two uteri, two mamas pregnant, AGAIN, with baby number two

the moneys October 7, 2007

Filed under: ttc — charlotte @ 6:20 pm

What the eff do I do? I am having a very hard time believing that people will pay me 200-800 per cake. I have my first cake commission today, for a friend of a friend and it is a weird spiritual cake that I probably won’t post pictures of (for her privacy), but it is the 1st time I am getting paid. I am charging $60. I know. Not even barely enough, but this woman is on a fixed income, and I’m too nice.

The truth? I’m not believing in myself. I mean, I agree with other people that the cakes are amazing, but I do not have faith, at all, that people are going to commission me, and pay me well. One needs this faith when one starts a business. One needs faith and balls. For those of you who know me I am a very confident (I fake it well) outgoing person, so one would think I would have all the self esteem necessary to be entrepreneurial. S-o-o-o-o-o not the case. I can’t even spell entrepreneurial.

Yet, the reality of this pregnancy, and the following turths are sitting on me all day latey:

1. we are in massive debt

2. we can barely afford our house and need to refi but can’t until I pull in some income

3. we have no savings for reduced pay or maternity leave for S

4. I really truly do not have a job

5. Seriously, I don’t have a job

6. I completely freeze up and read blogs when I should be job searching (for my master’s degree semi-profession where I get paid crap at an agency or paid well by private clients that I would have to somehow get), or starting a cake business (without any balls or faith).

7. Did I mention the debt?  It is approaching 6 figures if one counts my student loan. Yup. Seriously.

8. Did I mention that I completely freeze up and can’t even make a job to do list?

9. Did I mention that it looks like another baby will be here in 6 months?

Here is me, typing whilst FREAKING OUT and then becoming totally paralyzed, freezing up and pretending that I did not just reveal all of that.


14 Responses to “the moneys”

  1. Look, when we planned our wedding, cakes that were *somewhat* like yours easily cost $500-$1500 and more. And that was going on 5 years ago. But you can always start small and move up – this $60 cake is insane, but you have your reasons. Charge 3X that for the next one and they’ll still be getting a bargain. Then just keep going up $50 or $60 each cake until you get to the price market research shows you ought to be charging. This would provide a way for you to get more comfortable with it and see that people really will pay you that kind of money.

  2. oneofhismoms Says:

    Time to make the doughnuts.

    Er… cakes.

  3. jenny Says:

    Another option would be to try and sell the cakes to bakeshops or something on commision.

    1. Go to cake places and look at how effing much they are charging. We paid $1000 for ours 4 years ago – and it was Not Fancy At All. We had 120 folks at our wedding so went for flavor and had it decorated with flowers. Interestingly, it was made by an independent baker who partnered with a florist/decorator – we paid one delivery fee for them both and that way we could get the cake decorated with flowers or just as a fancy shmancy cake. We paid extra for yummy fillings rather than for decorations.

    2. Make the gorgeous pics of your cakes into a nice photo album – actually make several copies of it.

    2. Maybe check out local independent decorators, wedding planners, florists and such and see if any of them might send you clients.

  4. cooler*doula Says:

    Some good advice. My husband went from photojornalist to shooting weddings – here’s how:

    1) find out what people are paying/charging in your market. it’s OK to undercut the first couple of times to build up your portfolio, but you need to be earning what you’re worth, so work up your prices to around that level.

    2) it’s going to be cheaper to reach the planners/venues than the brides, so get a book together and go and meet ’em. Have something that you can leave with them, so they can show your work to visiting couples.

    3) kid’s cakes would probably be a good avenue too. Leave a portfolio at some independent kid’s stores. Do it quickly – bet you’ll get some calls on that cauldron/witch cake before the month is out.

    4) you may have to do a couple of mock-ups to make sure you have several styles to show off.

    5) start working on a Web site.

    I know it sucks because you have to spend a bit upfront…


  5. TTC4years Says:

    Being the tree hugger, I also wonder if it is possible to advertise the organic products you could incorporate in the cakes– organic flour etc– it gives you an even more fancy customrer base..

    I really love the idea of a photo gallery book-as your cakes are not only beautiful- you have taken really great pictures of them.

    Another idea- if there are events coming up in the area, you can offer up a free cake as a prize or as a freebie, and then it gets you some free advertising.

    And- need I say it- holidays approach, and people are willing to shell out all kinds of dough for holiday items- I have visions of turkeys and giant Christmas fantasy trees all over the place.

  6. Calliope Says:

    After you get the first check I am wishing & hoping that you become drunk with the thrill of being PAID. I soooo get this anxiety about it. When I first charged someone for a photograph I kept waiting for them to laugh at me. After I got my first check I got over it & gladly charged more for the next ones.

    I would send out a mass e-mail to friends and acquaintances and say that you are giving yourself X months to see if a cake making business is something you can do. Explain that for X months the cakes will be a lower price as you build up your portfolio. (but dude, charge at least $100 for a cake!)

    I watch this show called Ace of Cakes and they do the creative awesome specialty cakes that you are rocking out- there is SO a market for unusual and special cakes out there.

    You can DO this! You can. You SO can. Like for reals.

  7. Co Says:

    Okay, you *can* get $200-$800 per cake for the kinf of high-level, complicated cakes you’ve been doing, especially for wedding or anniversary cakes when people need to feed a large number of guests and are already in the mindset of paying top dollar.

    However, for birthday partys or baby showers or bachelorette parties and the like, people might not have that kind of budget. Some may, but others won’t. So, you can show them what a $200-$800 option would look like, but also say, “if you’re looking for more of an $80-$100 cake, here’s what I could do…” Think about the things that are very time-consuming for you or expensive to do and don’t do them for cheaper cakes. Limiting the number of colors you have to mix, the number of decorative things you need to add, the complexity of the decorative things you need to add, and the complexity of the cake itself (not so many fancy fillings or flavors) would allow you to bump the price down such that (a) it’s more affordable for a customer on a budget and (b) it’d still be profitable for you to do it. For example, a baker I knew when I was studying cake decorating in a rural area where many folks didn’t have a ton of money, even for weddings, would pretty much make whatever cake someone wanted and charge accordingly. But her $200 wedding cakes were limited to designs with only roses–other types of flowers or assortments of flowers cost extra, simple decorations like basic borders and maybe some decorative lacework or something simple, maximum of 3 colors of icing (in addition to white), one flavor of cake, one filling. It varied a bit depending on number of guests you needed to feed, too.

    I don’t think you should be doing the level of cakes you’ve been showing us recently for $60. But you could probably find a cake that won’t be too costly or time-consuming for you that you could sell at a lower rate. Then, you’d have some variety and could build up a more varied portfolio. Of course, the reality is, where you can probably really make money doing this is with wedding and anniversary cakes.

    As for the other career, I know nothing about it. But I understand the job paralysis. The one thing that helps me sometimes get past that kind of paralysis is to turn job-hunting/career-building into a job. Can you resolve to spend 8 hours each day, five days a week, on pursuing a job, clients, or a cake decorating business, and treat that like it’s your job for now? Doing stuff like that not only helps me get past the paralysis but also the fear, because I feel like I’m at least working toward my goal. Just a thought. May not help. Hugs. It’s so hard and stressful.

  8. Hope Says:

    Folks have said a lot of what I was thinking about. You need to put a portfolio together and go out to florists, etc. A lovely little tri-fold brochure would be really nice, too. You could leave a stack with shops you visit. You could also pin them up on bulletin boards in places like the schmancy kids stores (like cooler*doula mentioned).

    I used to make and sell pet beds. What killed my business was trying to sell more for fewer dollars, rather than fewer for more dollars. I ended up spending a lot of time making the cheap, boring ones. If I’d aimed for a higher price range, I would have made the same amount of money, had more free time and not gotten bored out of my skull.

    As you are getting started, you might charge less, but your cakes are NOT low-end. They are fancy, premium cakes and you will build up a client base will to shell out the bucks.

    Did you ever get a web-site? Do you need help setting something up?

    Have you thought about the licenses you will need? I don’t think you have to worry about it until you’ve sold more than a certain amount of dollars. In Ohio, I think it is $500.

  9. Keri Says:

    I say go for it with the cake business. Seriously, how often do you buy a cake? It’s a special occasion thing and people (me) are willing to pay big for special occastions. Just advertise the hell out of yourself! Create a cake BLOG for Gods sake!
    You are amazing and I would bet every parent of every child would pay big for that castle cake!

  10. Lo Says:

    So I am looking at the website of a fancy bakery on the Upper East Side. Their cakes are reallllly nice, but they are nowhere near as personalized as yours.

    Their price structure is $44 for 6″ cake (serves 6-10 people) all the way up through $455 for a full sheet cake (serves 130-160).

    For personalized service….much more, I’d think.

  11. Laura Says:

    Your cakes are works of art beyond anything I’ve seen in the local bakeries. I second the idea that you should prepare a portfolio of photos. You can start with your price low (not too low!) but be careful because you quickly will be overwhelmed once the word gets out. Your cakes are that good.

    Being a SAHM *is* a job. Don’t forget the mucho $$ you’d be paying for daycare if you were working full time.

  12. You are going to go far, very, very far.
    Stop making cakes for your friends and charging $60.00. 🙂
    Put a portfolio together and hand it out to baby boutiques….at wedding venues…..and get a website together.
    Research and find out what the going rate is and then undercut them slightly to get the business.

  13. Mama2BandT Says:

    Okay this may sound cheesie….create some kind of webpage already! Print up business cards you can on the computer w/ a pic of your favorite cake(s) and the web address start handing that out…here’s the goofy party get one of those big auto magnets made for your and S’s car that has a pic and contact info again w/ simple web address…i’ve found several businesses i’ve utilized just driving down the road and struck up multiple conversations about said businesses in parking lots…food for thought heheheh Good luck!

  14. Back, with specifics.

    When I saw your cakes, they made me think of one place in particular. I just checked on their website and the ROCK BOTTOM MINIMUM they charge is $500. And that’s in Balt!more – not really a high rent district. So I think you can charge A LOT for your cakes. Their website, in case you want to scope it out is:

    w w w . c h a r m c i t y c a k e s . c o m

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