When you are operating within the gig life, one option that will surface occasionally is the potential to barter. Depending on the types of products or services you offer, this can be a great way to get some things you want, on the cheap. 

The essentials of a good barter are simple: each party gets something they want. And while it might be bound by contract, typically it will be sealed with an agreement and a handshake. 

As a writer and web guy, I have been able to barter a LOT of things over the last 17 years – here’s just some of them, to get you thinking of what you might be able to wrangle out there: 

Restaurant Credit

I laid out menus for a couple of my favorite local places, in exchange for free meals. As a copywriter I could proof it better than them, and I had designers as friends to lay it out pretty. Did this a couple times, before digital marketers became more common – but this is a great thing to consider. 

Handyman Stuff

My former next-door neighbor is a concrete guy and needed some web help. 12 years later, I am still hosting and developing his web stuff, and update it about 2-3 times a year for him. In return, he has done things like backhoe digging, pouring concrete footers, and lots more – all free to me. We work well together, as we hardly ask each other for anything anymore, but will always respond quickly to each other. He will be digging a sewer line for me in the Spring, with a crew of guys. 

Custom Framing 

I had some cool posters by The Oatmeal and wanted them framed. I found a frame shop who wanted a web site, and we found a happy place, quickly. They did an excellent job: my posters are still on a prominent office wall, reminding me of grammar rules. The frame shop sold out a couple years later, so the site worked well for them, too. A perfect barter!    

Accounting Services 

I needed to have some tax work done, and luckily, found a nice accountant that needed some web marketing done. It was an even trade, with me setting up his AdWords account and him cleaning up my Quickbooks. We both walked away thinking we did well in the bargain. 

Vacation Time in Hawaii 

Perhaps the best barter I ever did, was to wrangle a client’s multi-million-dollar condo in Maui for 2 whole weeks – free to me and my family. I did his web marketing for a couple years knowing I would get a shot at the condo when I wanted it – and I took it up when my son graduated college, to celebrate. I will have a tough time beating that one as a barter, but I am always willing to talk to anyone with property. I have discussed similar things with timeshare folks, but not yet done anything as cool as 2 weeks in Maui. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list – I LOVE to barter and have been lucky to find similar minded folks every year. I bartered for a really cool kayak, house painting, massages and even some psychotherapy. I got some camping stuff, a bike, and six months worth of free coffee.There is no limit to what you can do. 

Go Forth, and Barter 

You will want to target mom-n-pops. Bigger businesses and corporations are going to be a cash play. The idea of a barter with a bigger corporation does not typically come up, whereas dealing with smaller and emerging businesses, there is more flexibility and creativity toward the end goal.  

I have had many smaller businesses offer me a barter but can’t remember a larger company ever really doing so. That’s fine with me- a few good local barter deals in the mix, makes for a wide range of things I can get when I need them. The win-win, to roll-out an overused phrase in closing. 


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