Anyway, I'm talking about knowing your worth. Or at least your cakes' worth. Now, I understand that everyone can't be a master decorator right off the bat. That's why there are classes all over the world. Seriously. There are classes for learning the basics, for piping with buttercream, for doing "oil paintings" with buttercream, for learning how to apply fondant, for learning how to make flowers, for making figures and characters, and so much more. There are online classes that you can watch at home, which gives you the ability to pause, rewind, and fast-forward the video. There are regular classes offered at various locations, and they usually have all the supplies for you.
Whichever way you learn to decorate and hone your skills, take time to do so before selling.
If you're cakes aren't up to par, don't sell them.
Some people think, "Well, if my cakes aren't perfect, I'll just charge less than the other decorators whose work is perfect. That way the customer isn't paying so much because my skill isn't that great."
Don't even THINK about doing that. If your skills aren't up to "professional" standards, DON'T SELL. Wait for your time to shine. Come out of the shadows with skills that blow the competition away.
If your decorations look like this:
Wait to sell them until they look like this:
|Via Just Call Me Martha|
|Via Fancy Parties|
Unless you plan on keeping your skills at the level of the first two pictures, of course.
If you start selling at the beginner or intermediate skill levels, and price at that same level, you will never get out of that rut. You're skills may improve over time, but you will either keep your prices the way that they are, resulting in under-compensation for your time and effort, or you will raise your prices and lose your "loyal" customers.
Once you price your cakes accordingly, set a minimum price to weed out the potential cheap-o's. Some cakes are so small that it wouldn't even be worth it to turn on the oven if you're not getting a certain amount. For example, if a person wanted an 8-serving cake (usually a 6") and you charged $4 per serving, would $32 really be enough to compensate you for your time mixing, baking, filling, stacking, frosting, decorating, and packaging? Sheet cakes cost that much, and they don't take nearly as much time and consideration.* Custom cakes are a whole different ball game.
Would you buy a wedding dress made by a novice seamstress just because it's cheap and risk it falling apart at the seams, or a wedding dress made by a master seamstress for a little more and have a beautiful piece to remember/keep forever?
Just remember the golden rule of business: you get what you pay for. Don't be the one everyone refers to as "cheap."
*Edit: There are a few sheet cakes that take as long as a tiered cake, like the ones at CorrieCakes. The sheets I am talking about are the ones you get at chain supermarkets.