Feeling Super Discouraged

Business By kcampeau Updated 7 Nov 2016 , 12:52pm by -K8memphis

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kcampeau Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 4:54pm
post #1 of 22

So I am trying to get my cake business going enough so I can quit my day job but I am feeling so discouraged. I put my prices up to $3 per serving for buttercream and $3.75 for fondant and now less people are ordering from me.

I think it had to do with where my customers are coming from as I think they are coming from mom groups on facebook who want cheap cakes but I am having trouble generating internet traffic through other means like my website where I can get good quality customers.

I do nt think my prices are outrageous and I have done alot of research on pricing in my area and it seems in line. People tell me my cakes are beautiful but they want to pay $2 per serving which I cannot survive on.

Any suggestions or ideas? Just feeling really discouraged.

21 replies
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tresbellecookies Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 6:41pm
post #2 of 22

I think you need to look at different ways to network in your area. Social media is a great way to spread the word , do you have an Instagram account? You can connect up with people in your city who are in the events industry, wedding planners, photographers, florists, etc., all by posting pictures to Instagram. Look at how bakeries and other cake artists in your area hash tag their photos for the best exposure.  Also look for networking groups, like Tuesdays Together, which is a national organization of small business entrepreneurs, there are chapters in many cities. Offer to do a cake for a private school fundraiser where they auction off desserts, it's marketing to an audience with money to spend. Look for events in your community to get involved in, you can do this!

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-K8memphis Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 6:54pm
post #3 of 22

i'm sorry you're down about this --

my suggestion is -- i think you should have a marketing study done to determine if a cake business is a viable option for your location -- within the same frame you could inquire as to what solo type business would be a good solid money maker for you --

selling cakes as a livelihood has devolved through the years to a huge degree and ever the moreso in recent years -- on a per state basis nearly everyone is authorized to sell baked goods -- why compete in a flooded market? 

i realize this is probably not exactly the most encouraging thing to hear but you already said it yourself, this ain't working for you -- the everlasting joy is that you can always make beautiful great cakes -- you just probably can't pay the bills doing so --

an idea is do charity work with your caking skills, donate goodies to emergency room personnel, police, fire, and their dispatchers too --find silent auctions, stuff like that maybe --

in order to be viable, a business needs a quality of having something nobody else can do/get -- I can go to my local grocery store and buy more diy cake decorating stuff than one can actually imagine being in the cake deco stores of just a few years ago -- it's absurd -- not to mention everyone can bake --

keep baking and creating just switch your focus -- keep your day job or find a different viable business to pursue --

best to you -- i hope you look forward and feel good

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Naivohw Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 7:12pm
post #4 of 22

Obviously I have no idea what your day job is, but have you considered getting a job as a decorator at an existing bakery? I love making and decorating cakes, and working with customers to get them what they want. But all the hassle of ordering supplies, marketing, running the business, paying the bills? No thank you! The owner of the bakery I work for has even said she hardly makes cakes anymore, it's all just running the business. If you love making cakes and are good at it, why not let someone pay you for it while they deal with the hassles?

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-K8memphis Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 9:04pm
post #5 of 22

that's what i mostly did -- but still did cakes on the side from home -- working for someone else is all of the fun and none of the hassle --unless the boss/owner is awful -- been there done that too --

but by and large it's the way to go for sure -- and you want to be real careful taking any orders on the side -- to avoid conflict of interest -- gotta clear it with the boss first -- and it is hell to work two jobs at once which is what happens with cake deco at work and from home because most of the work is for the weekend and it's just insane --

points to ponder

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Pastrybaglady Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 10:03pm
post #6 of 22

You don't have any pictures in your profile so we don't know the quality of your work, but finding your target customers takes a while. Don't even think about quitting your day job until you've got a good solid list of regulars. Returning customers are the key to a successful business. It's really difficult to make a living wage from baking without charging top dollar. In order to charge top dollar you have to be able to provide a quality product people can't get elsewhere AND you can't have too much undercutting competition. If there is a glut of cheap cake ladies in your area your chances of making a go of it are slim. Any kind of business is tough and this one is especially hard when anyone with a bit of know how and an oven can throw their hat in the ring. Sorry you're feeling discouraged, but it takes time to build a solid business, no rainbows and unicorns here, just hard work!

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kcampeau Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 10:11pm
post #7 of 22

[postimage id="5604" thumb="900"][postimage id="5605" thumb="900"]

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kcampeau Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 10:12pm
post #8 of 22

[postimage id="5611" thumb="900"][postimage id="5612" thumb="900"]

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kcampeau Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 10:13pm
post #9 of 22

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kcampeau Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 10:14pm
post #10 of 22

[postimage id="5619" thumb="900"][postimage id="5620" thumb="900"]

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kcampeau Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 10:16pm
post #11 of 22

Here are some pics of my work. And I have 23 reviews on my facebook page all PERFECT reviews. People love my work and tell me the cake was aweomse and I have had some repeats but it seems people only spend money on cake once every year or two for the big birthdays. There are alot of cheap cake ladies in my area but also alot of high end ones and I think I need to try to find a way to market to the high end ones. 

Am I over charging based on my work? That is based on the wilton serving chart and I usually subtract a few servings just to allow for oopsy cuts by party cake people.

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Pastrybaglady Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 10:39pm
post #12 of 22

No, you are not overcharging. You definitely have skills, but I do see some room for improvement. Your work is good don't question that, it's the refined details you're missing. The most glaring thing to me is the backgrounds in your photos. You need a clean plain background - this makes your cakes look more professional. A trifold poster board and a white tablecloth are all you need as well as a good photo editor to help with cropping, lighting and color - these are free downloads. Before I came to CC I didn't even know what was possible with cake. I was in awe of perfectly smooth buttercream, razor sharp edges and super clean fondant work. I'm happy to say I am closer to my own ideals. It's those kinds of details that separate the middle of the road from the high end decorators. You're in a tough spot having many cheap cake ladies as well as high end cakers near you. Work on your details to take you to the high end. Maybe do a Farmer's Market or Wedding Fair to get your name out there. Take samples of cake to businesses like florists and party stores - maybe they would be willing to put your business cards out. Good luck!

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kcampeau Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 10:53pm
post #13 of 22

Thank you! Yes I realized that so now I am making an effort with backgrounds. Can you pick apart my work a bit despite the backgrounds? I would really love to note my areas to improve upon.

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Pastrybaglady Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 11:15pm
post #14 of 22

I think generally smooth surfaces would greatly improve your cakes. Good lighting in your photographs would also help make the uneven textures less obvious. The buttercream on the witch hat cake is a little rough especially at the edge. It takes a lot of practice as I see you lean towards fondant cakes. If you get better at smoothing your buttercream your fondant will also be smoother looking. Make sure you rest your cakes before you cover them with fondant so you'll have less air bubbles like on Karmyn's cake. When you are cutting the letters from fondant It looks like it needs to be a little firmer and you'll get cleaner cuts. Try adding a bit of cornstarch and even refrigerating for a bit. Looking at Joshua's cake when you cut fondant free form use a paper template so your shapes are even and try dipping your cutting edge in Crisco so you get less drag and always smooth the edges with your fingers so it doesn't have a raggedy edge. I sincerely hope I'm not offending you in any way! I learned all these things on this site and am happy to pass them on to you. We're all still trying to get better at our craft!

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kcampeau Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 11:27pm
post #15 of 22

Not offending at all I actually just got the hang of the whole hot offset spatula thing to smooth buttercream this was my last order and it was smooth like glass!

[postimage id="5621" thumb="900"]

[postimage id="5622" thumb="900"]

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Pastrybaglady Posted 6 Nov 2016 , 11:32pm
post #16 of 22

Very cute unicorns!

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whatthecake Posted 7 Nov 2016 , 12:00am
post #17 of 22

I understand how you feel. The area I am the going rate per slice is $1.50. My only positive has been that my competition are at hime bakers and most people prefer a location to go to. Things that sre helpful is using social media. I am currently doing a giveaway for a regular 9 inch cake and it has already gotten people asking about other orders. I showed a picture of a chocolate cake and said to please like and share for a chance to win a 9 inch non-fondant cake.

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remnant3333 Posted 7 Nov 2016 , 5:44am
post #18 of 22

I like all of your cake pictures!! I hope you get the clientele of people who are willing to pay you more money!! Everyone here has given you great advice for getting your name out there among potential cake buyers!! Good luck and I wish you well!!

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Jeff_Arnett Posted 7 Nov 2016 , 12:08pm
post #19 of 22

I think you are in the same boat so many others are right.  There's two forces at work.  First, the economy being what it is makes spending a lot of $$ on a cake a luxury for many people and, secondly, most people have the mentality that "it's just cake"....it something to be eaten and its gone, not like an object you sit on a table to admire or a painting to hang on a wall.  They have no concept of the baking/decorating process, so that's don't appreciate its value.  

People have become so accustomed to going to Sam's or Walmart or the local grocery deli to grab a $25 sheet cake...they don't realize there is a big  difference between a cake created from a slab of frozen cake baked in a factory and shipped to the store then iced/decorated from a 5 gallon tub of chemical-based icing versus a baked from scratch cake with real buttercream or fondant. 

As someone said above, maybe you should look at this from the viewpoint of whether or not a cake business is a viable investment at this point.  My little town alone could not support my business....I get 75% if my orders from surrounding counties.

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kcampeau Posted 7 Nov 2016 , 12:23pm
post #20 of 22

Thank you for your reply. I live in a more blue collar town but near me within an 20-60 min drive is the capital of the country. I live in Hamilton, Ontario but thats an hour outside of Toronto, Canada which is the capital and has alot of money. Even 30 minutes away is alot or money with million dollar homes and the average price of homes being $600,000 or more. 

I am finding when people from these areas inquire I look darn cheap and I am getting more bookings for parties an hour away. The issue with that is delivery, do I suck up delivery costs and market to these areas and have to charge a cheaper delivery fee to get the order?

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Newfoundlandgirl Posted 7 Nov 2016 , 12:41pm
post #21 of 22

I'm busy in my area but also do cakes for people who live an hours drive away. They don't bat an eyelash at driving that distance to pick up a cake. Maybe it's the rural Newfoundland thing and we are used to having to drive considerable distances for services. I have yet to deliver a birthday cake that far away unless I was running a personal errand and could combine the two. Wedding cakes are a different story.

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-K8memphis Posted 7 Nov 2016 , 12:52pm
post #22 of 22

if you are basing your success on money, being able to do this full time, quit your job and live well on your profit -- i know I said this already but get a marketing study to answer this question you just asked about your delivery fees and the viability of the whole endeavor -- 

i googled "hire a marketing professional in toronto canada" or something like that -- let an expert in your area work that out for you --

here's one that came up:


and what you said in post #20 might work to diminish the look of delivery fees but you'll need to recoup that in the price per serving because two hour deliveries (there and back) are gonna bite financially -- 2 hours of wages, gas, time, insurance, wear and tear on the car, all adds up fast --

bottom line for your own self you need to answer the question if you are doing this for the creative, fill the-need-of-a-gorgeous-cake-for-someone's-special-day bang or for money -- they are actually two quite different pathways

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