Bartering: The Writer’s Secret Tool

A fair "trade": Offering a cheetah her dinner in exchange for a fantastic experience. (Photo by Chintan Mehta at the Wildlife Safari in Winston, Ore.).
A fair “trade”: Offering a cheetah her dinner in exchange for a fantastic experience. (Photo by Chintan Mehta at the Wildlife Safari in Winston, Ore.).

There was a time I paid for everything for my professional site—web development, logo design, professional photos, you name it. I’m not saying that there aren’t fantastic professionals out there who more than deserve their quotes and bids for a job well done. There certainly are, and they certainly do. However, don’t overlook a great barter arrangement when you can swing it.

Bartering: It’s the world’s oldest means of getting and providing services. However, you need to make sure it’s a fair trade. Almost everyone has a marketable skill that someone else wants. Maybe you’re a certified yoga instructor, a contractor, an SEO guru or an amateur photographer with serious skills. What happens when you want a service from a professional outside your skill set? This is the perfect opportunity for bartering.

My Bartering Experience

One year ago, I paid (handsomely) to have a new logo created. I did my research, checked out her online portfolio, and paid the industry standard. However, the end result just wasn’t what I wanted. I’m no graphic designer, so perhaps much of this was my fault. Even as a communicator (writer) for a living, was I just not explaining what I wanted? I didn’t have a specific “look” in mind, but I was open and descriptive in the general theme and look.

However, the end result (to me) just looked amateur, outdated, and not at all how I wanted to represent my business. I accepted it, paid it, and felt like I was playing dress up in someone else’s clothes.

Then I stumbled across a Craigslist post to barter landing page content for graphic design skills.

Just the Right Fit

The logo that I use today (complete with the pen in the “M” of MehtaFor) was designed by Lisa Lynch. You can check out her graphic design chops yourself, as well as her jewelry design. There was never any money exchanged. We both got what we wanted, it was a money saver for both parties—and for me it was proof that bartering isn’t a cheapskate’s way of making something happen.

No matter what your industry, take a look at bartering options and see what’s out there. However, for writers in particular, you already know your skills are in high demand. Why not swap a blog for a massage session, some product descriptions for some free handcrafted goods, or landing page content for complimentary mechanical work?

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