Have you been wanting to learn the legal way to sell homemade food online? Check out my step-by-step guide for selling baked goods on Facebook. It even includes business tips to help you get started like taking payments and delivery!
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Can I start a Business Selling Food Items on Facebook?
Are you a home baker who is curious about how to sell homemade goods online and make money from your hobby?
In this article, I will share with you exactly what I did to bake from home and sell out in just a few hours. I cover everything you need to know to start selling food online: from taking payments, to delivery. Whether this is a side hustle or you are ready to start your home bakery, selling online is a great way to get started on a budget.
My six-step process to selling food on Facebook
Here are the steps I took to get started selling online treat boxes locally. Feel free to deviate from what I did. This is just intended to help you get started. Of course, this is not a one-size-fits-all operation. It worked for me in my small town. I hope it works for you as well.
Please use your common sense and be safe when it comes to dealing with the public and making home deliveries.
Know the laws for cottage foods sales in your state
Every state is different when it comes to selling baked goods from home. You'll need to find out what the laws, regulations, and license requirements are in your state.
What are the rules for selling baked goods from home?
Selling home-baked goods is sometimes referred to as a cottage foods bakery. Your state will set guidelines that you need to follow. Some things they can regulate are: which ingredients you can use, who you can sell to, and where you can sell.
To learn more about what you need to know to sell from home, check my course: Home Bakery Regulations: everything you need to start a legal home baking business in 60 days or less.
Finding your niche as a home baker to create the best selling baked goods
Deciding what to sell is a difficult task for people who love to bake! (why? because we like to bake everything!)
You can ask your friends and co-workers which of your baked goods they like best, bake something that you're known for, or try something new.
Just remember that you can't be all things to all people. Once you find a few baked goods that sell well, and that you enjoy and make a profit on, you can specialize in those treats.
I decided to start small just to get the hang of it. I included cookies, bars, and muffins in my first round of treat boxes.
Invest in bakery packaging
I started with a simple box that can hold about $10-$15 dollars worth of assorted treats. I planned to make assorted boxes with a few different types of treats inside.
Here is an example of the type of box I used. I like it because it is versatile and allowed me to change the assortment each week.
Here are the Amazon links for the boxes and stickers I used to make my bakery treat boxes:
I also wanted to add a personal touch with a sticker. I didn't have a logo yet, so I used these cute stickers I found on Amazon.
Here is how my bakery treat boxes looked when they were full of treats:
Don't miss out on my free download and learn the top 10 mistakes home bakers make!
Pricing your home-baked products
Price Your Products
This is the most important step and one that lots of people skip. It will set good habits for any future baking that you do, so take the time to learn to cost your recipes and make sure that you are charging enough.
I've got a full blog post on how to cost your recipes. If you haven't learned how to calculate the cost of your recipe and mark up for profit, STOP what you're doing and go read that article. I cover the basics like:
Factor in Fixed Costs
Your fixed costs are things like how much ingredients cost, the cost of packaging, and your labels. You'll need to save your receipts and add up how much it costs you to make your items.
Calculate Your Variable Costs
Variable costs for home bakers are usually pretty low. Some people call this overhead and it includes things like fees you pay to sell at farmer's market, apps you pay for to help you run your baking business, and mileage on your car for delivery. Just be sure to add on a little to each item you sell to cover your monthly expenses.
Create a Profit Margin
The next thing you need to do is to decide how much you want to make from each sale. This is called your profit or mark-up. It's different for everyone but you can average between 25-45% from each item for profit.
Here is the link to read my full article on Pricing Your Baked Goods.
Set up Payment Options
I try to offer as many payment options as I can to make it easier for everyone. You don't need to invest any money here--this is just "getting your feet wet" when it comes to selling. Down the road, you may want to look into something like Square for taking credit cards. For now, you can activate a free Venmo account, Paypal, or Facebook Pay (which works through Facebook messenger).
The goal is to make payment as convenient as possible for your prospective customers.
Here is a link to get a free Square reader for your smartphone. It's great for taking payments in person. Setting up a Square account also gives you access to the Square dashboard, which works like a point of sale app.
Announce Your Treats on the baked goods marketplace
I used my personal Facebook page, and my local Facebook buy, sell, and trade group.
Before you list your items, get everything packaged and ready to go. I got my first online order about 5 minutes after posting it. Think about what works for you and set your delivery times and delivery area.
If you want to read more about promoting your bakery treats online, check out this post on Three Sure-Fire Ways to Boost Your Bakery Sales.
Remember that every interaction you have is your brand and your customer service. Be friendly, positive, and thankful when you're interacting via text, email, or comments. Secure the payment before you move on to delivery.
Don't post photos of other people's baked goods.
When you're just getting started, it can be tempting to borrow photos from other bakers. Especially if you don't have any good photos of your own just yet.
Don't underestimate your own talents, even simple and rustic desserts can sell well. Start simple and get in the habit of adding to your photo gallery little by little each time you post items to sell.
Borrowing other peoples pictures isn't a good practice for two reasons:
- you're not giving credit to the baker who worked hard to bake, style, and photograph that shot.
- It's misleading to the customer who will be expecting the same thing from their order.
Be careful posting photos of trademarked images
A quick scroll through Instagram will reveal loads of amazing baked goods that re-create characters, sports logos, and popular shoes and purses. All those recognizable brands are protected with trademarks.
Making a cake that recreates a trademarked image for personal use is fine, but selling the cake to a customer is illegal.
You'll need to decide if you are willing to take the risk of making a licensed image-baked good.
In my own baking business, I worked around d this by using edible prints of officially licensed brands and characters. You can see a great selection of licensed image options here.
For more tips on taking great photos with your smartphone, check out this recent blog post I wrote.
Here is an example of my first treat box post with pics:
Here is the photo I posted for selling baked goods on facebook
Take Payment and Deliver
After my first post, I added a few additional payment methods. Not everyone uses Venmo, so I added Paypal and payment via Facebook Messenger Pay as well.
I just placed my treat boxes in a plastic shopping bag for my delivery and delivered it to the address that the buyer texted me.
Since this took place during the COVID Pandemic, I wore a face mask and did a contact-free delivery. I set the treat box on the customer's porch, went back to my car, and messaged them that it was there.
I didn't have any problems with this delivery method, although bakers who live in bigger cities often choose a public place like a Starbucks or Walmart parking lot to make their drop off.
After my first round of treat boxes, I was excited to make more and try it again!
Several of my recipients messaged me, told me how much they enjoyed them and wanted to know when I would be doing it again.
We received a box today from my mom and LOVED everything! Do you by chance have any more of the square bars? I don’t know what they are but my kids freaked out!
Conclusion: Is It Illegal to Sell Food on Facebook?
As long as you understand and follow your cottage foods laws for bakers, it's perfectly legal to sell your home-baked goods online!
All you need to do is choose which items you bake, cost your recipes, invest in packaging, Set up your payment method, bake, and photograph your product, and then announce your treats online. Be ready to make a sale and remember to get full payment before you deliver.
I have video training available in my free Facebook support group.
You can click here to join and get more tips like this to help you get started selling your home-baked goods.
Let me know in the comments how you did!
Wait...don't leave without grabbing your copy of my free baking pitfalls download!
For more about the items I used in my treat boxes, check out the recipes here: Ridiculously Easy Blondie Bars, Magnificant lemon poppyseed muffins, and Homemade Double Delicious Chewy Chocolate Cookies.