Selling homemade cakes can be a way to make money doing something you love. The biggest challenge to selling homemade cakes is building a regular customer base willing to purchase cakes from you time and again. Some would say the keys to successfully selling homemade cakes are the ability to provide customers with the flavors they want and friendly service. By paying close attention to your clients’ needs and providing high-quality cakes, you can build your business from a small, home-based business into a bakery that can sustain you financially for years to come.
Contact your local health department and make an appointment to get your kitchen inspected. Although health regulations vary among states and localities, the food safety divisions of health departments generally want to know when you sell large amounts of prepared food to the public. If you plan to sell baked goods on a limited basis, states such as Virginia, require you to submit to a kitchen inspection, but do not require you to have separate facilities like a commercial bakery.
Apply for space at farmer's markets and fairs. Download farmer's market and fair applications from "vendors" section of market and fair information websites. Farmer's markets and fairs can be effective venues to sell cakes, even for seasoned pastry chefs because attendees are looking for goods not available in stores. Farmer's markets require vendors to have health department approval to sell baked goods. Such markets sometimes, but not always, scrutinize applicants carefully based on the quality of products they offer.
Offer free samples at farmer's markets and fairs. Make an extra cake or two and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Display samples on a serving dish. Have enough cakes to sell to those customers interested in buying on the spot as well as plenty of business cards or flyers.
Market homemade cakes to people you know. Although co-workers, friends and church members sometimes expect you to donate cakes to different events, when you put your best food forward and provide delicious, beautifully decorated cakes at no charge, you could be the first person they think of when they need custom cakes for important events like weddings, anniversaries, graduations and other milestones.
Create a website and start a blog. Load the best photos you have of your cake creations and include your contact information in a prominent place. When you have the financial resources to market and sell your homemade cakes to a wider audience, launch an e-commerce website that includes web marketing and shopping cart tools. Companies such as Vista Print and Wix provide website building tools that include templates, hosting and URLs. As of December 2010, such websites charge approximately $20 per month for complete e-commerce packages.
Join social networking groups. Open accounts in social networking forums such as Facebook and Twitter. Search the websites and send "friend" or "follow" requests to other chefs, event planners, bridal consultants, community leaders, school administrators and anyone you can think of who could be interested in purchasing homemade cakes. Post daily updates about your cake baking activities and baking tips.
- Virginia Cooperative Extension: Starting a Successful Catering Business
- Annarbor.com: Gov. Jennifer Granholm Signs Bill into Law Allowing Residents to Make Foods at Home, Sell It
- Wix: Power Up Your Wix
- Vista Print: Website Builder, Free Website, Web Hosting
- "USA Today": Marketers Find Twitter a Tweet Recipe for Success
Maya Black has been covering business, food, travel, cultural topics and decorating since 1992. She has bachelor's degree in art and a master's degree in cultural studies from University of Texas, a culinary arts certificate and a real estate license. Her articles appear in magazines such as Virginia Living and Albemarle.