I love baking for my friends and family. And I've always done it for free. What started out as a small hobby has really grown into a passion though. I'm investing a lot more money and time into what I do. So my questions is - how do I start charging for cakes that I always gave away for free? I'm starting to get some outside requests (non-family/friends) so I feel like I'm at a crossroad. I just want to earn back some money to keep this passion going because it's costing me a lot.
Part of my problem is that I am usually the one who initiates the offer to bake and bring a cake to family/friends parties. So now I wonder should I just stop offering and see what happens? I know at this point some people expect it of me to always show up with a baked good in hand. Have any of you been in this same circumstance? Part of the solution is I simply need to stop offering to bring cakes to parties. While I love using these events as excuses to make a cake I have stuck in my head...I know I have to make the transition. And a big part of me really loves being able to make all the decisions about the cake/decoration directly because no one is paying me so in my head its "my cake". I realize I will lose some of that control once someone is paying me. But I know I've come to that point that I need to draw a line in the sand and start charging for my work out of necessity. Do I just get some business cards and let that be my message to everyone that I'm legit now? LOL
Thanks in advance for any input you can provide. I hope I don't sound weak but I honestly just want perspective from other home bakers. Any others I know do this for a living so it's obviously a non-issue. But to me - friends, family and favors is inevitably a recipe for disaster! I just want to find an approach that has the least emotional backlash!
I was in the exact same position last year; I was getting more and more requests from friends and family. After spending 17 hours on a cake I did for free I realized it wasn't unreasonable to ask for payment. And when I told the one who ordered the cake just how much work I put into it, they actually gave me quite a lot of money without me asking for it. From that cake on, I've told everyone about the cost of ingredients and explained how much time it actually takes o bake, fill, cover and decorate.
I don't think people really understand how much time it takes to make a cake, but once they knew, it was no problem to get paid. So I think that if you explain all that goes into making cakes, and give a reasonable price, it shouldn't be a problem! At least it isn't (at all!) for me.
Thanks for your response tarrtokig. I knew I wasn't the only one out there! But I couldn't quite find a thread stating this exact problem. I think my friends and family are finally starting to realize how much time and money are involved. I know my skills still need work so I can't justify charging local bakery prices. But any money at all would be nice at this point. If I totaled up all the money just spent on supplies "I had to have" this year I think I would faint! I also feel like it's time to start appreciating my work thru profit. I'm glad to know your transition wasn't hard and you were even pleasantly surprised by someone's response/payment. This gives me hope!
Kate, I was stuck in the same dilemma a year or so ago. A hobby just grew into a passion...and an expensive passion at that. I was excited to do cakes in the beginning because I was getting the practice and building up a portfolio, but once word got out that I was doing cakes for no money I was getting burned out and taken advantage of in a way.
I'd say if this is really what you think you want to do and you'd like to get paid for it, you should consider the necessary steps to become legal. Being a legal and licensed cake business will give you that esteem and justification to charge what you feel you should be charging for cakes. There are lots of resources out there for starting a cake business. I think once you do that you'll feel so much better about selling cakes.
When I started taking money my cakes weren't perfect either, but the fact they are personal and made especially for that occasion counts too! So you shouldn't under charge either! Since it was for friends and family in the begining, I often discussed what price seemed reasonable and what they were comfortable with, and now that customers aren't always close friends, I am more comfortable with saying what a cake costs!
Haha, I too never count exactly how much money I spend on baking supplies... it would just make me unhappy! ;)
ACheck out the "Starting a Business" and "Pricing Formula" links in my signature.
The key thing for you will be a marketing strategy that reaches beyond your circle of family and friends, which will require a specific competitive advantage.