Cake Decorating Community - Cakes We Bake

A local trial attorney had a special award coin designed for the Civil Air Patrol, of which we are members.  There is an event planned that will unveil this new award with about 50 bigwigs in attendance.  I just finished making a free sculpted cake to feed 75 last week for my daughter's CAP squadron that got rave reviews for both taste and design.  I have just opened my own business.  The cake requested would be two seperate 14", 2-layer cakes, fondant & gumpaste that would be spot on replicas of the front and back of the coin in gleaming gold.  The design is quite intricate including 2 jets, an eagle, stars, CAP logo and lots of lettering in red, white, blue, black and gold.  The cake also needs to be delivered about 40 miles away.  I quoted him $250 for the entire job plus $25 for delivery.  I know it will take me several days to complete the work to exactly replicate these coins.  You would think I was robbing him at gunpoint!!!  Do I need a reality check?  Please tell me if I do. My husband is pressuring me to significantly reduce the price because of all the contacts I would be making by pulling off a perfect job.  Do I really want contacts that want perfect work and pay WalMart prices or just expect me to do it for free?!  Someone please talk some sense into me as I am very frustrated right now.

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lol  A lawyer squaking at the price?  Ask him if you can charge by the hour?  Did you tell him how long it takes if nothing goes wrong?  I wouldn't lower the price because if he tells others, they will expect a lower price & then you may wind up working for nothing.  I'm not a professional either but I think the $25 delivery is low for a 40 mile ride, each way?  think of the gas & the 2 hrs.

Hi!  I struggled with this problem in the beginning as well.  You have to decide your value.  You can choose to make your time and skill worth it or not.  I am in NJ and I would charge them $300 per cake!  And you are doing 2!  If you need the work and are looking to cover just your cost, then do it for your price, BUT if your time AND SKILL are equally as important, don't sell yourself short.  So much work, time, skill and TLC go into specialty cakes.  I myself didn't have a clue why on earth they were so expensive until I started doing them.  Be understanding to your customers, but also don't devalue yourself ;o) 

I've seen your pictures, you have skills girl - make them worth it!

Hope this helps! 

Good Luck :D

PS - Here is a link to one of my favorite cake artists blog, she has a great post about this exact issue.  Enjoy!

for a 14" cake base price i charge $82 that is with buttercream and simple decoration. say you spend $15.99 on 2 lbs of fondant you and you use 2lbs you need to charge double that to cover cost tax and time for getting that. figure out a decent hourly wage $10-$14 and hour. like others said i woould not charge less that $325. you do not want walmart/sams club customers it sounds bad to say that but everyone wants a huge custom cake for a walmart price and every time you give someone a deal they will always expect one.

Good luck

oh and for delivery i charge $5 for the first 7 miles and $1 a mile after that.

Please go and read the post that Jillian linked you to. I've posted this a couple of times lately as it is something I have to read aloud to myself if I feel maybe my prices are a little high (in fact I've even copied it into my notes on my iphone and do look regularly). My husband keeps telling me I'm undercharging as he would happily pay me double to have my time - rather than be a cake widdower lol. I enjoy it though - it keeps me out of trouble hahaha :)

If you really feel that this could lead to some more orders then why not (if you are able) do the job for free? I know I'd rather give a cake away than sell myself cheap. I'd feel cheated & used!! You could ask for him to promote you as much as possible, I'm sure he knows people who would be prepared to pay your prices - even if he is too mean to.

Ask him to get Buddy or Duff to quote....tell him to be seated for the answer :) Good luck xx



I would just like to take a moment and thank all of you for offering your insights. For the past two years I have honored the law and made cakes for friends and family and worked at a local commerical bakery. Now our law has changed and it is time for me to be in business for myself.  I have a large book of work documenting my skills and lots of positive word of mouth.  I can't move forward by underpricing my work and doing cakes for free. Your feedback regarding reasonable pricing has been most helpful and encouraging.  So much time and effort has gone into putting together a cake business.  It is time to be recognized as a business professional and not only the cake lady who does charity work. The first person who has to recognize that is me! I know the transition will be challenging but worth it.  Thank you ALL for your range of perspectives.  I hope this discussion has been helpful to others as well.   Blessings!  Linda
I am so happy the law changed. Its a relief to be legal...haha

I think we have all run in to this in some form or another. I've quoted a price on a wedding cake as well as kitchen cakes to have the bride say, "No thank-you" but call me back after they have shopped around to see that the price was fair.  Others have wanted graduation cakes and told me that they could get the same cake at the "Warehouse bakery" for so much less. I politely told them to take my quote with the design and see what they would ask a cake of this design. One returned to tell me they couldn't do it, another with an even higher price.

The advice I received when creating a cost schedule is to make sure your ingredients, delivery, and time are covered. No need to pay yourself minimum wage- you are an artist that can command a fair price for your skill.

Never, ever compare your prices to Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Costco, or a grocery store. People can't get the same cake at Wal-Mart that they get from you. That cake at Wal-Mart was made months ago, flash-frozen, and shipped to the store, where an employee working as quickly as he/she could frosted it with icing from a bucket, and maybe added some airbrushing or buttercream roses. That employee probably had 50 other cakes to complete in the same shift. The difference between your cake and Wal-Mart's cake can be likened to the difference between custom garments and off-the-rack clothes. Say you went to a seamstress, consulted with her about the perfect fabric and cut for your body type, discussed your coloring, took measurements, went back for several fittings, and in the end had an exquisite dress, hand-made with excruciating attention to detail, perfect for your body and your coloring. When the seamstress required payment, you would not tell her that a Wal-Mart dress costs $14.99, so that's all you should pay. The two products are not comparable. According to wiltons chart a 14in feeds are making 2 exact replicas.  The minimum should be $4.50 per person.  You are an artist remember..not a decorator at the local market who if lucky can make a passing rose and border.  The time and expense for not only the baking materials and supplies but remember you are using extra electricity, gas and water.  We dont think of these things usualy (I do because my husband points it out to me all the  You have cake boards and boxes plus transporting which is your time and gas.  If they think they can get a cake of your caliber at the local market then I would gracfuly tell them you understand and they should get it from there.  If you underprice your work people will think you dont think very much of it and thats what they will expect all the time...and any referals from them will want the same deal.  I went through all this myself esp. when first starting out.  Good luck..hope this helps and please post a picture ...I am sure it is going to be over the top...
To all these professional artists that have taken time to talk about this subject, I salute you. I am sure that Lind has benefit from yor lintlligent discussions, but not only her, myself included. I really needed to read all this info. Thank you so much.
I posted something a few min ago and need to add this.  You are way undercharging sweetie.  Figure out how much gas is in your many miles to the gal you get,  multiply that by the miles you have to drive, and then add on your time to drive.  You are an artist and this is going to take days.  dont devalue your self.  If you do others will too. These cakes are works of art not just betty crocker with canned icing.  Most people think you just throw some cake batter into pans and they come out of the oven all decorated like we are a Geni in a bottle.  I was a Respiratory Therapist for many years before I retired and those 12 hour days were grueling, but let me tell you..I work harder now designing cakes than I did then.  There are some Cake artists that will not even take an order no matter how small it is for less than $ I think we should all appreciate our talents and price appropriatly.  The link below  is really shoulld check it out.  Believe me regardless of what you charge when the people at this even see you creation they will want your card so dont forget to have some there.

Very few people understand what goes into making a custom cake.  I've truly just learned to say, "If you want a $25 cake, please feel free to go buy a $25 cake from  "XXXXXX."  It won't hurt my feelings, I completely understand.  But if you want this custom cake, made just for you, this is how much it costs."


Then I let them decide and I don't let it bother me.

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