Good for you KayDay!
I always did cakes for free or for cost for friends, family, co-workers and anyone that knew any of the above. Then it started to become a job. So I started charging. What I discovered is that people haven't got a clue how long it takes to make some of these things. One lady gave me a rough time about costs, so I itemized everything, the costs, the time, everything. Since the cakes were for Girl Guides and I knew she had a budget, I gave her a deal. Well the parents were supposed to raise the budget but you know, when it came the next year, they wanted another deal and this time they gave me design suggestions, that were actualy pretty ugly, in my opinion. So I stuck with their design and I could tell she was disappointed when she picked up the cakes. But hey, 2, 11X15 inch from scratch cakes for $60 that I added 64 hand molded chocolate shamrocks to the borders so each girl would get one, that is a good deal. Had they gone with a two layer cake, it would have been less work for me and cheaper for me. But they insisted on two separate cakes of two different kinds. Easily each cake was worth $45-$50 dollars each.
The thing is, with this lady, she always needs a deal. But lately I have come to the conclusion that if she wants a specialty cake, she should expect to pay the price or she should get them from Costco. I don't mind for the Girl Guides, but I do mind for every other occasion.
I often will still do a cake for cost, to try out a new idea or design, when the customer gives me free reign. But sometimes, people are a disappointment. A few years ago, I did a gorgeous 50th anniversary cake for a lady that was a friend of a friend. I bought the Wilton candlelight stand, purchased gold candles for it, had my sister crochet gold and ivory wedding bells and hearts to decorate the stand with, made my first attempt at fondant roses and used gold lustre dusts and such. I spent many hours on this cake and only charged her the cost of the cake. The only thing I asked was that she take a picture of the cake, because at the time I didn't have a camera. Well , I am still waiting.
Now my motto, is to charge a price I am happy with unless I want to give a deal. But I don't want one deal to result in many deals for anyone and everyone because I don't want to resent the customers. Or get so fed up with it all that I stop all together!
Most of us aren't even making minimum wage on our cakes. So basically we are putting all of this time and effort in and making a smaller wage than the decorators at the Costco type of stores. Does that make sense?