I'm just starting to read the forum discussion for these last two days and it's fascinating!!
From what I read, most of you have a cake business. I usually make birthday cakes from my friends and I just made my first wedding cake last week (I also posted it here), but it was only a favor for a friend (and we're not even close). It wasn't a paid cake, she only reimbursed the ingredients. I now receive cake orders, although not much, usually from my friends only, and they're not a lot.
I've been wanting to take more orders, but I don't know how. So, I'm just wondering how do you get your customer? what do I need to do for first-timer to get a customer (other than my own friends)?
thanks a bunch,
Depending on your legal business status will be a factor on how you can advertise.
When just starting out, word of mouth is the best (and when you've been there awhile, it's STILL the best!). I swear, if you have a good product (and your work looks wonderful!), you will wake up one day with 5 cakes due on the same weekend and you'll ask yourself "omg, when did this happen??" It will just suddenly snowball.
When I first got started, I worked in an office of 400 women, and of course we looked for any excuse to have a pitch-in. So I always brought cake. Didn't take long for me to be busy almost every weekend with birthday and wedding cakes just from my co-workers ... then it expanded to their sisters, and their cousins and their friends ... and the next thing I know, I'm renting office space in a building downtown to meet my brides!
being legal is the first step to real advertising. i do not advertise because i am not legal (yet), so all of my "orders" come from friends & family, and their friends & family and so on. this, in my humble opinion, is the best way to get started. by the time i'm ready to become legal, and open up a real shop, i'll already have a nice little (or big) client base that knows how great my cakes taste and how pretty they can be.
thank you for the replies. I'm too shy or afraid to offer my cakes to people. They usually just asked me to make it, especially since I'm not good with money thing. I always feel bad when people asked me how much my cakes cost. Although it's not expensive, I just feel bad taking money from someone I know.
You know, if you take money from your friends, the relationship changes a little. Not saying in a bad way or a good way, but there's business to it. So, I usually doesn't say anything to anybody. But I like baking a lot, so I'm confused.
thanks for the suggestion,
Without a doubt, word of mouth and repeats will be your best business ever. They keep coming back and send their friends as long as you continuously offer quality. And it completely spreads like wildfire. Your work looks amazing and yummy. You'll get all you need before you know it, then you'll be screaming HEEEELP!!!!
I'm in your boat. I'm not legal so I'm too scared to advertise. I was plugging along pretty good doing cakes for family and friends for quite some time but after my third child was born they refuse to ask me to do cakes now, they don't think I have enough time but this is my hobby. I'll make time! I need something other than mothering all day, right? I still make cakes for family but that's about it. I'm hoping to start it back up soon. I'm doing a bake sale at my kids preschool/church in a few weeks, I might drum up some business there and my sister who is still in high school brings cakes in for her school functions too. I've read somewhere else on here that someone started bringing cakes to local businesses. I can't remember if she just dropped off cakes all over town or what. That would be a little suspicous but if you're close with your doctor or the police/fire department, you could drop off cakes there. Word of mouth will hopefully spread. I'm too shy for that though! I also read someone else on here had posted a funny story, she was at the grocery store with her husband and the woman behind him had a cake and maybe a hoagie or something in the cart, he asked if she was having a last minute party, she said no I ordered this a week ago so he said I'm sorry to hear that. He pulled out his wife's business card and said next time you want a nice cake, give my wife a call... How Sweet! Good luck!
stephanie, that is a very sweet story. My friends keep pushing me to make a business card but somehow I didn't get to it. The thought of selling stuff to my friends is just too ....(ummm...forgot the word) much?
I have a job as an engineer in sillicon valley, but I really want to take cake orders as my hobby. Also, I am very reluctant advertising to my coworkers as it is not as casual in an engineering company compared to maybe another type of company where you can have a very casual environment. Besides, once you sell cakes to your coworkers, everything seems to be different, just like friends. I'm so confused
well making business cards is a breeze. I picked up business card stock at staples and then in microsoft publisher I made up my business card. it does almost everything, you just have to pick your design theme and then plug in your information and print. They look just as professional as my husband's which were done by a print shop. Maybe you could bring cakes into work for office parties too? When I used to work full time we had them every once in a blue moon, I had a very anti-social office envirionment but many people on here have monthly birthday parties at their office.
Bertha, I second what Butterflywings said. I am not legal but I have gotten most of my business from my family and friends of family and I hope to one day legally open up a shop and I will already have clientele. (the cake giants here in Miami all started out of their house)..also, If I ever leave this town (hopefully) I wouldnt want to invest in something I will have to sell or close...
Anyways! I have been decorating cakes for 8 years and I only started "selling" them since May. It all started when I made my nieces birthday cake and my nephews kindergarten graduation cake..from then on I have been doing cakes every weekend!!! I didnt think I would be so busy so fast but I am..
I also felt bad about charging my friends (I even made my friends wedding cake for free..it was my gift to her mostly b/c i felt bad charging her) ...but now its just business..I charge them really cheap..like to cover the cost of ingredients and a little more...You are spending money on ingredients and your time...if you feel bad charging your friends at I would at least charge them for the ingredients (which are getting quite expensive I might add)..
I just looked at your photos, and those cakes are fabulous!
I understand feeling reluctant to charge family and friends. I have a thread going under cake decorating business about whether to charge for ingredients, and there are some good comments there on how to handle it: http://forum.cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-594821.html. I have found myself becoming a bit resentful at being asked to bring the cake so often (Judy, bring pickles; Sarah, bring crackers; Margaret, bring 12 by 18 decorated cake). Also, having them pay for just ingredients is different than charging them the full cost of your time etc. If you asked someone to make something for you, wouldn't you expect to at least cover their out of pocket costs, if not their time?
As for customers -- I just do hobby cakes, and I've had cake business thoughts, but largely due to what I've read here I've decided it isn't worth it right now (I have three small children and I'm not that organized). Still, I wouldn't be against taking an order if someone wanted to pay me the big bucks. So I have two moves I am going to make: (1) enter a cake at the ag fair. I don't think I've ever seen an entry in the decorated cake category, so maybe there would be a demand for fancy cakes if somone saw mine. (2) Donate a decorated cake to a silent auction -- either one already decorated, or, more likely, cake design and date to be mutually agreed later and just provide pictures.
If you look around your community, there might be similar opportunities to show off your cake skills. I've heard something about dropping cakes off to get orders, but I don't really understand how that would work (maybe post that question on the cake business thread) and I would also be uncomfortable doing so. But even if your business is more formal, do you ever have birthday cakes for people or a snack room or something? You could offer or just bring a cake with a card saying something like "compliments of Cherie" and be ready to accept an order if someone asks you (so you will have to have thought about how much you will charge, even if you are just looking for someone to cover the cost of having cakes for a hobby).
Bertha-- I'm very shy myself and don't know how to approach people about my cakes. I've only done 1 cake outside my family/friend base. I let them come to me. I charge family the cost of ingredients and friends get a big discount. I'm just a hobby baker so I am afraid to advertise instead I've sent samples and cakes I made in class to the school where my husband teaches and that's how I got my first order. That cake was for 20 people....20 potential customers. I'm making a welcome back cake for the teachers next month....over 100 potential customers. If you have kids make cakes for their school. My MIL bought a cake the other day for a friends bday party and I got a few inquirers from that. I'm hoping that I'll have 1 or 2 a week soon.
stephaniescake----I'm with you....I started taking the classes to meet new ppl since I'm home all day with my daughter, in a small town, where I don't know anybody....I decorated B4 but wanted to improve.