When Danira Cancinos was 15, she got pregnant with her oldest son and was forced to drop out of high school. By 24, she was a single mom of three, the family living with her parents in a three-bedroom house in the San Fernando Valley, California. Cancinos worked at an arcade for $15 per hour.
Realizing she couldn't always treat her kids to the baked goods sold in stores in their area, Cancinos began baking cupcakes for them and posting pictures on Facebook. She expanded her baked good experiments, and in 2019, finally heeded online requests to teach others how to make her confections. She ran a course about how to make her special caramel apples just twice that year and grossed more than $126,000.
Today, Cancinos, 33, has grown her online business to six classes per year, including courses about making pumpkin cheesecake, stuffed churros, and Oreo mini cheesecakes. Prices range from $20 to $275, with anywhere from 300 to 980 students attending each class.
Last year, her classes brought in nearly $335,000. "I had a great year in 2020," she says. Here's how Cancinos has been growing her business and some of her top tips.
Typically, Cancinos gives a specific window for students to buy access to her classes and then she teaches them live on Facebook. In July 2021, she offered a prerecorded strawberry cheesecake–making course featuring sessions that were 5 to 7 minutes long that students could purchase on her website and watch on their own time. It created an opportunity for her to bring in some passive income.
Initially, the class cost $35, and "within seven days I brought in about $11,000," she says. The price is now up to $50, with 530 students having already bought in. "I experimented with this and I did get a lot of great feedback," she says. "A lot of people got quick wins, meaning they were able to do their cheesecakes right away."
She's thinking of converting her most popular course, caramel apple making, to on-demand as well.
In May 2021, Cancinos decided to pivot her focus to a new class (taught live, per usual) that helped other professionals understand how to share their skills. "A lot of people would message me and say, 'How did you do it? I want to start teaching but I don't know how,'" she says. So she built a course called Baker to Online Instructor "just for bakers who want to start teaching," she says.
At $500, the class was her most expensive one to date. She was nervous about the price but, "I put in so much, I gave so much away for free, and I just told myself, 'I'm going to pour into these students, they're going to turn into success stories,'" she says. Seventy students signed up.
"Next time around," she says, "I will charge more."
"One of the biggest challenges that I had right before I launched Baker to Online Instructor is Facebook locked me out," she says. Cancinos had been teaching on the platform for years, and she had more than 15 courses uploaded. "Basically my groups were still standing, but all my videos were gone," she says.
It took Facebook seven days to give her access to her videos again, and she learned a valuable lesson: Always back up your work. Now Cancinos creates her courses on Facebook and backs up the videos on Kajabi, a platform for creators to build websites, landing pages, and online communities.
When she taught her Baker to Online Instructor course just a month later, "I was able to teach them this."
For the first time, Cancinos was able to hire a dedicated team to help her with the logistics of launching each course. "I get overwhelmed easily," she says of starting to use platforms like Kajabi, adding that she knew she needed to "hire someone to just take care of all of this because it's holding me back from doing more in my business."
She pays them $3,500 for every course launch: "They schedule the Facebook posts, they make the course calendar, they do [my sales page]." The team also meets with her weekly to map out tasks to help her audience grow, like giving her email templates to email the 7,000 people on her list.
"I felt like the backend was very messy," she says of running her business before hiring the team. "Now I feel way more organized."
Before Cancinos launched Baker to Online Instructor, she launched another free course. "It was a boot camp to build people's confidence," she says, adding that, "we did a lot of videos on how to put yourself out there, how to show up on Instagram, how to do Live."
"I got to meet so many women who are just struggling so much with self confidence," she says. And she can relate: It took Cancinos years to charge what her work was worth. At the beginning of her baking career, she'd bake cupcakes for people and charge just $40 per order, even for orders as large as five batches of 12 cupcakes each.
The boot camp "helped me just push myself more because people need to hear my story."
More from Grow: