How to Price your Cakes & Make a Living

Quite often people are a little surprised about how much a cake can really cost, and I see countless posts online completely missing the point about WHY they cost how much they do.

There are many bakers I admire, not just because their work is amazing, but also because they price realistically.  It’s hard to know your worth in this industry, but once you find it – stick to it! Don’t be afraid and remember only you can provide the service that you do, nobody else.

I’ve written about this topic a couple of times before, and I’ll probably write about it again in the future.  Purely because I really believe it’s important to get it right. It’s not only an insult to yourself to undercharge (as tempting as it may be in order to get the client) but it’s also an insult to the industry and makes things even more difficult with regards to realistic expectations. I often have people asking me for advice on this, whether on my cake page or when I’m teaching cake decorating.  The most common questions are:

“How do I work out what I should charge for cakes?  What should my prices be?  How do you charge?  What price would you charge for this cake?”  

So, if you often wonder this then you’re in the right place.

This post is mostly relevant for home bakers but can also apply to anyone that bakes cakes, whether it’s your full time job or even just a hobby. One of my biggest bugbears is when I see someone saying “Oh I’m not a professional, I only charge this much” – YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL! You’re not giving away cakes, you are selling them. Somebody has to pay for all those tools you have, someone needs to be responsible for the gas/electric for your oven. This is why it is really important to work out a sensible, realistic and fair pricing structure. Don’t sell yourself short, your time is valuable – you are worth it.

Plus, who wants to be known as the cheap cake lady.. I certainly don’t – do you?

EXAMPLE

I charged £800 for this wedding cake which consisted of 4 tiers to feed 120 people, each tier a completely different flavour.

I estimated it would take 22 hours of work (I went over, but this happens), the costs to create worked out at £148.00 and utilities at £15.00.

How to Price your Cakes and Make a Living

How did I arrive at £800? See below.

PRICING FORMULA

I have a formula for working out the prices of my cakes, and I’m about to share that.  I don’t often share this kind of information as it’s private to me, but as I’ll soon be releasing a complete ‘How to set up and run your own Cake Business’ guide which will include lots of information on pricing and how to quote, I guess this is kind of a little teaser for that.  You can find more information here – cheeky little mention there 😉

So, first things first.  You need to decide on your hourly rate of what you want to earn (your salary) and you need to decide on a % figure of what profit you want to make.  Profit is needed as somebody has to pay for all your supplies and overheads – this doesn’t come out of your hourly rate.

My hourly rate is between £20-£30 (minimum wage is currently £7.50) but I’m going to use £20 for this example and my profit is set at 30% (I’d recommend not going below 15%). Everyone’s hourly rate and profit will be different and your hourly rate should increase the more experience you have, and your profit should increase depending on how often you work and the type of expenses you will create.  I create cakes part time, I rarely attend wedding fairs or have market stands, but I do have costs for my equipment and website so I tend to stick between a 30-50% profit range. Also, and I know some people disagree on this, but I think location makes a big difference in the UK. Berkshire, where I live is considered quite affluent, but being from Yorkshire I’m aware some areas are far less so.  This means you really need to know your area and there’s absolutely no harm in doing some research into what others around you charge – just be upfront about it.

With me so far?

Next, and this will come from experience, you need to work out how long you think the cake will take you and also work out how much the cost will be to create.

TIP: Costs to create must include everything: ingredients, decorations, boards, boxes, ribbons – the lot. Don’t leave anything out. I keep a tally of how long a cake takes me on my order schedule. That way I can refer back when I’m looking to price a similar order. 

You also need to remember to add on utilities.  This is the difficult part but so long as you include enough for gas/electric and water you’ll be on track.  For single cakes I stick to £5, for tiered cakes around £10-15.  In this instance I’m going with £15.

Voila! There you have it.  Have a practice and I bet you’ll find it quite surprising.  Next time you receive an enquiry take the time to price correctly and don’t just have a guess.  If a customer comes back to you and says this is too expensive don’t just drop the price immediately because they say so, have a little think first.  Could you do this for cheaper? Do you actually want to do it for cheaper? Is this the customer the type of customer you really want? Are you worth it?

No doubt they’ll come back and say something like “but I can get it cheaper elsewhere”.  If they do – let them! Why are they even telling you this in the first place? You know why right? It’s because they want YOU to make the cake – not the cheaper person.  They’ve seen your work, they prefer it, then guess what… they should be willing to pay for it too.

You may also hear “But it’s just a cake” My answer… “No, it’s not!” A bespoke custom cake is usually a work of art and the centrepiece at any event, a birthday, a wedding or a christening, its a major part of the day and will usually feature in all the photos too. It’s never just a cake.

“You need to value your work so that your customers will value your work!”

Phew.. I feel a whole lot better for getting that one off my chest.

Any questions at all please do feel free to comment below, I always respond.  Or email me if you prefer.

Happy pricing!

Oh, I nearly forgot.  In case you spotted I didn’t add making the two fabulous Star Wars toppers to my timing schedule that’s because the super talented Lucy from Lucy’s cake toppers made them, you can see more of her work here. Hi Lucy…. *waves*

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22 Comments

  1. 20th April 2017 / 3:18 pm

    That wedding cake is amazing. I think it would be totally worth the price and way to get inspiring other bakers to know their worth!

    • hellocuppies
      20th April 2017 / 3:19 pm

      Thank you Sarah, I appreciate that xx

  2. 20th April 2017 / 3:46 pm

    Oooh hellooo! Amazing blog as always!

  3. 20th April 2017 / 4:06 pm

    I’m an outsider to this industry, but you provide some great tips here! Some that I think are applicable to pricing your work in other fields as well. The cakes you make are gorgeous and you deserve every penny!

    Alysse
    lysseonlife.wordpress.com

  4. 20th April 2017 / 7:57 pm

    I had to change to US dollars and you are worth every penny. I have used Cake Boss software for 10yrs. plus but you have condensed it even better! I recently lost a wedding order because a ‘small wedding cake + 10 dozen cupcakes’ changed to Grandma is doing the cupcakes and a dessert table, we need a small cake from you….I told her no, I have in my contract no outside confections from other vendors. Plus it was a end of June outside wedding and I had been telling her they could not sit outside in a tent. She sent me back a scathing email telling me I needed a reality check. My cupcake prices were outrageous ($36 dozen plain and simple), I was committing high way robbery and needed to check with my competitors and store fronts (grocery stores). Made me absolutely sick to my stomach to read, I cried, and deleted it. I know what I’m worth!
    Colleen Charles
    SweetCakes and CheeseCakes

    • hellocuppies
      20th April 2017 / 8:03 pm

      Wow Colleen, that’s so frustrating! You must have felt so insulted too. I’ve had similar and agree, it’s just not fair to expect so much or act like that. Our cakes don’t even compare to grocery store cakes – they are not the same in any way! Well done for not giving in though, they clearly didn’t deserve your time xx

  5. Cadri
    21st April 2017 / 12:01 am

    Awesome advise, always know your worth. I’ve seen some hard work beautiful cakes and the design is always worth the price

  6. 21st April 2017 / 9:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing this detailed info. It;s so important to know your worth. A lot of newbies might benefit from this.These cakes look so pretty. Good job!

  7. 25th April 2017 / 3:21 pm

    What a beautiful cake – definitely worth the price! I don’t think people understand that labour costs money, and they think that it is just the supplies they are paying for. Great post!

  8. 25th April 2017 / 4:54 pm

    That cake is stunning! I kind of want to plan a wedding just so I can order one. Thanks for sharing your pricing structure with this community.

  9. 25th April 2017 / 11:46 pm

    I’m not a baker even as a mom. I don’t even like cooking..but that starwars cake looks super impressive. I wouldn’t know how to create one let alone charge for one. This doesn’t really apply to me but kudos to you for doing what you like.

  10. 27th April 2017 / 6:07 pm

    First of all the cake is really beautiful and I am sure it will be yummy too. I loved the way you have described each component of pricing in your post. I wish everyone in all the industries understand these logic’s and decide on their pricing.

    • hellocuppies
      27th April 2017 / 6:31 pm

      Thank you, me too! Being open about these things makes things so much easier for everyone! X

  11. 5th May 2017 / 3:40 pm

    Love all the tips you’ve provided here. I’ve been sitting on the fence for some time about whether or not to move to the next stage and start actually selling my desserts. Think this post was exactly what I needed to get going. Thanks!!!

    • hellocuppies
      5th May 2017 / 3:42 pm

      Thanks Chelsea. Go for it!

  12. Joan mearns
    9th May 2017 / 7:47 pm

    Hi. Just read this about pricing your cakes. I’ve just closed my cake making business as I just couldn’t get people to pay the right price. People have tried to talk me down. Someone still owes me money that was promised to me a year ago. The latest one was someone wanted me to make a three tiered wedding cake for £100!!!! Someone asked my daughter if I’d make a two tiered christening cake. When the cake was finished and ready to be picked up the client said they’d asked someone else to do it , hadn’t told me and refused to pay for it! I feel my skills and talents are being wasted.

    • hellocuppies
      9th May 2017 / 7:51 pm

      Wow! Joan, you poor thing! Do you miss it? If so why not just do it part time or occasionally? Start again, a new mindset, stick to your guns, always take payment upfront and enjoy it again? Seems such a shame to give up something you love to do xxx

      And £100 for a 3-tier??

    • hellocuppies
      9th May 2017 / 7:53 pm

      I just looked at some of your cakes too… the personal trainer cake is AMAZING

  13. 11th May 2017 / 8:50 pm

    What a helpful blog post!
    I am now starving & wanting some cake, so… chop chop ahaha.

    Honestly darling this is a fabulous post, I’ve seen so many people struggling to work out pricing.

    • hellocuppies
      11th May 2017 / 9:11 pm

      Ahh thank you…slave-driver!! it seems to have done really well though, I’ve received so many nice comments from this post! I just hope I can help encourage people to know their worth a little more! Xx

  14. 15th May 2017 / 7:35 pm

    Your cakes are incredible, you are well work every penny. I’m sure your formula will help other bakers too.

  15. Charlotte
    9th June 2017 / 7:23 pm

    I’m just an amateur baker but always wonder how you professionals make any money, probably because everything takes me a lot longer. Thanks for sharing your secrets. How do you manage your time and how many cakes do you do a week?

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