested in me baking and decorating a cake for free for them as a promotional kind of thing for future selling?



Are you asking if it's okay to let friends and relatives know they can request a free cake? Please add me to your list of friends. icon_biggrin.gif

Dayti Posted 16 May 2012 , 3:28pm
post #3 of 26

Do you ship to Europe? I'd love to be one of your free cakey friends icon_biggrin.gif

I'm sure your friends and family would love to get free cake. Or, you could accept donations. But you should point out that eventually they will have to pay for them.

PattyDif Posted 16 May 2012 , 3:35pm
post #4 of 26

Hahahaha, I guess you are right. Who wouldn't want a free cake. And definately I should point out that cakes will be free only for a promotional period. icon_wink.gif

Debale Posted 16 May 2012 , 3:57pm
post #5 of 26

Maybe you could just charge them for the cost of the cake ingredients etc to start with and then increase as you get more confident??? icon_smile.gif

unctoothlady Posted 16 May 2012 , 4:55pm
post #6 of 26

I would charge something. Even if its just a reimbursement of your ingredient costs.

lunachik2981 Posted 16 May 2012 , 6:38pm
post #7 of 26

like you, i'm in that 'practicing' phase. i have done some cakes for free (mostly for kid's bdays), but i never advertise that i've done it for free. i have always said "if anyone asks, i charged $XX". this way, they know what it was worth and next time, they will be more than willing to pay and their guests also get an idea of your worth in case they want to hire you!

i would also advise to get feedback as much as you can-good, bad & ugly and that will help you to know what to charge. i'm a work in progress myself, but i am learning that my time and talents are valuable!

PattyDif Posted 16 May 2012 , 8:20pm
post #8 of 26

Thank you ladies! Great advice! Lunachik, I think you are right in not advertising that the cake is free.

My wheels are spinning with ideas!

Claire138 Posted 16 May 2012 , 8:27pm
post #9 of 26

I think you should ask for the money for the ingredients, I only say this after having gone through what you are currently going through and having given away loads of free cakes to friends while gaining experience it is then very hard to charge them when you become legit. This does not always end well. People who get stuff for free tend to become entitled and then you have problems with them, plus they don't really understand what goes into baking and decorating (I blame the tv shows for this too) and look upon it like a "little hobby". Rather give them away to a charity.

Moovaughan Posted 16 May 2012 , 8:43pm
post #10 of 26

When starting out I would charge my friends and family around $30 to cover my costs and time (that is comparable to a store bought 1/4-1/2 sheet cake in my area....later when I was charging full price I told them for every referal I got (one that produced a paying cake) I would give them 20% off their next cake. One of my friends has gotten me such much paying business she has earned a free cake!

Formynana Posted 16 May 2012 , 9:09pm
post #11 of 26

It sounds like a great idea. Only concern I would have would be them "requesting" a certain kind of cake/frosting not allowing you to practice making the cakes,flavors and sizes you want to get good at making. Have fun it's a great way to make a little extra $$ when you are ready! icon_biggrin.gif

kakeladi Posted 16 May 2012 , 9:13pm
post #12 of 26

Is it the baking OR the decorating you wish to practice?
If it is the decorating use styro dummies. Once you have finished and taken gobs of pix scrape off the icing and start over.

PattyDif Posted 16 May 2012 , 11:13pm
post #13 of 26

Wow! All of these ideas are great! Kakeladi, I would never have thought of that! What a fabulous idea to practice decorating! I'm actually interested in practicing both, more the decorating though. I have baked many, many many cakes in my lifetime, so baking isn't as much of a problem. But I do want to bake more unique and "bakery" style cakes. I baked my first sheet cake last week. It came out so well with all of the advice that I received on the forums as well as just browsing and reading.

When my daughter was a child, I baked all of her birthday cakes using Wilton cake pan molds. Anywhere from Barney to Big Bird to Barbie. And last week, I baked her college graduation party sheet cake. It was fun back then and now I want to explore doing more designer style cakes. It shouldn't take me too long to get comfortable again. icon_smile.gif

ajwonka Posted 16 May 2012 , 11:32pm
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moovaughan

...later when I was charging full price I told them for every referal I got (one that produced a paying cake) I would give them 20% off their next cake. One of my friends has gotten me such much paying business she has earned a free cake!




wow! 20% off per referral plus the ability to stack the discounts? That's a lot of profit to give up! What do you do when the client has given 5 dessert cake referrals and then expects a 3D carved $250+ cake for free? I offer 5% stacking credits!

FullHouse Posted 17 May 2012 , 12:52pm
post #15 of 26

If you want to practice, but make sure you don't get overwhelmed with free cakes, you could offer to do the cakes in exchange for a donation to charity. Amount and charity agreed upon in advance, then they have to hand you a check to that charity when you give them the cake. They write the check directly to the charity, so the write off is theirs and you have not accepted $ for a cake if there are any inspections you need to go through before legally selling under your CFL.

PattyDif Posted 17 May 2012 , 1:06pm
post #16 of 26

What a geat idea Fullhouse! A win-win situation!

Mikomomof4 Posted 17 May 2012 , 3:08pm
post #17 of 26

have fun, take their suggestions but creative decisions are yours. make sure you are "practicing" the skills/goals that you need to in order to gain experience and confidence. you would not want to do 8 zebra stripe cakes over the period of 2 months time. that would be time wasted. let them know you will add creative touches to their requests. fanstasy flowers, bows, ruffles figures. If they get picky or forget that they are paying dirt cheap for CUSTOM. then charge them full price and gain you some customer experience.

PattyDif Posted 18 May 2012 , 3:03am
post #18 of 26

I bought sterofoam "fake" cake discs today at Michaels. Going to use these for decorating "dummies' to practice decorating. Looking forward to it!

vgcea Posted 19 May 2012 , 10:20am
post #19 of 26

Free cake breeds entitled ingrates... lol. I'm only half kidding though. I created a monster when I allowed my friends to get used to free cakes. It got to a point where if I showed up to an event or work without free cake they would pout all over the place. The last straw was when one got mad because the free cake I brought him after hounding me for cake wasn't "super decorated like the ones in the photos." REALLY?

It's okay to give free cake as long as it serves your purposes: testing out a new recipe or design. Since it's free, you get to decide ALL aspects of the design/flavors etc.

If your primary focus is decorating, then get cake dummies online or at your local cake decorating store.

cms2 Posted 19 May 2012 , 12:29pm
post #20 of 26

Please don't get stuck in the free cake trap....I'm still doing an occasional free cake (because I am much too nice) when I could be doing a cake for a paying customer. And believe me, there is nothing worse than working for free. I agree that cake dummies are the way to go. No timelimes, no expectations, no worries. thumbs_up.gif

jenscreativity Posted 19 May 2012 , 1:45pm
post #21 of 26

If you go with the cake dummies and use fondant, then how can I re-use the fondant? Would the dummies ruin the fondant at all or is there a technique I can use under the fondant, on dummy so I can peel it off and use again for practice cakes? I like the icing idea! But really would like to use fondant if it doesn't ruin it and waste me money! Thanks!

cms2 Posted 19 May 2012 , 2:54pm
post #22 of 26

I would think the fondant would dry out too much to reuse it. Why not make dummy cakes and keep them for future display? If you are making tiered fondant dummy cakes, you can cut out the portion of fondant on top where the next cake will sit. I do that and it really helps to cut down on the amount of fondant used.

Using and wasting fondant to practice on a dummy cake will still be cheaper than all the $ it takes to practice on a real cake and not get paid for it.

jenscreativity Posted 19 May 2012 , 2:59pm
post #23 of 26

Oh yeah! That's right! It will dry out! Ok, unless I use a fondant that is real moist like Michele Fosters or even Duff's fondant is really moist for awhile. OK! Good idea on the tiered ones too!

Thanks so much!

vgcea Posted 20 May 2012 , 12:28am
post #24 of 26

Tips I got on CC: Rub shortening on the dummy before use or crumbcoat it with BC. When you're done, run hot water over the dummy. Peel off fondant, re-use.

With BC, wrap the dummy in cling warp before use, peel off when done. Re-use.

jenscreativity Posted 20 May 2012 , 12:31am
post #25 of 26

VGCEA! Awesome tips! Thank you soo much! Just run the hot water for a sec to peal off then without distroying the fondant! I use Michelle Fosters and duff fondants. Sometime MMF, but not often anymore!

vgcea Posted 20 May 2012 , 12:37am
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenscreativity

VGCEA! Awesome tips! Thank you soo much! Just run the hot water for a sec to peal off then without distroying the fondant! I use Michelle Fosters and duff fondants. Sometime MMF, but not often anymore!




Re-use the dummy, the fondant is going to get messed up with the water. If your BC is non-crusting, you can scrape it off and reuse both the dummy and the BC.

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%