Well I have barely gotten started and it is time to quit. I just cannot handle the pressure of so many cakes every week. I cannot say no.. I have tried to limit the volume and I always seem to end up buried in cakes again on a weekly basis, so I am going to finish out August bookings and put my pans away.
I don't know how so many of you do it for years.... I really respect your ability to set limits.. I just don't seem to have that character trait. I have learned so so much on Cake Central... My first cake was exactly a year ago and you guys pretty much schooled me on cake making. I am thankful for this site and all of the information that you so freely share. I havent posted a lot but have lurked daily and I THANK YOU.
Wow! You DO bust out a lot of cakes. I'm sorry to see you go! You know the best way to cut back on the number of cakes you do is to raise your prices. If you have more work than you can handle and can't say no, let your price act as your filter. Then you can do fewer cakes and still make the same or even more money. Its a thought, perhaps for the future, if you ever decide to return.
Oh my! In a year you've manages to fill 5 pages of cakes . That my dear, is a lot of cake. A lot of really beautiful cakes, I have several of yours in "My Favorties"'s. That being said, enjoy your next adventure and I completely agree with alana, if you decide to do it again RAISE your prices! You'll do less and earn the same or more and you won't have to worry about saying "no". The customers themselves will decide whether they can pay what you ask or not.
I agree, increase your prices. Don't put away your pans for good but maybe you should take a break. I speak from experience.
I first took classes in 1990 and spent 6 nights a week for the next 1 1/2 years in my kitchen baking, icing and decorating. I really burnt out and finally learned to say no and did very few cakes for the next 14 years. My passion was rekindled about 1 1/2 years ago but I have controlled how many I make. However, the last 2 weeks have been very busy for me cakewise and already, I am concerned about burnout.
So, I understand what you are going through. Take a break, say no, raise your prices. Don't let it kill your passion!
I started out very very cheap because I really didnt even know what I was doing and as I learned more skills and became more confident and began slowly raising my prices, but with each price increase I felt more and more pressure to perform and my wonderful fulfilling hobby became a real source of stress in my life, not only the volume but the expectations...
I suppose I will never be confident enough in my abilities to be able to charge what others do because I read these boards and am just amazed at what people are getting for cakes. It must just be my personality... I have the same problem in my other company (I am a drycleaning parts distributor) I always have trouble pricing because I have this inherent drive to be "fair" so my other company struggles with a low profit margin too. We have always tried to have the volume with a lower margin rather than a few with a high margin... I have been doing that for 15 years and that philosophy is probably what has gotten me in trouble with the cakes. It is a whole different story when it is a one-man show and I learned that the hard way.
The cake business exploded on me and I have contemplated opening shop because I get 300-400 calls per week (just trying to keep up with the messages has been a full time job), but I am not sure that I could ever charge enough to make a living at it so I am just quitting. I am completely worn out.
I figure that I can make fab cakes for my kids school functions and not have the least bit of pressure doing it
Good luck in doing what is important to you.
Actually, I have had the opposite problem. I was SO busy last year doing cakes on the side (yes, out of my house). Decided to rent a kitchen since the orders were coming in--a wedding every weekend and 3-4 BD cakes and several dozen cookie orders.
Since I have started renting--I have no weddings scheduled and very few cakes.
Tamivo, I agree with others, start charging more. What are you charging now and what did you start out charging?
If you love making and decorating cakes and you don't have to do it for a living then stop trying to sell them so it won't ruin what you love to do.
I have a full-time job and could not make enough money doing cakes to equal my salary and benefits so I only do cakes when I want to do them - period.
It's a hobby for me (granted an expensive one, but what hobby isn't?) and I choose when and if I want to make a cake. Now, I will make the wedding cakes for my nieces and nephews at no charge if they ask, but after that who knows. If someone asks me for a cake and the "spirit hasn't moved me" you won't get a cake - end of story.
I have sold cakes in the past and I know what you mean about the pressure not to mention having to work it around my day job .
I'm not as talented as many of the ladies here because I just don't do it enough to become proficient, but making a cake because I want to make one and not because I have to is so much more enjoyable.
Take a break for a while and join the ranks of "wanting to" instead of "having to".
Edited to add: I just looked at your cakes and they are gorgeous - you are very talented and should enjoy your work - please take a break and then regroup!
I hope things turn out well for you! Mabye a break is a good thing. But man, 300-400 calls a week!!! OMG!!! You could most definetly raise your prices and do cakes full time with that kind of client base!
I understand what you are saying about the pressure. I have made cakes for friends and family for some years now, but only recently started to take on paying customers. I too, just like you, started out really cheap and have raised my prices a little at a time. I too feel the pressure to do great on each cake and it is so hard to deal with those cakes that you yourself don't think is great. I have to bite my tounge not to give them a discount on the already low price because a cake didn't turn out as great as I wanted it too (even though the customer was completely happy). I hope I will get comfortable with it (preferably soon), I think you have to if you are going to do it as a buisness.
Good luck to you, whatever you decide, and I just love your cakes. You do great work, I still wish you didn't quit.
One take a vacation from it for a couple weeks then :
1. hire someone part time to answer all the calls and schedule appts and have them give your clients the "new " Price list and what is included in that price.
If you do not have to tell them the price then you take the stress out of it .
I can sell almost anything, but hate to sell stuff I make or have a connection to.
Get someone else to talk the "she is a fantastic decorator and you would be lucky if she can fit you in and do your cake".
Find a realtor who is out of work or some sales person who is out of work or needs to pick up some extra side money. Let them handle the non-decorating stuff. They will have no problem telling them the price and getting the money out of them then you just get to be creative and do the fun stuff.
Good luck, I only sell a few a week but do 5-7 a week for a childrens charity and someitme it can get stressful.
Take the business/money side out of what you do and just enjoy the cake part. Your new prices will cover the new help.
Here are my thoughts - not sure what they're worth since I've been doing this about 1 1/2 years and am nowhere NEAR where you are in skill and talent.
1. You have a lot of talent - very artistic and well executed cakes
2. 300 - 400 calls a week??!!!! That is a huge client base, which indicates a big need in your area
3. By the looks of your cakes, you're getting great customers - mine all want sheet cakes for $40.00
4. If you ever decide to re-start and open a shop - hire someone to be your front-man. You do the cake work, they do the numbers. This will keep you out of the financial muck and help you stick to your prices.
I love your cakes and you've only been decorating a year and a half?! Dang, I'm jealous.
I understand what you mean about being burnt out. I've also stopped taking orders and I've noticed several other decorators have also. I think it has to do with the time of year because everyone wants cakes and we get super busy. I get like this every year. January starts nice and slow but snowballs until by mid July I just want to throw the cakes at the wall. So I stop taking orders but then miss it after a while and start up again in January. But I always raise prices to discourage people from ordering from me and it weeds out some people but most still pay it. So if you do start selling cakes again then definitely raise your prices so your making at least $10/hour after costs. I think you'll be surprised to see that people will pay it. Hope you enjoy your time off.
Wow your cakes are amazing!! I just wanted to say good luck. I dont do as nearly as many as you do but I understand what you feel. I get worn out too. I work fulltime with 2 children and its been tough. I have made myself slow down to 2 cakes a week. Good luck on what you do! You definitley have a great talent!!
Don't quit but like someone else stated increase your prices so that you are doing less cakes for the same amount of money as before!! I was exactly like you and was at my wits end and always over stretched.About 6 months ago I increased my prices quite substantially in some areas and I have taken on less cakes and still getting the business and sometimes more money.People understand that with the rapid increase in baking ingredients in the last 2 years..you have to increase your prices.If they don't ...who cares it looks as if you have enough to keep you busy!! Please don't quit!!!
Tammy, the subject line is very misleading....you definately have it in you to be a successful cake decorator .....I think you have a case of burn out from looking in your gallery....wow, you have been one busy lady this past year!!!! I'm with the others, take a break, raise your prices and take on cakes only when you want to! It would be a shame for you to stop baking, you are so talented. Good luck in whatever you do decide .
Wow! Your cakes are all wonderful..it's no wonder you have so many cake orders!!! It is very hard for me to say no as well. I don't know if you are married or have any help with your cakes, but what I have started to do lately, because I have been saying yes alot to people wanting alot for free is that I have enlisted my husband in doing the pricing over the phone and the availability so that I still have a break when I need it and I get what I should get paid for.. for my cakes. Perhaps if you do decide to continue your beautiful cakes; maybe you can have someone who can take the orders for you and handle the money..etc...just a thought. Anyways, good luck with your future and don't forget to post any pictures of cakes that you might do just for fun later on!! I love looking at your picture gallery!!!
Yes, take a break.
When what you love to do becomes a "JOB", it takes the fun away and you lose the passion. You have wonderful talent.
Raising your prices will help cut down on so many orders. Hire someone to take care of the non-cake stuff. If you do decide to get back into it...put your new, higher prices on your website. That will help to cut down on calls.
Well, I think I've concluded that I lack the artistic talent needed to ever really be good at this. Oh, I can bake a really good cake, but the decorating part seems to elude me. I look at some of the cakes on this site and am just wowed by the creative talent. It's just a hobby for me anyway so I'll keep my day job. I try to tell people who ask me to bake for them that I'm really not a very good decorator, but that doesn't seem to deter them. So I say okay, but then end up feeling bad that the cake doesn't look as pretty as I think it should.
wow you guys are so supportive and encouraging... I didnt expect this! Noone in my immediate family has really supported me at all throughout this wild year.... I didnt even know I could make a cake a year ago and then it seemed that as my hobby sort of became my obsession and the craziness began, I upset the dynamics of my family to the point of noone being very happy about it or with me. My mail order company is a family business and it really upset the apple cart for everyone in fear that I was going to bail out on it because it pays everyone's health insurance etc...
I would probably be more apt to just step out and try to give a bakery a go if it werent for the family.... There is obviously and most definately a need for it in this market... I put a little website up on Sept 1, 2007 just mainly for my friends who kept wanting to see my new cakes, not really to get business. The website has had 1.6 MILLION hits and the majority of them are local because I track the hits sometimes. Our town is only 50,000+ and there is one family bakery that has been here forever and only sells traditional cakes.... From what I have heard they are just not interested in anything new..
So I don't know, maybe some day... right now I am just too tired... I am going to try and recover for the rest of the year and take care of my existing business and see what the new year brings because I know that I will be really really sad with my last bookings on August 30th.
I think you guys are exactly right on the marketing part... I DO NOT need to talk to customers.... I am such a softie and a sucker for a hard luck story.... I just become putty in their hands. If I ever do attempt to start again some day, I won't be handling the bookings, that's for sure. That is how I got in this place to begin with.
You guys are so wonderful... Thank you so much! I will drop by and still post my kid's fab cakes that I have planned for them and I am sure that I will still be learning even if I am not baking... I am just wired that way. I want to know EVERYTHING about everything.... My husband tells me that curiosity killed the cat, ya know... lol because I am constantly reasearching something on the internet.
Tamvio, please don't quit for good...Colette and Duff need some competition!! If you do decide to get back into this, your role should be as the Big Kahoona Designer, and let the assistants handle marketing and order taking! I just finished oogling over your gallery, and please don't tell me that you are charging $1.00/serving for those gorgeous cakes - CAKE DESIGNER, RAISE THOSE PRICES!
Oh Tammy, I know you don't know me, but I really hope that you will take a nice break and then get back in the game. You are so talented, and you should charge double what you do.
I live about an hour from you, and several months ago a teacher I work with had forwarded me an email with a link to your website. The email had already been forwarded to several people, and they were saying "check this site out....it's just like Ace of Cakes...and she's in Bowling Green!" I was already a fan of your site, but it was cool seeing all these non-cake people getting so excited over your cakes.
I couldn't believe it when I found out what your per-slice charge was (I'll leave it up to you to post it if you want to, but I'm afraid for your safety if some people around here find out how much you've been undercharging...haha), and that you were staying booked solid for months in advance. I had a bad feeling then that you would end up burnt out really fast.
I know that Bowling Green is a low end market for cake, but your cakes are not like anyone else's in Bowling Green. You should be charging more than the others in town. Now, I haven't tasted your cakes, but if they taste half as good as they look, then you should definitely double your rates and get back in business after a nice relaxing break. Would you still have all the clients you have now? No, but you don't want that many clients. Charge twice as much and work half as much. You won't feel so cheated in the end. Some people will go for cheaper cakes somewhere else, but there will still be plenty of people who will be willing to pay for your quality.
Your business has gotten too big for you to handle by yourself. This isn't a problem, it's called being successful. You could open up your own place, charge more and hire people to help you. You could have a baker, and an order person. That way all you have to do is decorate & design. I wish there was such a need for cakes in my area. You have found a market that needed filling. You could make a fortune (and keep up the health insurance through the bakery for the family)
Go on vacation, take a break and examine the facts. You are successful, you need help and you need your family to support you and see how much money this could actually bring the family.
Good Luck and don't give up.
Tammy, I just read your story, and I'm sad for you! You are so talented!! One of the really talented ones - it's something you learned only a year ago and look at your cakes! Wow! You really should think about this a little more. Maybe the others are right. Maybe you need to raise your prices. I don't know what you are charging. But I would kill for 300-400 calls a week! I think you just don't realize how talented you are. I'm sorry your family isn't supportive. That can really get a person down. But remember - it's your life! You have to make yourself happy sometimes, too. I'm sure you do a lot for your family, and their input is important. But if it's something you LOVE to do, don't let it stop you. Start saying NO to some of the orders and raise your prices. Possibly get a partner, like someone else suggested. Good luck!!!
Aww we will be sad to see you go i think maybe once you take some time off to relax you might want to return to it. Dont give up
Tammy, your cakes are absolutely fantastic and it's amazing that you've done all of those in 1 year!
Please reconsider and take some time off to recuperate, then if you decide to try again raise your prices so that you are making a really good hourly wage, enough so that if you need to hire someone it would cover their wages too. This way you can weed out the cheapoooos...
The cake world would be sad to see you go........
Relax, take deep breaths and have fun on your break!!
You need a 'Mary Alice' to handle the bookings for you. That would make sure you didn't overbook yourself!