Based on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Cupcake Addiction is home to the world’s largest free online cake decorating school.
With hundreds of Youtube tutorials, Cupcake Addiction shows you how to create gorgeous cakes, cupcakes and cake pop masterpieces from the comfort of your own home.
Baker and Pastry Chef Elise Strachan aims to bring the art of cake decorating to all corners of the globe, and has recently launched a Spanish decorating school, Mi Adiccion a Cupcakes as well as a Japanese decorating school, Cupcake Chudoku.
With over 10 million views on Youtube each month, millions of subscribers and Youtube channels in three languages, Elise holds the proud boast of being the most viewed baking channel in the world and on a global platform.
The success of Elise Strachan is phenomenal and The Carousel is delighted to have her as our Baking Editor & Pastry Chef.
What was your career before My Cupcake Addiction?
I was a flight attendant for five years and dabbled in events management before setting off to find something I could do from home while starting a family. I loved flying, but I knew it wasn’t my “forever” job and had always wanted to be in business for myself.
What was the career turning point?
At the very start of the ‘cupcake craze’ I looked at opening a cupcake store with my best friend. The shop never eventuated but experimenting and practicing re-ignited a childhood love of baking and I decided to try my hand at selling my cupcakes at a local market. They flew off the shelves several weeks in a row so when my husband and I relocated to the Gold Coast, I got a permanent spot at a twice weekly market and decided to give the cupcakes a solid go.
Where did the idea for My Cupcake Addiction come from?
After five years of making cakes and cupcakes for weddings, birthdays and weekly markets I saw a niche for teaching other small business owners and home bakers alike how to make their own amazing creations – whether for sale or for that special “wow” factor at a party. My husband suggested I test the waters with some free YouTube videos and just like that the channel was born.
What was your initial goal – hobby? Business?
Initially – hobby! I wanted to practice my teaching technique, see if people responded to my ideas and teaching style and see if there was a market for an online based training school.
What are your qualifications – are you a trained baker?
I am! I recently completed a Pastry Chef degree, so I now know a lot more behind the science of what I’ve done for the past seven years. For the first five years though I was largely self-taught and I’ve based the My Cupcake Addiction lessons around ideas that anyone can re-create, without having to have qualifications, fancy equipment or a huge amount of skill. I wanted to make baking and decorating easy and attainable for the average, everyday home-baker – in fact, for everyone whether you’re a kitchen whizz or a complete disaster!
How did your success come?
- In the beginning…
Slowly! I built my cupcake business gradually via word of mouth, great service and a fantastic product. I also continued working part time until it had ‘legs’ enough to support itself. There were days when I worked 9-5 then came home, slept till midnight and then got up to start baking for the next days market. When I started my YouTube channel I had zero expectations so anything was a bonus.
- Big break/building an audience?
I spent a year just loading videos and experimenting with my YouTube channel before I hit a turning point. I had applied for (and won) a YouTube grant for small channels and received $5000 worth of new filming equipment. I also worked with a couple of larger YouTube channels on projects which helped grow my audience and participated in a Google training program to teach me how to build a better channel. All these things, as well as creating consistent content helped my channel to grow significantly.
- Setting up the retail shop?
I never set up a retail shop! I made the decision early on to keep my presence online and market based to keep overheads low and minimise risk. While this proved tricky in some instances (like the times I baked 600+ cupcakes only to have a market cancelled due to storms) it also meant I wasn’t hampered by the costs associated with a retail store.
- Making money?
It got to the stage where I had 1200 cupcakes, 3-4 wedding cakes, a toddler and a rapidly growing YouTube business to attend to each week. I couldn’t do all of these things well, and had to decide where my time would be best spent, and what opportunities I saw for creating sustainable revenue. After four successful years I decided to give up the markets to focus on YouTube in a full time capacity and I’m glad I did!
- Identifying a need for video tutorials?
I was actually looking online for a simple video on how to pipe a rose on top of a cupcake. The one video I found showed me what I needed to know, but the footage was dark, grainy and shot in a messy kitchen. I thought to myself “If this is the best there is, surely there’s a gap in the market for someone who can do it better”.
- How have you grown?
Word of mouth has been my best friend. I utilised my existing Cupcake business social media pages, as well as my personal facebook page to promote my YouTube channel and collaborated with other YouTube channels within my demographic to draw new subscribers and viewers to my channel. Now I have more than 600,000 subscribers or regular viewers, over 8 million video views per month and YouTube channels in three languages. My channel is the second most viewed baking channel in the world and on a global platform as vast as Youtube, that’s no small feat!
Why do you think you are so successful?
There are a ton of cooking shows on TV, on YouTube and lots of great blogs specialising in sweets but none of them seem to give the ‘full story’ when it comes to re-creating these techniques and recipes at home. My aim for each video is that you can watch it and you know exactly what you need to do to recreate the product – its not a beautifully shot cooking show with lots of scenic locations and funny anecdotes, but it is comprehensive and easy to follow. I also try to steer away from ingredients and equipment that’s expensive or hard to find, preferring to use things like zip lock bags, toothpicks, egg cartons and other household items in place of specific decorating tools.
My tutorials are totally free in a digital space where upselling, in-app purchases and ‘teasers’ with hidden costs are the norm. I also provide a lot of free templates and printables to help home-bakers take their party theming to the next level. As a viewer, you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain by watching my videos and in a world where nothing comes without a price, I think people find it refreshing.
What was the biggest learning curve?
Before starting to make videos, I didn’t even have a YouTube account! I had to get my head around the technical aspects of what I was doing and also learn to decorate in a totally different way. It’s one thing to make a cupcake and entirely another to make it upside down and back to front for the camera, while describing what you’re doing, remaining animated and engaging and keeping the video concise and to the point.
What advice would you give to other young women considering an online passion/career?
The world really is our oyster. There has never been a better time to start a career online and we have seen huge blog stars, Pinterest gurus, YouTube channels and online teaching academy’s take off in spades in the past few years. People are consuming online knowledge and entertainment at record rates and it seems there is always room for one more player in the market.
Being flown to the USA to visit the YouTube creator space, meet with Google executives and film in professional kitchen studios in Los Angeles was a definite highlight. My Cupcake Addiction also received coverage in segments on the US Today Show and the Australian Today Show in the same week, which was a huge career highlight for me.
Career lowlights? (things you could have done differently, mistakes made)
Packaging – I dabbled in cupcake packaging supplies in 2011 and imported a shipping container full of cupcake boxes from an offshore supplier. Unfortunately I didn’t do enough research and soon discovered I was being undercut left, right and centre from suppliers on Ebay and other online bargain stores. I still have a garage full of packaging today and will need to make a LOT more cupcakes for my friends before I start to see the bottom of the pile.
That being said, I don’t consider any of my ‘lowlights’ to be failures. Simply lessons that have helped my to grow as a business-woman and as an entrepreneur. Every time I look at those boxes I’m reminded of the importance of due diligence and I know I’ll never make that same mistake again.
Are you addicted cupcakes in the comments below!