The single biggest complaint on Cake Forums and Baker Facebook Groups is how difficult it is to earn money making cakes.
I just can’t charge my worth
No one appreciates how much time and expertise goes into making cakes
I can never charge enough to cover my time
I’m barely earning Minimum Wage.
So today I donned my Cake Superhero lycra outfit (in my head I look like the character below…. I don’t!!), velcroed my cape to my neck, slid my mask over my eyes [dramatic music please] and flew over to see Business Coach and Executive Mentor, Ann-Marie Mayling of The Business Supernanny.
“Anne-Marie, Why aren’t we making money from cake?”
And here’s what she told me….
The Myth of The Starving Artist
“You’ve heard of the Starving Artist Myth, haven’t you?” –
The only way an artist can be true to their ART is by living on the poverty line. They have a choice: They can either make money (be commercial, sell-out) OR they create something that transcends ‘dirty’ cash.
In fact, it’s so ingrained in many cultures that we don’t even know it’s a myth.
But it is A MYTH!
Go on: Stop reading and ask your brain to find a picture of what you think an artist looks like, and I can bet for most of you it’s someone holed-up in a grotty Parisian apartment in the 1800s, distressed walls, bare and basic furniture, a stale crust of bread on the table, and wearing grey, paint-stained clothing. Think Van Gogh, think La Boheme, think Dylan Thomas.
“BUT, Who said it HAS to be this way?”
Is it possible that subconsciously, deep down inside, we don’t think we should be making a living from cakes? Have we created a ‘money story’ whereby we’re resisting making money as it cheapens what we do?
No, no, no, no, no… that’s not me. I want to make a living doing what I love!
Ann-Marie then leant forward and said in a hushed voice –
“I’m going to share my Magic Question with you. This is the one question that always stops Creative Professionals in their tracks and really drills down to the root of the issue:
“Ask Yourself: How is it possible to fulfil my creativity AND make money at the same time?”
And if you answered
“It’s not possible: You can’t get paid to cover your time. Doris down the road undercuts me. I can’t charge my worth,”
then ‘Houston we have a problem!’.
In that moment, that immediate, knee-jerk millisecond, if you don’t think you can do both, then you won’t do both. You’re stopping yourself from making money.
But the good news is – we CAN turn it around!
Here’s what Anne-Marie suggests:
#1 If your clients won’t pay what you deserve, then YOU are attracting the wrong clients.
- If your clients don’t value your creativity, then they’re the wrong clients for you.
- If your clients can’t afford your creativity, then they’re the wrong clients for you.
- If your clients are happy for you to earn less than minimum wage so that they can enjoy a pretty cake, then they’re the wrong clients for you (and they’re also darn mean, too!).
Who would appreciate your creativity? Who would value (and pay) a fair price for your cakes? Is there a niche market you can target and become the go-to Cake Designer for? Is there a specialism you have that you can focus your marketing efforts on (e.g. are you fabulous at Cake Carving, or Cake Painting, or Cakes that Defy The Laws of Gravity?).
Who is your perfect client and where can you find them?
#2 If your clients don’t know how much effort you put into their cake then SHOW THEM
It is up to YOU to educate your clients as to how much effort, time, love and attention goes into your cakes.
Think about how you can tell your story on your website or through Social Media. Consider sharing behind-the-scenes photos or videos. This isn’t about bemoaning the hours you work, but demonstrating your commitment to producing their dream cake.
#3 If you want premium clients, then POSITION YOURSELF as a Premium Cake Decorator
Be honest with yourself:
- Is your website up to scratch? Is it up-to-date? Is it easy to navigate? Does it have a premium feel?…. Do you even have a website???
- Have you taken the time to learn the basics of food photography? Are your pictures doing your cakes justice?
- Do you behave professionally on Social Media…. even on your personal accounts? (this is going to open a can of proverbial worms).
- What is it like to deal with you? Are you contactable? Do you ALWAYS answer your phone professionally?
I know that right now a lot of you will be rolling your eyes at me. If you’ve ticked all these boxes, then brilliant!
But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen dodgy cake photos, taken in dark rooms, that are out of focus. I can’t even begin to recount the number of websites I’ve seen which are garish and difficult to navigate. And there was that time at that wedding fair when the other Cake Decorator sat in front of her display, eating tuna sandwiches and drinking Lucozade. She could have been the best Cake Decorator in the world, but she certainly didn’t look premium!
And you don’t have to spend a fortune – it’s not about the amount of cash you have. It costs nothing to take a good photo on your phone. It costs nothing to give your clients a truly premium level of service… check out Joey Coleman’s First 100 Days for inspiration.
#4 Qualify your leads and talk about MONEY up-front!
This might feel counter-intuitive but talk about money from the first meeting (or even better, have a guide-price on your website).
You’ve probably been taught (I know I have) that money is the last thing that should come up in conversation. If you demonstrate all the benefits and value of your cake, then it won’t matter how much you’re charging – your clients will want to buy from you.
But Ann-Marie explained that this isn’t the case.
“When we hold back from talking about money, and leave it until the end, we’re putting pressure on ourselves. It’s the one thing we don’t want to talk about. Often by the time you’ve plucked up the courage to give your price, you almost sound apologetic and hesitant… Have you even found yourself giving a discount without even being asked for one?
You need to be qualifying your leads early on. Not everyone that gets in contact is the right client for you. Imagine spending hours talking about flavours and designs, only to find out at the end of the conversation that they don’t have a realistic budget… and so they end up going to Costco. Think of all that wasted time.”
“Give them a guide price and, if they baulk at the numbers, politely suggest an alternative baker/grocery store that might be more in their price range. Be confident in saying (politely and without arrogance) ‘I’m not right for you.’.
… and I can tell you, there’s nothing like telling someone you’re not right for them to really pique their interest!”.
And finally #5 Get paid what you’re worth
If you take nothing else away from this blog post, I want you to go away thinking this:
Know that you ARE being paid your worth… or rather, you are being paid what YOU THINK you are worth. Until you truly appreciate the value and expertise you offer, how on earth is anyone else going to value it?
In the words of Rocky Bolboa –
Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth.
As The Business Supernanny, I get you from confusion to calm. We’ll focus on reviewing all aspects of your business systems and processes and provide you with practical feedback on how to get the changes you need and want to get profits and growth going again! I work with you IN your business and ON your business, and connect you with other experts who can fill in the gaps that are costing you money and causing you stress.
I design and deliver customised coaching, mentoring and training programmes working with individuals and organisations to accelerate sustainable change and emerge from transition ‘wholehearted’.
So whether it is a mindset makeover or getting you the motivation and momentum you need – with support and challenge part of the package you will be held accountable for your actions and results!