Make money by making cakes, jams and sweets and selling them at local car boot sales and markets. Take a look at our guide to making and selling your delicious creations below.
The beautiful thing about earning by baking is that it’s straightforward and flexible. It isn’t something that you necessarily have to do on a regular basis – if you’re a little short of cash one week, it’s easy enough to hunt down your next local car boot sale and get baking. All you’ll really need is to have a good few recipes under your belt and a reasonable idea of what people would buy.
You don’t have to be qualified for this, but there are hundreds of baking/cake decorating courses you can go on which are likely to benefit the quality of your products. You can find courses at LearnDirect. The Food Standards Agency has also got some useful information on starting up a food business if you decide that baking is the business for you.
Here’s our foolproof six-step guide to selling cakes, jams and sweets:
Step 1: Research
Take a trip to your local car boot sale or farmers’ market and look for which food stalls are the busiest. If it seems like jam is the ‘in-thing’ and there aren’t that many stalls that sell it, you’ve found your product.
If you’re at a car boot and there aren’t any stalls selling cakes or other food then it’s a good idea to take a look at the people that are there. Are they the sort who would prefer to buy upmarket, fancy, homemade produce or a couple of 10p fairy cakes to nibble on while they have a browse for basement bargains? Make the kind of cakes and sweets you think you could sell easily.
Ask your family and friends what they’d like. Try to ask a wide range of people and see if you come out with any unanimous decisions. Also, speak to any cake sellers you see at fairs and markets and ask them which cakes sell best.
It’s also important to research the food safety standards you’ll have to meet to keep on the right side of the law. Legislation says that all food businesses must register their kitchens with their local authority unless they operate on a “casual and limited” basis only.
If you’re simply selling cakes once in a blue moon at a car boot sale or market then you don’t need to worry. However, if you are planning on making an income in this way, contact your local council and ask them what the rules are in your area: oddly the laws vary depending on where you live. For example, in some places you will need to become a registered trader even if you only sell your cakes or food once every couple of months. If you do have to register your kitchen, it’s totally free to do so and the council is obliged to accept your application.
Be aware that if you’re regularly selling cakes or other food produce, it’s highly likely you’ll need to take a course in food hygiene. You can do this over the internet and it’ll cost you from about £15. The course is mostly just common sense so it’s reasonably easy and you can complete it in your own time.
Step 2: Costings
If you want to make selling cakes and other produce is worth your while, you need to do some basic costings.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. You’ll need to take into consideration:
Once you’ve worked out how much all of this is likely to cost you, you should be able to work out how much you’ll need to sell your cakes, sweets and jams for to break even and then make a profit.
While you do your research, you should be taking note of how much other stallholders sell their cakes and foods for, to get a rough idea of how much you can reasonably expect to charge.
If you have to price your products extortionately just to make a profit, see if there’s anywhere you can cut back on costs. Shop around for cheaper ingredients or look for different locations that aren’t as pricey.
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Step 3: Recipe experimentation
Once you’ve got a good idea of the kind of people you’re going to be selling cakes to, it’s time to get your product sorted. You’ll need to come up with a range of different products to make this work.
If you want to sell jams then make taster pots of all different flavours and try out different variations of ingredients. For cakes, try out different methods, ingredients, flavours and fillings. With sweets test out different recipes. You could try focusing on one area, like chocolate, fudge or maybe even health food!
Get your friends and family to try all your samples out and find out which are the most popular choices. They’ll likely be more than willing to help!
It’s worth knowing that at farmers’ markets, you’re not likely to sell much unless you use local, organic ingredients. People who go to these events look for traditional homemade foods and one of the pros of shopping for food at a farmers’ market is that you’re able to ask the stallholder precisely where the food is from and how it was made.
Stallholders at farmers’ markets should be prepared to give honest, credible answers to customers – so factor these more expensive ingredients into your budget. Remember that people are usually willing to pay for high quality.
Step 4: Location
Before you decide to make a real go of this, it’s advisable to give it a few test runs somewhere that isn’t going to cost you the earth.
Try out a stall at a car boot sale first, because it will only cost you between £5 and £15 to set up there. You can find your nearest car boot sale on Carbootjunction. For more information on car boot sales you can read our full guide here.
Once you’re more established, you might consider going a little more upmarket, although if you have cracked the car boot market you could also simply increase the number of cakes you take with you and let your business grow that way.
There are a number of other outlets that will let you sell your goods, such as the Women’s Institute, which runs country markets around the UK. It costs just 5p to join and they’ll take about 10% commission on sales to cover the costs of the market.
To join, you just need to pop down to your local market and have a word with the controller. You can find the contact details for your local market on the website or you can call their head office on 01246 261508 for more information.
To set up a stall at a farmers’ market, you need to find one local to you. You can do this by searching the Local Foods website for your nearest market. The website doesn’t deal directly with the people who run the markets so you can contact them via the details they provide on the site.
Step 5: Presentation
Presentation is important, particularly if you sell at an upmarket venue. Consider your customers: are they going to want something ‘cheap and cheerful’, or posh-looking homemade produce? Funnily enough, some of the more expensive jams and cakes have ‘the rustic look': you could find yourself charging a lot for produce which looks especially homely!
Packaging can affect your sales in a big way. Ribbon is cheap if you buy in bulk from a haberdashery store, and can neaten up any edges around your cakes. If you’re selling jams it’s worth getting some fancy labels printed, or spending some time decorating your own. You could experiment with themed packaging around holidays like Easter and Christmas, and for days like Valentine’s Day and Hallowe’en.
Whatever you use to package your products, it’s important to remember that you’re dealing with food. This means that you are limited to certain types of packaging depending on what food you’re selling. It’s mainly the use of adhesives which is restricted but again – you’ll need to contact your local council for more information.
Step 6: Taking it further
A simple way to get some repeat business is to get some business cards printed off. If you’re making cakes, you could then advertise the fact that you bake to order for parties and events (if your kitchen can take the strain!)
Pop into local cafés and coffee shops (not the chain outlets), hand them your card and make your services known – maybe even provide them with a few samples.
At the moment there is a Brazilian company looking for jam, cakes and biscuits. If you want to find out more then register your interest here.