Would you drop your price if it makes you sweat more?

When you or I as customers buy almost any product, we often ask for a volume discount, or are even offered one. “Order more than x pieces and get 10% off the price.”

When we order creative work, we may be tempted to approach pricing in the same way. If instead of 10 web pages I commission you to write 20, how much would you cut the price? Or if, instead of a 10-page translation, I order 20 pages, will you drop your price-per-word?

In trading with goods, it is often beneficial for the seller to lower the unit price if the order volume is big enough. The production cost per unit is the lower, the more units are produced. Not to speak of situations where the seller wants to get rid of stock approaching obsolescence, such as end-of-season sales or Black Friday.

In creative work, in contrast, the opposite is true. If there’s more work, why would anyone offer it at a lower price? If I hire a ditch-digger to dig 100 yards of ditch, he probably has very little motivation to drop his price for 200 yards. None of the extra yards gets dug with less sweat.

In the manufacturing industry, the initial investment is high, but as volumes increase, the unit cost plummets after break-even. The result is that the more the product is sold, the cheaper it can be sold.

In creative work, however, the cost per unit of work is constant. The more units are produced, the higher the price. Whether it is web pages, translated words or painting ceiling frescoes.

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