Starting a home-based food business isn’t as daunting or complicated as you might think -- in fact, thousands of food entrepreneurs are diving into their baking hobby headfirst each year in growing numbers.
Learning how to sell cakes from home and how to start a cake business that’s both profitable and doesn’t feel like work is the ultimate way to gain time freedom. No more slogging through a job 9-5 when you have a business that allows you to sell baked goods from home and enjoy life on your terms.
We’re going to walk through the details of how you can start a baked goods business from the ground up, particularly focused on cakes and cookies. This is your opportunity to learn how to sell baked goods online, the details of your local cottage food laws, and the best baked goods to sell from home to ensure your business thrives.
If you aren’t already familiar with cottage food laws, these are specific laws that vary from state to state and govern the sale of homemade food. They allow home bakers and cooks to sell their homemade products online, in farmer’s markets, and even at certain events.
Knowing the cottage food laws for your local government/jurisdiction is going to help you avoid any potential hurdles further down the road, helping you keep your business compliant and profitable.
All in all, selling your handmade cakes and baked goods is the best way to build up a thriving business from your hobby to where your days don’t even feel like work.
The ultimate freedom is waking up every morning and doing what you absolutely love to do! Let’s walk through the steps and get you on your way to selling cakes and baked goods on demand!
There are many ways to market your home-based food business, but one that many new bakers overlook is the power of selling your baked goods on Facebook.
We’re going to walk through how to sell baked goods on Facebook, selling cakes on Facebook, and how to post food on the Facebook Marketplace. We’ll also discuss Instagram for baked goods sales since both platforms are connected and owned by Facebook.
Selling your baked goods on Facebook and Instagram can be a great opportunity. There are numerous ways to reach local customers and clients in your surrounding cities and locales.
One of the most popular ways to sell anything on Facebook is through the Facebook Marketplace, and doing so is simple and easy.
If you’re wondering how to post food on Facebook Marketplace, all you need to do is follow a few simple steps:
Once you’ve posted your baked goods, you could easily be selling cakes on Facebook as well as any cookies and foods that don’t require refrigeration (this is a typical requirement for cottage food law.)
Instagram and “DM to Order”
A creative way to sell on Instagram that’s been gaining popularity in recent years is the “Direct Message (DM) to Order” concept.
To establish your Instagram page as a baked good and cake food business that accepts orders, most of your Instagram posts should be photos of your baked goods to establish a “catalog” of products.
Within the description of each post, you’ll say “DM to Order”, meaning that as soon as someone sends you a Direct Message on Instagram, you can work out payment and delivery of your baked goods. Unfortunately, this can be a clunky experience for your customers, especially for ones who don't know you. Consider setting up an online store to sell homemade food on Castiron instead!
Can you sell food on Facebook without a license?
The short answer is yes, but you’ll need to look up your local cottage food laws.
Cottage food laws were established to allow home-based sellers to sell without a food license as long as the rules and regulations are followed. This means you can sell on both Facebook and Instagram as long as you know your local regulations and are in compliance.
Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home? The answer is, it depends on the cottage food laws in your local area.
Some states are very lenient and provide significant freedoms to home-based food businesses. Others are more restrictive and require licenses and permits to sell your goods in certain cities or locales.
Knowing your local laws and regulations is the first step to ensuring you stay in compliance and don’t run into any trouble with the law.
Unlike commercial kitchens, there aren’t any kitchen requirements for home-based food businesses within the purview of cottage food law. Commercial food kitchens require specific certifications, equipment, and inspections. Home-based food businesses that follow local regulations are exempt from these commercial requirements. This means you could use your home kitchen to make your baked goods, cakes, and cookies.
For example, we’ll run through the cottage food laws in certain specific states throughout the United States. Ultimately, you’ll want to look up your local laws and regulations before making your first sale.
Before 2018, New York had fairly restrictive cottage food laws that limited home-based food businesses. Starting in 2018 and again in 2020, New York’s Agricultural Department made several improvements to NY state’s cottage food laws, making it easier for home-based sellers.
After their changes, you can now sell homemade food anywhere in New York state, as well as sell indirectly to restaurants and stores. This includes shipping items within state boundaries and selling your baked goods online.
You must complete a registration form with the Department of Agriculture in New York before selling any homemade foods. Luckily, registration is free and doesn’t expire unless you happen to move out of the state.
As a home-based food business, you’ll need to register with New York’s Agricultural Department, although registration is quick and easy.
Some states have sales limits annually, but New York has no sales limit! This means you can sell an endless number of baked goods, cakes, or cookies to your customers. Note that catering is prohibited under New York’s cottage food laws.
For anyone asking, “Can I sell food from my home in NY?”, the answer is a resounding yes!
Florida cottage food laws have improved over time, and the state currently has excellent freedoms for home-based businesses and food sellers.
To sell homemade foods in the State of Florida:
Florida has one of the best cottage food laws in the United States, making it easy for home-based food sellers.
Unlike New York and Florida, California’s cottage food laws are more restrictive.
California requires you to apply for a permit from the Environmental Health Department. Depending on if you’re classified as a Class A CFO or Class B Operator, you may be subject to home inspections.
For Class A CFOs, California’s permit costs are $100 - $150 in most counties, and for Class B Operators, the fees are $150 - $250 in most counties.
You’ve finally decided to start your home-based food business and sell your delicious cakes, cookies, and treats to customers all around -- what do you do next?
We’ve emphasized the importance of this several times already, but you must dive into your state’s cottage food laws and understand them front to back before making any sales.
Staying compliant with your local laws and regulations is what’ll keep your business profitable and thriving into the future.
Whether you want to plan out how to sell cakes to cafes, how to start a successful cake business, or just how to sell your baked goods in general, developing a business plan is essential.
Your business plan will be your “guide stone” and let you see the path ahead at every step. Keeping the bigger picture in mind is critical when running your business day-to-day.
Your business plan should include details such as:
To keep your baked goods tasting the same, you’ll need to standardize your recipes. Whenever you mix your ingredients, take notes and write down the exact measurements of each ingredient.
Try to repeat the process repeatedly with different baked goods and tweak ingredients as required. Once you have a delicious recipe that’s tested and ready to go, you can work on scaling your production!
If you’ve been wanting to learn how to make money selling baked goods from home, then one of the best things you can do is learn how to sell and market your baked goods online.
You can take many avenues, such as using ecommerce websites like Castiron to help you sell and distribute your food. Platforms like Castiron let you focus on running your business.
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.