Feature Interview: Lizzy Early, Your Cup of Cake

I’ve known Lizzy for about 3 years now. Besides being beautiful, sweet, and driven, she is also an AMAZING baker and an incredibly smart business woman. She started up her cupcake website and business a few years ago and it’s grown immensely. She’s even got a cookbook coming out in a few months! So how did she do it? Read on to see how she turned a hobby and talent into a successful business.

Tell me about what you do and how your business came about.

I basically run a website that gives recipes and posts photos. I get all of my revenue from online ad sales. I started because I was baking a lot. I baked in high school. I was super shy and I learned that the fastest way to make friends was to show up at school with a plate of cookies and then everyone wants to be your friend. So I got to this point where I had tons of recipes, but I didn’t know what to do with them or how to keep them safe. I wanted to be able to access them anywhere and if my computer crashed I didn’t want to loose them. So I decided I would start a little blog. I didn’t tell my friends or anything, I didn’t mean for it to get big. I would post photos with the recipes and then all of the sudden I got featured on this website called FoodBuzz and I started to grow from there. When I looked at my traffic, all of the sudden there was a huge spike. From there I decided to just go for it. I had a mentor in the blogging world and she really helped me figure things out and buy the domain. Pinterest, honestly 85% of my views come from there. I do not know what I would do without Pinterest.

How many hours a week do you spend baking?

That’s a complicated question because right now I’m finishing up my book with Deseret Book so it’s a little hectic just trying to meet deadlines. I’m a little of a perfectionist so I want to get every single photo perfect, so it’s a lot right now. But usually I’ll bake twice, maybe three times a week, which takes about 3 hours or so. Then I take photos and answer emails, so probably no more than 5 or 6 hours.

Do you take the pictures yourself?

I do, yes. My first camera was very small, a little powershot Cannon, but it actually took really good photos. But I upgraded last year because to survive in the blogging world you have to have the photos. Photos are crucial, and that’s the big reason I got this book deal was because my pictures were so good.

Because baking is your business, does it take any of the joy out of it for you?

Yes, this book has taken a lot of the joy out of it for me. It took over my summer, literally I was baking every day so it was a fiasco. In moments of panic and terror when trying to meet demands and get posts up it can be a frustration and feel like work but it’s nice to get to a point where I am scheduled ahead and can relax.

I love taking the photos, that might be my favorite part. Although, it can also be the most frustrating. I also hate doing the dishes after baking.

Do you get a lot of other bloggers or readers emailing you all of the time?

A lot of bloggers will email me asking advice, but the emails that just crack me up are the ones that come from Asia and other places. I get them over night and I wake up to these emails that you can tell they just Google translated. It’s really hilarious but at the same time it’s awesome to know that people from all over the world are coming to my site. It’s amazing.

What makes your business unique to other baking businesses?

Well first of all my website is mostly cupcakes, so a lot of people tell me I’m their go-to person for cupcakes, which is awesome. Also, I try to make it easy. I don’t think anyone should have to go to a bakery and pay $2 for a cupcake, I think that’s out of control. Plus, with the economy the way it is people are trying to bake at home for parties rather than going out and buying things. I use a lot of cakemix recipes which makes it easy, that’s what my entire first cookbook is on. Some people view using cake mix as cheating, but a lot of bakeries do it and don’t tell you. But, it’s a full proof method of making cupcakes and makes it so anyone can have the same results.

What’s your biggest struggle in starting up this business?

Probably just the balance because with technology I have emails coming to my phone so it’s easy to feel like I’m working the entire day. I get an email and I want to be prompt and respond right then. So it’s a big balance of life and work because work can take over very easy.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

The comments I get on my blog that say, “I was the hit of the party because I brought these cupcakes” and things like that. Honestly, that is my entire goal, to make other people be able to bake well and be proud of what they do. If you just have a good recipe and some basic skills, you’re set.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Sometimes I hit a mental block, but I try and draw inspiration from just about anything. Sometimes it’s just whatever is in my pantry, I’m a poor college student so I have to work with what I have. I get inspiration from a lot of candy bars, just taking the combos from those things. It’s all about flavor combinations for me and I just experiment and sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t.

What is a tip you have for women who want to start up their own business?

Just go for it. Go for it and be smart about it. You have to have a business mindset and know whom you want to reach. You have to think about what your audience wants. Even silly things like color schemes.

So your cookbook is coming out soon, where can readers get a copy and when is it available?

It’s in Deseret Bookstores and a few other places. Definitely online and there will be links on my website. Hopefully it will be in stores in April, but it still isn’t set in stone. Sometime next Spring for sure!

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