How Long Do You Pay Your "dues" In The Cake World.

Business By tiffani_1 Updated 15 Oct 2009 , 5:15am by LaBellaFlor

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tiffani_1 Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 7:00pm
post #1 of 17

I reserved my name with the state for my business, someday (I live in Iowa, and you can do home bakes here). For now, I am doing cakes for my friends for cost of my supplies so I can get experience and pictures for a portfolio. I've done a few tiered cakes, some carved cakes, ect...

Question: when do you start charging more? How do you know when to start charging more? When you go professional? How long do you pay your "dues" in the business by doing cakes on the cheap? How do you place a value on your cakes? Here, a fondant cake can range anywhere from 2.50 a slice to 6.00 a slice, how do you know where you fit into the mix? Do you start out at the lower end and go up from there, as the quality of your work increases?

I just dont want to sell myself short, or make any other bakers in the area mad for doing things dirty cheap. For example, the beach cake I did in my pics, my friend only payed $30 for that. That was a 10" and a 6", in fondant.

16 replies
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cupcakemkr Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 7:10pm
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You've got to be joking! That is less than $0.80 per serving!

You have paid you dues and are free to charge fair market prices for your cakes, they are beautiful. Check to see what local bakeries are charging by shopping around, just call and ask for basic prices for a tiered cake for 30 people. That'll give you an idea of what you should charge.

By the looks of your cakes you are doing yourself and you fellow cake buddies in your area a disservice.

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LaBellaFlor Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 7:12pm
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You start chargeing appropiately the day you decide to sell cakes. Figure out how much you want to make and then go from there.

Now, as far as your cakes go. In my opionion you are ready. What I will tell you is do not accept an order for anything that a)is extremely difficult & never have done before & b) you don't have confidence in making.
Now with that said, your work looks great, but the tiered cakes you show are dummies. Can you achieve the same look in actual cake? If you can, then knock yourself out girl!

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tiffani_1 Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 7:13pm
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Well, that was just for a good friend and I didnt charge anything for my time (because I am just starting out,decorating for less than a year or so, and I feel like I cant justifycharging for my time when doing something for a friend)....but when and if I make a cake for a new client (when I get insurance and all that jazz) how do I know where to fit in, price wise?

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Caths_Cakes Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 7:14pm
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well, youd need to work out what the actuall cake will cost. then your time etc. How much do you think YOU should be paid.

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tiffani_1 Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 7:15pm
post #6 of 17

Yes, the big ones are dummies, but my little beach cake is real icon_smile.gif

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Mensch Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 7:15pm
post #7 of 17

Eighty cents a serving!?

Can you even buy a Twinkie for eighty cents?

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tiffani_1 Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 7:19pm
post #8 of 17

Probably not....
But, I am just starting out and I wanted to try something like that....and it was for my best friend....and I wanted experience.

Everything I've learned has been on here or tv. Not even a class. But that being said, is anyone going to the cake convention thing in Cleveland in January? I was thinking of going to learn a few things...

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LaBellaFlor Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 7:26pm
post #9 of 17

Well then cake away...legally. Now, as far as how you charge your friends, charge what you want. But here's the catch, your gonna have a whole lot of friends all of a sudden. And then your frineds will be throwing baby showers (for their cousin's twice removed) bridal showers (for their old best frined from the 5th grade). You get my drift? Unless you offer, always charge appropiately and give a discount (IF you want, but like 10% max) if they ask you. If your gonna get in business, then get IN business.

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tiffani_1 Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 7:31pm
post #10 of 17

You are totally right. I completely agree. You cant give a discount for cousin Sally twice removed's hair stylist.

Oh, and I am too much of a worrier to not do things legit. Getting sued scares the hell out of me.

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jewels710 Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 7:42pm
post #11 of 17

Tiffani...I am in the same "place" you are with my questions.
I do cakes all the time and most of the time they are for people I know, so I charge anywhere from $35-$75 and I KNOW I am selling myself WAY short for the time I put into some of them, but I too want the experience.
The folks I "sell" too would typically go to Walmart and grab a cake for $20 so I know they wouldn't be spending that kind of money for one of mine but I just LOVE doing it. For me it is so much fun and for what I gain from it (pics & experience) I feel that I am "earning" more than just what they've paid me. Sure I would love to charge more, however, as long as my expenses are met I am ok with that for now. I sort of have to be.
I am not in a postion to cook from my home (dumb laws) and I just want to be prepared for that "someday".

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snarkybaker Posted 13 Oct 2009 , 8:02pm
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If a member of my staff makes a cake for their family at my store, they STILL pay 50%, and they have to punch out to do the decorating...why? because I had to invest thousands and thousands of dollars to have the cake pans and tools they use. I pay for the ingredients and the utilities. I pay the guy that washes the dishes, oh and guess what....if they make the cake at my store, I still own the rights to the photos of the cake if I want them.

All of those things have VALUE and you need to charge for them.

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itsacake Posted 14 Oct 2009 , 6:02am
post #13 of 17

If you are thinking of starting a cake business at any time in the future, consider taking some business classes. Nothing to stop you from writing a business plan ahead of time and learning how to do marketing and pricing. Many community colleges have food service programs with specialized food business classes. Even if you can't get in and take the classes for credit with schools being impacted by budget cuts, some professors might let you audit. And if there are no food service classes, well, business is business and the more you know about it the better.

I've been renting space for a while and am now building out my own place. I'm finding that baking and decorating is the least of it. Marketing, Marketing, and more Marketing. Accounting (which includes pricing if you want your books to balance) and did I mention MARKETING icon_lol.gif

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cakesrock Posted 15 Oct 2009 , 2:11am
post #14 of 17

I am in the same boat with not knowing what to charge? I LOVE doing cakes and have recently been getting a lot of people at work offering to 'pay' me. I spend A LOT of time on a cake and have a very busy job where I work overtime and 2 small children. I put in a good 8 hours or more I'd guess between the research, the design, baking, decorating, making fondant etc..and that's precious time.... Though, I find it relaxing and rewarding, as I do cakes to de-stress and express creativity. I'm no pro, but I think I have a talent and potential so I want to keep improving my skills and getting the practice with cakes for others (how many can you do for yourself anyway!?plus I try to watch my weight) A co-worker who was a hair stylist (and did hair on the side after she left the business) warned me to start with the price I wanted so I wouldn't become known as 'the one that does custom cakes for cheap'. And she cautioned me against charging too little and becoming resentful, as this is what happened to her. She stopped doing it on the side all together because when she tried to raise her prices to something reasonable, she had a lot of backlash. Since I am not at a pro level, I was thinking $40 for a birthday cake that would probably go for somewhere between $60 - $80 (a coworker wanted a tank b-day cake for her boyfriend) that serves 10-12. I am aware of my limits and turned down another wedding cake order, as I do not have that experience yet. Does this sound reasonable? Or should I calculate by serving? I do odd-shaped 3-D stuff so it's hard to tell how many servings it is and I have a tough time going by that. I am often more focused on getting the dimensions accurate. Any advice? Thanks!

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karinaleongto Posted 15 Oct 2009 , 2:45am
post #15 of 17

Wow i thought i was the only one that charges very little but i love making cakes and would probably do it for free. I have 2 small kids too just like"cakerocks" and i find it very relaxing and really very therapuetic for me. I think what we have to realize is that most cakes that are sold at Walmart or any other place are ugly compared to what we are doing with Fondant and even if we have learned on C.C, Youtube, or any other place we should feel confident with anything that comes our way and if peaple like our work they will pay what is fair. What i have started to tell my Family is that i will give them a discount but thats it. Not thier friends or friends of thier friends. Lets all be more confident about our work Amen!!!

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cakesrock Posted 15 Oct 2009 , 3:20am
post #16 of 17

Amen, sister! Walmart, Safeway etc. don't compare to our cakes. So, what are you charging? Are you in the U.S.? I'm in Canada...

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LaBellaFlor Posted 15 Oct 2009 , 5:15am
post #17 of 17

Are you kidding me?!?!?! If I got to do a tank birthday cake they are paying $400 at the least! I don't care if it is for only 15 people. Try making a tank that size. It's gonna feed more. And I have to charge by design for 3D's. It's much easier then charging by the serving.

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