Making Cakes For Friends

Decorating By cleeg1 Updated 5 Jan 2009 , 4:45pm by Neicey76

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cleeg1 Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 3:59am
post #1 of 61

Okay - all of a sudden my friends have been asking me to make birthday cakes for their kids & I've really been having a hard time charging them appropriately & it's starting to snowball- one friend sees the cake at a party & says "oh - will u make my son's cake, too" etc etc. I know there's no way they would pay what the cake is really worth (I wouldn't either - that's why I'm making them myself) - but how do I say no to close friends. And OMG are they going to want this every year???? Do u all have the same problem??? You are going to hate hate hate me but I charged my close friend $30 for the chef's hat cake in my gallery.

just venting icon_smile.gif

60 replies
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mommakristin Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 4:11am
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I am so there with you!
I started out doing this when my daughter wanted an awesome 13th bday cake that no one else around here had had. It snowballed from there and then everyone started asking for one. I too have a hard time charging my friends. BUT one day I just stopped and thought about the time it takes me to make a cake and the fact that it takes away from my time with my family when I do. Not to mention the cost of ingredients (that keep going up it seems by the day)..

I just decided to let everyone know that I was going to try to do this as a way to make extra money. I know I wont get rich off of it and it will probably never take the place of my "day" job- I told them that as well. I just said that I would have no problems doing cakes for people (friends) but that from now on I would have to at least ask them to pay for the ingredients to make the cakes. No one seemed to mind at all and in fact most of my friends have said they would not dream of asking me without helping with the cost. If they would pay their local grocery store 20+ for a frozen run of the mill cake then why would they balk at helping you with the cost for an original designed cake???

Hope this helps!! Sorry it was a little long!!!

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kakeladi Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 4:12am
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You have got to grow a backbone and start charging!! icon_smile.gif
Price by the serving so you are fair to all. Use the Wilton chart for *any* cake. Tiered ones (such as your chef's hat & others I see in your gallery) have a higher per serving price. It's that simpleicon_smile.gif.

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indydebi Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 4:15am
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Ok, put me in the "hate hate hate" column, 'coz that is worth WAY more than 30 bucks! icon_biggrin.gif

Your work is very, very good. You CAN command a very good price for it. You can NOT set your pricing based on what YOU would spend. I'd never spend $50,000 for a car, but fortunately my husband's employer ignores people like me and sells his Cadilllacs to people who WILL spend that for a high end car.

The reason they all want you to make their cakes is because they can get these great pieces of cake-art for about the same price as a walmart sheet cake. DUH! dunce.gif They know a deal when they see it.

(My daughter tells her friends, when they comment on the great cakes she has at birthday parties, "If my kids didn't have a gramma who can make 'em, they wouldn't have 'em, 'coz I can't afford my mom's cakes!" icon_biggrin.gif )

You could always make them the deal of "You buy the stuff and I'll do the cake for a nominal labor fee. That cake will take me about 9 hours, so at only (be sure to use the word "ONLY") $10/hour, it will be $90 plus ingredients."

If they take you up on it, give them the most detailed list you've ever created. Need wax paper? They need to buy the whole box. Need 8 eggs? They need to buy the whole dozen. Put down specific brands and specific stores. (And if they happen to be on opposite sides of town, that's even better! icon_twisted.gif ) If they complain about the list, or the locations, you look shocked and incredulous as you tell them, "But that's what *I* would have to buy and where *I* would have to go to get the things that I HAVE to have to make your child's cake!" (bat eyelashes, bob head side to side, give them time to figure it out. icon_rolleyes.gif )

This is usually the best education they'll ever get! icon_twisted.gif

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CakeRN Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 4:19am
post #5 of 61 are taking time away from your family and yourself making these cakes for basically free. The Chef 's hat would have been around 100 or more. If people don't want to pay for a cake that they can't get anywhere else then is no skin off your back if they say no....Don't give it away ...charge for your time and your talent. Get a backbone...

I told a friend of my daughter in laws that I don't charge Walmart prices...meaning cool cake for a cool price....I didn't hear from her at that time until 1 week from when she wanted the cake. I had to tell her sorry since not only did I not have enough time to do it but my kitchen was being gutted for a complete remodel.

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thefrostedcakencookie Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 4:20am
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i'd have to say the first one they get the special friends pricing, but after that they are going to have to pay what your cakes are worth! which is a whole heck of a lot more than $30! your cakes are awesome, and that chefs hat is too cute! its hard to do, but if you don't draw the line somewhere they'll just continue to take advantage.

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kbak37 Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 4:22am
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I would like to reply to this with a personal experience. I did a 3 tier wedding cake (in my photos) and it was for a friends relative. The cost was NOTHING! All I asked for was a picture of it..we are now over a month later and I do not have a picture.

I would like to say that it was a lesson learned and it will NEVER happen again. The cake was expensive to make and the time to do it was involved. I would absolutely charge full price, and it is up to you if you want to offer say a small discount or not. As said in the other posts, they would drop the money for a run of the mill cake, so putting that money toward a unique cake should not be a problem. Just my two cents!

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jlsheik Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 4:31am
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When you charge the correct amount....You will feel better about it and so will your friend. ( I would hope ) If I know I'm not making what I should on a cake it breaks down my creativity. I just don't do as well. On a completly other note by charging less you are hurting other decorators. If eveyone is charging what is fair... it kinda puts everyone on a level playing field.
I'm tired and this may make no sense at all!! JMO

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bizatchgirl Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 4:35am
post #9 of 61

Unfortunately, I am also afflicted by the rubber spine disease. I charged only $100 for a 3 tier fondant covered wedding cake (co-worker) and since then the most I've charged for a cake is $30.

I am putting my foot down now because people are really starting to take advantage. I got invited to a party. A week later, when passing in the hallway it was 'you're bringing a cake, right'. Well, it was potluck so I thought, sure, I'll bring a plain cake with a glaze. Then it was 'Well, it's also a surprise birthday party for Justin'. I probably would have gone overboard, but I got sick that weekend so what they got was the plain cake with a glaze!

The same weekend my former step-mom was supposed to have a party for her 2nd youngest (not related to me). I was doing the cake, for free, since I do them for all of my half-siblings. She's totally a flake, so I started calling to confirm the plans before I did anything. Her phone was disconnected!! I tried her work for the next 3 days and never got her. Her sis wasn't even aware a party was scheduled. Finally, since I was so sick and never reached them, I just didn't make the cake. After a week of angst about ruining a 5 year old's bday party, I find out she had cancelled it. She told me 'we couldn't get a hold of you'. Really? Wow, I'm easy to get a hold of. People without phones are hard to get a hold of!!!! She said she couldn't find my number (changed in August). Yet she couldn't call my sis (same# for 10 years), her sis, my dad (same# for 8 years), or any other 'family' we have in common.

Rant over. Sorry for taking over your post.

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johnson6ofus Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 4:46am
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<sigh>...ladies, we are just too nice. Would you except your best friend, the ____________________ (fill in here: dentist, house cleaner, cabinet maker, etc.) to provide you for a service for free? Just PRACTICE a rehearsed line like, " Since I make all my cakes individually, with $xx in ingredients and $XXX in labor costs, I would normally sell this cake for $$$$. Because we are such good friends, I would be happy to make this cake for your event for $$$$ if I have the time open on my baking calendar." I would have calculated the $XXX costs at the time of delivery so I am prepared with a dollar quote.

Sorry, nobody works for free except for your OWN kiddos..... Even if I can buy a Porsche (yeah, right) for my kids.. do you really think I will work for one for your kids?

We are not talking about necessary food, a blood donation, or any other manadtory life item- a beautiful cake is a luxury not all can afford.

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ElectricCook Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 4:55am
post #11 of 61

I have a friend who has 2 kids to my one kid. My DS is 8, her DS is 9 and her DD is 13. The boys are friends and have many of the same friends in common. They all attend the same parties. I make all of her kids their cakes for free.

She always offers to pay for my time and expense. I always decline. She is the only one I will make a cake for at no cost. We trade off things that we do for eacch other and I like doing their cakes.

That being said, everyone else always ask me to do their kids cakes. Many people try to get me to make their kids cakes, cupcakes and cookies. They say you did her childs, so why can't you do mines. My excuse is you could never pay me what she does and you can't afford me. Pay the lady, Pay the lady, Pay the lady.

Learn who to say yes to and you must charge them what you feel is right for you. If you feel you should change more and you don't, don't start whining anout it later. People will not say later that you should be paid XX amount for you beautiful work. They will see a free cake and be happy not to have had to pay full price.

As for the discount first and charge the true price later, I say no. Charge what you want now and they will either return or the won't. If you give a steep discount, they will always look for it.

I also agree 100% with Indydebi. Make them fetch and carry everything and that'll will stop the cheepies from flocking to you.

Remember you time is worth money. Remember the things you could be doing with your family if you weren't doing the discounted/free cake for someone who probably won't appreciate it.

Remember every person you do a cake for is different. Don't feel the need to give everyone the same deal. I don't care if they know each other or not and will talk about the price they paid.

That's all I have to say for now, just my 2 cents.

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SugarFrosted Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 4:57am
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I started out the way you have...I made cakes for my son's birthday parties and then his friend's parents wanted me to do a cake for their child. But I never made any cakes for free unless the cake was my gift to the birthday child. My cakes were not then (and maybe aren't even now) as gorgeous as yours. But I still charged for them, and people always came back for the next birthday or special occasion. They told their friends, and those friends told their friends...

My policy has always been this:
If you ask for a cake, you pay for it, but if I offer a cake, it's free.

Your time is worth money and so is your product. There have been many discussions about this on other threads. If a "friend" wants a cake and is unwilling to pay your price, then they get no cake. But if the "friend" gets angry because of the money, that person was no real friend in the first place, just someone wanting free cake.

You must learn to believe you are worth it.

And I agree 100% with indydebi...give them a list and make them work for it.

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indydebi Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 5:08am
post #13 of 61
Originally Posted by ElectricCook

Remember you time is worth money. Remember the things you could be doing with your family ......

Excellent point and allow me to add to it. I had a wedding cake in which my notes said "red roses", but I neglected to indicate if I was making BC roses or if bride was providing real/silk florals. So I call the bride who says, "We're having flowers on the cake?" icon_eek.gif (big sigh) Ok, so obviously she didnt' make arrangments for flowers. I told her "dont' worry about it ... I'll take care of it for you." (Ahhh.... Banna fixes it again! icon_biggrin.gif )

So anyway ... I'm driving to Michaels; sorting thru red roses that aren't really red, end up spending 40 freakin' dollars for silks. And while I'm driving back to the shop, I'm reprimanding myself with "THIS is why I don't provide florals!"

I make money baking .... I dont' make money being a personal shopper, doing 'favors' for folks. The time I had just spent on the road, in the van, in the store, I could have been baking, decorating or meeting with a bride and booking another wedding.

When you do a chef's hat cake for 30 bucks, you are doing a favor for that person ... and you're not making money doing it.

Our biggest expense in our cakes is our time. Hubby told someone once (who dared to use the "it's just flour and eggs" type of comment), "Heck my wife will DONATE the cost of the supplies! But you're paying for her time and talent to turn that pile of flour and eggs into the Duff-like cake you're wanting her to make!" (god luv him .... he IS trainable!!)

Time ... do NOT be afraid to charge for your time. thumbs_up.gif

(sorry it got so long icon_redface.gif )

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classiccake Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 5:09am
post #14 of 61

Yes, I will stand in line to throw stones!

I make cakes for people who sell insurance. Are they going to offer me insurance at 1/2 price.....NO!

You have to start charging and once you do, it will be easier and eventually they will expect it and you will be off the hook.

I did a few barters with people, and even that can get one's "tights in a wad!"

Now, it is... you pay me for my services and if I want your services, I will pay you.

That said, I will give discounts when I want to, but that is by my choice and discretion.

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CakeMakar Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 5:19am
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I like the idea someone had here on CC. If someone asks me "You're bringing the cake, right?" I stop by Costco on the way! Haha, I love it.

I do a lot of cakes for cost. It really ends up frustrating me in the end, yet I keep doing it. At the moment, I'm doing a 6,9,12 square fondant with a gumpaste bow, figure and name. I only charged $85 for it. BUT this is an improvement for me because I made sure to include the cost to BUY pre-made fondant, gumpaste and an SPS system. Yes, sadly I normally make everything myself. MMF, yuck. Sure, I CAN do cakes for cheaper, but I've decided not to anymore. I'm at least going to work that cost if I don't have the cakeballs to charge what it should really be.

I was really skeptical of my ability until recently when I offered my talent to my daughter's school auction. With a couple pictures of past cakes, and a certificate for sculpted cake to feed 25, the bidding went up to well over $200! Granted, it was for charity, but someone felt they were getting something good for it.

Someone here on CC also had a sig that said along the lines of if you decided your worth was low, rest assured the world wasn't going to raise that price for you.

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mommakristin Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 8:52pm
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Oh I definitely agree with indydeby with "the list of ingredients" idea. I will start incorporating this in when someone asks me to do a cake for "nothing".

Luckily the "free" cakes have died down for me and most friends now that ask for cakes are the "paying" friends who will fight me if my price is too low. But there are still those ones who kill me with their "shock and awe" faces when I give them a price just for ingredients.

The red and white 80th bday cake in my photos. It's not the best cake decoratively and I have lots to learn but I worked my butt off on it. Even took two days off for that cake. IT was my DH's gma 80th bday cake. Made it, took it to the party and my FIL asked me what I "had" in the cake. I told him ingredients alone cost $75. To that he handed me $25!!! I was hot! I didn't make a scene because it was nanny's bday and I didn't want to "embarass" her. He just couldn't see where flour, eggs, and sugar cost me $75... I ranted and raved for days to my DH about this cake. He must have said something to his dad because about a week later he showed up and gave me $60 more.

I know I know.... I should have made him pay up front.... I have learned my lesson.......

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the cake whole Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 9:35pm
post #17 of 61

I have the same problem! Recently... over the holidays... I did a cake for a friend's birthday. Her husband emailed me and asked for a cake. I gave him a "decent" price, to which he agreed, and when I delivered the cake he "conveniently" was not home. I have since run into him (with his wife... my friend) and he has not made mention or slipped me ANY money!
I think from now on I will require a deposit even though they are friends.
Sorry.... had to vent!

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aligotmatt Posted 31 Dec 2008 , 10:05pm
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I would say my cake world began the same as many, making a lot of free cakes for people. Gaining experience, a small following, pictures... Then I started charging ingredients. It was one cake that pushed me, one of my good friends husbands called me for her birthday. He was taking her to a nice restaurant for her birthday and knew she loved my cake. I charged $30 - my typical fee to everyone at that time. I baked, torted, filled... Then i started decorating. It took me almost 5 hours to decorate her cake which I thought turned out gorgeous. He loved, she loved it. But I spent *5* hours decorating a cake, and the $30 BARELY covered cake ingredients - certainly not the gas in my car to buy them, nor the electricity, soap, paper towels... Even though she's a good friend, it was such a wake up call for me!

I started charging more, and you know what, a lot of my friends stopped ordering cakes from me. And at first I was like, screw them, ya know... they love me when I'm free, but go to walmart when I charge. But after like a month of not working for a pittance, I was good.

My dad as a house painter for 25 years. A friend woud need their house painted and call him, and then while he was walking around giving the estimate, they almost inevitably asked if they got the friend discount. Since it was before cell phones, he would ask if he could borrow their phone to call my mom and tell her not to go grocery shopping/cook dinner/buy us kids school supplies... because he's going to give them a discount. They normally got the point then and would pay him what he asked.

One of my husbands cousins is getting married in October '09 and asked if I would make her cake and deliver it (8 hours away!) I said no. And I said I don't even know if I'll be able to attend considering you're getting married the busiest wedding month of the year. hah! Hubby didn't know she was going to ask that and neither expected my response.

I would rather have a week off than work for free...

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katwomen1up Posted 1 Jan 2009 , 3:20am
post #19 of 61

I do the same thing, I have a friend that I make all of her cakes for free. Husband, daughter, grand daughter and now her aunt, I don't know how to ask her to pay for the cakes. I've been doing it for two years now. I started doing it so I could practice. As everyone say's it takes a lot of time. I still need the practice but it would be nice to get paid once in a while.

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ladybug76 Posted 1 Jan 2009 , 3:47am
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Boy oh' boy... so there are alot of us out there doing the same thing!! In the beginning, I only wanted to gain experience and add some different cake pics to my album, but now that friends of friends of that friend are contacting me, I am sssllllooowwwlllyyy learning to put my cake bakin' foot down!! I made this cake for my Nan's 80th birthday, which my parents (bless their hearts, they felt bad for me always 'giving' cakes away) paid me $100, which I was excited!!! I was honored when I saw my cake here on CC recreated by a shop owner, which she received $550 for my design. Jumpin' Jahosaphats!!!

I have a 2-tiered topsy turvy cake due next weekend, with fondant accents and ribbons, along with 50 fondant covered sugar cookies, which I am charing $150 for cake and $1 per cookie.... I'm getting better!! .... but a BIG THANK you to all the pros offering their advice on this forum post. I have a young daughter and wonderful hubby, which if I am taking time away from my family, my time should be compensated and not giving away cakes for next to nothing!!

Happy Bakin' in 2009 everyone!!
~ Jaime

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-K8memphis Posted 1 Jan 2009 , 4:57am
post #21 of 61

Two things to consider about this very important subject.

1. Why don't we think our friends wouldn't want to support us in our endeavors? Why is it just that we want to be a blessing to them? Shouldn't it go both ways.

2. Undercutting/underpricing in any industry hurts it. So we should all support each other too. A $150 topsy turvy comes out to $3 a serving maybe? Should be twice that at a minimum.

Ok, lookie what happened to our mortgage industry when we quit going by the rules and sub prime mortgages were given to people who unfortunately weren't financially ready for them.

Food for Thought...

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cheesecakes-galore Posted 1 Jan 2009 , 4:24pm
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When I first started making cakes, I did them for free, but I was the one to offer. Now that I am more experienced they come to me. And now for my friends I always give them a discount off of the regular price I would charge. And the discount varies depending on how often they order from me. My regulars get 25% off which is way high, but I do value the way they let me do any design I want to experiment with. My other friends that don't order as often, and are a bit more picky, get around 10% off. That is just a thought you may want to consider.

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Carolynlovescake Posted 1 Jan 2009 , 6:01pm
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My theory...

If I offer to bring a cake it is free and I design it. If you come to me and ask with any prethought out colors, design etc you pay.

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bizatchgirl Posted 2 Jan 2009 , 6:01am
post #24 of 61

CarolynGwen, I think someone else has said this too. I really, really like this for several reasons

a) if you are the one to offer, it means you have the time, the money, the availability b) if you offer, it means that person or event is something you care about and it means something to you to make the cake and c) if YOU are choosing the design, it means you are likely doing something new and different that you've wanted to try. so, you're getting the practice and experience and it's not a wasted cake.

If someone comes to you asking/expecting a free cake, it's like they're begging, and/or saying that your time is not valuable.

I have let people take advantage. Mostly out of a lack of confidence. I am starting to get better and put my foot down. And like a PP said...if you ask me to bring a cake to potluck, party, get a plain, undecorated cake, or a store bought cake.

Great 2009 resolution for all of us pushovers. No more free cakes!!!!!

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CakeMakar Posted 2 Jan 2009 , 6:13am
post #25 of 61

The cake I'm currently working on...she emailed and asked for the total. I quickly typed out $150 and hit send before I could think anymore about it. It's still a heck of a discount for a 3 tier, but at least I'm making $65 or so off it for my time. She emailed back that $150 was fine!!! Whoo hoo. Go me!

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tracycakes Posted 2 Jan 2009 , 3:04pm
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It is something that I struggle with also but learn from my mistakes...please. I took my first decorating classes in 1990 and of course, took all of my practice cakes to work. People started asking me to make cakes for them and I charged a ridiculously low price, even for 1990. So, instead, I baked about 3 cakes a week for over a year and a half, making little profit, no money for my time, but I did cover costs including all of my pans, etc. I was burnt out and didn't know how to say no.

Then, I started dating a man, whom I later married, and I didn't want to spend all of my time in the kitchen so, I learned to say no. We got married, moved out of state and except for the very occasional cake I would bring in for someone's birthday, I didn't make cakes - maybe 1 a year and that's stretching it.

Now, I have the same motto that CarolynGwen stated - you ask me to make the cake, you pay for it. I offer to bring the cake and it's my design, it's free. People ask me what I will charge and I tell them. If I decide to give them a discount, it's my choice. No one has ever asked me to give them a discount, but I have sold very few cakes and that is by choice also. I'm not afraid to turn down cakes as I turned down 2 in December. I'm not going to burn out like I did before.

Sorry it's so long. icon_redface.gif

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dlinnane Posted 2 Jan 2009 , 3:56pm
post #27 of 61

A few thoughts:

"Asking" - a request is simply that - someone is asking for something. A lot of "friends" and relatives may try to disguise a demand as a request, but ultimately, you have the power to say no, and they DON'T have the right to demand your time and money unless you really do owe them something.

Freebies and discounts - thankfully, I am now in the position of having a hobby business. I realize not everyone is, so this may not apply to you, but hopefully my thoughts will be helpful to some. A friend called me last week to get a quote on her wedding cake. I have a price list, and we had a frank discussion of my price vs. a local bakery's. She had only budgeted $400 for her cake, and my price was higher. Bottom line, because I do this for the love of baking AND to bless people, I get to choose the jobs I take and what I will charge for them. That's exactly what I told her, then I agreed to do it for $400 - just for her. I'm still making a decent profit, and am thrilled to make this sweet girl happy. Wouldn't do it for just anyone, either!


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alvarezmom Posted 2 Jan 2009 , 4:14pm
post #28 of 61

I still under charge, but I have gotten a bit better. I make my neice's and nephew's cake's all for free. that's my figt to them. I also make my siblings cake's for free. I started this so I could make great cakes for my kids-because let's face it---I CANT afford me! LOL

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eldag0615 Posted 2 Jan 2009 , 4:33pm
post #29 of 61

I also started not charging to my family and friends, I didn't think my cakes were good enough to charge for, one of my sisters always told me I'm crazy and should charge, then I started charging the cost of ingredients plus a small amount for my time, got tired of it and started charging a bit more, you should see peoples faces! Now I have the backbone a bit stronger and tell them to go check other places where they sell similar cakes or go to walmart or HEB for a frozen one, to the point, I have lost some orders but the ones I gained I feel soooo good and apreciated! icon_biggrin.gif and that is priceless for everything else including the cake there is mastercard (excuse the commercial). My sister is an assistan principal at a High School and while she was away @ some training meetings they call her from her office to tell her that since she has a sister that makes cakes, she HAS to take the cake for the office party, THE NERVE! she was mad icon_mad.gif I love my sister and she has helped me a lot, sO I gladly told her to buy the ingredients and I would make it for her she said NO, I will make it and they have to eat it, that way they will learn, knowing her, that sounded like a threat. I lent her a cake pan, she does not even have that, called me several times for instructions, and that because she used simple cake mix and chocolate frosting from HEB, I told her no chocolate cake can look bad she said: you would be surprised, and made this cake and said : I told you, even chocolate cake CAN look ugly if its made by me. I hope I can attach the pic. If I can't, they were surprised when they saw it, asked if I made it, said no, my sister would not leave the house with this and much less take a picture with which she could be blackmailed later. They finished it anyway. It has chocolate covered strawberries on top, but she took off the leaves BEFORE she dipped them in the choco! Anyway, they learned their lesson.

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mommakristin Posted 2 Jan 2009 , 4:33pm
post #30 of 61

Like Alvarezmom said ~I think that most of us started out making cakes because we couldn't afford cakes like what we wanted!!! LOL

I love making cakes because I get the satisfaction of seeing the finished creation and the knowledge that I did it!!!!

I also love the fact that my kids are proud of my cakes too! My kids carry cards(even though I only do this as a hobby) for ppl who want to see my cakes ( I keep a photo album of my cakes online just for fun).

So for me this is a hobby and prices are what I make them especially since there is no one in my area that will make cakes like I do.

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