Cake Decorating Community - Cakes We Bake

I have baked since I was a kid, but started cake decorating last Summer.  I have tried promoting myself by giving away free cakes to get people to try them.  I've given cake to family, friends, and sent cake to work with my hubby.  I've spent a lot of time doing this and have really wanted to impress.  Everybody has raved about the cakes and complimented the look and the taste.  My hope was that giving freebies would lead to orders.  I at least thought I could count on my family and close friends to give me a little business.  None of this has happened.  In fact, it seems that people who have received free cake just want more free cake.  They don't want to pay.  (I've also tried other forms of advertising--some free and some not--and that hasn't been very fruitful.)

 

My husband said that when you give things away for free, they loose their value--even if people like them.  He suggested that I stop this free for all stuff, but how else will people know the cakes taste great?  What do you all think?  Also, how in the heck did you get started?  I'll take any insight that I can get.  :-)

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When someone actually pays for a cake and is pleased with it, that will lead to recommendations with other paying customers. You need a whole new set of people! You can make up flyers and post them in the grocery store, church, day care centers. Create a facebook page. Put your ad in the classified section of this site. Upload your cake to Cake-Decorating-Corner.com. A lot of people get requests to make cakes from the site. Just a word of caution. Give some thought to becoming licensed and you'll have more freedom to spread the word.
Hi Shani! Are you thinking of doing business or it is just a hoobie?
I began my samll home business the same as you are doing now giving free cakes, but I didn't realized that when I began freeing (those that word exists?), cakes my family and close friends think it was unfair to complete pay after having them free. PLOP!
I think is not a bad decission it is a way of promoting your self, but in my experience what you can do is offering a 50 % of the customer's price for a certain time like 2 to 3 months and just for certain people (NOT ALL!), explaining in each order you choose that for Introduction they will have this 50%off, but date a limit to do this and when the day 0 arrives you have to charge complete to ALL! thats the way it makes a difference between a charity business for family and people and a business. Decorating cakes is woderful, but as you probably know it need`s a lot of patients, effort and time. Hope this can helps you to clarify a little your ideas! =)
Thanks, ladies. I've heard decorators on other forums say they have been successful on Facebook. I am always learinng new things from others.
If I have learned one thing, its that if I give cake away for free or make my price to low people don't value my hard work. There are only 2 times that I give cake away for free. If it is my gift or contribution to a party or I do it as part of ministry for someone who deserves a great cake but has no money. I do give out small samples though at craft fairs and things. I make up serveral sheet cakes and give 1in by 1 in pieces along with my card. I still struggle to with charging the right amount but I am getting better at it all the time.
Hi Shani,

I used to do what you did but in a slighty different way. I would have orders for say 6 mousse cakes; but I 'd make 12 and give away the other 6 ... I have stopped doing it coz I was just losing money.
Another thing that I 've learnt is Never undersell yourself. If you can afford to walk away from an order do so rather than undersell. You may lose that one customer but you will get respect from others who will learn to appreciate your work, time and skill. Trust me.
Hi, Gabby. My goal is to make a business out of it. I know all business start small and slow, but I'm getting a wee bit discouraged.
You propose a good idea with trying a special for limited people for a short time to get business.

Gaby said:
Hi Shani! Are you thinking of doing business or it is just a hoobie?
I began my samll home business the same as you are doing now giving free cakes, but I didn't realized that when I began freeing (those that word exists?), cakes my family and close friends think it was unfair to complete pay after having them free. PLOP!
I think is not a bad decission it is a way of promoting your self, but in my experience what you can do is offering a 50 % of the customer's price for a certain time like 2 to 3 months and just for certain people (NOT ALL!), explaining in each order you choose that for Introduction they will have this 50%off, but date a limit to do this and when the day 0 arrives you have to charge complete to ALL! thats the way it makes a difference between a charity business for family and people and a business. Decorating cakes is woderful, but as you probably know it need`s a lot of patients, effort and time. Hope this can helps you to clarify a little your ideas! =)
I think we all start out giving things away so we can get some advertisement. I do still do some freebies. I just have a soft heart I guess. I don't think I have ever truly made a profit because I keep buying more toys. Everytime I make a cake I sink the profit back in supplies... as I am reorganizing all my supplies this week I realize it is time to quit spending so much on supplies and start enjoying it somewhat. I have been making cakes off and on for 32 years. Took a break while coaching softball and raising 4 kids but back at it now with a passion. It does take some time to value yourself too. I started figuring out all the things I could be doing if I was not making a cake for someone then realized HEY my time is worth being compensated for! So now I do charge but every now and then I give a gift... sometimes my wedding gift to the bride and groom is their wedding cake. It all comes out in the wash for me but I am not really running mine as a business.... it is more a hobby. I work full time and don't have time for the business end of it all. Best of luck and always remember.... if you want to buy more toys.. you need to charge for those cakes! :-)
I don't give out free cakes but I do give gift certificates. For instance, my son is having a fund raiser at his school. We are doing raffles and auctions. I donated a gift certificate to be raffled off at the event. I have a book that shows all the cakes I can make and then I display a dummy cake for people to see. I have all of my info very visible and make sure that there are business cards for everyone to take. (with magnets if I can afford that at the moment)
This way I get my name out there and I also help out my sons school or whatever event I'm giving it away at.
I also do craft fairs where I give out a small cookie sample along with the business card and then they can enter to win a free cake. (to enter they have to give me an e-mail address so this way I can send them special offers and things)
The last fair I did got me 3 orders.
Jen...
Thanks for all of the advice, folks. I really appreciate it!
I found doing business fairs, charity events, etc. is a good way to "give" away cake-in samples! Such as, mini cupcakes of the cakes you make the best. Doesn't cost much, and you can decorate them with just a little swirl from a big tip such as the 1m tip or 2d.

Have some business cards made up, and give them away with your samples. YOU WILL get business, your best customers will be strangers, though. Everyone you know will expect a discount or freebie cause the know you. I do the give aways all the time that way, and it's been great! Also I've sold regular size cupcakes, too at the same places.
Vista Print is a great place to get your business cards, too!! Good luck!
Shani you sound just like me right about now. My mother always wants me to make a cake for somebody and use my own money to make ingredients but don't want to pay. I had to start letting her know that this is not cheap and she needs to buy the ingredients. For instance this past weekend she had me made a pound cake for her missionary group and she was going to sale slices for me then they ended up canceling so I ended up giving my pound cake away to the neighbors. That's how I feel like right now. I try to make cakes for my kids and husband just so I can get practice.
I started out making cakes and taking them to work so that my co-workers can try them out and give me their opinions. Well that went into "I'll sample anything you make". Giving away free cakes gets extremely costly and you end up frustrated because your intentions are to build a clientele not feed those that can afford it. If you must give away a free cake, do it by samples or make cupcakes and do it that way. Steer towards the schools, places you do a lot of business with, your children's dentist office or even the one you go to, etc. Good luck!

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