Have your friends always told you that you make the best banana bread they ever had? Or are you the go-to person when it comes to baking cookies for fundraising events?
If you want to earn extra income or turn your hobby into a full-time career, then starting your home baking business online is a great opportunity to grab right now, especially since many people aren’t dining in or visiting shops to stay safe.
Besides the possible income, baking can be a relaxing meditative activity where you can let your creative juices flow.
Here’s all the information you need to start your home baking business!
The legal aspects you need to explore before putting up an online bakeshop
Before you even get started on your marketing strategy or menu, you have to be aware of cottage food laws. Basically, these laws allow individuals to cook or bake at home and sell food on a small-scale level.
Cottage food laws vary per state, so it’s best to go through state regulations for a more detailed explanation on how to sell food in your locality.
For example, some states require that you personally deliver your products, while others allow you to mail them. Most states, however, will require you to:
- Obtain a state business license
- Secure other licenses and permits from your local government (e.g., zoning clearance, health department permit, sales tax permit, etc.)
- Have a health inspector conduct kitchen inspection at least annually
- maintain proper food storage
- Refuse access to pets in your home kitchen
If you have any questions, you should inquire with your local Department of Health or Department of Agriculture officials.
How to Sell Baked Goods Online
After you’ve settled all the legal requirements, it’s time to develop a business plan for your online food business. Anybody can sell their five-star cheesecakes online, but it still takes a strategic business owner to sell them like hotcakes in the long term.
Here are some points to give you a great head start!
Maximize social media platforms.
First, you have to decide which online platform suits your baking business.
Setting up a website is the traditional option, but it does come with a cost.
Most already use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram for their familiarity and accessibility. Plus, you can easily invite your friends and followers to check out your page.
If you’ve chosen to sell through social media, Instagram is the best option, which is a preference for most sellers of baked and cooked goods.
Each business must have its own branding that must be clear and consistent.
People eat with their eyes first, and Instagram is the most optimal platform to feature your products’ enticing photos and establish a strong visual image.
And when you create captions or hashtags for your posts and interact with your followers, stay in tune with the personality you’ve set for your brand, i.e., witty, friendly, formal, and so on.
Publish high-quality photos of the products across social media or the platform of your choice.
When posting on your chosen platform, take high-quality and beautiful photos of your baked goods. Social media users are drawn to visually appealing content, and this will surely rake in potential customers in no time.
You don’t have to be a professional or hire one to take great photos. Most smartphones already offer cameras that can give you crisp and automatically-adjusted images. Just make sure that you highlight the best features of your products and enhance them accordingly.
Nowadays, social media users love Canva, which offers customizable templates for Facebook posts, Youtube thumbnails, Instagram posts, and other formats.
If you want to be more adventurous, you can also post short and engaging videos of your home-baked goodies. Some of our top picks for video editing software are Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Final Cut Pro X, and Corel VideoStudio Pro.
E-commerce platforms might be your new best friend.
Many sellers still choose to carry out their business through a website instead of Facebook or Instagram. The thing about social media platforms is that the features are limited, so if you find yourself wanting more space, a website is a great option. It will allow you to create an online space that is entirely consistent with your branding.
Today, the least of your worries should be setting up a website. You don’t have to be a computer genius in the modern age to set up an online bakery. There are e-commerce platforms that have everything you need to launch your website, such as:
Pay attention to your digital marketing strategy.
Lastly, you have to craft a digital marketing strategy to keep clients coming for more.
Digital marketing does not end with posting your food content across various social media platforms. There are many other marketing tactics to strengthen your brand and grow your profits.
Social Media Management
Social media management software can help you handle all your business’ social media accounts easier. They integrate all your accounts and show you customer responses to monitor your brand’s online presence.
Most of these software applications also allow you to schedule future updates, post on many platforms simultaneously and even generate new and compelling content.
Here are some suggestions to choose from:
Optimize Local SEO
To attract potential customers in your area, you have to employ a local SEO strategy.
If you’re not familiar with it, search engine optimization or SEO revolves around improving your content to rank higher in search engines like Google or Yahoo!.
More often than not, people are looking for products, especially food or anything perishable near them, rather have it shipped from another state or abroad.
One of the best ways to improve local SEO is by capitalizing on Google My Business Listing so that your home business can rank higher in local Google results and Google Maps searches.
You need to add vital information about your business, such as its name, contact number, address, website, operating hours, and so on. You’ll also identify the business category where it falls.
Another surefire way to rank up in search engine results is by incorporating reviews in your website.
Google prioritizes websites with high-quality reviews since most users would want to get the best product available. Plus, your customers become free content contributors whose opinions match specific keywords that other users are searching for.
Using data to make better business decisions is now at your fingertips. Google Analytics can help you track the understanding of the demographics of people who visit your website and learn about their shopping behavior. It also has a feature that can help track e-commerce sales to check if you’re meeting your financial goals.
Tips & Tricks
Create a signature item
You might have an arsenal of recipes that you all love, but take note of that one product your family, friends, and colleagues rave about the most and make it your signature item.
Having a signature item will ensure that you’ll always have regular clients and keep you in the business for a long time. It will give you free exposure through word-of-mouth marketing because people love to share where you can get the best cookies or chocolate cake in town.
Connect with other bakers
If you know of other home bakers in your area, it’s time to step out of your shell and connect with them!
You can start by searching for fellow home baking businesses like yours through Facebook. They can give you contacts of their reliable suppliers, share their experiences, and give you their baking or business tips.
Give out samples and get feedback.
Let them eat cake, as Marie Antoinette once said. To expand your market, you should try giving out free samples to places where you have friends or acquaintances. This tip is also helpful when you’re trying out new recipes!
When giving samples, or doing business as usual, always put your contact information and prepare a business card if possible. Encourage your customers to give you feedback so that you know how to improve your products better.
You might be reading this article because you’ve finally decided to turn your baking hobby into a baking business during this pandemic. However, becoming an entrepreneur now requires you to follow existing cottage food regulations, as we mentioned, and local rules designed to prevent coronavirus spread.
Delivering food to many households or establishments can expose you and your clients to the disease. Make yourself informed of the latest developments in safety protocols by searching online or inquiring with your local government.
Setting up your online baking business can take some time, particularly with all the legalities. But as soon as you’ve laid down the foundation, everything would be a breeze, especially if baking is an important part of your life in the first place.
With more people now connected to the internet than ever before, maintaining a good online marketing strategy is crucial to sustaining your business. Research by exploring how successful home bakers and food entrepreneurs are doing things right in the online space.