Hello again, It's me! Many people refer to me as the cookie lady (a title I never imagined for myself, but here I am.) My name is Cortney Winn and I am the owner of Winn Cakes, a top-rated cake business in Utah. In this article, I'm going to talk about how I made a profitable side hustle out of my love for baking, and how you, my friend, can replicate it.
This is me! I'm a wife and mom of two boys. I'm also a full-time marketing student and dessert enthusiast, so making cakes is the perfect side hustle for me.
I make my own schedule and take clients when I'm able to.
This is definitely not a get rich thing, it is however, a perfect creative outlet and supplementary income. I can take a few wedding cakes a month and make $1200. So if this is sounding like your jam then you are in the right place!
Here is a screenshot of my invoice app for three months. Like I said, it's nothing crazy, but this is only doing 1-3 wedding cakes a month. This isn't including any of my usual cookie deliveries. That's the wonderful thing about becoming a boutique cake artist, you can really set your income. As a mom and full time student, this is just right for me, but there is no limit on what your monthly income could be.
I (sadly) have to turn a lot of business away, just because of my schedule.
After you implement the steps in this post, it might be you turning away too much business!
Disclaimer: Food Cottage laws are different in every state so check the laws in your area before opening shop. Luckily, selling cakes and cookies from a home kitchen is legal in Utah. Also, I am not a legal or financial expert and the information from this post is based on my experiences only.
Okay, let's get started! Here is how I built a booming cake business from my own kitchen!
1. I listed My Services On Google:
This might sound scary to you. It was for me when I started out, because I was so new at the cake thing. I'd only made 2 cakes when I listed my cake business on Google, but it seriously has been the number one driver of cake-related income.
Think about it. If you were planning a wedding and needed a cake, where would be the first place you'd look for one? If you said Google, you are just like millions of others! If you don't believe me, look at this:
This is how many people found my business listing on Google in a thirty-day period! 2.5 K customers. And what's even more crazy is that the blue part of that graph is the amount of people who found me by searching for a cake artist. They had never heard of Winn Cakes until they took to Google. The green section? That's the number of people who searched for Winn Cakes directly.
2. I Collected Google Reviews:
This tip is almost as important as putting your business on Google in the first place. Think about the last time you searched for a professional on Google. Did you call the business with the best reviews? I thought so.
This is my business on Google. Now, I know I am far from the best cake artist in Utah, I still have much to learn, but I am one of the top-rated cake businesses in Utah and that is what sends customers my way.
If you want to know how I got my first Google reviews, check out my blog post about how I got my first 20 reviews in a day! Or, If you don't know the first thing about setting up a business listing, download my tutorial on How To Set Up Your Business Listing. You don't even need a website!
3. I Mostly Take Wedding Cakes.
This is up to you, but there is a good market for wedding cakes and it's easier to gain a decent profit margin from wedding cakes.
Think about how much you would be willing to pay for a wedding cake and then think about spending the same amount of money on a birthday cake. It's just not the same.
I still do birthday cakes because it is a nice change after making three birch tree cakes in a row, but I try to focus on wedding cakes. Did I mention I've done more birch tree cakes than I can count?
3. I Keep Posting Pictures:
As in, I post pictures regularly on Google (and my social media accounts.)
New pictures + Google Reviews= High ranking on Google.
I make sure to upload a picture of every cake I do and every cookie flavor I offer. It's also important to learn how to take decent pictures of your work. I say decent because when I first started my food photography skills were scary, but slowly they've gotten better.
I don't use anything other than my phone and it works great for me right now.
An easy hack for this one is to ask your brides for the professional cake photo, but count this as a bonus photo. Always take a picture of the cake before you deliver it because sometimes, indoor weddings have terrible lighting or bad background and the picture just doesn't turn out as good. Luckily, editing has come a long way. I suggest taking a few so you have a few to choose from, like I did for this cake.
4. Social Media:
I bet you saw this one coming. Can any business get by these days without social media?
Aside from Google, I use Facebook, (hi Facebook friends!)
If Instagram is more your style, by all means use Instagram.
The biggest reason I prefer Facebook is because most of my Facebook friends live near me (in Utah) and that is my target audience for cakes. I am not cool enough to deliver a cake out of state. . . That stresses me out just thinking about it. I have a Winn Cakes page on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, (If you're curious how I set those pages up) but 99% of my customers come from my personal Facebook account or Google. Here's my cake page on Facebook:
5. Promotions And Contests:
When I first started out, I gave away a free wedding cake. You don't have to do that, but give out something to get people excited about your work. . . I mean, free dessert is always something to get excited about!
6. Take The Time To Learn:
Take classes, watch videos, and practice, practice, practice. This isn't a skill that you can learn in a day or one that reaches a plateau of mastery. There will always be a new technique to try or medium to use, or flavor to master.
If you are ready to dive into the cake business scene, I invite you to check out my cake business course, where I will walk you through the step-by-step process of starting and running your own cake business! I will teach you how to get raving reviews, decorate, stack and transport, along with customer service and marketing techniques that work. Check out this short clip about the Cake Business Course.
Have you already opened up shop and need help marketing your business? If you need one-on-one coaching on how to gain traction and make the most money out of your business, check out the Cake Business Bootcamp where I will personally coach your business into a customer-generating machine.
7. Love Your Customers:
I try to build real friendships with my customers and go the extra mile. It really makes all the difference. I will work with their budget, send them a thank you card, or try to accommodate them the best I can. At the end of the day, it's not just cakes you are selling, it's your customer service.