Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How to Paint Tie Dye on Fondant

Here's a little video on how to paint a tie-dye pattern on a fondant cake. I used airbrush colors and did a lot of practicing before I figured out how to get the right effect.

Try only two colors at first to keep it simple. Too many colors will get muddy and you can lose the pattern.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA and cake supplies online at and

Sunday, September 27, 2015

How To Price Your Cakes To Make A Profit

The question that people ask online more than anything else (or so it seems) is "what should I charge for this cake."

First of all, if you're going to make cakes to sell, you should know this before you start selling them.

Second, there isn't an online cake pricing group in existence that's going to give you the right information because people on those are from all over, and what flies in one market might not work in another.

I decided to put together an e-class on how to price your cakes to make sure you're actually making money, and it's available now in my Etsy shop.

It has worksheets and 34 pages of my advice and instructions on how to figure out what YOU need to charge to make the amount of money that you want to make. Yeah, I know that's a lot to read, but it's worth it.

If you subscribe to my newsletter or belong to my facebook group for online customers, you'll have received a coupon code for $5 off by now. If not, it's only $15 and will make you a lot more than that. Plus, it can be a tax deduction for educational literature, so there you go!

Please don't let yourself be sucked into the vortex of the race to the bottom of the pricing ladder like so many people I see bidding to do jobs for the lowest price...It hurts the market in general, and it hurts everyone who ends up winning the race to the bottom. Because they're at the bottom.

Click here for the class: How To Price Your Cakes For Profit

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and online cake supplies on and

Thursday, September 24, 2015

How To Figure Out Your Etsy Bill

If you have an Etsy shop you'll need to keep track of all of your income and expenses. But some income is more of a wash (shipping) and is offset by the payments that you make to Etsy. It can be a confusing system, and you do have to kind of hunt around to find the numbers that you need.

I mention at the end of this post that you should just get GoDaddy Bookkeeping, and I stand by that, it's so easy. But if you want to try to figure out your Etsy income and expenses on your own, you'll have to go through your bill and remember to check everything. Direct checkout fees are on this spreadsheet, total sales are on that spreadsheet, you get the drift. So here's a cheat sheet.

(There are probably other places where you can find all of this information, but I haven't found one spreadsheet that has everything on it. If you know of a simpler way let me know. Otherwise, go get that bookkeeping program!)

Etsy income includes Direct Checkout payments, Paypal payments and Coupons (included in income in bookkeeping programs)

Etsy expenses are Direct Checkout processing fees, listing and renewal fees, shipping labels and insurance, transaction fees and Vat tax (added to downloads for EU customers and remitted by Etsy to the proper tax authority. VAT taxes are included in your bill but don’t cost you anything because they’re added on then taken out in the same amounts.)

Start at your stats page. (This is August because it’s the last month they’ll let me copy in full to show the month. The rest of the examples are June to show shipping label stuff so the numbers might not add up if you're trying to figure that out, so don't bother with that.) This shows you revenue, which is ONLY sales of items, not shipping fees or sales tax.

On the “your bill” page, you can see the totals of all the fees you paid. Consider this the fee that you pay to get the business that Etsy’s SEO and web presence can bring to you! Totally worth it.

Go to the bottom of the  “your Bill” page to find out how much you actually collected for shipping. You should include the cost of boxes and shipping supplies in your shipping charges, so the total that you collect should be MORE than the total that you pay for shipping labels.

On the “Shipping Labels” page, click on the “refunded labels” tab to find out the total of any refunded shipping labels. You have to subtract this from the total that you paid for shipping labels to get the correct amount that you spent.

Next is the orders page. At the bottom you can click on the csv link to find out the Direct Checkout fees you paid. You can deduct those on your taxes since they’re credit card processing fees.
When you click on that link, it takes you to this page.

The spreadsheet includes all DC orders and tells you the fees you paid. The other files you can download from here include some with every order and all fees on them. To find out the DC fees, though, click on the DC payments on the CSV type dropdown, and then choose a date range. To choose the entire year just leave the month field empty.

Easier than doing all this is to subscribe to godaddy bookkeeping and have it import all of your info. It pulls all of your Etsy info into it and you don’t have to go looking for it. It costs something like $10 a month and saved me about 20 hours of work at tax time. 

Get the Essentials version and it will pull all of your etsy, credit card, bank, ebay, amazon and paypal transactions in automatically if you set them up to be included. I’m NOT an affiliate of theirs and get no benefit from recommending them, it’s just a program that works really well and saves a tremendous amount of time tracking things down. And if you get in touch with Godaddy customer service they might be able to give you a discounted rate if you pay for a year at a time...

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and online cake decorating supplies at and

Before Pricing Your Cakes, Calculate Your Salary

For my full pricing course, click here: HOW TO PRICE YOUR CUSTOM CAKES FOR PROFIT

The most common question anyone ever asks on cake forums is "how much should I charge for this cake?"

Thing is, that isn't a question that anyone can answer for you until you've done some homework. Most of the time people start by figuring out the cost of their ingredients. I think that you should start by figuring out the cost of your time.

Here's an article that was suggested by Katrina from Sugarland. It goes over things to take into account when setting a salary for yourself. Keep in mind that when you're self-employed you do have to take taxes, retirement, healthcare and all other expenses into account when you set your prices. It's all part of what you'll have to be responsible for if you work for yourself.

Another thing the article mentions is assessing your local market. If you already have ninety million custom bakers in your area, you might not be able to support yourself with any kind of salary that would make sense. If you look at what salary you need to make first, then compare it to what a custom cake business would bring in, it might end up being something that you don't want to do because it wouldn't be profitable.

If you're looking at cakes as a business, you need to remove the "oh I love it so much" aspect and really see whether it's feasible as a income source. If you want to make a decent income you need to set a decent salary for yourself and stick to it.

Once you figure out how much you want to make per hour, how much you have to make to cover expenses, and the cost of your ingredients,  that's when you can start pricing your cakes. If you're just pulling figures out of the air you'll end up making $5 an hour. Do some homework beforehand to make sure the price of your cakes reflect the salary that you should be earning in a "real" job.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA and online cake supplies at and

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What To Do When You're Sick and Have Cakes Due

I never get sick. I mean, really, the only time I get sick is when I go on vacation and have time to be sick. I usually develop a raging fever that leaves me delirious for a couple of days, then it goes away and I'm fine.

This week I had a rare episode of the raging fever without vacation in sight. Luckily, it was on Monday and Tuesday, so it's not like I had to deal with a wedding cake while simultaneously trying not to get dizzy and fall over, but it made me think about what people should do if they do have an illness when a cake is due.

This is something that you should plan for before it happens. Have a plan in place so that if you do get sick and are unable to either finish a cake or deliver it, you'll have your bases covered.

First, line up some backup. This means that you'll need to find some people in your area who would be willing to take the work and finish it for you. Network with other bakers to see if they'd be interested in acting as backup for each other in case of emergency. You'd be surprised how open people are to this, since a lot of home-based bakers have the same fears of not being able to fill an order if an emergency arises.

Second, decide what you can and can't do if you're sick. You shouldn't be handling food at all if you're coughing and hacking up germs all over the place. If you have a headache that's one thing, but if you have something contagious don't even try to work through it.

Thank God for Nyquil

If you're sick at the beginning of the week with something that looks like it's going to linger for a while, call your backup bakers and see if they would be able to handle your orders. Once you have someone lined up you can either call the client and tell them or leave it alone and just wait to see if you recover in time to do the cake yourself.

If you CAN'T find a replacement decorator, you have a different decision to make. You can either assume that you'll be well enough to do the cake, or you can call your client and tell them that you're not sure you're going to be healthy enough to do their cake for them. I'd err on the side of telling them early, since that would give them time to possibly arrange another baker, as opposed to waiting until the last minute. Most people will appreciate being given the option of NOT getting a cake from someone who might be infectious.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and online cake supplies at and