Wondering If Should Give Up On My Cake Decorating Business

Business By dpm2712 Updated 25 Apr 2014 , 1:10pm by DaysCakes

dpm2712 Posted 13 Apr 2014 , 4:46pm
post #1 of 17

I have been making professional cakes for a couple of years now and I am not getting hardly any orders, barely one a month, not even that.

I do birthdays and was just about to venture more into weddings, I am making one for this summer fir a wedding. 

I learned by trial and error and it is more of a hobby turned business.

 

People seem to just want something for nothing and its really a bit if a confidence knock. I am starting to think perhaps I am living in a bubble and my work isnt that great. I dont think it is the best, I am always learning new things and working on improving everything.

 

I put a lot into my business, trying to stand out from local competition..

offering delivery

offering  special gift packages including cards and flowers

childrens parties

one on one classes in customers own home

other takes on cake

competetions and offers on my facebook page and website

I have een done a 'create a cupcake' thing on my site where the user can custom select eery detail of their order and even have it delivered

doing cute biscuits and favors

offering my services as an afterschool club

the list is seemingly endless

 

 

But my problem is I am not getting enough to keep me going at all! 

I am doing freebies, adertising and all sorts. I am stuck.

I really dont want to give up on it but it seems that ill have to at this rate.

 
I have attached some of my cakes to this post (sorry there are quite a few im not sure how to upload to my profile)
some friendly advice would be great. I have spent a lot of tie and money on this and its not paying off whatsoever! its really disheartening actually

 

 

 

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16 replies
elkocakelady Posted 13 Apr 2014 , 6:14pm
post #2 of 17

Whoaaa. Do NOT give up.  I see lots of talent and lots of potential, looking at your photos.  Not to mention the obvious investment in equipment.  

 

Consider where you live, the size of your city, and the local economy.  

How's your pricing? What could you do to lower your expenses without compromising quality?  What could you do to reduce time spent on each project?  Judging by your post, I have to assume that you are working out of your home, or at least do not have your own storefront location.  That's where I found people not wanting to pay a reasonable price.  Once I was associated with a storefront, that changed.

 

Here are some ideas:

Check out of couple of Craftsy.com classes  1:  How to Start a Cake Business, and 2:  Small Cakes, Big Business.  Lots of great info and ideas for very little money.

 

Get your business cards and some brochures out to local bakeries, florists, party suppliers, event rental companies, venues, etc.  

 

Is there a local bridal fair or food show, or even craft shows or home shows, where you can have a booth to promote yourself?  Once I had a booth at our local annual bridal show, it's been non-stop business.

 

Try to get associated with an established bakery...I stumbled into a great relationship with a local bakery owner.  She offers pastries and deli sandwiches, but not much in the cake area...until I came in.  I've combined my business with hers and now we are kicking butt and taking names in the wedding cake world - locally, anyway.

 

There is also some awesome software that can be helpful and is inexpensive.  CakeBoss.com software.  Check it out.  It helps with pricing, and tracking orders, and lots of other stuff.

 

I hope this is helpful!  Good luck and keep frosting!

 

Holley

anaelisabethlee Posted 13 Apr 2014 , 6:25pm
post #3 of 17

AI don't think you should give it up at all, but I don't think you are portraying your cakes in the best way. Really think about the lighting and photography - make sure there is nothing in the background, like a fridge, hob, kettle etc Do a nice set up. How are you advertising? Do you have a FB page? What are your competitions prices? If everyone around is stupidly low then it may not be worth your while...

dpm2712 Posted 13 Apr 2014 , 6:48pm
post #4 of 17

thank you for your helpful replies, I am working from home.

I have recently revised and lowered my prices.

 

I have given freebies to local places such as coffee shops, and the like.

 

I advertise a lot online and mostly facebook.

 

I also advertise in every shop I find with a community board.

 

I have done a few fayres and things. wedding fayres I am yet to embark on though.

 

I have looked into reducing my costs and worked out eery little bit as pricing goes.. it took me a very long time to get my head around pricing labour etc but i think ive got it down.

 

I have just over 200 likers on facebook.

 

My competitions are always free!

every now and then i do extremley low special offers on simple cakes such as chocolate buttercream heart cake or cupcake packages, sometimes free gifts too! 

 

I agree about making my pictures look more proffessional, i recently got a nice little bridge camera but i think its all about background dressing and lighting.

 

would love to open a little shop itd be ideal. It takes money to make money though!

 

I have a lot of equipment I have built up.

 

Craftsy are very good, I actually done wone of their courses a few months back, but it was more about a technique i wanted some info on really. (painting cakes) I will look into their other courses.

 

Thanks again

xx

Gingerlocks Posted 14 Apr 2014 , 7:39pm
post #5 of 17

I think there are a few things you could do to improve sales..firstly (and I think this was mentioned), use a proper camera not a phone, and de-clutter the background; it will give you a more professional look. 

 

Secondly stop giving away freebies, it doesn't work. Charge what your cakes are worth..if you don't value your product, no one will; you have some beautiful work, don't see yourself short. 

 

Don't rely on facebook to advertise your products..chances are many of your likes are from friends and family, you have to reach out to future brides and other potential customers. A great way is going to wedding expos, the return can be great. Bring along a few "dummy" cakes and show off your work and show brides what you can offer them. Or even selling cupcakes at farmers markets is another great way to get your name and product out there, without resorting to freebies and making a bit of money..you can sell cupcakes / cakepops, and let people know that you also offer a customized product for wedding/birthday/etc..

SugarJen Posted 14 Apr 2014 , 7:57pm
post #6 of 17

I think your work is good. Don't give up. But I agree with the user that said you need better pics. Set up an area for photographing your cakes.

DaysCakes Posted 14 Apr 2014 , 8:13pm
post #7 of 17

Don't give up!  Where are you based? I agree with the other posters - your photos need to be crisper.  I have in the past hung a white sheet and photographed the cake in front - so there's no distraction.  I am sure that you should plug away - not sure if you should go to a physical shop if you are already struggling for business.  Why not an internet shop?  Ebay???

aggiewife12 Posted 15 Apr 2014 , 5:26pm
post #8 of 17

Make sure your cakes tastes good! I am getting so many clients simply because mine taste better than others out there (at least in my area). I've decided that that's where my focus is going to be. Sometimes people get so wrapped up in how the cake looks, that they forget that a cake is made to be eaten!

 

Just something to think about.

AZCouture Posted 15 Apr 2014 , 5:42pm
post #9 of 17

AWell, I'll drop a bucket of sunshine on this happy parade. Sorry, but here are some un fun things to consider.

Are there already other established decorators in your area? If so, how does their work compare to yours? Are they better? And if there are, how big of a town are you in? Could your area already have enough decorators to fill demand? Are there Facebook groups for your town where people advertise their small businesses and people seek cheap items to buy? If so, I'm sure there are plenty of cheap cakes offered there. I see ok work from you, basic cakes that probably appeal to the average birthday cake shopper. So the other decorators...do they offer similar cakes, or do they have a niche of sort, with really elaborate and well done work? How about your pricing..who are you getting inquiries from and what are they asking for?

Just some things to consider. Just asking yourself questions like that can get you thinking about how you're marketing yourself, who to concentrate that advertising to, deciding whether to focus on general cakes, or if you can survive by stepping up your game and only offering super duper costly custom creations.

Sometimes, it just doesn't work out. Can't force demand where it just doesn't exist.

AZCouture Posted 15 Apr 2014 , 5:44pm
post #10 of 17

AAnd definitely take the best photos you can, make the simplest creation look as interesting as possible.

costumeczar Posted 15 Apr 2014 , 10:32pm
post #11 of 17

Quote:

Originally Posted by dpm2712 
 

thank you for your helpful replies, I am working from home.

I have recently revised and lowered my prices.

 

don't lower your prices, that makes you look desperate and attracts people who don't want to pay for your work. You need to promote what makes your cakes worth paying for. Being home-based doesn't mean anything if your work is worth buying.

 

I have given freebies to local places such as coffee shops, and the like.

Stop doing this, giving things away only gets more requests for free stuff.

 

I advertise a lot online and mostly facebook.

facebook ads don't get the best return on investment. If there's a local magazine for parents or a business group for wedding professionals, you'll get more return from putting ads there and attending those meetings.

 

I also advertise in every shop I find with a community board.

When I think of bulletin boards I think "cheap"...also not the best place to advertise.

 

I have done a few fayres and things. wedding fayres I am yet to embark on though.

If you're trying to break into the wedding market, you're going to need to improve your photography substantially and do a bunch of display cakes to photograph. They don't need to be fancy, but you need photos to show brides what you can do. they're not the easiest clients to have and they demand a lot. Doing a wedding fair would be good to get your name out there and meet other wedding pros, but you'll need to be ready to present yourself as a confident professional even if you haven't got a clue about what you're doing. Brides can sense fear, and wedding professionals can be totally cutthroat..

 

I have looked into reducing my costs and worked out eery little bit as pricing goes.. it took me a very long time to get my head around pricing labour etc but i think ive got it down.

 

I have just over 200 likers on facebook.

Are they customers or other cake decorators? You'd probably be better served getting a good website up.

 

My competitions are always free!

every now and then i do extremley low special offers on simple cakes such as chocolate buttercream heart cake or cupcake packages, sometimes free gifts too! Don't do this more than once every couple of months, if even that often. When you do this you train the customers that you do have to wait until a sale before they buy anything. Not discounting is a better option.

 

I agree about making my pictures look more proffessional, i recently got a nice little bridge camera but i think its all about background dressing and lighting.

 

would love to open a little shop itd be ideal. It takes money to make money though!

 

I have a lot of equipment I have built up.

 

Craftsy are very good, I actually done wone of their courses a few months back, but it was more about a technique i wanted some info on really. (painting cakes) I will look into their other courses.

 

Thanks again

xx

FYI, The current cake market is oversaturated and there isn't enough demand to go around. The phrase "there's enough business for everyone" is a complete load. It's completely possible that your area has too many cake decorators trying to sell to too few people, that's just the reality.

enga Posted 16 Apr 2014 , 12:12am
post #12 of 17

I'm just going to put this out there. I think you are spreading yourself too thin by offering to many things. How do I know this, because I did the same thing and lost my business. Others will say "how can you tell anyone what to do when you don't have a business?" Well, hindsight is 20/20 and I can tell you what not to do.

 

I see areas of your skill set that are better than others but I also see a lot of potential. The teapot, your fondant work (love the Tiffany box) and piping skills are very good, you should focus on the things that you are exceptional at and stream line those. That's what I'm doing. No bakeries where I live offer custom hand painted cookies and cakes, so there's my niche and it's something I'm good at opposed to fondant work and piping skills.

 

 Like other posters have said, take professional pictures, perfect your recipes, get at good website, and take a business course. SCORE is a good place to start. Micro should be your new buzz word. Because when you start off small and streamlined there is less of a risk and once you get your clientele up you can always increase your product line. Another thing I agree with is stopping the freebies.You basically have to become the Cake Nazi, and say, " No more free cake for you"! A lot of money can be lost by giving away samples in the wrong market.

 

If this is something that you truly want to do, take a step back and reevaluate your situation. Take a good look at ways you can cut your costs without losing the quality of what you have to offer. Ask yourself "what are my best skills right now", hone in on them and use them to your advantage. You are worth it and you deserve to be paid for your skills!

 

I wish you well with what ever decision you chose to make!

 

PS,  knock their socks off with the wedding cake that you are making this summer! 

dpm2712 Posted 25 Apr 2014 , 12:05pm
post #13 of 17

I want to say thanks for taking the time to read and reply! It is all very helpful. Enga you really encouraged me.  I live in London and there is a lot of competition. I agree there are things I am not so good at. I have good camera now its a matter of lighting i think as well as background for photos. something I will have to play around with to get it right. 

 

The likers on my page on Facebook are customers and community.

 

I have a website up but I am yet to get a sale through it. Aside from wedding fayres where is best to advertise then? because other than community boards and the internet.. and of course work of mouth and local schools I am at a loss as to where to start. I am looking into setting up a local market stall regularly, Just waiting for a return phone call to see if there is a space.

 

I agree about presenting myself properly at a wedding fayre which is why I havent done it yet. 

I will post pics of the upcoming wedding cake in July!

 

The reason I have lowered my costs is because of competition and people do not seem to want to pay much for anything!

For example for a basic two tier I now charge £70. (depending on flavours and certain details oc)

 

It seems I have a long way to go. There are styles of work that i prefer and that i enjoy doing more as you can maybe tell. but I am always learning

 

Thanks again guys xxx

DaysCakes Posted 25 Apr 2014 , 12:15pm
post #14 of 17

£70 sounds cheap - what's in it?  Which postcode area are you basing yourself in?  There's a lot of cakers out there and I am aware of the competition - particularly as near to me there are a couple of technical colleges with specific courses in what we do.  Can you PM me your FB page?  I would love to have a look!:)

Kathy

 

Edited to say "duh - just saw that the £70 reference did say depending on flavours....sorry

anaelisabethlee Posted 25 Apr 2014 , 12:41pm
post #15 of 17

Quote:

Originally Posted by dpm2712 
 

 

The reason I have lowered my costs is because of competition and people do not seem to want to pay much for anything!

For example for a basic two tier I now charge £70. (depending on flavours and certain details oc)

 

 

What? no!

£70 is waaaay too cheap. My 2 tier is at least £140. (for 8" and 6") At least. And I live in the home counties, not london. Where in London are you? Surely you can get a better clientele than that. Are you dependent on the cake for living?

 

Bear in mind that sometimes if it's too cheap, it will put people off. I would already have alarm bells ringing on why they were so cheap and what would go wrong. 

 

Just my tuppence...!

denetteb Posted 25 Apr 2014 , 12:58pm
post #16 of 17

Can you share a link to your web page?  That will be  a lot of potential customers first look at you and your business, if it has some problems that could turn off clients.  I don't hear of many cakers doing a gangbuster business off of facebook.  Well, they may get lots of business but not much real money since facebook cake sites seem to equate with cheaper cakes.

DaysCakes Posted 25 Apr 2014 , 1:10pm
post #17 of 17

Quote:

Originally Posted by anaelisabethlee 
 

 

What? no!

£70 is waaaay too cheap. My 2 tier is at least £140. (for 8" and 6") At least. And I live in the home counties, not london. Where in London are you? Surely you can get a better clientele than that. Are you dependent on the cake for living?

 

Bear in mind that sometimes if it's too cheap, it will put people off. I would already have alarm bells ringing on why they were so cheap and what would go wrong.

 

Just my tuppence...!

I agree with you anaelisabethlee.  I didn't even charge £70 back in the 90s for a 2 tier.  My minimum was £100 for a wedding cake and that would be 6 and 9 inches.  I used to charge around £60 for a 12" single layer fruit cake.  Dpm2712 - It is possible that people think if it's too cheap you are compromising somewhere - and if it's a special occasion, people don't want to do that.

 

I don't think that FB is necessarily the best place to advertise - but then it's not the worst either.  I think you have to be active on all the social networking sites these days.  I follow a couple of couture cake designers on FB and their work is expensive.  I think your pricing and marketing is the thing you need to sort out.  Do tell us where to find you!

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