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How to Barter With Other Business Owners

Updated on July 11th, 2016

Bartering is one of the oldest forms of paying for work, and luckily, it’s a system that still works well today. Essentially, bartering is when you exchange services with someone and no cash changes hands. So, if you’re a writer, you could create blog posts for a graphic designer’s blog who in turn could create a logo for you.

It sounds easy, but there are a lot of ways bartering could go wrong too, so here’s how to barter with other business owners and keep your reputation intact in the process.

1. Have a Meeting

If you’re interested in bartering with someone, first ask them to have a meeting. Take them out for coffee or for lunch and tell them what you’re hoping to do. It’s best if you speak openly about trading services and what you can offer them in return for their work.

Make sure they know you’re not trying to get something for free. Rather, you’re looking to provide services in exchange for services. People are more likely to work with a bartering deal if they know what they are getting in return and don’t feel like they’re being used.

2. Decide How to Calculate Your Work

There are two main ways you can calculate the “cost” of a barter. You can exchange time, hour for hour, or you can exchange per project value.

For example, a writer and a videographer can trade hour per hour of work. However, if the videographer’s services cost significantly more than the writer’s services then they might want to exchange the value of the project. One video, for example, might equal five blog posts, even if the blog posts takes the same amount of time to create.

3. Write a Contract

While agreeing on a contract with a handshake would be nice, it’s just not how the world works these days. When you have something in writing, it gives a bit more legitimacy to the contract. You don’t have to be as formal as having a lawyer look it over (unless you’re exchanging an incredible amount of work) but you should essentially write out what each person is responsible for and when they will deliver the work. Then, sign it and file it away with your other contracts.

4. Do a Phenomenal Job

Lastly, when bartering, sometimes people don’t view it as real work since there is no money coming in. However, the best thing you can do for your reputation and your business relationships is to do a phenomenal job when exchanging services.

Make sure you complete the work you agreed to do to the highest quality. Send your client/colleague updates during each part of the process, and make sure they know you are working on it. Make sure to turn in all work on time and ask for feedback. To help with this process, you should add the work into your calendar just as you would for a regular client and work on it when you have to.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that when it comes to business and relationships, the more you give, the more you get. So, if you can successfully barter services, you can hopefully learn the art of doing business this way and get a range of amazing and talented entrepreneurs to help you with your business. All you have to do is exchange a piece of yours in the process.

Catherine Collins Alford

Catherine Collins Alford

Catherine Collins Alford is a nationally recognized author of the book Mom's Got Money, an award-winning freelance writer, and the co-founder of MillennialHomeowner.com.

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