How does a cake influencer really earn money? And how much? How much time does it take and how much cake do you eat in the process? What's the best and hardest part? I’ll be sharing all of this and more!
Confession #1: I didn't choose to be a cake influencer
The first cake decorating video I shared was back in 2012, before the term 'influencer' existed. Influencers are a relatively new term referring to people who influence people's actions or generate interest. For example, using a certain cake comb might make others consider choosing it. My first video was a time lapse video of making a car-shaped cake in my old cupcake shop in Costa Rica. I made it for fun, about five years long before starting the British Girl Bakes accounts on YouTube and Instagram. These accounts were specifically for sharing cake decorating tutorials. At the time, especially on Instagram, it was rare to see a video of the process of making a cake. The app was used mostly for photos. I was consistent with posting videos and the accounts got really popular so I guess I became an accidental influencer!
Confession #2: My life is not very glamorous
There are definitely fun parts to doing this: travel and interviews and decorating cakes, of course! But overall my life is definitely not glamorous! Off camera I'm usually in my pajamas with a cup of coffee in hand, washing massive piles of dirty bowls. There's usually a baby in the background or in a baby carrier with kids running in and out of the room.
Here's a funny example of this. I took a time lapse video of a cake melting to show what happens in the sun. Let's zoom out to see the setup.
I used my phone on a tripod to record the process but the sun was strong and didn't want the phone to overheat. I used one of my kids' umbrellas balanced on a stroller to try to keep the phone in the shade. Not as glamorous of a setup as you might expect!
Confession #3: I'm not a part-time cake influencer
Being a cake influencer is a full-time job for me. Although I can't work a typical 9-5 day because I have three little children, I fit my work into three chunks of time each day. The first is while my kids are in school and preschool, with a babysitter watching the baby for about three hours a day. Next, while the baby naps for another two hours each day. Finally, for about three hours after bedtime every night. You'll usually find a baby monitor on my cake decorating table beyond the camera shot!
Long form videos are much better. This one with over 3 million views has made $17,000:
Here's a typical day's earnings on YouTube: $65.55. You can see recent months' total income below. On its own this isn't enough to live on where I live.
So, why do I spend time making videos for YouTube? The aim is to find people who learn from these free tutorials and then visit my cake school and sign up for paid courses.
Confession #5: I don't eat much cake
Despite popular belief I don't eat cake every day. I typically frost and re-frost and re-decorate cakes for videos, sometimes five or six times. By the time I finish, they're not edible anymore. If they are edible I give them away because honestly, they're not that tempting to me anymore. I had a cake shop in Costa Rica for four years where I did taste testing every single day so I've had enough cake to last me a lifetime! The exception to this is for recipe testing, when I'll bake and taste a lot of cake until it's just right.
Confession #6: I don't have a team
I don't have a camera crew, an editor, a marketing team, a website team, a social media manager. It's just me. When I'm decorating cakes I set up various cameras around the room to get different angles. Then I edit all of my own videos using Final Cut Pro.
For my website I write out every tutorial with photos for people who prefer to read instead of watching the videos. For marketing I design, write and send out a newsletter every week. I also run all of the British Girl Bakes social media accounts: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook.
Confession #7: I don't sell my cakes for a lot of money
Actually I don't sell my cakes at all! I make about 100 cakes a year but I choose what I make based on what I think will be popular on my cake school or my website, YouTube, Instagram, not based on orders. Then I give the cakes away to friends or family, neighbors, teachers at school.
When it takes me more than a few days to decorate a cake so it's no longer edible, I'll frost and redecorate it again and again for different videos.
Confession #8: I don't share all of my cake fails
I think troubleshooting is helpful to share whereas cake fails are mostly for entertainment. I like to share troubleshooting for mistakes, explaining what you can do to prevent it or what you can can do to fix it. When I was filming the cake below I poked my fingers into the frosting when I tried to move the cake board!
Of course, cake fails happen to me too. Sometimes I'll try lots of different methods for something and none of them will work and so I give up and move on to something else. I don't end up sharing the fails unless I find a method that works.
I will say that I don't share all of my camera footage. What you see is about a 15th of what I actually film! It typically takes about an hour and a half to film a cake and then I'll cut it down to about five minutes for the YouTube tutorial. I cut out all of the boring parts and try to only show the key moments that you really need to see in order to replicate that technique at home.
Confession #9: I don't have any qualifications to be a cake influencer
My background might not be what you'd expect for a cake influencer. I studied Law at University, graduated, moved to Costa Rica to teach English and I ended up opening a cake shop.
Then I moved to Los Angeles and managed some bakeries there until I had a baby and was totally overwhelmed! I started making cake decorating videos on maternity leave to try to keep myself sane and here we are!
Confession #10: The hardest and best parts of being a cake influencer
The hardest thing about being a cake influencer is trying to find a balance. I choose when I work and how much I work which is a privilege and a curse! When I'm working on a project I love it's easy to try to find more time to spend on it. I can add extra babysitting hours for my kids, cancel plans, or work late at night. I end up missing what's really important: spending time with my friends and family. So creating a work-life balance by defining which hours I'm going to work and then sticking to that is, for me, the hardest part.
Let's finish with the best thing! With flexibility to choose what to do, how much of it to do and when to do it, I can spend a lot of time with my family. With a lot of advance planning I can travel and work from anywhere. I just got back from a trip with my family for a month and I could schedule ahead so that I didn't have to work while I was away. I could really focus on spending time with my family and that's amazing to be able to do when my kids are so little and still think that I'm the best thing!