Jul 19

Make money selling cakes, jams and sweets

Make money by selling cakes, jams and sweets at local car boot sales, markets and even shops. If everyone loves your homemade sweet treats it’s likely that you could make money from them!

Take a look at our guide to making and selling your delicious creations below, and see some of the great comments from readers too. They’ve left some helpful tips and links for you!


make cash from selling cakes

Woman baking a cake
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-by-step guide to success selling cakes

Step 1: Research

Young people buying sweets at a market stall
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 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.

Laptop showing baking website

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.


Step 2: do your Costings

Bakers working out costs

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 cost
  • 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.


Step 3: Experiment with recipes

Lots of different flavours of fruit tart
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!

Little girls happily eating cakes

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: Get the right location

Location pin on a map

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: Get the presentation right

Making plum jam
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: make this a serious business

Baking business card

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.


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219 thoughts on Make money selling cakes, jams and sweets

  1. Hi everyone, we’ve just launched sellmycakes an easier way to get your cakes online.

    Our self service websites make it easy for you to showcase your cakes and accept payments via card & PayPal.

    There are no one off fees or monthly subscriptions, we only take a commission on the orders that are placed via our system. Our system gives you an online diary and tools to manage your online presence so you can concentrate on baking cakes, we deal with the techy stuff for you.

  2. Hi Jasmine,

    I just stumbled across your post whilst doing some research.

    Full disclosure first – I am the Customer Success Champion from Baking It.

    Our website may be of interest to you in relation to this article. We have just launched a software platform that aids in the running of any type of bakery business.

    One of the great features of our site is that we work alongside your business. When you create your profile you set your country, time zone, you select the units of measurement you prefer to work in. We have created a platform that works for you.

    Our main tool bar is split into 6 sections:

    Kitchen: Keep an inventory, expenses and shopping lists of all your things.

    Recipes: Manage, convert and cost all your favourite recipes.

    Bakery: Accurately cost and manage all of your bakes.

    3D Cakes & Sketches: Create 3D images and sketches of your cake. You can also generate slicing guides and a complete breakdown of your cakes costs.

    Business: This is the place to manage & organise your contacts, orders, tasks & expenses.

    Insights: This gives you a summary of your business. Check out monthly overviews of your expenses, incomes and orders.

    This is just a very brief outline of what our software can do.

    We offer a 14 day free trial so that you can spent some time exploring the site; take our tours and see everything Baking It has to offer.

    We’d love to know your thoughts on our software.

  3. Hi – I realise this is an old post but is there any possibility that I can still register my interest with this Brazilian company who might be interested in my cakes please? Thank you

    1. Hi Elizabeth. So sorry, we should have taken that sentence out rather than just taking the link out. As you say that part is old (it’s from last year) and that particular opportunity has gone. I’ve removed the sentence. However, it’s worth keeping an eye out as British jams and pickles do sell well in many countries.


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