It would depend on if you were going to decorate the whole thing with a star tip, smooth ice it, or cover it in fondant. When I do a shaped cake for money I don't use the star tip fill in method because I think it looks too simple and homemade. I either smooth ice it(fill in all the colors and then smooth with viva paper towel) or cover it in marshmallow fondant and then paint in the details. I also use 1 1/2 cake mixes instead of just the one for a loftier cake unless the customer wants filling in which case I just bake two separate cakes and trim, fill, and stack like any other cake. For both the double layer cake with filling and the single layer cake, no filling, and 12 cupcakes (leftover batter) I charge $25.
You need to see the going rate in your area for custom (not grocery store) cakes. You need to sit down and calculate how much it cost you in ingredients and utilities to make the cake. You then need to factor in your time to buy the ingredients, make the buttercream, bake the cake and decorate. Don't forget the gas it takes to get you to and from the store. You also need to factor in the cost of materials, ie cake boards, boxes. Once you sit down and do all of this, you will realize that it cost a lot more to make a cake than you think, but your time is the most important. Pay yourself an hourly wage just like you would get at any job. The better you are, the higher your wage.
If you were to charge $25 how much of that money (if any) is going into your pocket? Was that amount worth the time you spent on the cake? My minimum cake order is $50, meaning I will not turn on my ovens for less than $50 and that is for a basic buttercream 1/4 sheet cake. My cakes start at $3.50/serving for buttercream and $4.50/serving for fondant. My 2D and 3D cakes start at $150 even if the cake only feeds 10 and my purse cakes start at $150. If I did shaped pan cakes, I would charge at least $100, but I live in a high end city and those prices work for me and my customers pay it.
I know exactly how much cake cost me to make. I know how much for 1 egg, how much for 1TBS of vanilla and 1lb of butter. If you don't know these things, how will you know how much money you are making?
There's nothing worse than being up late working on a cake and realizing that you are either doing the cake for free or for next to nothing.
I don't agree with people who insist that everyone charge a very high price for custom cakes because not everyone can. I buy all my ingredients at a discount store and all my supplies at the dollar store and at a restaurant supply shop so I can make a cake pretty cheap and don't need to charge a fortune for a small cake. If you are new at decorating then you have to charge less to build up your business, sometimes even working for free just for the experience. Also if you live in a low income area people will buy a walmart if you try to charge too much. When you get your business is going well and having frequent orders then you can raise your prices. You do need to figure out how much it will cost you to make the cake and make sure you are charging more than that. .To bake and decorate a shaped cake, single layer with no filling it will cost me less than $10. I double that and add $5 for packaging. I don't charge for gas because I go to the store several times a week and just pick up cake supplies at the same time, unless I have a last minute order in which case the price of the cake doubles.
I hope you are not referring to me melgarmania since the very first thing I said was check the pricing in their area. I listed my pricing and then mentioned that I lived in a high end city and people are able to pay that pricing.
The goal of my business is to be able to pay for all of my overhead and make a profit. In addition to ingredients and materials, I have other bills like rent, phone and advertising. I must make sure that all of my bills are covered and still make money to pay myself, after all that is the goal...to make money. I can't make $10 off of a cake and keep everything going, but that is just me.
I never suggest people charge what I charge. I just list my pricing as an example.
My advice is always to figure out how much the cake cost to make and decide how much you want to pay yourself. I also mentioned that the more experience you have, the more you can charge as well...seems like were pretty much saying the same thing.
No, I was referring to others who when I was new to baking insisted that should charge more for my cakes than I felt comfortable charging, even more than I feel comfortable charging now. I'm sorry if that seemed like an attack on you, I should have worded it better or stated it differently. I was just bringing up the point that when you are new you have to start cheap to build up your business and then raise your prices. I did several cakes in the beginning that I'm sure I didn't make any money from but I needed the experience and I needed the references for future customers. As I got better I raised my prices a little. I have a friend who charges $3.50/serving and her serving size is about half the size of mine. If she gets a customer that argues over the price she refers them to me because she knows I am cheaper. If they argue with me then I refer them to another friend who has only made 8 cakes so far and is still working for very little money because she needs the experience. My point is that you have to make sure all your expenses are covered and then charge what you can above that for the experience and skill set that you have.
I never use the wilton castle kit because I tell my customers that they will have to pay for it themselves or pay a deposit for it to be returned and they never want to pay. Very early on in my baking career I had a costumer ask for a castle cake with the wilton castle kit. She wanted a 12X12 square topped with an 8" round and the romantic castle pieces and she didn't want to buy the kit or pay a deposit and she wanted it all for $50. I told her there was no way I could do that, that wouldn't even cover my ingredients and supplies. I told her for $50 she could have an 8X8 and a 6" round and edible decorations. she was not happy but couldn't find anyone else that would do it so she came back to me. In the end I gave her a 10X10 to soothe her over hoping to get some referrals from her but she was still dissatisfied and was upset the the cake wasn't what she wanted. I told her when she was ordering that I was new to baking and hadn't had very many customers before and she didn't seem to mind but then when she picked up the cake she said it was to simple and looked like a kid could have made it. My point is if you don't want to be stuck eating the cost of the cake kit then you need to tell your customer up front that they will have to pay for it or they will expect you to and if they end up with a cake that wasn't what they dreamed it would be there's a chance they won't be happy but sometimes people wouldn't have been happy no matter what they get from you.
That is it. She was horrible but I wanted the experience. Now when people give me grief . I make sure to let them know what others are charging and also refer them to someone with less experience who will do it for less money.