Am I charging to little?

Decorating By Sunshine0063 Updated 8 Mar 2014 , 2:33pm by -K8memphis

Norasmom Posted 6 Mar 2014 , 3:40am
post #31 of 56

If she smiled and was happy, that price was fine.  Take the payment and smile back. :-)

maisie73 Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 12:15pm
post #32 of 56

AA question for professional bakers- when you first started selling cakes how much did you charge? You weren't always this good (everyone starts somewhere right?) and couldnt always command the sort of money you can now. Did you start off giving them away or just covering your costs or did you jump straight in with charts, portions, minimum wage etc? Forgive me if this question shouldn't be on this thread but i've no idea how to start a new one!

DeniseNH Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 12:24pm
post #33 of 56

Right above your question is a box that says "start a new thread".  That's the one you should push the next time to get another question answered.  Usually it all starts out from home.  Baking cakes for family then it spreads out to extended family members then friends of the extended family members.  All the while you're practicing on them without them knowing it........gaining more and more knowledge as you go then suddenly one day you have to sit down, make out a calendar and cost sheet to figure out how much to charge.  You wonder what others in your areas are getting so you pick up the phone and ask each one how much they charge per serving then base yoour prices on the lower end (because you are still new to this).  Then all of a sudden you'd like to grow and meet others who decorate so you join your local ICES chapter and attend meetings.  So much fun.  It's ALL fun.  But it takes time and it's a progression from one stage to another - gradually.  Don't rush it.  A child needs to go through 12 years of school before they can graduate with honors.  :-)

maisie73 Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 12:30pm
post #35 of 56

AThankyou :-) i'm on the Iphone so maybe that's why I can't see the new question bit. I've no intention to do this professionally, I'm happy doing it for friends and family for free or cost of ingredients. I just wondered why some proffesionals seem to be down on home bakers who don't charge much.

DeniseNH Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 1:02pm
post #36 of 56

We ALL started out as Home Bakers.  And have been kicking ourselves for not charging enough in the beginning because we didn't think we were good enough or deserving enough of higher prices.  So it's great that you had the guts to ask us how much to charge and if you under or over charged.  We applaud you for that.  We're very honest here but it's because we've been there, done that and REALLY want to help you out.  Your family and friends will tell you what you want to hear, we tell you what you need to hear to improve.  It may hurt a bit but the sting goes away   -  after you do your next cake that's even smoother, and smoother - while uttering under your breath "I'll show them!!!".  You'll come back here and show us how proud you are of your future cakes and thank us for being brutally honest.  It's done with sisterly love......I promise.

maisie73 Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 3:30pm
post #37 of 56

AI'd love to post pics of my cakes here for some honest opinions (you're right, my friends and family think I'm the best baker in the world!) but I don't know how to upload them, because I'm on the Iphone again I expect. So have I got it wrong then? Proffessionals don't have a problem with home bakers charging too little?

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 4:51pm
post #38 of 56

AI am a home baker, and I have a problem with [I]anyone[/I] charging too little. I have a problem with it because it devalues the market.

Of course everyone has different costs, but so many home bakers jump right in with no concept of how much they should be charging- they never do the math to figure out their materials cost, overhead, labor costs, and profit, so they end up charging 20 bucks for a cake that cost them $15 in ingredients and took them 5 hours to bake and decorate. The result of this is a ridiculously low price that does not accurately reflect the true cost of the cake, and customers who think anyone charging accurate prices is price gouging.

maisie73 Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 5:31pm
post #39 of 56

A"How much they should be charging" now that's what I don't understand. Who's to say how much I "should" be charging? I'm a very amateur decorator but I've been baking for years, I'm nowhere near as good as everyone here on CC. I started to decorate my cakes because I couldn't stand the taste of shop bought cakes but my plain, un-decorated cakes didn't look nice at parties and celebrations. I could never afford to buy a custom cake so the answer was to learn to decorate myself.......and I love it! I'll never have my own bakery and never be good enough to make money doing it but I love the process, I love the satisfaction I get from knowing I made that, from scratch, knowing every ingredient that's in it and I love seeing the joy on people's faces when I present them with their cake. I know my limitations, My husband and I are paying £600 for our sons wedding cake, we have to save for that, it's a special occasion, a one off. Nobody I make cakes for can afford to buy cakes from that shop, they get their birthday cakes from Tesco or ask me to make one. I'm hardly going to put Tesco out of business and I'm not taking business away from the high end cake shop. So surely the individual is best placed to decide how much his/her cake is worth?

morganchampagne Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 6:36pm
post #40 of 56


Original message sent by maisie73

A question for professional bakers- when you first started selling cakes how much did you charge? You weren't always this good (everyone starts somewhere right?) and couldnt always command the sort of money you can now. Did you start off giving them away or just covering your costs or did you jump straight in with charts, portions, minimum wage etc? Forgive me if this question shouldn't be on this thread but i've no idea how to start a new one!

You don't go into business until youre good. The concept of practicing only when you get orders Is a strange one to me. If you're in business you have to invest in yourself, that means making cakes that sometimes just won't be eaten.

sixinarow Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 7:14pm
post #41 of 56

I don't get that mindset either. Where the heck did that start? An accountant doesn't say  "Well, I'm telling you up front, I've never done this before and I'm not very experienced, so I'll charge you less. But you can't be mad at me if you get audited." If you pay money for a service, most people assume that person has COMPLETED some level of training and has a basic knowledge of how that service is safely produced/product made and a minimum quality standard is in place. COMPLETE your training before you sell. That means a great tasting, level cake with straight sides and smooth buttercream or fondant without bulges. Those are the basics. If you can't produce it every time, then your training is not yet complete. There's no timeline, some people only take a few weeks to get the basics, some people take years. But the more you practice, the shorter that time frame will be, as long as you are "perfect" practicing every time.


Dummies are great for practicing. Buy a set of dummies and practice, wash off, practice some more. Learn about food safety and respect people (customers/paying people) enough to want to give them a good product (in looks AND taste) if they are spending their hard earned money with you. They've put their trust in you and that's a great responsibility you have to their celebration, their special event. The people ordering from you have feelings and expectations too. They don't know you can't whip out a high level cake, but they'll expect it, even if you tell them you can't achieve that standard, they will still expect it and be very disappointed if you don't measure up. And that's not good for them or you.  Complete your training before you start to sell and you'll feel good about what you are producing, they'll be happy and come back for more and we'll all stand up and give virtual high-fives! ;-D

DeniseNH Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 7:49pm
post #42 of 56

I'm gritting my teeth - trying to calm myself down because you unknowingly just insulted everyone here on Cake Central.  

I'm only going to say this once then I'm bowing out of this thread...................listen to me carefully "Home bakers ARE professionals"  We've been in business or years and years and have the time storefront bakers oftentimes don't - to give extra product and services to our customers.  I hope you now understand.  I'm outta here.

sixinarow Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 8:02pm
post #43 of 56

Before you get yourself worked up and ruin your day I AM A HOME BAKER. When I say "professionals", I mean anyone who is selling to the public. I don't care if you have a store front or commercial kitchen or a home kitchen. Good grief. I guess I should also then clarify --  by training, I don't mean a degree. I mean whatever classes (online or in a classroom or youtube or whatever) it takes you give you the skills to perform the basics well. (Here's another tidbit -- I've never taken an in-person class -- just in case you also ASSUME I think you need a culinary degree.) *sigh* I hope that clarifies. Geez would anyone like to help me sew my head back on?? 

AnnieCahill Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 8:27pm
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Here, I brought my needle.


I didn't see your post as an insult whatsoever.  You just said people need to practice and obtain consistency before they sell.  People in some professions need more training than others.  There is no degree or class that's going to teach you how to ice a cake smooth.  Wait a pastry school they teach it to you but that doesn't mean you will KNOW how to do it.  I went to a friend's wedding and her cousin-in-law made her cake.  This girl had graduated pastry school and the cake looked like it had been patched and spackled together.  True story.  So practice makes perfect, degree or not.

MimiFix Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 8:32pm
post #45 of 56

Ladies, basically we're all on the same side, with only a few minor differences. None of which makes a significant difference when we realize it's all about our prospering in a difficult business climate.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 9:51pm
post #47 of 56

Sure they need to decide what their cake is worth, that's what I just said: "they never do the math to figure out their materials cost, overhead, labor costs, and profit," as in, they SHOULD be doing the math for themselves and figuring out how much they are actually spending on ingredients, materials, etc., not just say "Oh, I probably spent about $5 for these ingredients, so I'll charge the customer $20 and make $15 profit, cha-ching!"


And you should figure out for yourself how much of an hourly wage you want to get paid, most would recommend at least paying yourself minimum wage, but for the love of cake, PLEASE pay yourself more than minimum wage.


I'm not in any way implying that you or any other baker should just take what I charge for cakes and match it, quite the opposite, actually. The only prices you can't dictate are how much you are paying the grocery store for your ingredients, the specialty shop or website for your cake tools, the electric company for the electricity that runs your oven...catch my drift?? Because they have determined how much they need to charge you, the customer, to make money from that transaction, and you can take it or leave it. Just as your customer can take it or leave it when you quote a price for a cake.

Now, I can't speak to skill level, that's another thing you have to determine for yourself- if you have the skill to make this a business or not. I'm not saying you don't, I have no idea what your cakes are like.

maisie73 Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 10:27pm
post #48 of 56

AI have done the maths, I have figured out how much it costs me to make my cakes, right down to a tsp of baking powder and a candle if I supply it. I don't have customers per se, just people I make cakes for, i don't charge except the cost of ingredients sometimes, depending who I'm making it for. My cakes are not great, they taste delicious but I'm a very amateur decorator. I've no intention of trying to go into business or making any money from it. I think that's got a bit lost since I asked my original question.

AZCouture Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 11:12pm
post #49 of 56

APractice, and attract the customers that can afford that one off you speak of. I am not my customer. My customer is the mom who wants to show off with a five hundred dollar cake to all her friends, and the bride who considers a beautiful and delicious cake just as important as the dress. That's about it in a nutshell.

AZCouture Posted 7 Mar 2014 , 11:16pm
post #50 of 56

AWhoever said investing in your business is absolutely right. You have to spend money to earn money. And for every dummy you decorate, make a real one. If you can't rock a real cake just as flawlessly as a dummy, that's misrepresentation.

For the record, I never offered any kind of discounts to anyone for any reason since I started selling, and I started selling high right out of the gate, because I spent a long time honing my skills before I decided they were satisfactory for the public, and by that time, I'd learned all about pricing from places like this, and decided I wasn't going to bother with piddly little cakes, or anything I couldn't make good money at.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 8 Mar 2014 , 12:40am
post #51 of 56

You asked whether professionals start out charging just ingredients and practice before they start charging professional prices, and you asked why professionals "look down on" home bakers who don't charge enough. Everyone else answered the questions about practicing and how you should start out, I answered the question about why, IMO, we don't like when home bakers (or any baker for that matter) doesn't charge what a cake is worth. 

I'm glad you have done the math and figured out your ingredients cost, and glad you are able to invest money and time into cakes as a gift to your friends and family. Since you don't consider yourself a business and just do the occasional cake for friends and family, you're not part of the problem. :smile:
The ones that are part of the problem are those who consider themselves a business and market themselves as such, actively seek customers outside of their circle of friends, and have no concept of what they should be charging to actually make money doing this. They are the ones who compromise the value of the custom cake market, because they teach customers that cakes should be cheap. 

morganchampagne Posted 8 Mar 2014 , 3:07am
post #53 of 56


Original message sent by AZCouture

Practice, and attract the customers that can afford that one off you speak of. I am not my customer. My customer is the mom who wants to show off with a five hundred dollar cake to all her friends, and the bride who considers a beautiful and delicious cake just as important as the dress. That's about it in a nutshell.

That was me saying invest...and I completely agree with the dummy cake thing. I personally don't think dummy cakes are really that great for practicing. They already come level and sharp edged. With a cake you have to create it yourself.

Ive made two tiered real cakes that I have thrown away. And you know, I've never had an unlevel cake, never had a cake fall, never had a cake lean. This is a serious craft, and it takes work to get good! Im not playing here, this is my business. I'm not saying everyone has to have my approach, but all the timidness has to stop. If you cant being yourself to charge accordingly. .step aside.

This is not directed to anyone in this thread by the way, just my thoughts

maisie73 Posted 8 Mar 2014 , 11:35am
post #54 of 56

AOk, thankyou Lovemesomecake, I think I get it now. :-) i just didn't want to be on here upsetting anyone, I love baking and I love CC. Also, I'm not being pedantic but I never actually said "look down on", I said "down on", they don't mean the same in the UK, maybe they do in America, maybe it's got a bit lost in translation.:-)

-K8memphis Posted 8 Mar 2014 , 2:33pm
post #56 of 56

with all due respect and in conversational tone of voice here--i think where we might run into communication issues is where we have decided that our model of operation is the only way for whatever reasons from maybe just being unaware all the way to showing disdain sometimes--as a matter of fact-- my first pro cake was made in approved circumstances in a bakery--not from home--


and lots of people start out by making a great cake, surprising themselves most of all, and other peeps start seeking them out--so they start getting/taking orders--colette peters started out making cakes for co-workers--although she was leaps and bounds ahead of the pack with her art degree and job in new york and her being colette and all --sometimes it's purely a momentum thing--




and my opinion on the 'brutal' aspect of 'brutally honest' -- just say no -- again there are many other ways of expressing a great straight shooting value packed critique without bludgeoning someone


best to all y'all

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