How To Promote Your Cake Business – Carly Prior is the kitchen behind Carly’s Cupcakes: a one-girl team creating delicious cakes and treats for the lucky people of Brisbane, Australia.
Carly’s small business relies exclusively on Instagram and posts her goodies on her account, is featured on the main bakery accounts and on the personal IGs of her (often famous) clients.
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I asked him what it’s like to start a business when your only source of advertising is social media and your small or online business can’t replicate success with anything other than your phone.
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How to Instagram Your Small Business with Carle Before Carle’s Cupcakes When did you start Carle’s Cupcakes and how much do you use Instagram to promote it?
My company started my main career in December 2014 when I started working full time as a fraud analyst, but I built my company at least two years ago to recruit clients for my full time job! When it comes to social media, I’ve been on Instagram since its inception, but I haven’t been able to fully utilize it to promote my business. Facebook was like creating a business page to reach those who are not on Instagram.
I think it just came naturally to me, and Instagram is definitely a big part of my life, whether it’s looking at other businesses or connecting with friends and family across the country and around the world. I love the way you interact with Instagram and I think it’s a “raw” opportunity to comment on people directly and most importantly, instantly.
I was really lucky because I didn’t have to spend a lot of money on marketing. I have really great clients in terms of social status and online following, so I haven’t found the need to use physical/traditional marketing methods. I think it’s very common these days to tag someone in a post on Facebook or Instagram.
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I still love business cards and think they’re really powerful, especially for networking with other businesses, and some of my suppliers have them on their desks, which is great!
I am on Facebook with a business page, I have a website with lots of information about cakes, orders and stacks. I never joined Twitter because I didn’t think it was worth it because my business is all about visuals.
Engage your audience What do your followers respond to your search or are most interested in?
Videos seem to be a big hit right now, especially the bigger accounts that share the accounts that I share. I make time lapse videos on my phone and people love seeing the cake – I think it’s hypnotic!
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Now I use my account 99% for business, but if I post something personal it usually involves a cake, so I try to combine the two! I started a “cake selfie” where I take a picture of myself with my freshly assembled cake in the background. At first it was just for my sad amusement, but others thought it was hilarious!
I try to post at least once a day. As my following has grown, I’m not too picky about posting, usually early in the morning when people go to work, or late at night when people get home, or maybe it’s dessert time!
I’ve also found that I have a lot of international followers now, so the mid-morning post is what I post in the US from the early evening, which works well. My biggest cake days are Friday and Saturday, so depending on how busy I am, I might have five or six posts a day.
How do you keep up with followers when you’re busy cooking? Do you have a strategy or certain times of the day you spend on social media?
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This is something I have struggled with since the beginning. I’m slowly learning how to manage my time and how much time I have.
For example, I cook only on certain days of the week, I have set the days for email, I schedule classes, I go to customer counseling and I even run errands! On my busy days (Friday/Saturday) I usually don’t post until I’m done because I have time to reply to people or see who posted my work because I’ve been missing them a lot lately. !
I’m guilty of throwing all of the above out the window and doing what I do on time – otherwise I’d lose my mind!
Honestly, 100% word of mouth. Not only am I saying this, but I have the best customers and wholesalers who truly care about my business and me and are all supporters of Carly’s Cupcakes. Nine times out of 10, a new customer will come to me and see one of my cakes when a friend or family member sees it and just has to get it for themselves.
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I also have people who feature friends and family in my photos, so the style I offer really helps them.
How important is Instagram to your business and what do you think you would do without it?
While there are downsides to being online and being “exposed” as they say, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. As I said, my mouth has been the main factor in my success and this is usually done by tagging friends instead of physical words like in the old days, haha!
Most importantly, it can take your mind off of it. I have always justified what I do on the phone, email, Instagram, Facebook, etc. At first I had to answer people immediately, but now I stick to my office hours more and put myself to work. some limitations so i also use some time. Having said that, I love being able to run my business on my phone/laptop and I’m definitely more of an email fan than a phone fan!
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My followers are definitely a work in progress! Over time I’ve had friends who have good accounts for me, which is great, and I’ve also made cakes for Australian Rugby League players and their families, as well as singer Veronica, some politicians and celebrities. Faces around town definitely helped!
Lately the videos on my timeline have increased my count, usually around 50-100 per day, it’s crazy to watch!
How do I post or show people who have good accounts on their site?
Hashtags! Some of the bigger cake accounts also have their own hashtags or ask you to tag them directly, which definitely helped, but I think improving the quality of my photos and videos also made a big difference.
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I still don’t feel like my photos do my cakes justice, but I’m improving my photography skills. Take the time to learn the basics and editing tips of your camera, it really makes a difference.
I had so much fun with it and I feel sorry for anyone trying to cover up cake decorators who really hate cake?!
After gaining more followers, I got an amazing comment when someone wrote on a recent post, “So fat, it’s not even healthy!” “Do not look!” I told him. I answered. I told myself that I would never rise to the level of a troll, but if I was a little naughty, I would be fine with people!
Probably the amount of love and support I get everyday from people I don’t even know who love to see my work.
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I’ve never been a creative person, so finding that source and running a successful business isn’t easy for me. I have worked hard to get to where I am and Instagram has allowed me to document this journey and now share it with over 13,000 people.
Get fresh tips for home. What are your top three tips for small business owners?
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