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Have you been told that you should open a bakery or a coffee shop? If you enjoy making muffins, cookies and cakes, you've likely considered this move. However, opening a bakery takes a large investment of money and time. What if you could just sell baked goods from your home? The good news is you can in most states. Before you do this, however, it's important to know what you can and cannot sell from your home kitchen in your state. The rules governing this type of food business are called cottage food laws and vary somewhat among states.
Cottage food laws allow home bakers and chefs to sell home-prepared foods at farmers markets, craft fairs and online marketplaces without having to upgrade their cooking spaces to commercial-grade kitchens, get a food license or be subject to regular health department inspections. The number of these types of cottage business have exploded in recent years. The cottage food industry is estimated to be around $20 billion annually, and is still growing.
We've put together some information for you to teach you how to start selling baked goods from home. However, you'll want to familiarize yourself with what goods your state allows under cottage food law and your state's specific requirements for a home bakery business. Keep in mind that most states limit the amount of gross sales you can make before you need to upgrade your business to one with a full food license.
If you'd like to sell baked goods from home, below are a few of the products most states allow under cottage food law.
Some states also allow acidic canned goods under cottage laws, things like...
Note that when selling baked goods from home under cottage food law, you'll need to limit your products to those that require no refrigeration. Items that include ingredients like cream cheese, whipping cream and similar products, like cheesecake and cream pies are not permitted to be sold under cottage food law.
You may be wondering if you need a license to sell baked goods from home. The answer is that you don't need a commercial food license. However, to cottage food law in many states requires that you get a cottage food permit to sell food from home. Some states require that you take a class before you can get a permit or license to sell food from home. Others have specific kitchen requirements for home baking businesses. It's important that you check carefully the rules on selling food from home in your state before you set up that table at your local food market.
Below are just a few states' baking from home regulations...
In addition to a cottage food permit or license, if required, you'll also need a business license for your bakery business. To do that, you'll need a business name and know how to check if a food business is registered in that name. Each business in a state must have a unique name. You can generally do this by contacting the office of the Secretary of State in your state.
Having a business website isn't just a luxury. It's today's digital world, it's a necessity, even for a part-time, cottage food business. Your home-based bakery website should include a list of the products you make, where people can order them (via your website, via text or phone, and/or at farmers markets and craft shows). Your online bakery website should also include your contact information and things like whether you offer delivery, how much you charge for delivery, where customers can pick up their orders and how much notice you need for an order.
To make sure your website looks professional and portrays the best image for your brand, it's a good idea to use a good bakery website builder. Not only does that mean you don't have to be a coding expert (or pay to hire one), but you can get your website up and running quickly without sacrificing quality. A software product designed for cottage food businesses, like Castiron, can also be invaluable. This type of software makes it easy to manage all aspects of your food business, from managing inventory to taking online orders.
One additional thought: the best bakery websites offer informative content as well as product descriptions. This not only helps to build your brand, but also helps you to rank more highly in search engine results. Good ideas for content for a bakery website include menu items for seasonal parties, information on the latest food trends and how to use your products in creative ways (such as making a cupcake tree in lieu of a wedding cake).
Can you sell food on Facebook without a license? The answer is it depends on the cottage food laws in your state. As we discussed above, some states require a license or permit for home-based bakeries; others do not.
Offering your homemade food products on social media platforms like Facebook can put your products in front of new customers that might not otherwise be aware of your business. Like selling at craft shows and markets, you'll still need to abide by your state's cottage food laws and not sell products that are not listed within your state's cottage food parameters.
The best place to start when learning how to sell baked goods on Facebook is with Facebook Marketplace. This somewhat new Facebook function puts local buyers and sellers together, must like Craigslist or your newspaper's classified section. Start by reading the how to post food on Facebook Marketplace section on Facebook. The social media site has some of its own rules when it comes to what's allowed and what's not. Make sure that you understand the rules before you start posting your products.
You'll probably want to set up a payment portal that interfaces with Facebook Marketplace. Facebook supports Facebook Pay, but you can also use Paypal, Venmo or any number of other payment apps. It's also a good idea when selling cakes and other baked goods on Facebook to set up Facebook Messenger to make it easy to communicate with existing and potential customers.
When creating your posts, make sure to take attractive photos of your baked goods. That's what is going to entice customers to your business. You'll also what to limit your add reach to your immediate area (maybe within 15 miles). Most people are not going to travel more than 10 or 15 minutes from home to pick up their order, so it doesn't make sense to pay for reach people who are not likely to become customers.
Every successful business needs a business plan and a home bakery is no exception. Some of the things you'll want to include in your home bakery business plan include...
You might also include sections on how you intend to make money selling baked goods from home or may how you propose to sell baked goods to coffee shops.
To learn more about how to sell bakery goods from your home and online, and how our food business software can help you track your sales and be profitable, visit castiron.me.
My business would not be the same without my Castiron website! It is an easy setup with lots of customization and tons of support! I am so glad I set up my shop last year before the holidays — it really helped increase my sales!
The Whimsical Cookie
Castiron provides me a professional site to my customers increasing my credibility and value while giving me the tools to effectively market and manage my business in an easy, user-friendly manner.
Wesley's Treats Hallie's Sweets
Castiron has made my cottage bakery shine, and my business easy to manage. As a platform they care about my business as much as I do.
Before Castiron, I was taking orders really manually, through emails or texts or Facebook. Now I can send customers straight to my website, and I don’t have to worry about missing any details.
I couldn't run my business without the Castiron platform. It made it so easy to get my shop up and running — it truly removed a massive barrier to me getting started!
I realized that the barrier of having to DM or text me to order was holding a lot of potential customers back.
Now that I have a professional website and a simple ecommerce checkout, I'm seeing a huge increase in new customers and they appreciate how easy Castiron makes ordering.
Easy to start, created specifically for local, handmade food: Castiron’s website builder was created to help you grow. Create a website in minutes with our templates, sell where and how your customers want to buy, and look professional without being technical. Keep customers coming back with email marketing tools, customer records, and more.
Food entrepreneurs, this is your moment. Your community is more and more conscious about what they buy and where it is from. They want food made with love. With ingredients they can pronounce. And they want to support their community while doing it.
Castiron is the best fit for your food business because we're not a one-size-fits-all tool. Selling local food is different from pre-packaged warehouse products. Whether you sell cooking classes, need local pick up, utilize pre-sales to plan inventory, or need a fully custom order form — we got you.
No code required. Add pages, sell your products, build order forms, and show off your beautiful work. We'll handle the tech so you can focus on growing your food business.
Never track down a payment or oversell products again. Real-time inventory tracking and secure payment processing make life easier for you and your customers, and our order form builder makes managing custom requests a breeze.
With our marketing tools, your email marketing can go on autopilot. We make it easy to promote your latest products, announce custom order availability, and stay connected with customers.