The Confused in Cakeland series is back! These are the questions I get sent via email which don’t warrant a huge blog post but are worth talking about. Got a question you’d like me to answer? Send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve heard you say that you think cake collaborations are not worth the time. I’ve done a few this year and really liked them. Why don’t you think they are a good idea?
Hey there CQ,
This is an excellent question. I am not anti-collaboration. I think there is definitely something to be said for creating a sense of fun and community, fund raising and for having the opportunity to stretch yourself out of your creative comfort zone. However, I think they are a huge amount of work for not much in return for either the participants or the organiser. A lot of people don’t really realise exactly how much work goes on behind the scenes of these cake collaborations – it’s a lot of logistics!
That being said, here’s how I think you can get the most out of organising or being involved with a cake collaboration:
- Have a specific goal or purpose in mind, a defined way you’ll know the event or your participation was a success: maybe that’s a dollar amount raised, maybe it’s just the accomplishment of finishing a challenging piece, maybe it’s getting media attention, maybe it’s just totally for fun. Either way, make sure there’s a purpose to you doing it which is NOT either feeling popular or being pressured into it (you’ll just get resentful).
- See it as a marketing opportunity – organisers should be able to get some media attention for their cake collaboration and participants can use their participation and talk about it in their newsletters, website and social media. Participants can also get local media attention in their own right.
- Have very clear timelines and guidelines – this means people don’t just return stuff when they feel like it (also known as three weeks from never or a month before someday) and the guidelines will make sure your collaboration is cohesive. For participants, please respect those timelines and guidelines, they exist for a reason.
- Pick an interesting theme to work with, one that is interesting to people other than just you and that you feel passionate about. For participants, don’t join a collaboration theme you couldn’t care less about.
- If you would like to do one but nobody has asked – either start your own or ask around if there are any needing submissions. One thing I intensely dislike about cake collaborations is that they become popularity contests and the ones who are left out get hurt and feel like losers, while the same people who get asked start to get resentful that they have to keep doing them or say no all the time.
Specifically for organisers:
- Have a planned method for how you’re going to get this thing done and who is responsible for what. Have a defined release date, defined date for when submissions need to be returned, defined marketing plan. Don’t just put it out there and hope for the best.
- Anticipate that this will take WAY MORE TIME than you think it will and that other people may be way more or way less help than you thought.
Specifically for participants:
- Don’t sign up for one unless you’re sure you can contribute. It feels terrible to have to pull out and it’s a pain for the organisers to have to chase you down – it makes everyone feel bad.
- Don’t commit to lots of them – I spoke to one caker who had agreed to doing twelve in six months. Really, it’s a fun thing to do and it has it’s benefits, but too many of them and you are potentially costing your business more money and time than it can afford.
Onwards in collaboration,