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Have you ever considered bartering your design skills?

Like it or not, money rules our world. Without it, businesses fail, economies collapse and people suffer. However, money isn't the only commodity when it comes to doing business. Thousands of years ago, long before currencies were introduced, people relied on bartering in order to survive. If you had a field of wheat but no meat and your neighbour had a herd of cattle but no grain, the two of you would barter the goods you had in exchange for those you required. Everybody was happy in the end.

Bartering still remains a viable way of conducting business and there's no reason why it wouldn't work for your graphic design business.

In this week's Resourceful Designer podcast I share examples of how bartering can help your business. Be sure to have a listen, or better yet, subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode.

What is bartering?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Barter means to trade or exchange commodities (such as products or services) for other things instead of for money.

Have you ever seen a classified ad where someone has a boat and is looking to trade it for a car? That's bartering. It's a trade in which both involved parties feel like they are getting a good deal. Maybe even the better deal.

The idea behind bartering is for you to trade something, such as your graphic design services for something you find more valuable in return.

The power of bartering

Have you ever heard of Kyle MacDonald? He's a Canadian blogger who in 2005 started with one red paperclip and over the course of one year, bartered 14 different trades with the final trade making him the owner of a two-story farmhouse in Saskatchewan Canada. All without any money ever exchanging hands. This story alone should prove to you the value of bartering.

Bartering and your graphic design business

So how does bartering relate to your business? Simple, trade your time and skills for goods and services in return.

When I first started my home based graphic design business I had an old used desk I purchased off my old employer. It was wobbly and didn't look very nice, but it did the job it was required to do. Then one day I was asked to quote on a new website for a master woodworker. The price I quoted was too expensive for him but he asked if I would be willing to build it for him in exchange for a custom made wood desk. We agreed that I would purchase the required wood, and he would build the desk at no charge to me. In exchange, I would build a custom website for him. All he would have to pay was the hosting fee.

In both our minds we were getting the better deal. He was getting a new website, something he couldn't afford and was incapable of doing himself. I was getting a solid wood desk, built to my specifications, that I would never have spent the money on otherwise.

Perceived value.

The appeal of bartering all comes down to perceived value. Both parties involved perceive the value of the goods or service they are receiving as more valuable than those they are providing.

You design for a living so spending a few hours in front of your computer creating comes naturally to you. But to someone else, the idea of doing that seems daunting and beyond their capabilities. The same goes for you. Your client may have a skill or product that you can't produce on your own. So to you, it's perceived as more valuable than your few hours in front of your computer.

Bartering is truly a win-win scenario.

Bartering ideas

  • Are you a parent with active kids? You could barter your services in exchange for your child's membership in a club, group or organisation.
  • Do you have a hobby? Barter your skills with other enthusiasts in exchange for whatever you need to grow in your hobby.
  • Do you need anything for your home or office? Barter with clients for the things you need.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to what you can get through bartering. Why don't you give it a try?

Have you bartered your services before?

I would love to know how you bartered your design services. Please leave comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Tyler

I live in an area that has a deeply rooted DIY mentality. As a result, I am struggling to sell local businesses on the value of my marketing and design abilities. Do you have any recommendations to break businesses out of this mentality, and show them the value of professional services?

To find out what I told Tyler you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week ScreenFlow

This week’s resource is something I've shared before, ScreenFlow screen recording software. It has helped me streamline my graphic design business so much that I have to share it again. Using ScreenFlow has saved me so much time and headaches. Instead of teaching clients how to use their new websites and then helping them again a month or so later when they’ve forgotten, now I just record a short instructions video showing them what to do. If they need a refresher or need to train someone new, they have access to the video and they don’t have to interrupt me for help. For that reason alone I highly recommend ScreenFlow.

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

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