I’m afraid Halloween is not one of my favourite times of the year. In fact, I can admit that I get a little "Bah Humbug" about it! So I am never very inspired to give you cakey ideas and recipes around this ‘season’.

However, I can’t help but think that my blog this edition can only really be about nightmares! My own personal cake business nightmares in fact!

Firstly, my steadfast trusty mixer has broken! You can imagine! This is one of those events that I have often worried about, and now I wait for the poor thing to be collected by an engineer, in the hope that it is just in need of a good service, having been clogged, internally with icing sugar! The alternative, I cannot yet bear to even contemplate, but I guess you can also see this being a cake maker’s horror story!

My second nightmare, is a little more serious (on a professional level). How do we effectively market ourselves as home bakers, with little funding to do so? Before I left for Australia in 2012, Facebook accounted for roughly 80% of my business for both my classes and cakes. However, the change in the way posts get seen on the social media site had now led to, on average, 100 of my nearly 3000 followers seeing my posts!!! Thus, as a new business in this area of the country, I undertook to place adverts around the town and local villages, on legitimate public notice boards, hoping that they would attract attention. I was once told by a marketing expert that you need to "hit" someone an average of 9 times before they recognise your business and buy from you, so I decided community centres and public notice boards would be a good start, following on with some Facebook and Google advertising and the odd post on local selling sites and the free listings on Gumtree.

Only, this is not as easy as I found out. Facebook and Google can end up expensive if you don’t keep a check on it, and Gumtree have decided to charge for advertising your business. More troubling, however, the majority of my adverts around town have been removed. When I check with the community centre managers they inform me that they don’t know who would do this, but they presume, that it is other cake makers , who have not thought to advertise their own businesses next to mine, but instead prefer to take me out of the running. I find this very sad. Competition is healthy, it keeps us on our toes and helps us strive to be better. I spend far too long looking at other cake makers’ websites and Facebook pages, giving myself the urge and determination to be as good ( or half as good in some cases) as the fantastically talented competition. I remember the talk given at the National Cupcake Championships in 2011 by the guys from Outsider Tart, where they stated "There is room for everyone", and I believed them! I don’t want to take anyone out of the running, I don’t want other people’s businesses to fail, some people may prefer my cakes, but I’m sure others will prefer someone else’s. So stand next to me and given the customer a choice, rather than taking me down!

About Victoria Forward
Victoria Forward has just returned to the UK after two years in Australia, and is setting up cake business "Victoria Sponge", in Buckinghamshire. She previously ran Let Them Eat Cake in the UK for six years providing celebration cakes / cupcakes, cake decorating courses and workshops. In 2012 she won the award for Best Presented Cupcake at the British Baker National Cupcake Championships. Victoria is married with 2 children.