Wednesday, July 19, 2017

My Favorite Programs For My Business

If you run your own business, and you don't have assistants, you'll need to fill a lot of roles yourself. For most people this can be a big old pain in the butt, and for creative-types even more so. Do you enjoy bookkeeping? I don't. But I've found ways to manage and streamline tasks that take a lot of time so that I don't have to think about them as much. Note that I'm not receiving any payments or kickbacks from recommending any of these, I just like them and use them on a regular basis.  😀

First, I love GoDaddy Bookkeeping. This is the one program that I'd recommend to anyone who has to deal with income and expenses. You can add accounts to import, like your paypal, credit card, and business bank account, and it retrieves that information on a regular basis. All you have to do is go in and make sure that everything is in the right category a couple times a month, and your bookkeeping is done. Print out the report for a monthly summary at the end of each month, and you have your hard copy for your taxes. There are other programs like Quickbooks that you can also use, but I haven't used them. I'd recommend that you use SOMETHING that imports your information, regardless of what it is. Check them out to decide which one is right for you. You can take a tour of GoDaddy bookkeeping here: Take the tour

For my social media, I use Buffer to schedule posts. I chose Buffer over Hootsuite and some others because I just found it easier to navigate, and they offered a Pinterest scheduler. I use it to schedule Pinterest and Facebook ahead of time so that I don't have to think about it every day. They have options to connect your Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Facebook and Linked In accounts, and they'll also send you Instagram reminders. If you're looking for a free service, try Hootsuite, or schedule directly from Facebook. You can link accounts to save time, too, but that's usually done in each individual platform's settings.

To send out my newsletter (you have a mailing list, right?) I use Mailchimp. It's free for their basic service up until a certain number of subscribers, so you can set up a list to try it out. I pay for the automated version so that I can send out my discount codes to people who sign up for my VIP Club automatically.

I also have Microsoft Office online through GoDaddy, which is where I have my website email address registered. It also gives me access to online MS Office programs if I need those.

The free calender in the Google apps is where I schedule my blog, youtube, and upcoming sales information. I open it up while I'm working to check things off the list.

Finally, I went ahead and bought a subscription to Carbonite file backup after admitting to myself that i'm not the best at remembering to back up my work. This does it for you as you work, so you don't have to think about it.

Those are the main sites that I use every week to deal with the running of my business. There are some other ones that are Etsy-specific, but they're not really relevant to cakes, so I'll leave those out of it. Total cost per month is $44 for the programs I've mentioned, which is pretty cheap considering how much I use them.


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Monday, July 10, 2017

How To Make Tomato Sauce For Pizza Cakes

There are a couple of ways to make tomato sauce for pizza cakes (or spaghetti cakes) but the important thing is to make sure the "sauce" will set up firmly enough that you'll be able to use it the way that you need to without it dripping all over the place.



One method is to use red glucose or corn syrup and spread that out like a sauce. That works fine, but sometimes it won't firm up enough, and depending on the heat it can soften up.

Another method is to use a thick but pourable gum glue. This will firm up and be totally dry to the touch after a few days, but it won't taste great. So there's a tradeoff. You'll have to decide which method works best for your purposes.

To make the gum glue, start with about a teaspoon of tylose, CMC, or Wilton Gumtex in a small container that you can seal with a lid so that it's airtight. Add some red food coloring, then start adding water bit by bit and stirring it with a fork. Try to break up the lumps as much as you can, and keep adding water as needed. You should probably start with a few tablespoons of water and add more as you need it to make the "sauce" the right consistency. Just do it bit by bit so that it doesn't thin out too much.

After you have the sauce pretty well mixed, let it stand overnight and the remaining lumps should dissolve. If it's too thick you can add some more water at this point. You want it to be thick but pourable.


Spread this like tomato sauce on the gumpaste pizza slice, put the "toppings" on the pizza by pressing them into the sauce, and let it set up for a few days. It will be sticky as it dries, but after a while it will set up and be dry to the touch. How fast that happens is going to depend on the humidity in your area and how thick it was to begin with, so it may take more or less time. Give it at least a couple of days to gel up.

And here's a video showing the real thing.



Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Friday, July 7, 2017

How To Do An Easy Woven Purse Strap For Handbag Cakes

When you make a purse cake, you want to fancy it up. Here's a way to make an easy "woven" purse strap using a chain mold.



Click here for the chain molds: Chain Molds


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How To Sell Online Part 3

Parts 1 and 2 of this article covered what to sell and where to sell online. Here are some more thoughts about online selling to keep in mind if you decide to try it.

Listing items in an online shop isn't the only thing that you have to work on. The main thing that will make a shop succeed or fail is SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. You’ll have to learn enough about this scintillating topic to make your shop be “findable” in search results. I’m a bit of a marketing geek, so I actually enjoy this part of the process, but if you don’t you’ll have to rely on direct referrals from your social media, and that takes more work on a daily basis.

There are definitely people whose SEO stinks, and who still sell a decent amount of items. But as I mentioned, they're the ones who have a large social media following to begin with, and they're sending that following directly to their shop by posting on social media. Direct traffic doesn't require any SEO at all, but it's not the way to reach the most people.

On top of that, Etsy has its own search engine, which works differently than Google's does. To sell successfully on Etsy, you need to understand how their SEO works, as well as how Google's works. It adds an extra layer to the puzzle.

I once offered to help someone who had a huge social media following with their Etsy shop because I looked at her SEO and it wasn't the best. One of my suggestions in her case was to put her items on her website, as opposed to having them on Etsy. Her following was large enough that she should have been able to support her own sales without having to rely on Etsy's platform. That's an unusual situation, though, and most people would benefit from being on a platform that has its own built-in traffic.

Other considerations include whether you have time to deal with a second business, because selling online requires a different type of customer service than in-person sales do. People are used to Amazon's quick deliveries and liberal return policies, and they expect that their online shopping experience will mimic that. As small businesses we obviously don't have the capacity to imitate Amazon, but you'll have to deal with people who expect you to. 

And don’t forget the tax man… You’ll need to collect and remit sales tax on items that are sold within your state if the items that you sell are taxable. This will involve registering with your state tax authority and filing returns on a regular basis. Your local government’s business department can give you more information about the requirements for this, including whether postage and handling are taxable or not.

Selling online is a matter of figuring out the right combination of products, the right SEO, and how to effectively market your shop. I can’t emphasize this enough…marketing an online shop is FAR more time-consuming than marketing custom cakes. I’m not kidding. Plus, it involves a different type of selling and strategies that you might have to learn from the ground up. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re willing to put in the effort it can be a good source of income.


To get 40 free listings for a new Etsy shop, use this link to open your shop (I'll also get free listings): 
http://etsy.me/2iyorqA


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Friday, June 23, 2017

How to Make Bamboo Sticks

Here's a look at using a bamboo mold and how to color it to bring out the details.



Click here for the bamboo mold: Bamboo mold


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com