vgcea Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 2:01pm
post #1 of

Let me preface by saying that I love all the numerous AND affordable options out there; if they didn't exist I would be SOL trying to fork up the $$$$$ required for classes with the cakexperts. That said, everywhere I look there are 9,999 sites and individuals offering tutorials on just about every cake related thing you can imagine and how to turn caking into a business. From Michaels to Craftsy and similar sites to the facebook page owners who insist on clogging my homepage with the $2.99 quickie tutorials, everybody is geared toward putting out as much caking info as possible. No technique in caking is left a mystery. I noticed Craftsy even has a course for starting a cake business along with the 8,997 tutorials available. Has this always been the case and I'm just late to the party or is there indeed an increase and a consequent near-saturation of the market/webmosphere with every cake tip and tutorial imaginable? Makes me want to ask, so why does the customer need me if theres a DIY for everything easily accessible? Of course my rational mind can come up with tangible reasons but I'm ignoring lil' Ms. Rational this morning.

 

A part of me loves that I can access legendary folks like Nicholas Lodge for $19.99, another part of me is totally bummed that I can access legendary folks like Nicholas Lodge for $19.99 because it means half the population of the United States and a third of China can too! It chips away at the awesomeness some. I think it's something about accessibility and perceived value or maybe I'm just a naughty cake-toddler who doesn't want to share LOLOLOL!!!!

 

I'm feeling very ambivalent this morning (lack of sleep might be it too) I love that all the info is out there, and I hate that all the info is out there. Kinda like a sorority with no secrets; totally zaps the awesomeness factor. 

 

EDIT: In the end, I think this is more of a rant than anything. Probably should get some sleep.

46 replies
jason_kraft Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 2:11pm
post #2 of

AIt probably has more to do with the rise of easily accessible self-publishing tools and the built-in global audience on the web than anything specific to the cake industry.

From an ROI perspective most bakery businesses are pretty safe from DIY competition...consider how many cakes an individual would personally serve per year vs. the investment needed to create high quality recipes and practice decorating skills. Viewing a tutorial on how to make an amazing cake is very different from actually being able to execute an amazing cake.

jamblur Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 2:14pm
post #3 of

Almost anyone can follow a tutorial. It takes a special person with talent to then apply that know how with unique creativity in a way that makes people smile and go 'wow'. The 'added value' comes in through knowing how to work with a client and produce something special.

cazza1 Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 2:25pm
post #4 of

I love the fact that all these things are now available on the web.  Living in semi-isolated areas for most of my life I have had to teach myself most things out of books and I am sick of doing that. If I want to attend classes then I have to go to a city and not only do I have to pay for the class but also accomodation and travel and so I am priced out of that market. Now I can watch someone like Nicholas Lodge for less than the price of one of his books and it is wonderful.

teeny82 Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 2:25pm
post #5 of

I really liked reading your post.:-). I am actually one of those internet taught cakers. I still  have never had a one on one lesson ever so I am actually pretty glad sites like craftsy exist but i to have noticed a huge increase in people starting online tutorials. 

 

To answer your question  so why does the customer need me if theres a DIY for everything easily accessible?  Well, as saturated as the market is in selling tutorial not everyone likes to make cake, but im sure you know that already ;-). I can find heaps of tutorials on how to tile a floor on youtube but Im not going to do it haha, Why because it does not interest me in the slightest and im to lazy to even bother trying haha and soo many people feel this way about making cakes. We will always be needed just as ill need that tiler one day haha.

 

Also because this is our industry we will notice all  the tutorials a lot more because they are marketed towards us haha. I think craftsy pops up on just about every website I visit lol. I still have people asking me all the time that are just starting out where to go for help. Im glad I can pass them on to these online sources rather than trying to answer their million questions when id prefer to be making cake :-)

vgcea Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 2:29pm
post #6 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 

It probably has more to do with the rise of easily accessible self-publishing tools and the built-in global audience on the web than anything specific to the cake industry.

From an ROI perspective most bakery businesses are pretty safe from DIY competition...consider how many cakes an individual would personally serve per year vs. the investment needed to create high quality recipes and practice decorating skills. Viewing a tutorial on how to make an amazing cake is very different from actually being able to execute an amazing cake.

 

You raise a great point Jason. Anybody can put anything on the web and reach way more people than any of the previously available channels before the web.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jamblur 

Almost anyone can follow a tutorial. It takes a special person with talent to then apply that know how with unique creativity in a way that makes people smile and go 'wow'. The 'added value' comes in through knowing how to work with a client and produce something special.

You're both right about the difference between looking at tutorials and hard core caking. I remember when I bought my DSLR, I was going to watch all the photography tutorials and food styling videos and become an expert. I only lasted 2 months; I f-stopped kidding myself (no I'm not cursing, f-stops are one thing I took away from the tutorials lol), canceled my subscription and lynda.com and switched that sucker to Auto mode. I learned great info but I'm no pro photographer and when I looked at the investment of time and effort it would take me to take photos on a near pro level, I decided I would rather spend those resources caking. When I need a pro photo shoot, my DSLR-owning behind is going to hire a DSLR-owning professional to do the job. icon_lol.gif

vgcea Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 2:34pm
post #7 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by teeny82 

I really liked reading your post.:-). I am actually one of those internet taught cakers. I still  have never had a one on one lesson ever so I am actually pretty glad sites like craftsy exist but i to have noticed a huge increase in people starting online tutorials. 

 

To answer your question  so why does the customer need me if theres a DIY for everything easily accessible?  Well, as saturated as the market is in selling tutorial not everyone likes to make cake, but im sure you know that already ;-). I can find heaps of tutorials on how to tile a floor on youtube but Im not going to do it haha, Why because it does not interest me in the slightest and im to lazy to even bother trying haha and soo many people feel this way about making cakes. We will always be needed just as ill need that tiler one day haha.

 

Also because this is our industry we will notice all  the tutorials a lot more because they are marketed towards us haha. I think craftsy pops up on just about every website I visit lol. I still have people asking me all the time that are just starting out where to go for help. Im glad I can pass them on to these online sources rather than trying to answer their million questions when id prefer to be making cake :-)

Hehehe. Thanks. I noticed this is the first post for you and Jamblur. Thanks for breaking the silence to join in the discussion.

kikiandkyle Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 2:38pm
post #8 of

AI think there is still a lot of room for professionals out there, I don't think that most people who would make their own cake would probably have spent $5-10 per portion buying a cake to start with. Some people just aren't interested in baking their own cakes, some don't have the time, some just want the highest quality no matter the cost and recognize that the pros are where they get that.

TheSugarLab Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 2:56pm
post #9 of

As a former Wilton instructor, I can tell you that we don't have to worry about those DIY cakers. I taught in two different stores for over a year and taught probably over 100 students. The majority of my students were just looking for something fun to do (which is why I initially took those classes with my mother) or were wanting to be able to make birthday cakes for their family. Once I opened my shop, many students became my customers. There were things they simply didn't know how to do and didn't care to learn. They just wanted to understand the basics. The one thing I did appreciate about many of my students is that they suddenly had a great appreciation for why custom cakes can cost so much. And those that considered selling their cakes really reconsidered once they saw how much time went into it. 

 

I'm thankful for classes like Craftsy. It gives me access to instructors that I would have to pay hundreds for tuition, not counting airfare or hotels if I had to travel. While it does give everyone else who can pay $20-40 access, they still have to take the time to learn and perfect the technique. Just look at some of the questions people ask; some of them are basic questions that I think the person should know before attempting sugar flowers. 

costumeczar Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 4:44pm

The market is totally saturated now, more than ever, but people will still buy cakes. I sell cake decorating things on my etsy shop and most of my customers are other cake decorators, so if they don't have the time to make seashells or flowers then customers definitely don't have the time to make the entire cake.

 

But you're right, there's a lot more of it out there right now. I think that people find it easier to teach than to market the cakes themselves, so there's been an explosion of that, and with the cake shows that were on tv a few years ago everybody and their brother is a decorator. I also have noticed that people will start a business, get busy, then get burned out and start teaching instead. A notable example is the Cake Girls in Chicago who had the fire that closed their business. As far as I could see, the time away showed them that they kind of enjoyed the time away so they took it in a different direction when they restarted. I definitely can't blame them!

Norasmom Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 5:03pm

It takes a special talent to execute a cake.  Even watching tutorial after tutorial many don't have the patience or the time to perfect a cake.  Or people simply don't want to be creative with a cake.   Sculpting the perfect rose is not easy!

 I must say, though, I don't like the phrase from customers that starts with "I was going to do it myself ...,""  because it implies that the cake they want me to make is easy, inexpensive and not time-consuming...

I have seen some DIY cakes from those who have not practiced things like leveling, torting, smoothing buttercream...so to the professionals, no need to worry!  Also, I can watch Algebra tutorial after Algebra tutorial, and I will still not enjoy doing math...that's why I married a finance major!  

meriem Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 5:46pm

AI was thinking the same thing the other day.. So many tutorials, anyone can just go and learn and be a 'cake decorator'. The thing is they don't. From my own experience to succeed you need to be COMMITED! I spent a lot of money and time learning and perfecting my skills beacause i love cake decorating, and I still don't consider myself a professional. A lot of people 'want to do something cool like this' but they won't invest the time or money. Yes you can watch the tutorials, just watching them doesn't mean you can replicate them to that standard, you will need to go and practice and practice till its perfect, unless your one the one in a million that gets if perfect the first time. So I realised I don't have much to worry about :)

sweetflowers Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 5:46pm

On the same subject, with all the free tutorials, free utubes and crafty classes, I can't even get a minimum in my classes anymore.  Who wants to pay for a local class when they can go online and get it cheap froma  big name or for free? 

kikiandkyle Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 6:38pm

AI think a lot of the bloggers are hoping for a deal from it, whether a book deal like Bakerella or a Craftsy deal like Jessicakes, which is why there are so many of them.

liz at sugar Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 6:45pm

And as cheap as all those Craftsy classes are, many people won't even pony up that much to learn something new.

 

Liz
 

NJsugarmama Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 7:07pm

AI'm sure the economy has something to do with it, too. Lots of people looking to make a few extra bucks. Isn't unemployment realistically upwards of 20% once you factor in people not receiving assistance.

Just a thought.

costumeczar Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 8:09pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by NJsugarmama 

I'm sure the economy has something to do with it, too. Lots of people looking to make a few extra bucks. Isn't unemployment realistically upwards of 20% once you factor in people not receiving assistance.

Just a thought.

It's not that high...

 

I think it's more that people are disgusted with the reality of trying to run a business once they get into it and realize that it isn't all sitting around making flowers all day in a fancy little studio. Trying to teach is one way to make money without having to deal with customers!

Brendabeeper Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 8:22pm

As a hobby home baker, I have friends that say " you should quit your job and do this full time" I laugh because no way do I want to rent a place, hire help , mass produce, and wake up at 3 - 4 am daily. I do enjoy baking and decorating, but this is my daughter left for college , need something to keep me busy hobby .. I have for the last 5 yrs been here on Cake Central ...ALOT, read hundreds of how to's and watch hundreds more of the videos. I am a long way from perfect but have come a long way from my pre lesson cakes. I do make no more then 2 cakes a week, and I put so much into them that the baking, decorating and clean up takes a average of 10 hours per cake. so hobby baking it stays, and I make just enough to cover costs, buy that new item from the cake store, ,support the free ICING SMILES cakes, and the donated cakes to charity and special needs friends I know. I am very happy were I am so hats off to you who bake for a living. you do not have to worry , there are not enough crazy people in this world to put up with the standing and no sleep and stress as you all do . HAPPY DECORATING

Norasmom Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 8:44pm

NJ Sugarmama, it's partially the economy, I am making a few extra bucks selling cakes.  

NJsugarmama Posted 9 Apr 2013 , 8:49pm

A

Original message sent by Norasmom

NJ Sugarmama, it's partially the economy, I am making a few extra bucks selling cakes.  

I think it is, too.

embersmom Posted 10 Apr 2013 , 1:37pm

Oh, definitely the economy,  Sometimes the irony makes me chuckle.

 

Case in point:  I live in an area that's chock-full of longtime retail/wholesale bakeries interspersed with a few supermarket chains (seriously, I only know of 2 home cakers who make any money, and one has another job because she doesn't make enough at caking).  Most people's default in my area is to go to the freestanding retail bakery first if they need a particular kind of cake unless they already know they can't afford the prices.

 

If they can't afford the prices, then they go to the supermarket bakery, which is where I come in.  When I ask them what they're looking for, they'll go into detailed description about tiered cakes with X colors of fondant done in this type of style with this kind of character because it's Baby's First Birthday or something-or-other.  When I tell them that we're not equipped to be that detailed nor do we do tiered cakes, but this is what we CAN do, the look on their faces is priceless.  Then they'll counter with, "Well, we expected [name of chain] to be a bit higher class than [competing chain down the street]."  That's when we drop everything and gently hint that we're sorry, you need to scale back your expectations if you want something within your obvious budget, and if you want X kind of cake, you'd better off going to [retail freestanding bakery down the street] because, honestly, we cannot help you."

 

"But they're tooooooooo expensive!"

 

"Sorry."

 

"Do you know anybody who does cakes at home that we can call?"

 

Even if I did, I wouldn't give you their phone number.  I'd be out of a job if I did.

costumeczar Posted 10 Apr 2013 , 1:49pm

AThe cottage food laws haven't helped, either.

cazza1 Posted 10 Apr 2013 , 1:51pm

My hubby would say his computer is saturated with cake decorating.  I watch all my craftsy classes on his computer as it is a lot quicker than my old laptop so he is continually getting bombarded with ads for cake decorating.  I don't get any on mine.

kikiandkyle Posted 10 Apr 2013 , 7:01pm

People are certainly looking for more ways to make money at home, and there are enough websites out there suggesting you can make cakes in your spare time and get rich.  

Claire138 Posted 10 Apr 2013 , 7:43pm

I also agree that the internet seems saturated with all these free and paying tutorials but I don't know how many people are actually doing more than just making an occasional family bday cake. Once you watch some of these tutorials (even the free ones) it becomes obvious pretty quickly that there is no money to be made in the beginning bc the outlay is enormous so it really depends on how dedicated people are. Saying that, one of my pet peeves are the tv shows that make it seem like all it takes is 20 minutes to put together a custom made 4 tier cake bc there are always those clients who don't understand why they can't have that for the same price as a plain 1 tier one.

cakealicious7 Posted 10 Apr 2013 , 7:59pm

AI agree with you Claire, I'm a professional makeup artist and there are thousands of tutorials of how to do it,clients don't want to pay the big bucks but instead think they can do it themselves. They watch a few videos and decide that they are ' professional ' enough to start a business- and charging half the price that a qualified make up artist would do- leaving us jobless!!! Well I've had my rant about that, just assuming that its the same for the baking industry : )

Claire138 Posted 10 Apr 2013 , 8:03pm

That's so funny bc I'm a beautician too! But, I don't practice anymore bc I fell in love with cake baking and decorating (on a one of to see if I could create something) so use my studies for that instead.

Crimsicle Posted 10 Apr 2013 , 8:04pm

Anyone can take a class.  But not everyone has the skills and patience to turn that class into a quality product.  A tool in the hands of an artist is way more than just a tool.  There are a lot of mommies out there making DIY cakes for their kids.  There always have been.  My mom did that for me way back when.  But they were clearly
mommy cakes.  For people who are looking for excellence, there will always be a calling for an artist. 
 

cakealicious7 Posted 10 Apr 2013 , 8:14pm

A@Claire I don't do makeup either anymore,unfortunately I never liked the people I had to work with. But everybody on here is so fabulous im slowly becoming addicted!! Crimsicle your words actually touched my heart :')

vgcea Posted 10 Apr 2013 , 10:53pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar 

It's not that high...

 

I think it's more that people are disgusted with the reality of trying to run a business once they get into it and realize that it isn't all sitting around making flowers all day in a fancy little studio. Trying to teach is one way to make money without having to deal with customers!

I've heard sentiments similar to these lately that the teaching circuit is way more profitable and somewhat easier than actual caking for a profit. Makes sense considering how much the face-to-face classes cost. So that's why I see more and more cakers on facebook offering classes. Hmmm...icon_confused.gif

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