I have operated from a licensed home bakery for several years now making custom decorated cakes, cupcakes and sugar cookies. Here is my 2 cents worth on cupcakes...
I live in Ohio. There are two ways to sell goods out of your home. You can sell goods with non perishable ingredients (like cream cheese icing) with no inspection, form filling out, fee... Or you can fill out 1 form, own no pets, have no carpet in the kitchen, pay $10 and get a license for your home. The license allows me to sell perishable items. The main reason I went ahead and got licensed was to tell clients "I operate from a licensed home bakery". The general public has no idea that you don't have to be licensed in Ohio or what the requirements are, but knowing I am licensed makes me stand out against other home bakers.
I use clam shell containers for the cupcakes. I use these for both pick up orders and deliveries because they stack 3 containers high without crushing any cupcakes. I order these:
They have indents on the side of the cupcakes so you don't mess up the icing getting the cupcake out.
I suggest having a free listing on every website that allows one - especially those directed to brides. I pay for a listing on the knot which has worked out really well for me.
You must have a website. Keep it up to date. Only put professional looking pictures on the site. A picture of pretty cupcakes with a pile of laundry in the background doesn't sell.
There is a cake supply store by me that sells cupcake liners in all sizes and colors. They offer a liner that is in between a standard size liner and a jumbo liner. This is the liner I purchase for my cupcakes. During consultations I have a regular size liner and the liner I use out for the client to compare. This is another I stand out from other bakeries. My cupcakes are about 1 1/3 the size of other bakeries. Now, these liners only come in white. So if a bride wants colored liners then she will have to have standard size liners and the price is the same. Even though the cupcakes are smaller the colored liners are more expensive so my cost is the same - which means my price is the same. I have had 2 brides opt for colored liners, the rest want the larger cupcake. Now, if I used standard size liners I would offer colored liners I can get at the local supply store in my standard price. If the client wanted something else, like something I had to pay more per liner for and/or shipping, I would charge extra for that.
I charge the same price for all my cupcake flavors/fillings. I charge $20/dozen for unfilled cupcakes and $23/dozen for filled cupcakes. Decorations are extra; price depends on the decoration. I have the cake boss software (which I highly recommend). It really helps me keep my orders straight and make sure my profit is where I want it. For some recipes I make more $$ for other less $$, but I figure if people struggle figuring what 2 dozen cupcakes at $20/dozen will cost - having different price tiers will be a nightmere. I just don't want to mess with it.
I highly suggest you invest in a nice cupcake stand. I had a 5 tier wood stand built for me. The bottom tier has a lazy susan on the bottom so it spins. That way if the stand is against a wall guests don't have to try and reach behind the stand - they just spin it. The stand cost me around $475 (I can't remember now exactly how much) but it is a real selling point to clients - especially brides. I charge a rental fee of $40 and a refundable deposit for when the stand is returned of $175. You can see pictures of the stand in my gallery on CC.
As for cupcake pans...I haven't found any difference between the expensive pans and the cheap ones. There is a difference in liners. I would always do a test run on any new liners before you offer them to clients.
The best purchase I ever made was a true convection oven from Lowes for $1400 (including installation). It is a standard 30" oven/stove top so it fit in the same spot my old oven was. I can bake 6 dozen cupcakes at a time which is a huge time saver. I highly recommend looking into buying a true convection oven. Do you homework ahead of time. There is a big difference between convection ovens and true convection ovens on the market today.
The only minimum order requirement I have is that each type of cupcake/filling combo must be ordered 1 dozen at a time. What that means is...a client can't order 1 dozen cupcakes consisting of 1 chocolate cupcake, 1 lemon cupcake, 1 carrot cupcake, 1 yellow cupcake...
I offer over different cupcake flavors/fillings. I think that is one of the main reasons people order from me. They want variety and I offer that. I have a cupcake flavor/filling list that has cupcakes/fillings/icings already paired together that I give/send to them. They do NOT have to pick one these options, but it helps them know what goes well together since there are so many options. Most people pick something from the list, a few tweek one on the list and a few make up their own.
Since you are doing this out of your home, don't put your address on anything. My business card and website reads:
Cakes by Christina
Kent, Oh 44240
Otherwise people don't realize they are going to your home and want to stop by anytime to pick up cupcakes like they would if you operated from a store front.