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How to Start an Online Bakery From Home

Are you curious about how to start selling baked goods from home? It can be extremely simple or complicated. In the U.S., every state has its laws governing the sale of food baked in a private home. You may think you have a solid home bakery business plan, but first, you need to get a few details sorted out before you begin.

You may need a license to start a baking business from home. Some states will allow you to self-inspect your kitchen, while others will have the health department determine if your home is properly equipped for the purpose. In one state you can plan on selling your pies to a local restaurant while another limits you to selling to individuals out of your back door. Make sure that you check with your city health department to get your homemade cake business plan in order.

If your state allows you to ship or sell online, you will need a bakery website and online presence. Make sure to consult with a professional to design a site that has a secure payment portal and meets all privacy policy requirements.

Depending on how many cookies you want to sell, your bakery business from home may need some commercial equipment. In any case, the kitchen must meet safe food handling minimums with storage, prep, and packaging areas designated just for your baked goods. You may need to include labeling and ingredient information according to your local regulations on how to sell baked goods.

Finally, if you are committed to starting an online bakery from home, you will need to include a social media plan to connect and grow your customer base.

Do You Need A License To Sell Baked Goods From Home

The short answer to this question is yes. Nearly every state allows you to prepare and sell cakes, pies, cookies, and brownies out of your home kitchen, but you will need a license. Each state has its regulations regarding what types of food can be sold, the way that you can sell them, and what information must be provided on the packaging.

A home bakery license in California is offered in two classes, A or B. Class A Cottage Food Operator is licensed to directly sell to individuals, like at a farmers market or out of your home. A Class B Cottage Food Operator can sell to restaurants, grocery stores, and food trucks. You cannot ship food with a Class A license.

Your home bakery in Florida does not require a license or even a kitchen inspection. You can prepare, package, and even sell your products online--as long as you do not ship out of state. You would not be able to sell items with cream or cheese on the ingredient list.
 
 For a home bakery in Illinois, you will be restricted to an income of just $25,000 a year. Your goods can only be sold out of your home or at an Illinois farmers market. You will need to include labeling on all products and display appropriate signage at your market booth.

You may be asked a bunch of questions when you file for a home bakery license in Massachusetts. While baked goods are generally permitted for a Residential Kitchen license, you may be asked to have your products undergo laboratory testing to receive the final license. You can ship your products out of state but must meet all Federal regulations for mailing food. It is possible to operate at a wholesale level with an upgraded license, but you are still restricted to the list of approved cottage foods. If you donate all your goods to a charity, no license is needed.

As you can see, it is essential to check with your local state and municipal health department to receive the proper information to open your home baking business license. 

Home Based Bakery Website

Your home-based bakery website will serve as your public portal to interested local customers. It allows you to create a menu to expedite orders, show off amazing decorating achievements, and share ingredient lists. Home bakery websites are not always designed to serve as an online store. If you are planning on shipping your goods, you must meet all federal regulations for packaging and shipping perishable items.

Even a simple bakery website will expand your visibility online and around town. You can include the address on business cards, link to it on social media, and promote your business among colleagues.

Your bakery website design should feature a home page that includes your business name, gorgeous pictures of your goods, and a brief description of your business. An About Us page helps your clients connect to you on a personal level as you share your path of inspiration that led you to open a home bakery. The Contact page includes all the different ways that your customers can reach you such as phone, email, social media, or a calendar of appearances at farmer's markets. Finally, you should have a Menu page that puts the spotlight on your special cakes, cookies, and muffins. 

You don't need to look for a specialized bakery website builder right away as many basic web designs allow for easy personalization without being a computer expert. Of course, once your business truly gets off the ground, hiring a professional that focuses on cake bakery websites will help you to stand out from the crowd.  They will also make sure that your online bakery is able to take orders and process payments.

You will start to add individual pages for each type of cake or cookie on your menu. It will feature a complete list of ingredients, size, discuss the presentation, and recommended lead time for placing orders. You may wish to add a section for customer reviews. 

Kitchen Requirements For Home Baking Business

While your home kitchen may be well-equipped and allows you to create several dozen batches of cookies in an afternoon, it will need some upgrades to meet your local home bakery rules and regulations. Remember that every local and state health department will have its own set of rules, so you will need to check before you call to have your home inspected.

You may be required to have dedicated storage, preparation areas, refrigerators, and ovens for your business. This is so the ingredients used in your baked goods cannot be contaminated by other unknown foods. This is especially important regarding preventing allergen cross-contamination.

The fire department may require a vented hood over the oven and even a sprinkler system. Some localities might require you to pass a food handling safety course.

The refrigerator and freezer will need to have thermometers. Goods that are ready for sale must be stored in a marked area away from your ingredients. 

If pets are allowed in your home, they will not be permitted to enter your business kitchen. You will need doors to block entry to the kitchen from the rest of the home. It is even possible that you may be required to live without any indoor pets.

The kitchen requirements for home baking business also pertain to the type of equipment that you will want to install. While your handheld mixer works fine to make a cake a week, it was likely not designed to run for hours every single day. Think about installing a larger commercial oven with swing-open doors that can increase the number of cakes or pies able to be baked at once. Look for a refrigerator with large shelves instead of small moveable ones that work better for bottles.  A large prep island gives you needed elbow room for mixing, decorating, and boxing.

Finally, home baking business requirements demand that you have a dedicated space for products that are ready for sale. The prepared baked goods must be properly labeled according to local regulations including date of preparation, the business address, ingredients, and allergens. 

How To Start A Baking Business Online

Operating a baking business online may sound like an easy route, but in many locales, all of your sales will be conducted in person. Your online presence will help you to connect with customers in search of delicious local baked goods.

Do you have a favorite Insta account that you follow for inspiration? That is exactly how to start an online bakery. Your online bakery website, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social channels will need to be filled with new images of your yummy goods, happy customers, and seasonal greetings. You will want to share where your business will appear next! Focus on popular farmers markets, local bake sales, and family celebrations. Let your fans know where you will park your car next and what kind of delicious treats are available today for purchase.

The use of social media will help to promote your cakes and cookies, but it takes a lot of work and dedication. If you live in a big city, you may want to send out a pic and tweet right before lunchtime. Is a big holiday coming up? Ask for DMs to reserve orders for pies, cakes, and brownies. Your online bakery is really you getting to know your fan base and interacting with them every day so that when they dream of a decadent donut, they make plans to visit your booth at the market.

Your social media is also a great market research tool! Have your loyal customers help you to determine which are the best baked goods to sell from home. Run interactive polls to decide what flavor of cupcake or pie you should make this week. Ask them what is their favorite dessert. This helps you to sell out at the market instead of preparing a new recipe that nobody wants.


All states have laws governing the sale of food baked in a private home. Read up on these rules and marketing tips before starting your online bakery.

Heather Brookshire

The Cake Whisperer

5/5

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!

Amanda McMonigle

The Whimsical Cookie

5/5

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.

Kim Sims

Wesley's Treats Hallie's Sweets

5/5

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.

Katie Maschoff

Mill City Cooking Company

5/5

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.

Daniella Smith

Oso Good Clean Eats

5/5

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!

Ali Serpe

Kultured Kombucha

5/5

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.

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