Advice for success

Hi guys,

I am new to Cakesdecor, but also new to cake decorating. I’ve seen the work of a lot of talented people here. What advice would you have for someone like me just starting out in the business for success? I mostly bake for friends and family at the moment.

It's a sophisticated World! www.thesophisticatedchef.com.... www.facebook.com/thesophisticatedchef

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7 Replies

Jessica ...

Hi Sophisticated and welcome to cakesdecor! Hmmm advice ok just gonna run this off the top of my head;

Use the internet as much as possible for a learning tool, there are alot of great blogs (tutorials on this site too) and youtube tutorials out there where you can pick up alot of tips and tricks. I got a bunch of cake decorating books I like but the internet is easy and usually the best way to get the information. There are a ton of self taught decorators on this site and they are awesome!

Take it slow, learn and perfect the basics, icing a cake and covering a cake with fondant would be the most basic thing you can learn, it also can be the hardest and sometimes the most time consuming part of your decorating. I think it’s every cake decorators dream to have flawless icing/fondant or maybe thats just my dream….

Practice when you can! My best lessons have always been through trial and error and I make practice cakes with left over cake batter from orders, freeze and than break them out when I got time to kill.

When it comes to cake tools, start off small, I have so much crap I bought when I first started decorating some I have barely used, some not at all. It’s very easy to get excited about buying new cake tools so what I think are must haves are: a kitchen aid, a good turn table (I use a ateco cast iron), a good fondant mat, a heavy rolling pin, a fondant smoother, X-acto kinfe and a self healing mat. Thats just what I get the most use out of but there are plenty of others I use almost daily.

I also saw you went to culinary school, so did I. It’s good to know how much your recipe costs, cakes cost alot more than people realize to make them so before you jump right in and start quoting people $30-40 bucks for a cake, see how much it cost you to make the cake and how much time you spend on it. This is the biggest mistake cake decorators make, I have done it over and over again, sometimes it’s hard to stay firm with your prices but you got to if you want to succeed.

Well hope that helps some, if you got any other questions just ask!

Sophisticated ...

Thank you Conceptualconfection for the pointers. They are very well received.

You mentioned books. From the books that you have collected over the years, what are some that you would recommend without a doubt?

Also, this is my first time hearing about the self healing mat. What is it, and what does it do? I have a regular fondant mat that I recently ordered from sweetwise.com. I’ve used it once and I like it, and I also have the tilt and turn turntable from wilton. Little by little I add more pans to my collection and different other things.

And yes I do price my recipes, which takes time and gets me annoyed at times. That’s why I was thinking about investing in the cakeboss software, but I also see on this website people saying that it does the same thing as the spreadsheet. So, maybe I won’t do that anymore.

Last thing for now. Besides your base pricing, do you charge additional for flowers and other decor?

Prima Cakes Plus ...

Sophisticated
I was just jumping in to answer about the self healing mat. It is not a cake tool specifically. They are used in crafting specifically scrapbooking. It is a mat that does not cut through when you use an exacto knife on it.

Sophisticated ...

Thanks Primacakesplus for the enlightenment.

Kendra Hicks ...

You should definitely, without a doubt, charge for flowers and figures, otherwise you’re just spinning your wheels. Detail work is where the money is and it takes too much patience, hard work and skill to do it for free. Clients should expect to pay for it granted that it’s quality work. I do, however, throw in small things that take me ten minutes to make like ribbon roses because I want the cake to look its best, regardless of the budget. I would trade that Wilton turntable in for an Ateco with a cast iron base. Wilton also makes one. It will make your life so much easier and your work more professional-looking. There’s just no comparison. Also, keep practicing! You can learn so much from trial and error. I’m fairly new to the cake world myself and by no means am I an expert, having only sold my first cake about 15 months ago. I’m entirely self-taught in that I didn’t take any classes but there is a wealth of knowledge to be learned online through youtube.com, cakesdecor.com, cakecentral.com and even Facebook. Look at some of your favorite cakes on this site and find the bakery’s Facebook page. Most of them post tutorials and are very forthcoming with tricks and techniques to help you. Good luck!

caymancake ...

I agree with what everyone posted! My other advice to you would be practice and find your little niche. Also, figure out your pricing from early on….once you start off too low it’s hard to raise your prices adequately. As a newbie I didn’t charge much – I didn’t feel I had the skill for it, but I have flints who won’t want to pay more than $4 a serving sooo yeah! Do the pricing thing from the get go :)

Other advice – find awesome recipes! Your taste is as much of your trademark as your decorating! I had a client call me one time and ask if I had done a cake for another client because as soon as they tasted the cake they knew it was mine. That’s the quality that will keep customers coming back for more.

Good luck!

Karen MacFadyen ...

One of the most important things I would say is to hone your skills, decide upon your niche – which then leads you to where you can find your customers. The other crucial point is learning how to value your time and being able to price up cakes for strangers, and being confident to ask for the money that is due for your creations. I see many cake decorators who are not sure if their price is right, think that they need to compete with the local supermarket and without any selling techniques start slicing the price lower, due to embarrassment of their price and not wanting to loose the work. Getting good at the skills of first creating the product that you want to sell and then on top of that getting good at the selling of it is key.