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When did you know your cakes were "good enough" to sell?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

I've been making cakes for family as a stress relief hobby for about 2 years now.  In the past 8 months or so I've had about 7 people ask me if I sell cakes because they want one for whatever event.  I think about starting an at home business (but won't for a while because I have a dog and that's a no under PA's cottage food law) but I wonder about how you know when your cakes are good enough to actually sell to people?  I mean, I guess if people are asking, then they're willing to buy?  I always thank them for the compliment but turn them down. 

 

And do you take your skill level in to consideration when setting prices?  I've read plenty of the pricing threads on here, but I don't recall people mentioning skill level as a factor.  Thanks!

post #2 of 20

As far as the skill factor, I don't think pricing should reflect it, but what orders you take should.

I wouldn't dream of selling a butter cream cake if I couldn't frost it smoothly, but since I can, there is no reason to charge any less than someone who can do string work 10x better than me.

If someone asked me for a 5 tier cake covered top to bottom in string work, I would just turn it down, instead of charging way less since I know it wouldn't look right.

That's how I look at it at least, I'm sure there are a lot of different opinions, but that one has worked for me for years :)

 

Technically, you are ready to sell when people are ready to buy, I suppose. I got into the business differently than you, so I can't really speak from experience.

post #3 of 20

I've also had a lot of people ask if I can make a full priced cake for them. I don't have the means right now either (IL kitchen rules) so I also turn them down, but in my mind it means my cakes are probably good enough, at least the designs I would agree to would be. 

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post #4 of 20
For me, I think its a challenge you must take,if you keep turning them down thinking till you fully ready,and when you think you are, you may have lost so many of them.
To be able to do what you haven't done before, first accept you can do it, and if too complex or seems too new to you, give it an extra study and make request on how people did thiers.have tried that before, and it worked..just be confident!!!
post #5 of 20
For me, I think its a challenge you must take,if you keep turning them down thinking till you fully ready,and when you think you are, you may have lost so many of them.
To be able to do what you haven't done before, first accept you can do it, and if too complex or seems too new to you, give it an extra study and make request on how people did thiers.have tried that before, and it worked..just be confident!!!
post #6 of 20

I decided I was good enough pretty much on my first cake. I made my first few cakes for friends and family. I don't know how to make a cake that's not "good enough", so early on it took a long time to finish a cake. I'm pretty fast now.
 

post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by katie1214 View Post

I've been making cakes for family as a stress relief hobby for about 2 years now.  In the past 8 months or so I've had about 7 people ask me if I sell cakes because they want one for whatever event.  I think about starting an at home business (but won't for a while because I have a dog and that's a no under PA's cottage food law) but I wonder about how you know when your cakes are good enough to actually sell to people?  I mean, I guess if people are asking, then they're willing to buy?  I always thank them for the compliment but turn them down. 

 

And do you take your skill level in to consideration when setting prices?  I've read plenty of the pricing threads on here, but I don't recall people mentioning skill level as a factor.  Thanks!


If somebody asks to buy one of your cakes and is willing to pay "custom cake pricing", then you are "good enough to sell".  Obviously, there are some big caveats:  Are you licensed?  Are you willing to charge custom cake prices comparable to others in your area?  I think Norni's posts above are a good way to consider the skill issue. 

 

I bake for fun and have also had some people ask about buying a cake.  Since this is FUN for me and I don't need the money, I do just like you, thank them for the compliment and turn them down.  Selling cakes may turn my fun and rewarding hobby into something yucky and stressful.   My state now allows baking from home, but I keep finding excuses NOT to apply for a license. 

post #8 of 20

I think that it is a wonderful thing that you are even considering skill level when it comes to pricing and selling cakes.  So many times there will be a thread with a cake that has bulging filling layers, un-level tops and sagging fondant that will come with the question: How much would you charge for this cake?  I think that many times when people are beginning there is a "My Baby is the MOST Beautiful Baby in the World" syndrome where people are a bit blinded by the pride of their own cake accomplishment to see the flaws and areas for improvement that a cake has. Everyone should be proud of their work when they are starting out,  but "Being Ready To Sell" isn't the penultimate compliment that a cake maker should go for.  I have always been really critical of my own work, and there are very few cakes that I've done that I wouldn't fix something on.  And you have to take into consideration where the compliment is coming from:  I fully put more weight on a compliment on one of my cakes from another on-line cake maker who's work I admire than from 10 of my personal friends who are going to be nice to me no matter what. 

 

Before I was ready to sell, I did some very critical review of my cakes' flaws against what my benchmarks of a great cake were and made sure that the orders I did accept were things that I knew that I could do.  That doesn't mean that I don't push myself to keep learning and trying new things, but being honest about one's ability goes a very long way in providing a product that won't disappoint.   

post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by lorieleann View Post

I think that it is a wonderful thing that you are even considering skill level when it comes to pricing and selling cakes.  So many times there will be a thread with a cake that has bulging filling layers, un-level tops and sagging fondant that will come with the question: How much would you charge for this cake?  I think that many times when people are beginning there is a "My Baby is the MOST Beautiful Baby in the World" syndrome where people are a bit blinded by the pride of their own cake accomplishment to see the flaws and areas for improvement that a cake has. Everyone should be proud of their work when they are starting out,  but "Being Ready To Sell" isn't the penultimate compliment that a cake maker should go for.  I have always been really critical of my own work, and there are very few cakes that I've done that I wouldn't fix something on.  And you have to take into consideration where the compliment is coming from:  I fully put more weight on a compliment on one of my cakes from another on-line cake maker who's work I admire than from 10 of my personal friends who are going to be nice to me no matter what. 

 

Before I was ready to sell, I did some very critical review of my cakes' flaws against what my benchmarks of a great cake were and made sure that the orders I did accept were things that I knew that I could do.  That doesn't mean that I don't push myself to keep learning and trying new things, but being honest about one's ability goes a very long way in providing a product that won't disappoint.   

Love this. A local bakery made this cake recently that was completely lumpy on top. It looked like there were little hills on her cake. Then the banner with the person's name was a thick square of fondant with the piping of the letters drooping down. It was sad because I expect more from a professional bakery. 

 

My cakes aren't good enough to sell yet. I am working on it right now while I build a good business plan and experience. The taste might be really good, but my decorating is not where it should be.

post #10 of 20

I can usually see from the galleries on bakery websites which were their early cakes and which are more recent. I'd say quite a few people start out maybe a little earlier than they should, but I guess they're still in business so...

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post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for sharing your thoughts...much appreciated!
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by kikiandkyle View Post

I can usually see from the galleries on bakery websites which were their early cakes and which are more recent. I'd say quite a few people start out maybe a little earlier than they should, but I guess they're still in business so...
I certainly thought mine were good enough to sell long before they were! I will have to see if I can find them on my old hard drive, they are hilarious! I didn't start getting good until I started reading cake central;-)
Beginners, be sure to parrot advice and get your post count up as fast as you can. After all, it's not what you know, it's what people THINK you know.
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Beginners, be sure to parrot advice and get your post count up as fast as you can. After all, it's not what you know, it's what people THINK you know.
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post #13 of 20
Look how terrible this one looks! and his is one I did last night for today
Beginners, be sure to parrot advice and get your post count up as fast as you can. After all, it's not what you know, it's what people THINK you know.
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Beginners, be sure to parrot advice and get your post count up as fast as you can. After all, it's not what you know, it's what people THINK you know.
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post #14 of 20

Obviously some people thought it was just fine, because look at you now!

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post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by howsweet View Post

I decided I was good enough pretty much on my first cake. I made my first few cakes for friends and family. I don't know how to make a cake that's not "good enough", so early on it took a long time to finish a cake. I'm pretty fast now.
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lorieleann View Post

I think that it is a wonderful thing that you are even considering skill level when it comes to pricing and selling cakes.  So many times there will be a thread with a cake that has bulging filling layers, un-level tops and sagging fondant that will come with the question: How much would you charge for this cake?  I think that many times when people are beginning there is a "My Baby is the MOST Beautiful Baby in the World" syndrome where people are a bit blinded by the pride of their own cake accomplishment to see the flaws and areas for improvement that a cake has. Everyone should be proud of their work when they are starting out,  but "Being Ready To Sell" isn't the penultimate compliment that a cake maker should go for.  I have always been really critical of my own work, and there are very few cakes that I've done that I wouldn't fix something on.  And you have to take into consideration where the compliment is coming from:  I fully put more weight on a compliment on one of my cakes from another on-line cake maker who's work I admire than from 10 of my personal friends who are going to be nice to me no matter what. 

 

Before I was ready to sell, I did some very critical review of my cakes' flaws against what my benchmarks of a great cake were and made sure that the orders I did accept were things that I knew that I could do.  That doesn't mean that I don't push myself to keep learning and trying new things, but being honest about one's ability goes a very long way in providing a product that won't disappoint.   

Ummm... I assume you weren't talking about me.. just in case, here are my first three cakes. In my opinion people who do clean work are likely to start out doing clean work. I don't know how to do it differently

   

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