Special Cakes...not so special budgets!

Forum: Cake Decorating Business

Guys, I really need your help…hearing from a lot of different decorators would be seriously appreciated!

I won’t be able to get into all of the gory details but I really need to get some “real world” counseling from trusted source.

Please help me… I’m having trouble with friends of family ordering/interested in ordering super labor intensive/fancy cakes at basement prices!

So…I need to know…what ballpark figure would you charge for this cake using a simple buttercream filling…basically the cheapest way you could recreate it?? Also full credit where it is due to the original baker for his/her stunning work!!

You all are saving my life right now…you just don’t know!



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13 Replies

The Garden Baker ...

Let me start by saying that I’m just a hobby baker, BUT I’ve read that one of the simplest ways to figure out the amount to charge would be to literally add up the cost of every single ingredient that you would use including the board, colors and even parchment paper. Once you have that sum, multiply it by 3. That would give you an easy way to figure out what to charge. Don’t forget to add extra for the stylish bow! If anyone tells you a specific price it might not be relevant for you. Every area of the world has different prices for cakes as for everything else. Also a decorator who has an established name and many years of experience could definitely charge more than someone just starting out. See what you get when you try adding up ALL of your costs and multiply by 3.

Jayden348 ...

Hey! Thank you for your input! I really appreciate it! I definitely understand what you are saying about putting the recipe into a calculator. I can absolutely do that. Honestly, in this case I was just hoping to get some “ammunition” in what is turning out to be an incredibly stressful moment. Basically, in the end all I was hoping for were just ballpark figures to use as an example. I’m definitely not able to make this cake and stay within the customer’s budget. I’m just really frustrated by the pushback I am getting over a piece of art that I would put my soul into! People see an incredible cake and they want it…but just have no idea what goes into making it!

Jayden348 ...

Upon further thought though, your reply may be a good starting point. Once you add up all the costs to produce the cake it becomes very clear that we are not gouging anyone…if anything we make very little “profit”.

June ("Clarky's Cakes") ...

Firstly, you have to know your market. Prices are so very dependent on where you live. Big city, what part of the city, rural..etc., etc. That’s very important.
A good rule of thumb Jayden348 is to ask 3 key questions.
1. What is your budget?
2. How many people/guests does the cake have to serve?
3. Style/design cake required (which you already know)
Usually getting this budget to cake ratio/design lets you know pretty quickly what kind of customer your dealing with. Whether they have unrealistic expectations for what they can get for there budget. Then you can decide how you will proceed. Whether it’s worth your while to give a quote. Whether you suggest some kind of cake similar that will fit there budget. Or decide to be booked up and can’t accommodate there order.
And always tell your customers you require a nonrefundable deposit to proceed and save the date. That definitely weeds out a lot of customers.

Sweet SugarCraft! ...

Hi Jayden, I have just been watching this amazing playlist of YouTube videos all about pricing for your cakes and even covering dealing with family/ friends asking for cakes for cheap. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLR3inhL0HuAwmqM9t-NmZBeCC0zKBguO7
I hope it helps, best of luck.

MsGF ...

I would charge at least $100 for that cake as an 8" Round. Friends and Family can be a real pain in the rear for some cakers. Fortunately I don’t have these issues. To solve the problem once and for all you need to set very clear rules for them before they take advantage of you and you feel resentful. I agree with the others add up every single expense even water, dish soap, gas for the car as you pick up all the supplies, then add in all the hours you worked on the cake and details, pay yourself an hourly wage. Add it all up and you will have your price. Adding up everything x 3 works too, only if you are happy with end number. This works best for super simple cakes, but not cakes with many hours of detail work.

Jayden348 ...

Thank you everyone for your kind, thoughtful replies and all of your words of wisdom! I am thrilled to have found you all and to be able to bounce my ideas off of so many truly talented bakers and decorators!

To June: I love all of your bullet points and I have written them down in my notebook so I can use your valuable notes as I move forward with my little business! Thank you so very much! I 100% agree with you about deposits! They let you know who is actually serious and keeps a lot of other issues from even cropping up in the first place!

To Sweet Sugar: THANK YOU for those super amazing links! I am definitely going to get my cup of coffee, get into my cake business zone and listen to them! I am so happy to hear that they cover the whole “friends and family” category. For many people who get thier “start” making things for family friends or friends-of-friends…this can become a really dicy area when you make the change from doing hobby/fun projects to actually attempting to make a profit! Especially if you generally want to do things like this because you love it and want to go the extra mile for people that you appreciate! So easy to get burned or burned out!

To MsGF: Thank you so much for your response! It was extremely comforting! Basically, your estimate was exactly what I had been thinking that this cake is worth (of course depending on details/changes/etc) It is BEAUTIFUL (again my humble and heartfelt compliments to the artist who created it) and it would take time and talent to create. It deserves to be priced accordingly. The irony or extreme frustration was that I had trouble getting a friend to understand that this is not a cake that I could recreate for $40.00…even if I was simply able to “do a favor” or “be nice”. I quite simply cannot afford to.

MsGF ...

Most people don’t understand the work and time involved to create cakes. Explain that to people as best as you can and have some hard and fast rules for family and friends. If you are upfront and honest right from the start things will be much smoother when dealing with family, friends and customers. Not everyone can afford one of our cakes and that’s okay – they have other options :-)

All the best.

The Moonlight Hare ...

I agree with all of the very useful comments on here.
Simply adding up ingredients and x3 is a good start for a basic design.
I’ve too have suffered in the past with family expecting something for nothing, to the point where I ended up saying something and now I’m definitely not flavour of the month anymore! (excuse the pun). But as the comment above. Supermarket cakes are a cheaper option if all they want is average cake. And we DON’T do average.

Sweet SugarCraft! ...

You’re welcome Jayden, I hope the links help; I’ve been finding them so valuable, I’ve even re-watched a few of them. It is so true, in cakes it really is super easy to burn yourself out, sometimes from just plain enthusiasm / excitement.

Jayden348 ...

Thank you again everyone! I’ve had several orders this week so my replies have been a little bit slow. I apologize! But I’m adding notes and thoughts to my business plan with each and every bit of the wonderful advice and replies you have offered. I am so grateful to have found you all!

Msgf: you are so right about everything! I agree completely. Honesty and clear communication right up front is absolutely the best policy….and understanding that whatever the price is there are other options for people if they need or want them.

Karen: What you said about having to say something to friends and family and that maybe not well received is so on point. I knew it was eventually going to get to a point of resentment or negative feelings (on either end) and better to deal with it now then to try to rein it back when it had gone much too far!

Jayden348 ...

Sweet Sugar: Yes, absolutely! Those links have been a treasure trove of wonderful information. I can’t wait until I can sit down to listen to more of them! What a great resource. I have already listened to a few more than once and I have picked up on things that I missed the first time as well! Thanks again for sharing them!

Sweet SugarCraft! ...

You’re most welcome Jayden, I agree they are a treasure trove; so glad I stumbled across them and that I could help you out too.