Your cakes are so good, you should sell these.. Chances are if you’re reading this blog, you’ve definitely heard this line at some stage. With the whiff of vanilla in your hair and a few taps on your laptop, business cards at the ready…
Watch out world, Cake biz is on the horizon!
Only… you take a look around you and realise there’s a TON of establish custom cake makers already around you. And what’s worst, they’ve been around for YEARS. You stalk them on Instagram and Facebook and feel a sickening dread rise in your stomach.. “There’s just so many other bakers out there that are better than me…will I ever make it?”
Yup, I feel ya. And I get it, the struggle is REAL. Cake Decorating IS a highly saturate market. Low barriers to entry, the hobby appeal and trendiness of baking all make this a really easy business for many to plug into.
So… are there simply too many cake decorators in the world?
Well, whilst it might seem like there isn’t space in the cake industry for you, THAT my friend, is simply not true at all.
Ask yourself this, do you ever wish there would STOP being new restaurants in your area? When a new exciting place opens do you ever say “There’s enough restaurants already, we don’t need another yummy new place to eat at”.
The interesting fact is, no matter how many restaurants there are in any given place, people will always still be eager to welcome a new restaurant onto the scene.
Likewise, it doesn’t matter how many bakers there are in the world already, the thing you need to realise it…
THERE IS STILL ROOM FOR YOU.
The question you really want to ask and figure out is this: How do I STAND OUT in a crowded cake space?
From being on both sides of the spectrum, I thought I’d share some lessons and observations on how we can carve our own pathway in a very crowded cake world:
1. Switch your focus from THEM to YOU
The first step to breaking through a crowded creative industry is to first and foremost, take your eyes AWAY from what other people are doing and to focus on what you should be doing. Focusing time and energy on the work of others more so than your own is an unhealthy practice as it:
- Breeds comparison and envy (if you struggle with this, I recommend this blog post I wrote on the subject of Caker’s Comparison).
- Paralyzes you with feelings of inferiority
- Influences your ideas
- Limits creativity
Don’t get me wrong, we do need to be aware of industry trends, events and our general “business competition” but my point here is to place more energy and time to focusing you’re your pathway rather than on the work of others.
So if you are spending waaay too much time salivating over other cake makers creations on Instagram, maybe it’s time to stop scrolling, put your phone away and start sketching new ideas on your notepad instead. Turn your thoughts away from what has ‘already been done’ and instead think about ‘what hasn’t been done yet’. Which brings me to my next point…
2. Find the NEW
One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to pursue the NEW. Don’t merely settle for being a copycat baker but instead ask yourself “how can I do things differently?”, “how can I modify this?”, “how can I do this better?”
Don’t get me wrong.. There’s nothing bad about going with the flow sometimes and making designs that are trendy and popular. But if you want to make a name for yourself and get people to sit up and take notice, then you gotta push yourself to think outside the box and INVENT or REINVENT something to create a style that is distinctly YOU.
Side note: In pushing the boundaries to create something truly unique, remember to know how far to push the envelope. If you make cakes for clients, remember not to alienate your customers with creations that are too far “left-field”. Make sure that your designs still have a strong appeal to your clients.
3. Be Bold
To break through a crowded space, one has to often go where no other caker has gone before. To create new and groundbreaking work, one has to traverse the road less travelled.
So, what does this look like in reality?
It looks like hours of experimentation, baking trials, honing new skills, finding new ways to use ingredients and practice. It takes growing your skills, being a “forever-student” and committed craftsman (or craftswoman).
Expect failures. Expect things to flop. Unlike following a Tutorial, the outcome of experimentation is often unknown. So if you tried something new and it didn’t quite work out, take it in your stride. Learn, modify, and give it another go.
This is the life of the creative.
4. Never SETTLE
I’ve observed a common characteristic in the Madonnas, Taylor Swifts, Jamie Olivers and Marchesas of this world…
And that is… Constant reinvention.
Those who make waves in the industry don’t quit while their ahead. They don’t “rest on their laurels” and get complacent. They celebrate their wins and then keep forging ahead. Tweaking, honing, modifying, creating…
The point here is, if you happen to break through the noise and create something amazing, don’t just stop there. The key to a truly thriving cake gig, is to keep perfecting, growing and reinventing your work and to not “settle” on the one good thing you made. Being in a creative business is not so much a destination as it is a journey.
5. Stay inspired
Caker burnout is a very real thing you guys. The constant workload, baking, emails… it can all get pretty tiring and soul-sucking. In order to stay on top of the game and do all of the above points 1-4, you need to have the motivation and drive to do so.
So it’s so important to stay passionate and inspired in your work.
Take a break, go on walks, visit museums and expose yourself to art mediums that are outside of the cake world. And for goodness sakes, if you want to take a break, TAKE A BREAK. Not making cakes for a week or two will cause the whole world to collapse. If anything, it could be the very thing you need. This is where you can rest, breathe and find much-required inspiration that will be necessary fuel to your creative cake fire.
Don’t just get inspiration for cakes FROM cakes. That’s just a regeneration of someone else’s idea.
Some of my most celebrated work has been from ideas waaaay outside the cake sphere. The world is heaving with incredible work from the spheres of fashion, canvas art, textiles and illustrations. Expand your “art vocabulary” by drawing from a wide range of artistic practices.
Remember, there is room for you. You just need to be smart about it. So go on out there and EXPLORE, DISCOVER and boldly CREATE.
Tell me dear reader, what are your thoughts after reading this? I’d love to know if it has spoken to your situation <3