Have you ever wondered if you should make cake decorating a profession or a hobby? You have been making cakes but is it possible to leave your day job and become a cake decorator professionally? Or perhaps it's best to leave it as a hobby?
Quite often I get asked this question
- Do you think I can become a cake decorator? or
- I can't decide whether I should do cake decorating as a profession or just continue to do it as a hobby.
- I want to leave my job and become a full-time cake decorator - do you think it's a good idea?
Of course, 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.
This is one of my recent cakes. It is gorgeous, right? But I got to this level after seven years of cake decorating. Want to know where I started? You will be surprised. So I thought I'd write a little post sharing my two cents with you on the topic - Cake decorating as a profession or hobby.
Look at this car cake. I made this for my son's second birthday.
At this time I had no 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.
Does your reaction change to a cake made by a professional vs. a cake made by a hobbyist?
Now let's say I posted this same car 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? You expect a certain standard. 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!!
Hold on to that thought we will come back to it again.
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 had a passion for it.
I made my daughter's first birthday cake. And, to do that I had to look at so many videos on YouTube. In addition, I made homemade fondant for the first time, as well as baby booties for the first time. In fact, I had no tools, and yet I dived into making fondant flowers and swags. Hey, I even dowelled a cake for the first time. Everything was so new and so exciting. It took me forever to finish the cake but I found myself, wanting to do more.
After that, I kept looking for opportunities to make more cakes. So, I found myself watching endless cake-decorating videos even in my spare time. And, I found I was designing cakes in my sleep. One day, I even woke up and drew the design on a piece of paper just to make myself feel better. However, soon I started feeling unhappy from the lack of opportunity to make a cake.
I remember saying to my husband - I could do this for the rest of my life!
Lucky for me I have a very supportive husband and he immediately said, "Well, then why don't you?" But, I looked at him like he was mad!! I have no cake-decorating skills! And, I have two degrees and an MBA. All those years of hard work so now I could cash those years of experience - I was all set to go get a big executive job.
And my husband reminded me of this statement saying, "Your passion will teach you and your ambition will drive you".
If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your lifeConfucius
So that's the first question you ask yourself. Do you have it with 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 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.
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 become 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 in 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 an 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.
We all have some money!
But, where we invest, is a choice we have to make.
And, that choice depends on the value we place on things.
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 is 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 begin 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 hands-on work under the guidance of a professional. There is no easier way to learn than in a class where an expert holds your hand and shows you the how-to.
Has anyone become a doctor, lawyer, or teacher by simply deciding that they want to be in that profession?
We expect that they go and obtain a certain degree of knowledge and approval from the right authorities before we can accept them as professionals and trust them without projects.
Shouldn't your profession be the same?
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; is a choice we have to make. And that choice depends on the value we place on things. We spend on our kid's 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 yourself for the profession.
Has anyone become a doctor, 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? Would you send your kid to a school where the teacher is sweet and loving but you have no clue if she has the knowledge to impart to your kids?
Well, cake decorating is no different. Is it? But look around you, quite often you get people to 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 after I started cake decorating! Do you see an improvement? It's not perfect but it's a lot better than that car cake - practice!
I do hope this post has given you a little insight into 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.
Where do I start?
As I said if you can't afford a hands-on class one of the quickest and easiest ways to learn is to join an online school. I know from my own experience that it can make a huge difference in helping you up your game.
There are many online schools to choose from - I started with Paul Bradford Sugar Craft School so many years ago and it's still my first place to go to when I need a tutorial. Paul has been my mentor from the beginning and I do love his teaching skills. You can read more about Paul Bradfords Sugarcraft School here.
My second favorite school now is Yeners Way Cake Art. I could watch Seder work on these cakes for hours and not bat an eyelid. He works and most importantly his ability to simplify the most difficult cakes is amazing. You can read more about Yeners Way Cake Art School here.
Of Course, there are a few other schools online too - You can read all about them here. The BEST Online Cake Decorating Schools -
For your Angry Birds cake and Cinderella carriage did you get permission to use the copyrights?
If you did can you please send me the number you used.
Sherry, I made both these cakes for my family. The Angry birds, was for my son and the Carriage was for my daughter. So I didn't need permission. I'mm not sure if the rules have changed now but back then if you did these for commercial use you would need permission.
You always have the best tutorials and information on cake decorating. I love your blog. This post is spot on.
Thank you, Gladis. So happy to hear you find my blog useful and love it so much. Thank you for this lovely comment.
Thank you for this lovely post. Really enjoyed reading this article. So helpful.
Thank you Pyrsand. Happy to hear you found it useful.