Photo of melting ice on lagoon in Central Park taken by Joana Miranda

Week 38 wrapped up today in the Empire Building Kit.  One interesting topic that led me to do a bit of reflection, was the benefit (or harm) of focusing on earning more money versus trying to gain more customers.  A fellow “Emperor in Training” recently decided to conduct his own experiment with pricing.  After doubling the prices on a certain product, he saw sales of the product go up significantly.  He hadn’t made any changes to the product, but the jump in sales earned him an extra $35,000 that he hadn’t expected to earn!  Unfortunately, he didn’t feel comfortable providing many other details about his business or product, but the assumption is that the increase in sales and overall dollars earned, justified the possible loss of the lower tier of buyers for him.

When I opened my new shop of whimsical cards and prints at A Talent for Design at Etsy, I was approached very early on by my first customer.  She wanted 35 cards of one of my designs.   Needless to say, I was very excited not only to have my first potential customer, but that it was a bulk order sale.  However in corresponding with this customer, it became clear that she not only wanted me to customize the cards specifically to her needs (which I was happy to do at no extra charge) but, unfortunately, that she also wanted the cards at almost a 50% discount.   As much as I wanted the sale, I couldn’t bring myself to start off my business in a way that felt like it would be undervaluing my time and cutting significantly into any profit I’d make from the sale.

My decision cost me the sale AND the customer.  Granted, maybe that type of customer is not one I should be trying to cultivate, but I still wonder at times if I didn’t make a mistake. When you are starting out, should you discount your product, or does that send the wrong message about the value of your work?  What’s worked for you?


  1. nina says:

    When I first moved to town, fresh off of grad school, I decided that I wouldn’t pursue any free playing, but would hold out for jobs that paid. It meant that I missed out on playing some music I would have loved, and getting a lot of pats on the back for doing well. Instead, I played some less interesting jobs and worked in more stressful situations. Ultimately, I get to play at a much higher level, and have never been sorry that I held out for more.

    You did the right thing.

    • Hi Nina,

      Thanks for the perspective and the good reminder! It’s always easier to feel justified with hindsight (and success), but I think I did the right thing.

      Just got called in to play Swan Lake with the NYC Ballet tomorrow…so some shut eye is very direly needed so that I can be fresh to try to learn the entire ballet in the morning from my husband’s score – the only part I could get my hands on.

      Hope you are well!
      🙂 Joana

  2. Helen Reich says:

    Someone asked me to make at least 15 of a particular hair clip for a wedding…..she was hoping that I could lower the price significantly, mentioning another seller’s clip she was considering that was in the $5 range. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, as this particular clip is kind of labor intensive, and I offered $12 each, down from $16. I never heard from her again, which is OK. If I had it to do again, I would have pointed her in the direction of another, similarly colored clip that I made, which would have been much easier and quicker to duplicate, and then offer a better discount, but still not as low as $5.

    • Hi Helen,

      Thanks for writing in with your experience. Unfortunately, Etsy does foster the “yard sale” mentality in some people. What amazes me in your case (and in mine) is that when we offered to be generous, the client didn’t have the decency to respond. For that reason alone, I think I probably made the right call…sounds like you did, too!


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