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Make money selling cakes, jams and sweets

Make money selling cakes, jams and sweets

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.

Cash from selling cakes

moneymagpie_make-money-selling-cakes_browniesThe 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:

Steps to success

Step 1: Research

moneymagpie_fairy-cakeTake 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 make sure you 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 doing this regularly, contact your local council and ask them what the rules are. If you do have to register your kitchen, it’s totally free to do so.

Be aware that if you’re regularly selling cakes or other food produce, the FSA has a range of free information on its web site to ensure you can do this safely and stay on the right side of the law. There‘s plenty of good hygiene advice too on the NHS Choices web site.


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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:

  • How much ingredients costmoneymagpie_make-money-selling-cakes_homemade-jam
  • Cost of the sale location fee (car boot sale/farmers market fee) if there is one
  • Cost of travel to the location
  • Cost of the food packaging (keep it simple to start with – clingfilm will do in some places)
  • Initial cost of food hygiene training (if you’re planning on regular sales)
  • Cost of labels/general stationery/invoicing pads
  • Extra cost of gas or electricity for your oven

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

moneymagpie_make-money-selling-cakes_cake-slicesOnce 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.moneymagpie_make-money-selling-cakes_sponge-cake

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

moneymagpie_make-money-selling-cakes_chocolate-cakePresentation 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.moneymagpie_make-money-selling-cakes_chefs-hat

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.

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210 responses to “Make money selling cakes, jams and sweets”

  1. Simone Jones says:

    The information above about the Casual and limited basis only, is incorrect, I have just come off the phone from my local council and have been told that NO council at all operate this policy anymore, anyone producing food for public consumption whether it be free or charged for, has to be registered

  2. Janice Bardwell says:

    Perhaps should have been clearer about registration Its any 5 days in 5 consecutive weeks so if you produce once a week you need to register. occasional producers from home do not.

  3. Janice Bardwell says:

    Your information on Registering a food business ineeds osme addittional info.

    Registration is free and of right. It is not a licence.

    It is not optional if you prepare food on 5 consecutive days in any 5 weeks.

    The registration form has to be submitted 28 days before you start production

    BUT most local authorities will risk rate a small cake or jam /chutneys producer as low risk or even uninspectable risk.

    Registration is just so the LA know where food producers are and can let them know if the is a food alert about a product they may use.

    Food Hygiene training is not mandatory for staff, just recommended- the regulations say trained, supervised or instructed.

    A written food safety plan is a legal requirement. It does not have to be complicated , just a couple of lines identifying any risk products or methods.

    Labelling if you are not selling the food yourself at a stall or shop but via other shops is the hardest requirement to meet..Advice is on the Food standards Agency website.

    Many LAs no longer give advice so if you are stuck you may need a local independent EHO like me!
    NB in Many areas it is not Trading standards who do food standards but the EHOs – makes it much easier to deal with!

    • corrinne says:

      hi janice.
      the problem i have is that there is no list of requirements written clearly somewhere for the requirements in a domestic premises selling cakes. i have the leaflets and want to register but i want the basic requirements, i.e i have dogs, i have moved them and their food etc out of my kitchen, the trouble is, the back door is in the kitchen….am i allowed to just let them walk through or do they need to go out of the front door?? any advice is appreciated please??
      corrinnne xx

  4. KerryCupcake says:

    I make celebration cakes for family and friends, i would like to widen my market but my confidence fails me. Any ideas?

    • Moneymagpie says:

      Hi Kerry,

      First of all, believe in yourself and your delicious cakes! If you want to spread the word about yourself then Vistaprint ( will send you 250 business cards plus a free holder for just the postage cost. It’s great value and the website’s really easy to use. Get your friends and family to hand them out to everyone they know and wait for the work to start coming in!

      The main thing to remember is that if you’re asked to make something you haven’t got the time for or it’s just too big a project, feel free to say no. That way you’re not putting yourself under pressure, you can go at your own pace and with each order your confidence will grow. Remember if your cake business does get bigger then you may have extra tax to pay. Our article has everything you need to know (

      Good luck and do let us know how you get on.

      P.S. Remember – you can do it!

  5. Naomi K says:

    If only I wasn’t an absolutely awful cook, it would be a great way to boost your income! :)

  6. If you are using fruit in a recipe soak it in something for a few hours. Tea (experiment with different types, I like Earl Grey!) is a good choice if you don’t want to use alcohol. This will make the cake moist too but beware you may need to cut down the liquid in the original recipe.

  7. This sounds like a plan to me!! I might try contacting the schools in the local area to see if they want a cake style stall for their xmas fates!
    In my mind a true money maker is sweet treats for those with allergies, think gluten and dairy free.

  8. Londoncupcakes says:

    Quality advice. Pricing can be tricky but its crucial that you don’t undercharge. At londoncupcakes we have a full list of cupcake makers, but keep an eye on how you can add value to customer (gluten-free, free delivery with 10 miles of your bakery, quality packaging, etc)

  9. Milena says:


    I would like to start selling homemade desserts – cakes, cupcakes, cookies to carboots in Nottinghamshire. Do think I can sell my products, is there a demand of food sales on carboot sales?
    If anyone is interested in joint partnership I will be glad to meet you in person and to discuss with you the options.

    Thank you!

  10. Rachel says:

    Hi Rob

    I hope your business runs well sounds like you have it all under control! I am also thinking of starting up a Cake business from home and would really welcome your thoughts and business plan ideas.

    Best wishes


  11. Silvia says:

    Hi, I’m thinking of starting a home based cakes business in London. first selling at markets then, if it goes well,to open a shop. I’m a pastry chef and have always worked as an employee. my biggest dream is one day to own a cakes shop.If anyone is interested in starting a partnership in this sector feel free to contact me via email.

  12. rob peters says:

    hi if anyone is interested in setting this up selling cupcakes,biscuits and cakes kindly let me know . I have already prepared a business plan and intend to market on line and offline.

  13. felicity says:

    This is a really great piece of information..I don’t currently have any certificates as been trying thsee if its worth doing a couple of farmers markets,I am planning on getting these soon as my cakes do sell well…in the mean while I was wondering what the consequences are if I were to get approached by the council? Thanks for your help.

  14. Rocketgirl says:

    I’m looking to start selling continental style cakes and bakes in Bristol area.
    If there is anyone interested in joining forces and do this together please get in touch.

    • Charlotte says:


      I am looking to start selling cakes in the Bristol area. I was actually meant to have a car boot today, which unfortunately was cancelled due to the weather, so I now have a load of unsold cakes, and not sure what to do with them. If anyone has any ideas, or a stall I could perhaps have a corner of that would be brilliant.

      Thanks very much

  15. Jo says:

    Hi all I live in Essex, and am confused in this article it says that if you don’t sell regularly that you don’t have to register with the local council and don’t need food & hygiene. But then other people have commented saying that you have to register so what is it???? I make cakes for friends and family who do pay me for them, and I also once in a blue moon have a stall at a pamper night, can someone tell me if they think I have to register? Any advice would be very appreciated. Thanks


    I to love to bake cakes :) have now for many years. I have just started baking cake pops…….all my friends loved them. I would so love to set up with someone selling home baked cakes :) and do the job i love doing.

    • Louise says:

      What area are you in? Im thinking of setting up the same thing selling cake pops but in the North Yorks area?

  17. Ashley says:

    Hello. This is a great article. As an entrepreneur it is important to know how to prepare and present a price to a client. I’d like to suggest reading this article : , to be guided on the do’s and don’ts on selling.

  18. Marie says:


    I run a small business hiring vintage china in Leicestershire. I am thinking of setting up a vintage tea club once a week for a couple of hours in our village hall and would like to provide home made cakes and cookies. I have an old food hygiene certificate would this still be valid or as its only once a week would I need one?

    many thanks


  19. Samantha says:

    I want to start my own small business of chutneys and I did little research the Flavours I want to make is not in market , how can I start , I just have my grans recipes and £50 .

    • hi sam try dragons den… or your local enterprise trust enquire about that from your local jobcentre , helps small businesses set ups ..ive even thought of a good name for your jams ..(SAMS JAMS) if you need any help via advice etc please feel free 2 contact me on BURNLEY 01282-429282 MY HOME TEL hoping to look at a new business , selling flowers, fruit n veg here in lancashire on an antiques fair..i would happily like to purchase some of your new recipes..also u can fine me on facebook type in ROLAND MCLEAN MACHESTER not the 1 with the lancashire red rose, im the one in red t .shirt on a red scooter..kind regards MAC.

    • rob peters says:

      are you in the london area perhaps we could share costs?
      I am looking at cupcakes, cakes, and biscuits

    • Jules Pringle says:

      Hi Brian

      I am currently going through the procedures to be able to run a cupcake and fudge stall at a local craft fair. Both very low risk but still need to get the go ahead. I live in rented accommodation and have just registered with the local council – environmental health, they actually came around today and it was quite a smooth process. They can randomly check stalls and markets and other places so this is law. I have also just completed my Level 2 food hygiene (retail) which I did online to make life a bit easier. Apart from this information, unless your landlord has something in the contract, you will be allowed to bake from home as long as you register that address as your ‘business’. I need to look at insurance now then I should be ready.

    • Peter says:


      great idea, if you want to sell your cakes online, try websites like where you can offer products for up to 100 and even sell locally.

      Hope you like it, I do sell stuff there and it is great.

  20. Ladypezza says:

    Hi everyone,

    I’m an avid baker in Blackheath and people keep telling me I should start selling my cakes but I really don’t know where to start and would ideally like someone to collaborate with!

    I work fulltime as it is so wouldn’t want this to take over my day job but would love to be able to sell the cakes I make as a hobby.

  21. Joe says:

    Hi I am thinking of selling sweets in cellophane cones. Do I need to be registered and require insurance. I don’t know if it will take off or not so worried I don’t want to end up in debt before I even start making any money.

  22. kim says:

    Hi is anyone in the hampshire area looking for a partner to start a cake business? I would love to take the leap but would have more courage with someone else, would love to hear back from anyone interested

  23. kat says:

    This tool is great for calculating the cost of ingredients, profit and how much to charge for your cakes really help me out! cakebaker./cake-recipe-pricing-calculator.html

    • Wow that’s a brilliant tool! How clever. Thanks for letting us know.

      • Jessica says:

        Yes, agree totally with the above. This site is a dream find. Many thanks for taking the time to put it together!

        • Chonette Taylor says:

          a simple calculation is to add the cost of all he ingredients and multiply it by 3 an then add your profit, if you have to go out to sale your cakes you have o add the transport and rent as well.

          1= cost of ingredients
          2= cost of labour
          3= cost of premises, kitchen, electricity etc.

          Then on top f hat you add your profic

  24. paula says:

    Like many people I too need to make a little money to improve matters at home maybe even purchase a new pair of shoes , at last a web site stating facts and figures about a helping hand in this day and age, too much jargon and red tape stops so many community’s from getting to know one another. A big thank you

  25. ciara says:

    so if you get a pitch at a farmers market you can sell all your home baked produce without a traders licence, insurance or hygiene cert?

  26. Dawn says:

    So, if i started a small scale food business out of my kitchen, I would not be required to have an inspection and pay for a license? I was under the impression that this was required. What about selling at a craft show booth, or church homemade & craft shows? Is there a website dedicated to this type of info?
    Thank you.

  27. Denise Smart says:

    I already bake and decorate quite up market home made cakes from Wedding to Brithday to Special Occasion. I was under the impression before starting anything the best way to go about this is register with the local council for your kitchen to be registered. Thank-you

  28. LittleVoice says:

    If anyone is still wondering, more than a year on from Louisa’s enquiry, there is no requirement to register as a limited company whatever size of business you are running or whatever you are making (cakes, cards or cars).

  29. Eulalee Brown says:


    Thank you for this web page I found it very useful, I can go away and plan my cake business.

    Well Done

  30. Ganska says:

    Love the blog, found it in bing, how do I subscribe?

  31. Tola says:

    I am planning on a one off blitz at a local car boot but wonder if I have to put contact, content, best before and storage information on the label for marmalade, can anyone help please?

  32. Diana says:

    I would advise against registering with companies house, as this would make you a limted company with lots of legal responsibilities, it is also not tax efficient to be Ltd for a small scale enterprise. You are probably better off as a sole trader.

  33. Marie says:

    This is a great article. I like the way you suggest that people research their ingreadients and actually figure the cost it takes them to make a cake. Then, they can set reasonable prices for a profit.

    We teach this to our blog readers all the time at .sellingcakes.

    Good Read. I’m glad I found this site.

  34. sally says:

    phew! at last – some useful information and advice in plain english.

    thank you!


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