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  1. The dreaded 'C' word will soon be upon us and like it or not our customers have been thinking about it already. You need to be ahead of the game and promoting your product offerings early enough to secure those sales before someone else does. 

    Now you can go about this many ways, with offers of big money off, vouchers to give discounts similar ideas but here are my favourite way's to do things which have worked for many years not only for myself but for my student's and their businesses too. 

    1. Never discount your products heavily - you are approaching one of the potentially busiest times of the year, you do not want to be working more for less money at the end of it. 

    Instead of discounting your products look at how you can encourage future purchases, for example " Free £5 OFF voucher with every box of cupcakes purchased in November" This won't give them an immediate discount so you're still getting paid well but the discount voucher will entice them back in to buy from you again. REMEMBER to add terms to the voucher that stipulate they spend over £30 and can only use one voucher per order too or you'll find yourself working for pennies or even free in the near future. 

    2. Solve a problem - You'll often see online stores posting photo's of their seasonal products with text next to it, you won't necessarily have noticed the importance of the text but it's critical to the marketing strategy. It will be telling the customer how their product solves a problem and it's a sure fire way to entice them in. For example, You have your cupcake bouquets in the photo and the text would read - " The perfect gift for the woman who has everything" or "Get on Santa's good list by buying the gift everyone want's this year" Both of those lines would appeal to a male audience as they often find shopping for their female relatives stressful and highlighting what a good product they are for these sort of people will help them make that move to click and buy. 
    A female audience will respond to other influences, teachers gifts are a good one and table centre pieces are another. Both are something the woman of the house usually needs to organise and they often are stumped as to what to buy. Highlight that your products are good for this reason and the sale is almost there. " Wow your guests with a table centrepiece they can tuck into for dessert!" not forgetting " The perfect gift to say thank you to your children's teacher this festive season" 
    Simply putting " Teachers gifts, 3 cupcakes £10!" does nothing for most people and is often overlooked. 

    3. Block out your diary - Now this one isn't going to be obvious to most people but at this time of year it's often easy to forget to give yourself some well needed downtime. If you work a second job alongside your business or you have small children and other commitments you will have times you cannot work. By blocking them out in your diary now you'll be able to easily see when you're free to work on festive orders. 
    Once you have the time you cannot work blocked out it's time to get organised. Plan your products that you will be offering and then look at your timings for each product you'll need to allow time to make them as well as to deliver them or for collections. Decide which you will be offering and then block in times for those into your diary too. It will help you not over book yourself and if you're out on a delivery then you can plan to have someone at home to hand over a collection and kill two birds with one stone so to speak. 

    Precision planning of your time for the festive season will be key to maximising your time - there's nothing worse than being totally rushed off your feet trying to earn your Christmas bonus, only to crash and burn after and not enjoy the big day yourself. 

    So those are my first three top tips for boosting your business in the festive period, I shall be back soon with more little gems to help you on your way. For now get planning that perfect marketing with the problem solving text and offers which will keep them coming back for more but not at the expense of your Christmas earnings. I'm sure just using these three tips you will have a much less stressful season. 

    If you would like me to discuss more business tips drop me an email at [email protected] and I'll consider those when doing my next blog or Facebook live session. 

    Thank you for reading and I'll see you again soon! 

    Shelly x 

  2. When they asked me as a youngster “What do you want to be when you grow up” I never really knew. I’d often say I wanted to work on a holiday camp as entertainment staff. Back then I had an abundance of confidence and loved entertaining people. As time went on it became clear I had no idea what I wanted to do. I fulfilled my dream of working on a holiday camp, in 1998 I worked as entertainment staff at Bunn leisure in Selsey in Sussex. It was fun and I’ll never forget the experience and some of the wonderful people I met but it wasn’t the career I’d hoped it’d be.
    So there I was, my only goal fulfilled and without any direction at all. I spent the next few years floating from temping job to temping job and I even had a little business I ran at weekends as a balloon and events decorator. It was fun but never something I could see myself doing long term.
    I’d gained a lot experience during this time though, I’d been trained my several big companies in how to market their products, visual merchandising and business strategy. These things really lit a fire in me and are still to this day, things that I really enjoy doing.

    So you’re now thinking “how did you get into cakes?” Well in 2009 my lovely mum sadly became terminally ill. Growing up Mum had always made all of our cakes, now I don’t want to give you a false sense of grandeur here these weren’t competition standard cakes by any means, but they were made with so much love and effort and it is something that stays with you. It doesn’t have to be perfect someone took the time to make you a cake that in itself is enough.

    So as my Mum got worse I decided I’d like to have a bash at becoming the family cake maker. My first attempt was a bodge job as I’d never baked before I had an hour and half to make something for my mum’s birthday, so I cheated, I bought madeira slabs from Sainsburys and built her a cake with those. I covered it, something else I’d never done before, then I decorated it with some pretty wired gems that I made.  It wasn’t the greatest cake as you can see but it was made out of love and my mum loved it.

    Spurred on by this I then went on to bake my own cakes and decorate them. I made an 'In the night garden' cake and adorned it with my sons new Iggle piggle and Makka packa toys as at that point I’d never even attempted to use fondant for anything other than covering a cake.

    I was working part time so at this point it was just something I’d done to ease the pressure off my Mum. In the September it was my stepdad’s birthday, so I decided as he was awkward to buy for I would make him a fabulous cake for his gift. I set about think of his interests and settled on gardening, I’d just helped him set up his own gardening business so he could be home to help with my younger brother once mum had passed so it seemed fitting to do him a gardening cake.
    I baked and covered the cake then built a little shed which was adorned with tiny edible planks all with tiny nails. I then made vegetable beds with all the vegetables just as they would be if you picked them, so everyone eating the cake could pick their own veg too. It was a labour of love but it looked great and went down a storm at his party.


    Sadly in the October we lost Mum and my heart was broken, she wasn’t just my mum she was my best friend. We’d spend most day’s on the phone together or taking my two boys out to the park. She was such a huge part of my life, of everyone’s lives. My younger brother was only 8 at the time and the thought of him growing up without mum making him cakes made me so sad. I knew I had to be the one to make them for him, to build those memories.

    Right there and then the seed was planted and I began to think how this could become something I did as a job as well as for my family. I began experimenting with recipes finding what I liked to do the most. I practiced with every waking hour to perfect my skills then I got myself set up as a business and registered etc, I began taking orders for basic cupcakes to start, with the odd cake for friends to get me started.

    Before long I was getting huge recognition for my work. I was regularly featured in the local paper for my quirky take on cakes and I had to turn people away I was so busy with people booking up to 12mths ahead just to secure their date.


    In the June after loosing Mum we were blessed with our little girl Erin, she helped mend my heart so much and is so like my Mum it’s uncanny. I now had 3 children under 5 and whilst I needed to work to help with the bills, I couldn’t keep going like I was. I loved making the cakes for everyone but I was so busy I couldn’t spend time enjoying my children. I was still grieving and taking too much on became an issue, I was finally diagnosed as having postnatal depression.  It hit me like a ton of bricks and all those feelings we have as parent’s became magnified “ am I doing it right, am I spending too much time away from them, I should be doing this/that.”


    I took a few months out to look after myself and enjoy my babies. It was a good move as it helped me look at why I was doing this, why was I working so hard and why cakes? The answer was easy and is the same now. The tradition of making cakes is an important one, everyone should be lucky enough to have someone make them a special cake on their birthday. It’s a lost tradition for the most part,people are too busy to take the time to learn how to do it and it’s often perceived as too hard, something which really needn’t be true.

    I wanted to bring back this tradition of baking for your family and make it easier for people to do. I had taught myself how to do it and found I had a natural flare for it. I wanted to help other people to learn the basics they needed to know to make someone something special on their big day.

    This is where my classes were born. I set about running several months of test classes to ensure how I taught would be easy to understand for my students. The feedback I got was great and I began running the odd class of a weekend, I would still take cake orders, but this soon became a huge passion of mine.

    In the years since I began teaching I’ve helped hundreds of students learn how to make cakes for their loved ones and even turn their new found passion into a successful business. Nothing makes me happier than seeing one of my student’s making a cake for their children and proudly showing it off, or being able to build a home business with my help, quite often enabling them to work alongside caring for their children.  


    I’ve finally found my job and what makes me tick, those day’s as a holiday entertainer haven’t gone to waste I am often found dancing about the kitchen whilst baking and the children’s entertainment skills come in handy when I’m hosting a cupcake party. My passion for helping others find their potential is all I want to do now, I only wish my Mum had seen me finally stick at something and find something that makes me really happy.

    So much has happened in the last 8years, from starting my business to winning awards, baking for celebrities and judging baking competitions, to releasing my first book and demonstrating to thousands of people at the Cake international show. It’s been such a busy time but I wouldn’t change a single moment. Here’s to finding your passion and to many more adventures to come. 

  3. shabby chic cupcakes

    Working from home running a cake business is often the choice of those who are trying to juggle having a family with needing to earn a living and pay the bills. It often starts out as a hobby and progresses into doing cakes for friends and family and spirals from there.

    The one main gripe from those who start home based cake businesses is that they don’t earn enough money or that they earn enough money, but are working very long hours to get it.

    This is most often down to a lack of experience in business and pricing. It is however something you can learn and change so that you are soon making the cakes you love and turning a profit whilst working from home.

    1. Get your product range right, making cakes in every size, style and flavour will never make anyone rich. You’re spreading yourself thinly, needing copious amounts of stock and tools and will be exhausted before you’ve even broke even.

    Instead choose a small range of cakes you will offer, for example if you have a core range of three products, you will have something to suit all clients. This doesn’t have to be restrictive at all but it does help you plan your time better.

    An example of this is Cupcakes either boxed or in a cupcake bouquet for the lower end of your pricing, then celebration cakes in standard shapes and from 10-100 servings, finally your bespoke range which can be anything from your carved cakes to wedding cakes.

    The boxes and bouquets of cupcakes are an item that is from £20 and under £50 and is suitable for both a gift or smaller gatherings like a family meal for a birthday. The mid range celebration cakes are from £60 for a 6” upwards, these are cakes for bigger celebrations like a party or significant birthday. Then finally your bespoke range is where your prices aren’t fixed as they are based on the hours that the cake will take you and the skill you will need to devote to it.

    By having these distinct tiers of product your client will never be scared off by your pricing and if they would like a bespoke cake but haven’t got the budget then you have your celebration range to suit their needs and budget.

    2. Don’t get out of depth with your designs. What I mean by this is, as a cake designer we’re naturally creative and we enjoy making things look fabulous. What we often forget is whilst we’re thinking that the handbag cake we’ve just spent 8 hours on would look lovely with a Louboutin shoe next to it, we forget that that is adding on more time which we won’t necessarily have been paid for.

    One suggestion I always make is that when a client approaches you with a request for a cake, get an idea of a rough budget, how many they need to serve and the theme they’d like. Then go away and do a detailed quote for them with three options of a cake for them. A budget option , less detail on the cake, outline everything that will be included. Then a second option which is bang on the money, the right amount of detail to create the theme and the price to warrant your time spent. Then finally detail an all singing all dancing cake for them with the cake fully themed and put the price that covers the time it will take you. This is often outside their budget but don’t be afraid to give this price.

    Quite often when you give a quote like this the customer appreciates it as they then have a choice and they can go with head or heart as to which design they decide on. Most often they will go for the mid range one and this is good as for once you’re not going to spend excess time making decorations you’re not getting paid to do. Sometimes however the client will see the cake they want is that all singing all dancing one and realise that it’s expensive for a reason and choose that one.

    The good thing is you’ve put the choice in their hands. It’s a bit like when we go shopping ourselves for an item of clothing, let’s say Jeans. If you go shopping for them you know there will be a budget range in a supermarket clothing area, Levi’s in a department store and designers at the top of your budget. Because you have that choice you are able to happily decide without pressure which ones you’d prefer. It’s the same with your business, you are fulfilling the client’s needs without the pressure on you or them to either pay more than they wanted or work harder than you wanted to without being paid right. It’s win win!

    3. You need a core product that’s your bread and butter of the business. Something that’s not going to drain your time, but that is going to bring you a good wage into the business. For me this was when I started making my cupcake bouquets. They take around 2 hours to make including the baking and they are inexpensive to produce too. The good thing with the bouquets is that they are both a gift item and a celebration cake display so they cover two different markets well. When people were looking to send someone a gift they would choose them as they have an impressive impact on delivery. When a client’s planning a meal for someone’s birthday these work well as you can have from 7 in a bouquet and they would always come in under £50.

    The good thing about them for you as a business is that they are speedy to make, very little outlay and they sell for a good price.

    To give you an example, for a 6” cake to serve 12 in a pretty floral shabby chic theme I would charge £65. It would take me around 6-8 hours to make from scratch and the profit on this cake would be approx £40

    A bouquet of 12 cupcakes takes under 2 hours from scratch to make, costs no more than £7.50 to produce and sells for £37.50 making you a profit of £30.

    You could make 3 bouquets in the time it takes you to make that one cake, netting you around £60. If you’re savvy with your planning you can do this quicker and for slightly less cost too making your profits even better.

    Your client is happy as they have either a gift or showpiece display of cupcakes and you’ll have more time to move on to other orders or spend with your family. This sort of product is what I call a bread and butter product.  It will be the day to day item that comes in time and time again. 

    I hope this helps you, if you'd like to learn more about the cupcake bouquets you can do so here. 

    mixed pastel bouquet mrs bakers cakes