Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cake Envy, or Who's Doing Interesting Stuff When You're Not?

Cake Envy,  Or  Who’s Doing  Interesting  Stuff When  You're Not? Social media and cake business www.acaketorememberva.blogspot.comHow often do you look on facebook and check out other people's cake pages? Does it seem like everyone else is perpetually happy and excited about the cakes they're doing and the work they have lined up? Are you depressed when you watch cake shows that make it look like everyone else is doing super interesting work all the time?

Well, don't worry, because if you pay attention that isn't what's really going on.

Have you seen the studies that show that facebook makes people depressed because they compare their lives to their friends' lives? And that everyone seems to be doing so much better than you are all the time, so you feel crappy as a result? If you recognize yourself in that, you should remember that facebook is a big PR/marketing tool, PR is professional lying, and marketing is booze and guessing.

I've noticed recently that there are a good number of "cake celebrities" posting things on their facebook pages like "no cakes this week, so I'm messing around with display cakes." Or "only two small cakes on the books" like that's a fun thing. Call me crazy, but if I didn't have any cakes on my schedule during wedding season I'd be really worried.

Also, how many of the decorators who were on the cake challenges have gone out of business for whatever reason? I can think of four right off the top of my head who have either closed shop, scaled down their businesses, have changed to teaching a lot as their main source of income, or who have "changed direction" and no longer do cakes.

Then there's the idea that everyone else is doing super cool designs and you're the only one who gets orders for white cakes with swirls and pearls. Well, I've recently heard a couple of people who are well-known for their unusual and fun designs say that people don't want to pay for those unusual and fun designs, and that the pearls and swirls are the cakes that pay the bills. (I recently admitted to myself that those cakes are easy to do and less time-consuming than something complicated, so I can get paid for three cakes in the time it might take to do one or two. That's a good situation, but of course the orders for the basic cakes dried up as soon as I acknowledged that basic fact.)

So those cake celebrities aren't really doing what tv and their PR machines make it look like they're doing. If they're making a decent living they're probably doing mostly traditional designs for the most part, and if they're not, they're trying to supplement their cake orders by teaching classes on topics that you won't be able to use to make money either. (How many people really order 3-D, stand-up muppet cakes? Yeah, better go pay $400 for that class for something that you'll never have a need to make.)

So if you're convinced that you're the only person who isn't having a ton of fun with cakes all the time, maybe you should stop reading about all the fake fun other people are having. They're probably exaggerating because they feel like they need to keep up with all the other fun-havers. As long as you're booking enough business to satisfy yourself, relax, consider yourself successful, and don't worry about the details of other people's businesses. Because the details that you see probably aren't the details that really matter to the bottom line.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at and


Janet Hall said...

Glad to see this post. I was just thinking along these lines this past week. I had just completed an order for 500 cupcakes and 10 King cakes that was definitely would not be termed as artistically challenging. It was pure unadulterated hard work. But, it brought money in that week and that is all that matters. Some weeks we do work that is challenging and fun and other weeks we are bakers first and foremost and should count our blessings we still have work orders coming in. Now, if I could only get some enthusiasm for the 900 cupcakes I need to do the first week of June!

k parker said...

I think it would be wonderful if you could teach a class on business, how to deal with difficult clients. All Online. I would sign up and pay $$

Loving Traditions Cakery LLC said...

Thank you once again Kara; you are right on with everything you said. So off of that subject I have a HUGE question; I get lots of orders; rare orders on huge $ amounts; but my question is way way to often it takes 15-20 if not more back and forth emails to complete the order; this follows through with my business page and personnel page as well. This takes up so much time; way to much time; and then I have to turn away customers because I have spent way to much time answering emails. Please Please Please if you or anyone one of your followers could help with some positive suggestions I will be so grateful.
Thank you so very much,

Eva Farragher said...

Great post Kara.

I think what irks me more is just the sheer number of people who are calling themselves 'cake decorators' now, and thinking they can set up a business based on the positive comments of family and friends, and some tools off eBay. There is so much noise out there!

Debbie - with regard to the emails back and forth, my suggestion would be to get on the phone, and as you talk to your client, jot down all the pertinent details. Then, send them an email with an attachment document that outlines the cake design details, size and price. When they agree to that in writing, you have a cake order! But the to-ing and fro-ing will do your head in. It does mine, so I do empathise.