Friends Keep Asking Me To Teach Cake Decorating Classes...

Decorating By cocobean Updated 6 Nov 2008 , 3:48am by cocobean

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cocobean Posted 4 Nov 2008 , 5:21am
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I'm considering teaching cake decorating classes. I have friends ask me all the time. I'm wondering if anyone has done this. I'm not talking about teaching the Wilton classes but putting together some kind of cake decorating classes myself. I keep telling people I'll think about it. I'm considering 25.00 a class per person. Students would need to bring their own supplies. Not sure how many classes I would offer in a series, maybe 8. I think I could handle about 6 people at my home. Any of this sounding ok so far. Would love to get some feed back from anyone with experience from this! icon_confused.gif

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indydebi Posted 4 Nov 2008 , 5:31am
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Do you have any teaching or training experience? Having been in training and teaching positions in my corporate positions, and having been on the "other side of the desk", there is a difference between knowing how to do something ... and knowing how to TEACH others how to do the same thing.

In the cake world, I taught a friend's daughter how to decorate cakes for her 4H project. It's the little things that we take for granted, like how MUCH pressure to put on a bag and WHEN to stop squeezing and pull away. I never really had to think about those things when I was doing it myself ... but I had to know it as I tried to explain it to her.

It was probably more fun for me than it was for her, and I think I learned as much as she did, except I was on the teaching side of it! thumbs_up.gif So I say if you can do it, then go for it!! I would recommend, if you've never done this before, to have a friend be your practice student, so you can see how you need to explain something so that a civilian knows what you mean. Like a rehearsal before you go on stage! thumbs_up.gif

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kansaswolf Posted 4 Nov 2008 , 5:45am
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I have people ask, but it's more of the, "You've gotta show me how to do that!" icon_confused.gif Um, yeah...

I like your idea, though, that's something I hadn't really thought of! You'd just need a good written plan, maybe in 8-week sections, as you mentioned. 8 weeks on basic buttercream, 8 weeks on basic fondant, 8 weeks of "advanced" for both, maybe something on gumpaste, whatever you have experience doing... From the looks of your profile picture, it looks like you could do a class on cupcakes too! icon_biggrin.gif Those are cute!

One thing I find from teaching lessons (of any kind, not just cakes) is that SOMETIMES you'll get the person who wants to learn the techniques, and others just want to be able to do SOMETHING fancy. The first kind just needs a push to get going, and the others will just try to copy you and refuse to branch out. Type one will go through class FAST and start getting creative, type two would be in class FOREVER learning each cake as something separate and not always connecting the techniques together.

I was totally unprepared for the type two learner described above, because I tend more toward, "Just show me a couple things, and I'll get creative then!" I wasn't prepared for people who plod along methodically and don't immediately sprout a creative streak... icon_biggrin.gif Just some thoughts to be prepared for a WIDE range of talent and drive! This is why small classes are best...

$25 for the whole 8-part series, I'm assuming? That'd only be 18.75 per class IF you fill up with 6 people... Personally, I don't think that'd be worth it to ME, since you'd have planning ahead of time, you would presumably be making at LEAST frosting for said classes, if not a whole cake. I'd go with something closer to $50-100 per series, depending on subject matter. If you meant $25 per CLASS in the series, that'd be a little exorbitant for my area of the US... icon_biggrin.gif I mean, you figure out what works for YOU and for the people who are going to be coming, but that's just my $.02...

Good luck with that! icon_biggrin.gif

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cakequeen50 Posted 4 Nov 2008 , 5:53am
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I have people telling me that all the time, trouble is....I don't like people!

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cocobean Posted 4 Nov 2008 , 5:56am
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Thanks for the encouragement and good suggestions indydebi. Yes I do have teaching experience. I taught Kindergarten for 8 years and have held many teaching postions in my church. I have also had 5 children. I know when I taught K that I always had to explain words and technique etc. What do you think about the 25.00 per class charge? Do you think it's too much, too little, just right? What do you think about the amount of time per class? Would 1 or 2 hours be best?

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cocobean Posted 4 Nov 2008 , 6:06am
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kansaswolf, I was thinking 25.00 per person per class. That would be 200.00 per 8 class series. That does sound a little high maybe but if the class was 2 hours each time maybe not so bad. I'll have to think more about the fee.

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indydebi Posted 4 Nov 2008 , 6:07am
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Originally Posted by cocobean

I taught Kindergarten for 8 years and have held many teaching postions in my church. I have also had 5 children. I know when I taught K that I always had to explain words and technique etc. What do you think about the 25.00 per class charge? Do you think it's too much, too little, just right? What do you think about the amount of time per class? Would 1 or 2 hours be best?

Oh heck! Then you've got the how-to-teach thing down! What are you waiting for? thumbs_up.gif

I'm going to leave the money question to those who have taught cake classes as I dont' know what you are providing (cakes? icing? prep time?). I might time the teaching part of the class to be an hour, then leave some time for clean-up, especially if you're doing this in the evening.

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cocobean Posted 4 Nov 2008 , 6:39am
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Indy, maybe the one hour cake class would be best. I'm sure it would always end up being longer like you said with clean up and all (not to mention set up). Also, people probably linger around asking more questions to. I need to think through what I would be providing at each class to. Maybe I would want to charge a ONE time supply charge on top of the class fee. Maybe 15.00-20.00 per person. For frosting, fondant, food colors, glitter etc. Not to mention rental use of alot of my stuff like cutters, mats, embossers etc. Lots to think about and plan out!!!

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Shazzicakes Posted 4 Nov 2008 , 7:36am
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I am currently attending classes - they run from 19.00 to 22.00 (I don't think an hour would be long enough). The teacher advises us beforehand what to bring with - equipment as well as what icing and colours etc. She has quite a lot for sale as well, which makes it easier if you have not yet got something. It seems to work out well this way - less work from the teachers point of view, and an appreciation and ability for the preparation involved for the students!
This way, although everyone is doing the same project, one gets to make choices about which colour to use, and to make your work unique.

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cocobean Posted 4 Nov 2008 , 6:27pm
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Thanks for your input Shazzicakes! icon_smile.gif

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JanetBme Posted 4 Nov 2008 , 7:32pm
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I do teach- and it is hard. So make it worth your time. It is easier to try a class with a couple of really close friends first- and then ask them to tell you honestly if they think they got their money's worth or if there was something else you needed to add. It is very important they be blunt.
Teaching cake decorating to adults is a little different- In every class, I'll have one person that thinks they already know everything and will go on and do stuff- At that point if it was a child you could say stop and behave- but with an adult- you have to to get them back on track without saying that they aren't as good as they think they are, and yes, they really do need to practice with everyone else. Then there will be someone that just CAN'T do it. No matter how hard you work with them, they don't get it. Then you have to go on with the class and still not leave them behind. My first airbrushing class- I had that- I got bogged down with one person that questioned every little thing- and It effected the rest of the class. Now, I tell them lets go on and I'll work with them personally at the end if they still don't get it.
It is a lot of work to go on your own class- so Make sure that you are compensated enough that at the end of the 8 weeks, you don't feel slighted for that comitment..

also- some of the things you think that is easy- 5 minute task, will take 30 with a I would definately say 2 hours or 1 and a half and clean up at a specific time... Good luck!

I think it is a great idea to teach cake decorating....I will probably expand my classes once I get my studio set up. But don't be discouraged if the first class is harder than you expect- it does get easier as you learn too... icon_smile.gif

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cocobean Posted 4 Nov 2008 , 11:37pm
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Thanks JanetBme,
You have some good ideas. Along with teaching some technique I'm thinking of talking about alot of the stuff I have learned in the last three years from reading posts here at CC. If a person could learn in 8 weeks alot of the stuff it has taken me 3 years to learn it should be worth some money. I would have loved to have had someone teach me all the stuff I know now in a shorter period of time. You know stuff like, WASC cake secret recipe shhh.gif the difference between different brands of cake pans, the difference in high ratio shortening and Crisco and where to get it, homemade mmf and premade fondant and brands (and where to get them), making fondant bows, America color food coloring and oil based candy coloring, using and making chocolate ganache, cake fillings, smoothing bc with paper towels and what kind, how to stablize tiered cakes, different kinds of cake boards and where to get them, how to make different kinds of banners to go with celebration cakes, using vinyl to roll fondant out on...the list go on and on. I have learned soooo much here I feel like I should get College credit for the time I have put into learning all of this information from here. Believe me I'm not going to do it unless people are willing to pay me well for my time and the things that I have learned. Thanks again for your imput! icon_biggrin.gif

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mixinvixen Posted 5 Nov 2008 , 12:34am
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i have also been approached about doing this in my new neighborhood. something for you to think about that i have been considering myself: i wouldn't be giving out the recipe's like wasc and icings if you're giving your secrets away!!

i would recommend you keep the classes more for basic techniques and stay away from your own personal recipes...if you must give some, then give them generic ones like they could find in the wilton book.

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jammjenks Posted 5 Nov 2008 , 2:33am
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My thought would be, "f they can make their own, will they still order from me?"

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indydebi Posted 5 Nov 2008 , 2:43am
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Originally Posted by jammjenks

My thought would be, "f they can make their own, will they still order from me?"

Oh heck yeah!! Nothing creates a lifelong customer more than showing them just how much work is involved in it!! I've done this more than once ... loaned friends my equipment, gave them tips, directions, ideas, and more. They did their one cake, returned my equipment and said, "I had no idea it was going to be that much work!" And I pretty much take care of their birthday needs after that! thumbs_up.gif

Yes, a few will go on to make cakes for family and friends ... this is why the cake supply stores give decorating lessions ... to create customers for their cake decorating supplies!

Norm Abrams said that the show "This Old House" had the same concerns from contractors when it first aired. "If you show everyone how to do this stuff, then we're out of business!" they said. The total opposite happened .... homeowners saw how much work it was and they said, "No way am I tackling that project! Where's the phone number to the contractor?" On the other end of the good spectrum, homeowners saw these really cool ideas and wanted that in their house (think "Ace of Cakes"!) and called the contractors to get that new cool idea done.

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cocobean Posted 5 Nov 2008 , 3:48am
post #16 of 20

I have been thinking about people not ordering from me if I teach them how. icon_confused.gif But, the fact is I really don't sell that many cakes. The people around here are more do it yourself kind of people. I'm thinking maybe I COULD make more money teaching cake decorating than I ever have selling cakes. I'm wondering to, if I can have as much fun doing this. Thats another question for me. I've just always wanted to make some money doing something that I really like and that makes other people happy! You've heard the saying, "give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish feed him for a life time". Maybe there could be more money and fun in, sell a cake for 225.00, or teach 6 people at a time to make a 225.00 in 8 sessions for 225.00 each. Do that at least 4 times a year and make more money and have as much fun as just selling a few cakes a year. Did that make any sense or did it just sound goofy? icon_rolleyes.gif Brother!

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cakedout Posted 5 Nov 2008 , 9:21pm
post #17 of 20

I've taught independently for a number of years, and have discovered that a 5-6 week schedule ( 2 hour class, 1x a week)works best. 8 weeks is a bit long and drawn out....for them AND for me! I only do classes twice a year- in the spring around April, and again in the fall, in October/November.

I've done the private parties- where a group of gals call me to teach them at their home, or i advertise for the general public and do them in my home.

Sometimes i do a 2 day class of just bc flowers (very popular), or a 3 day wedding cake construction class or an introduction to fondant mini-class.

In my classes i use the Wilton course books as a base, but branch out from there, with hand-outs covering info not found in the Wilton course books. I stick to the piping skill basics (which Wilton seems to have wandered from), and that seems to be enough for my students. Most are the home baker/hobbyist just wanting to make cakes for their kids.

Sometimes i will get a supply of Mailbox News or American Cake Decorating magazines to hand out at the end of class.

What always made me laugh-or cry as the case may be-why the one student, who was NEVER going to get this stuff in a million years, was ALWAYS the one that took EVERY class they could!!?? icon_surprised.gificon_confused.gif Oh well.

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terrylee Posted 5 Nov 2008 , 9:39pm
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I have been teaching cake decorating in our local 4H club for 7 years....I have kids as young as 7.....they are a delight to teach, easy to work with and the cakes they come up with are amazing.

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superstar Posted 6 Nov 2008 , 12:07am
post #19 of 20

I have been thinking along the same lines here in Kauai, I have taught before, & was a music teacher for many years. I do think 6 weeks is long enough for a course & they should be 2 hour classes, $25.00 per class sounds right, but make it clear to your students that if they sign up for the course & miss a class, they still have to pay for that class, if you don't do that, you will have students missing classes because they are tired or just don't feel like class today! Print out what will be done in each class, but be careful, remember what takes the experienced cake decorator 30 minutes to do will probably take the student an hour or more, so limit the projects accordingly. Keep us posted on your progress.

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cocobean Posted 6 Nov 2008 , 3:48am
post #20 of 20

Thanks, I really appreciate everyones imput! icon_smile.gif Sounds like 5- 6 weeks might be better than 8. Also I think I would have everyone pay for all classes up front in the begining. I agree with superstar that any classes missed should be non refundable. thumbs_up.gif

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