Whenever a person starts showing an interest or talent in an art form, there always seem to be some people who expect them to turn the art into a business.
Not everyone wants to use their hobbies as a side hustle, though, admitted the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor cakedupp3 was more than happy to occasionally make cakes as a surprise for people they cared about, but they didn’t want to turn it into a formal business.
But when people kept insisting, the Original Poster (OP) did the only thing they could think of.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for pricing my custom cakes so high, just to discourage people from asking me for cakes?”
The OP enjoyed baking for fun.
“I’m a hobbyist baker but my full-time job is engineering consulting. There’s more money on the engineering side; when I want to pick up extra hours of work, I’m gonna do engineering work.”
“But I genuinely like making cakes for friends or for events as a surprise!”
“But I don’t always, sometimes I’m just too busy to make one, it’s just something I do if I happen to have a free day before a get-together.”
“I like making them as surprises because if I screw them up, there’s no pressure to bring something.”
But then people started to take notice of the OP’s cakes.
“But as of recently, a bunch of people have asked me if I can make cakes for different events.”
“And I started just saying no because I don’t have the time. Plus I don’t know if I could do designs other people make justice, I really just make whatever I’m feeling and kinda wing it.”
“But people got so annoyed by that, saying stuff like ‘but you made a cake for (other person)’ or ‘I’m not asking for anything hard!'”
The OP started up-charging to deter potential customers.
“So I started saying that for special requests, I’m making cakes for commission, and that I can send them my pricing structure if they’re still interested.”
“My pricing structure is really structured around what it would cost to make it worth it to me, to spend a day making a cake instead of spending it on my main job…”
“So my rates are:”
“1. Customer pays the cost of ingredients.”
“2- A base hourly rate of $150 (Minimum 3 hours)”
“3. If the ‘deadline’ is in under 48 hours, my hourly rate is $250.”
“Soo… After I set my commission rates, most people will be like ‘never mind’ when I mention a commission at all, before I even get into prices.”
“There have only two exceptions.”
One of the OP’s aunts argued about the prices.
“My aunt Jess who I’m not really close to came up to me at Christmas and asked me if I could make a cake for her friend’s party.”
“I said I’m only doing commission work right now but I could send my pricing breakdown.”
“She said sure, and then she got really rude, saying that my cakes were nowhere near that good to charge that much and that she could get better at the bakery.”
“I said that she should go to the bakery then, they would have something nice!”
“She got frustrated with me and said she didn’t want a chain store-bought cake, and I said there were some non-chain bakeries in the nearby city.”
“She said I was missing the point and that my prices were absurd and nobody would pay that.”
“I said that was okay, I had enough business through my main job.”
One of the OP’s cousins took issue with the prices, as well.
“Next, my cousin asked me if I could make a cake for her kid’s birthday party, and I said that I’m only taking commissions.”
“She said that my prices were horrible, and for a kid’s party?”
“I said that kids would like a grocery store cake just as much, I was sure the party would be great whatever cake she got!”
“She said she didn’t want a grocery one, she wanted one of my custom designs.”
“I said that seemed like overkill for a kid’s party.”
“She said that nothing but the price was overkill and that I was taking advantage.”
“AITA for ‘selling’ my cakes for so much?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said the OP was right to set boundaries for what they were willing to do.
“As a hobby baker myself, yes, your prices are extremely high, and as a result, I’m going to start doing this. It’ll save so much time over saying no, then no again, and a third no.” – cassidy11111111
“This is a good use of the tactic, ‘Never turn down a job, just price yourself out.'” – billionairespicerice
“Family. None of them would slave an entire day in the kitchen, always dreading the criticism, fighting their own OCD tendencies that can get strong while baking (at least with me, perfectionism can get out of hand), all for free.”
“What are they prepared to offer to OP that is equivalent to the work and the pain/passion of baking a perfect cake?” – Tuedal
“This is truly an excellent strategy! Props to OP.”
“I have a hobby that people often monetize and had a friend ask me recently why I haven’t even though I’ve been doing the hobby since grade school… the answer is that I don’t want to! I like that my hobby is something fun I do to relax.”
“Having commissions, managing sales, and dealing with customers would add a whole lot of stress to something that I do to de-stress.”
“I have my own cheap-o relatives who would definitely start demanding intricate projects for free or low cost and I just do not want to deal with that at all. OP really has it figured out with the exorbitant pricing!!” – bbbright
“People ask a friend because they think they’ll get extra attention and a cheaper price.”
“I am similar to OP. I make baked goods, but really only do it for fun/if I feel like bringing something to an event. I have taken orders in the past, but it’s too stressful when I mess something up.”
“Additionally, I haven’t made cakes/cupcakes in YEARS. I still bake, but mostly cookies and brownies.”
“An acquaintance reached out to me a couple of years ago asking if I’d make her wedding cupcakes. I said I was out of practice, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable.”
“She insisted it would be great. I said they may not be all uniform and beautiful. She said she didn’t care, I should just make them.”
“Then I realized she was asking because she thought I’d do it on the cheap for her, so I said OK, I’d be happy to do it for $500.”
“She said she’d talk it over with her fiancé and get back to me… They got married last September, and I wasn’t invited, lol (laughing out loud).”
“NTA, OP. I’m so glad you’ve figured out how to nope out of unnecessary responsibilities.” – galaxyofcheese
Others agreed and shared anecdotes of other businesses using the same trick.
“Spot on, NTA.”
“Really, the only way to head this off at the pass is to establish strong boundaries from the start. I was office baker at my old job, and I figured out pretty quickly that if I started taking requests or baking for events/people’s birthdays/etc., I’d have to bake for every request and every birthday, or else I’d be insulting someone.”
“So from the start, I told people, ‘I bring in baked goods on Mondays.'”
“‘During football season, I only bake when my team wins, because otherwise I’m crying into the dough and it messes up the salt balance.'”
“‘I’m happy to hear if there are recipes you really like, and I’ll take that into consideration when figuring out my recipe rotation, but I don’t do requests. And I don’t do baking on-demand.'”
“And people were generally pretty chill about it! People completely understood the ‘if I bake for one birthday, I’d have to bake for every birthday’ thing, and the few people that did ask me to bake for birthdays/events were totally cool once I explained my rules and why I established them.”
“I’d even occasionally have people over and help them bake something if they wanted something to take to a family dinner or somesuch.”
“(I did occasionally have people ask if I could bake stuff for them to take to parties I wasn’t invited to. I shut that shit down quick.)” – Verklemptomaniac
“YUP – the minute you demonstrate skill at any sort of creative hobby, you get an avalanche of busybodies trying to convince you to make it a business, and then they’re the FIRST people to throw a tantrum when you give realistic prices for your work.”
“I made dozens of jars of salsas and jams and pickles and chutney and a few hundred cookies and mini banana bread loaves to put together Christmas hampers for gifts for people, and I took up knitting with a fervor bordering on compulsion.”
“To do either them as ‘work,’ I would need to charge laughable prices to cover expenses and that’s before paying myself a single sent for my endless hours of work. No thanks – I’ll stick with randomly bestowing gift baskets and cozy accouterments on the worthy like favors from a Benevolent God.” – Mustangbex
“It’s always a friend of….. situation. I will do it for friends and family that I know appreciate it and they pay for ingredients. I had a friend of a friend who thought it was outrageous to pay 200 for 400 flower garden decorated cupcakes.”
“She said she’d just go to a bakery instead. When they quoted her $600 she tried coming back to me. When I refused she ‘told’ on me and said she’d put me out of business.”
“I laughed and told her I’m a nurse so if you think you can put a hospital out of business over cupcakes you’re welcome to try.”
“She didn’t like that response…….” – cassidy11111111
Some were also frustrated by the constant commercialization of art.
“It annoys me how everyone always encourages people to commodify their hobbies. Why do I have to make my hobby a business if I’m good at it and people like my stuff?”
“If you’re trying to do it as a side hustle, that’s one thing. But to do a hobby for enjoyment where you could make a little money to cover hobby expenses with occasional sales is something completely different.”
“If people complain about the prices, remind them, ‘This isn’t a business.'” – NotAlwaysUhB
“There are always 2 prices in play when people are dealing with artists – the price that is based in reality and accounts for time, labor, skill, and cost of materials, and the price the consumer has been taught that the end product is worth based on what they’ve paid for the mass-produced version.”
“So the artist is thinking, ‘These cupcakes will cost me $XX in materials and take me an entire day to mix, bake, frost, and decorate to the client’s specifications, so the price is $XXX.'”
“The customer is thinking, ‘I pay $X for a dozen cupcakes at my preferred chain grocery store, that is the most money that cupcakes should ever cost.'” – DiTrastevere
“People cannot handle someone not using something for monetary gain. I cycle through hobbies a lot and the number of times I’ve been told to start an Etsy shop or that I could cook professionally…”
“No, I couldn’t! I’m a hobby cook with social anxiety, you think I’d survive five minutes in a professional kitchen? I’d never cook again. Drawing would become an anxiety trigger.”
“Not everything has to participate in capitalism to be valid.” – AppleThrower5000
The OP was second-guessing herself when her contacts repeatedly critiqued her prices, but the subReddit thought that was the whole point.
The best way to send work away is to charge a price they will likely refuse, and if they don’t, at least the worker will be adequately paid for what they were reluctant to do.