Friday, July 24, 2015

Mountain Biking Cake, Or Know Your Limits!

This cake had the bride and groom at the top of the mountain and their dogs riding bikes up the trail to the top.

When the bride asked me about this design, I told her that I'm not the best figure modeller, and that I don't really like doing it, but I would draw the people on gumpaste. I can draw, I just hate modeling 3-D figures.

I'm also not afraid to tell people if I don't want to or can't do something, since it's a lot better to do that than it is to overpromise. The bride was fine with having the figures drawn, and this is a good example of how you can work around the things that you prefer not to do for whatever reason. Just offer an alternative.


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and online at www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pinterest Promoted Posts

I decided to try promoted posts on Pinterest because I  was asked if I knew anything about them. I didn't, but it made me wonder if they'd be worth doing, considering that Pinterest is such a great way to get images out there.

Pinterest started offering promoted posts relatively recently. They're currently available only for U.S. users, but you can sign up on a waiting list to be alerted to when they open it up worldwide. They're also currently rolling out buy-it-now pins that will let people buy items directly from pinned photos. If you sell things online, this is a wonderful thing. If, that is, you can get in on it, because they have a waiting list and they're being very slow to go through all of the applicants. But I digress...

Honestly, I don't do much with Pinterest. I pin things occasionally, but I don't spend a lot of time on there. I figured that this would actually be good, because I could see if my traffic increased a lot if I paid a little attention to my account.

So I decided to pay to promote a pin from my Etsy shop to see what would happen. I chose an item that sells relatively well, but that had recently slowed down a little. Since I'm pretty cheap I put a $5 a day limit on the ad and ran it for a week. I have to say that the results were very intriguing.

First step: Make sure that you're on your business page, not a personal page. I assume that you can only do this with a business account. Click on the "promote pins" button at the top right under your business name on the screen. You'll find the welcome page.


It will give you a little walkthrough/sales pitch that gives you a quick overview of the program.





When all that's done, you can choose either an engagement campaign, which looks like it's aimed at increasing the number of people who follow you, or a traffic campaign, which directs people to click to see your website. I chose the traffic campaign because I want people to go to my online store, and I would also only be charged for clicks to the store itself. In an engagement campaign you're charged for every click, closeup and pin on the post that you're promoting.



Now you can choose how to target the ad. This process isn't nearly as thorough as the facebook ads process, but you can choose a general geographic area if you want to keep it local. Since this is only for U.S. users at this point they give you a list of American cities to choose from, and if you have a preference for languages, devices etc you choose those next. You also choose the link that you want to direct the traffic to.


And now the results...These are the results from teh 5th day of a 7-day campaign, and it's pretty clear from the charts which day the pin started being promoted. Look at those increases in traffic to my Pinterest profile! So the ad was definitely effective in increasing the number of people to my pin.


Here's the actual number difference...To start, I had about 324 pin views per day. Remember that this is only the 5th day, too.


On the third day of the promotion I had 8210 pin views. Percentage-wise, those are huge increases. And the number of people in the "average monthly viewers" category doubled.


At the end of the campaign, my promoted pin had been shown in people's feeds over 39,000 times. 77 people repinned it and 32 clicked through to my store, which is when I was charged. So for a 7-day total of $4.36 the pin was saved to 77 people's boards.

This might sound low, but remember that when a pin goes on a board, it stays there. And if someone follows that board, they'll see the pin. and when they pin the pin it spreads it more. It's not like facebook or Instagram, where a picture goes by in your timeline and is gone. On Pinterest the value is that the picture stays there and is available for other people to find. For all eternity, or whatever...

So for $4.36, I got 32 new sets of eyes on my shop. The one weak link here is that I don't have a way to track how many sales actually happened because of people clicking through. That could be sales of the pinned item, or of any other item in my shop the people found only because they clicked on that pin. There's an option to create a piece of code to embed in your website code to have that information reported, but since I was pointing people to my Etsy shop I couldn't use it.

I did check in my Etsy stats, and the views coming from Pinterest increased, plus the item that I pinned was at the top of the favorited items category for that time period. Whether that would have happened anyway, I don't know, so that's the one weakness in my evaluation. Based on the number of sales of the listing in the last week, though, I do think that I got at least a few sales from it.


I think that the promoted Pin was worth doing, especially for that price, what the heck! If the 32 people who clicked through to my shop had never been there before and now know that it exists, it's worth $4.36 even with no sales. If they bought something while they were there I made money in the process.

I'm running another promoted Pin ad now to see how a less popular item gets pinned. If I get similar results exposure-wise, and if I actually sell a couple of those items, I'll be sold on the effectiveness of this kind of ad. The strength of Pinterest, as I said before, is that the pins stay there, and they don't get buried and forgotten by new content. I'll see what happens from here, but based on the results that I had I think that this is a good way to drive traffic to your site.


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA and online at www.acaketoremember.etsy.com and www.acaketoremember.biz 



Saturday, July 18, 2015

Blue and Coral Cake

This wedding cake was based on a photo that the bride brought me...it featured large coral colored fantasy flowers made with a peony cutter, and little blue fondant filler flowers.  I put some wafer paper butterflies on fondant to give them stability and added those to the cake.




Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and online supplies at www.etsy.com/shop/acaketoremember

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What To Do When Friends And Family Want Free Cake

I had a viewer post a question on a youtube video about pricing, and I thought it was worth repeating the answer here since it's a topic that everyone can relate to. (So much so that it takes up a section in my book on running a home-based business.)

Here's her question: "What do you do when family members expect a cake for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and other celebrations? I have made several cakes for family and friends and feel the 'freebie' days are over."

Here's my response: You're going to get a lot of resistance if they're used to getting free cakes, but I have no doubt that they don't know how much time and expense goes into making a cake. If you sell cakes to other people and have a price list, I'd let people know that you're changing to this:

1. They get the cake from you and you give them a 25% family discount and that's their birthday present.
2.They get a cake somewhere else and a regular present from you.
3. They pay you full price and get a regular present from you.
4. If it's adults who don't give each other presents, they get a 25% discount if they want a cake from you.

WHEN (not if) they pitch a fit and say that you're greedy and mean, remind them that when you make a cake for free you're losing time and money that you could be using to make a cake for a paying customer, and you can't afford to do that anymore, and that's not being greedy, it's supporting your family.

When they say that you're family so you should be willing to do it for free, remind them that yes, you're family, so they shouldn't ask you to do something that they know will make it more difficult for you to pay your bills. Or something that will take time away from your family, or whatever it is that making cakes does to you.

Remember that family and friends are your worst customers, and that you'll find out who your REAL friends are when they have to start paying you for your work. They might also decide to "punish" you by getting a grocery store cake. This is pretty common, and you shouldn't take it personally. It only means that they either can't afford your cakes, which is fine, or they're trying to be passive-aggressive and "teach you a lesson." But all it teaches is that you can have a day off from working for free. And that's never a bad thing.

My rule of thumb is that the only people who get free cakes when they ask for them is the person who gave birth to me and the people I gave birth to. If I want to make a free cake for someone AND I OFFER, I get to decide on everything other than flavor. If someone ASKS me for a cake they're placing an order, and the rules I outlined in my other reply apply.


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and online at www.etsy.com/shop/acaketoremember

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Silver Buttercream Piping Cake


This cake was one of those that had to have some compromising as far as the metallics were concerned. The bride and groom didn't want fondant, but they wanted some metallics. I did the short tier in fondant and painted it with non-toxic silver. The rest of the cake was buttercream, and I piped the scallop pattern and painted it silver, then added some silver and shiny pink pearls to the top tier.


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and online cake decorating supplies at www.etsy.com/shop/acaketoremember