Cake Decorating a Profession or a Hobby?
Quit often I get asked this question. Do you think I can become a cake decorator? or I can’t decided whether I should do cake decorating as a profession or just a hobby. or I want to leave my job and become a full time cake decorator – do you think it’s a good idea?
In the beginning my first reaction to this question would be how am i suppose to know? This is a personal question. It is something you have to decide for yourself.
Over time I realize that people are not asking me if they should become cake decorators, people are usually struggling to make this decision because they do not know what to expect. Change is not easy, nor are new decisions. But before you make these decisions it is very important to ask what is expected of you and what can you expect as the outcome.
So I thought I’d write a little post sharing my two cents with you – If it matters to anyone of course.
Have you noticed your own reaction when you see a cake made by a professional Vs a cake made by a hobbyist?
Look at this car cake. I made this for my son’s second birthday. At this time I had not idea or interest in becoming a cake decorator. This was made by a mom for her son and of course everybody loved it. Everybody was so excited about the cake. they loved how I made the cake and wouldn’t stop praising it. Why? Because it was not made by a professional, it was made by a mom, so people are not expecting the cake to be perfect. They look at the love that went into making this cake not the craftsmanship.
Now let’s say I posted the same cake to you and said – this was done by a professional? what would you be looking for? Ah!!! Now your expectation for this cake is different. Right?
That’s the first difference between being a home baker or a professional. People expect more from a professional as compared to a hobbyist. Don’t get me wrong there are some who do an absolutely amazing job on their hobby!!.
So, is it really necessary to be very skilled to decide if you want to become a cake decorator? Not really! I didn’t – in fact far from it.
So why did I become a cake decorator – Because I found i had the passion for it.
I made my daughters first birthday cake and to do that I had to look at so many videos on you tube, made homemade fondant for the first time, made baby booties for the first time, made fondant flowers and swags and doweled a cake for the first time. Everything was so new and so exciting. It took me for ever to finish the cake but I found my self wanting to do more.
I kept looking for opportunities to make more cakes! I found my self watching endless cake decorating videos even in my spare time. I found I was designing cakes in my sleep. I wanted to often wake up and draw the design on a piece of paper just to make myself feel better.
I started feeling unhappy because I didn’t have the opportunity to make cake.
I remember telling my husband I could do this for the rest of my life and never complain. Lucky for me I have a very supportive husband who said. Well, then why don’t you?
Then he reminded of the famous saying
So that’s the first question you ask yourself? Do you have it within you?
Let’s face it – though cake decorating is a paid for profession, we don’t really get paid very well do we? at least not us home bakers. There is no way you can fairly charge the amount of artistic time you put into a cake. It’s the passion that makes you go the extra mile. Because if you worked for the money then you probably earn better for your time doing something else.
So moving on with my personal story.
My first reaction to my husband was – “but I’m so bad at ‘caking'”. And again he encouraged me and said. “Your passion will teach you and your ambition will drive you”.
That is the next question you need to ask yourself? Are you skilled?
Now is it necessary to be skilled to decide if you want to become a professional? NO!! But are you willing to learn and upgrade yourself to becoming a professional.
I notice quite a few women think – well, I’m at home, I like making cakes and It’s a nice opportunity to make some money while at home. And they start taking orders, charging as low as they can to attract customers, and you see no progress or upgrade in their first or 50th cake.
To me that is an absolute No, No No!!!
If you decide you want to become a professional, you have to invest into it. Invest time into practicing your cakes, Invest money to learn cake decorating from other professionals in the field. Put in the effort to make a professional cake before you start advertising yourself as a professional cake decorator.
I personally never registered my business until I felt I had the skill to call myself a upcoming cake artist. I truly believed I was so bad, I practiced endlessly. Even after three years I find it difficult to say I’m a cake artist, I always say – I’m still getting there. So….
Invest time to practice your cakes
Don’t wait to get an order so you can practice your cake. Practice on a cake dummy or inverted cake pans. When you have an order for a design you never tried, practice first. For example – if you are making a bow for the first time. Practice it a couple of times until you are happy with what you have, then put it on your final cake.
Yes, practicing does involve using up ingredients such as fondant. Education has a price to pay and spending on practicing is the least you can afford.
Invest to learn from other cake professionals in the industry.
While practicing in one part of improving your skills, the other is learning from others who serve as mentors. After all what’s the point of practicing if you don’t know how to being with?
So Learn from the experience and knowledge of those that teach. Earlier people had to physically go to day courses to learn cake decorating. Now you can do it online. Lots of courses and learning schools are available for those who want to learn and improve their skills.
If you do have the opportunity – take a course where you get to do a hands on work under the guidance of a professional.There is no easier way to learn then in class where an expert holds your hand and shows you the how to.
Is it necessary to invest?
Quite often I get people who tell me I don’t have the money to spend on courses to learn. I can only learn from free online videos. Fair enough!
I personally think we all have some money but where we invest in; is a choice we have to make. And that choice depends on the value we place on things. We spend on our kids education because their education is important.
I believe if you choose to become a professional, it is your responsibility to be fair to the profession and to the other professionals in the industry by educating your self for the profession.
Has anyone become a doctor or lawyer or teacher by simply deciding that they want to be in that profession? NO! We expect that they go and obtain a certain degree of knowledge and approval from the right authority before we can accept them as a professional. Right?
Well, cake decorating is no different. Is it? But look around you, quite often you get people go register their business and then advertise themselves as professional cake decorators.
Learning cake decorating is not an expensive education, you have courses that are as low as ten dollars a month to PDFs that are barely five dollars each. It’s a matter of giving importance to education.
You will see that if you have the right attitude; with your passion and the desire to succeed, you can excel from just a mom made car cake to a professional cake decorating business.
Here’s another cake made for my son by his professional mom – just two years later.
Do you see an improvement?
I do hope this post has give you a little insight in the difference between being a professional as compared to being a Hobbyist. I do hope you find it useful. Please feel free to share your view with me.
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