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How much do I charge as a beginner?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I am new to cake baking/decorating, and have only made 4 cakes so far (3 of which were all in 1 weekend). So far, all my cakes have been for friend/family, and I have not been charging anything for them. I was wondering how much I should charge per cake, as most of them are fairly simple and take about half a day.

Two of my cakes were just one tier, with 3 layers of cake each and filled with ganache. They took me a total of 6 hours to bake. One was covred in MMF while the other was BC. The ingredients for each cost about $20... How much COULD I have charged?

The 3rd cake, was 3 tiers, and covered in MMF. My aunt got the top 2 tiers baked and covered in BC from a local grocery store, which cost her $35. The last tier, 11'' was made by me, and was chocolate with chocolate ganache, covered in homemade BC, and then MMF. The last tier was made the day before, as my aunt did not realize how small the other 2 tiers would be (6", 9"). The cake took me a total of 8 hours to decorate and bake, and my aunt provided me with a couple bags of icing sugar which were used for the BC and MMF. I did not charge anything else for the cake, as it was a surprise birthday present for my dear cousin.
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How much could I charge?

It should be noted that I have spent quite a bit on tools for my projects, and most of my Xmas gifts consisted of mixers and cake baking supplies :$ I would like to be able to cover the cost of all my supplies, as it has now reached close to $300.

Thank you for your help!! Any tips on where to buy, money saving techniques etc. would also be helpful icon_smile.gif this has developed into an obsession for me, as I'm sure it has for many of you!
post #2 of 15
Before you start worrying about recovering the cost of your tools and equipment, are you legal to bake and sell cakes where you live? You need to make sure you have all the legalities squared away first.

Also, if you have any accounting background you know that tools and equipment are an asset (part of your initial investment), not part of your operating expenses and as such, while they increase the value of your business, you're not going to be recovering the cost since you won't be passing that cost along to customers. (Although Jason will disagree.)

Setting prices is probably the most difficult part of the business and there are differing opinions on the proper way to do that. Read through some of the forums on that topic and see if you have any more questions. icon_smile.gif
post #3 of 15
Sorry, you asked about supplies also. Again, read through some of the forums about recouping the cost of supplies. You'll probably want to get some good price calculating software. Cake Boss is said to have a good one, although I haven't tried it myself.
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hey jgifford,

Yes, in my province I am legally allowed to sell cakes from my home. Thanks for the reply and the information you provided. I've read a bunch of the forums, but it seems that most of them are about more experienced bakers. Although I am happy with my results, I'll admit they're not the perfect looking cakes I see others buying. Obviously with practice this will change, but by looking at my cake, and reading the details about it, would you mind briefly describing what it could potentially be 'worth'??

Thanks
post #5 of 15
That's still a difficult questions for anyone else to answer. Do you want to calculate your price by $/serving or by actual costs plus labor. If by serving, are you going to charge additional per serving for fondant? Will you charge for decorations (flowers) separately or include them in your per serving price? Do you get your supplies at a wholesaler or the local supermarket?

I realize that's still not answering your question. Ok - - if I had done this cake the way you did it, I would have charged $157. Here's the breakdown:
11 inch (44 servings) at 2.00/serving plus $.50/serving for fondant
6 inch (12 servings) at $.50/serving for fondant/decoration
9 inch (32 servings) at $.50/serving for fondant/decoration
Minimum charge of $25 for fondant flowers

This is considering that I didn't bake the top 2 tiers and also that I've been doing this for 14 years. And I'm in a sparsely populated area in West Texas so that price is about all the market will bear. Does that help at all?
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
That's great!! Thank you so much! Definitely gives me alot to think about icon_smile.gif
post #7 of 15
Some people will disagree with me, but while you're still practicing, having someone pay for the ingredients while you get to practice is a pretty good deal. Having someone buy a cake somewhere and then you get to decorate it is a great deal...someone else did the work, you get the fun.

The more cakes you make, the less time it will take you to decorate one. Personally I don't count the baking time because I am able to do other things while the cakes are in the oven. I do consider mixing time, time to make frosting, actual decorating and cleanup. It probably takes me an hour and a half to do a single-tier cake, unless it's really complicated.

About your tools, they're an investment in your future ability to make good money on cakes.

When you're charging for supplies, it's good to charge about $5 misc. per cake to cover icing colors, paper towels, plastic wrap, etc...the things that you don't have to buy every single time you do a cake but that you do have to replace when you run out. I keep a little jar for my miscellaneous supply money, and when I need icing color or tylose or something like that, it comes out of the jar money.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you Texas_Rose icon_smile.gif

That's a great tip! I'm very grateful =)
post #9 of 15
Also remember that as you find your self suddenly in high demand that it becomes time to raise your prices. It's better to do two 8 in cakes a weekend for $25 each than to slave over three cakes for only $15 each. ( you end up with $5 more dollars in your pocket and aren't in the kitchen all weekend.)
Have fun learning and always take pictures!

mommachris

wife to David for 25 years
mom to 13 blessings
Nine who are still living at home that range from 22 to 4 years old.
Holly, Amy, Aaron, Evelyn, Zebedee, Melody, William, Melissa and little Tobin
and four more sweet babies in heaven.

Reply

wife to David for 25 years
mom to 13 blessings
Nine who are still living at home that range from 22 to 4 years old.
Holly, Amy, Aaron, Evelyn, Zebedee, Melody, William, Melissa and little Tobin
and four more sweet babies in heaven.

Reply
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommachris

Also remember that as you find your self suddenly in high demand that it becomes time to raise your prices. It's better to do two 8 in cakes a weekend for $25 each than to slave over three cakes for only $15 each. ( you end up with $5 more dollars in your pocket and aren't in the kitchen all weekend.)
Have fun learning and always take pictures!

mommachris



Wow, I can't even get my ingredients for $15...
post #11 of 15
Yeah, doubling those numbers might have made for a more realistic example.
post #12 of 15
I am in a similar situation here in Quebec. I don't feel that my skills demand a high price and I don't really have a big demand right now. I am happy to have someone to cover the cost and eat the cake, while I practice and learn new skills. I have sold a couple of cakes to friends for $50, these cakes cost about $30 to make plus a (tiny) bit for my time. I just sold the truck cake in my gallery for $50, definitely a good deal. I figure as my skills get better and the demand goes up, my price will increase as well. Good luck!
Jenna
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennajane

I am in a similar situation here in Quebec. I don't feel that my skills demand a high price and I don't really have a big demand right now. I am happy to have someone to cover the cost and eat the cake, while I practice and learn new skills. I have sold a couple of cakes to friends for $50, these cakes cost about $30 to make plus a (tiny) bit for my time. I just sold the truck cake in my gallery for $50, definitely a good deal. I figure as my skills get better and the demand goes up, my price will increase as well. Good luck!
Jenna



I think in your case, the skills are developed, your confidence in them is what needs to increase icon_biggrin.gif
post #14 of 15
I was using the numbers from when I realized that I didn't want to be in the kitchen all weekend....
five years ago.
I don't work so cheap anymore.

mommachris

wife to David for 25 years
mom to 13 blessings
Nine who are still living at home that range from 22 to 4 years old.
Holly, Amy, Aaron, Evelyn, Zebedee, Melody, William, Melissa and little Tobin
and four more sweet babies in heaven.

Reply

wife to David for 25 years
mom to 13 blessings
Nine who are still living at home that range from 22 to 4 years old.
Holly, Amy, Aaron, Evelyn, Zebedee, Melody, William, Melissa and little Tobin
and four more sweet babies in heaven.

Reply
post #15 of 15
I've only been at this for about a year and a half now and I still struggle with pricing. I felt exactly the same way when I did my first few cakes. I have to completely agree with others when they suggest having friends/family pay for the igredients for now while you practice. It's a huge win/win situation! I did that with about 50% of my cakes for the first 6 months or so. When I built up my confidence and my skills improved, I started adjusting my prices. The tough part has been quoting higher prices to customers who have been ordering from me since the beginning and were used to paying a lower price initially. Most of them have been very understanding, though, as they've acknowledged that my cakes are worth more now than they were a year ago!
Best of luck! thumbs_up.gif

Samantha
Sweets En Pointe
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