“A penny saved is a penny earned.”
Seems the more I work, the less I can afford to comfortably pay for this year. No doubt, as a freelancer, you’re trying to come to terms with this conundrum as well.
In fact, recently when my Internet bill arrived, to my dismay I discovered that my monthly charges had almost doubled. Even though I had not acquired any additional services or requested any enhancements to my account.
Perplexed, I called my phone provider to get the “4-1-1” and choose a cheaper package to potentially save money. I was informed that I was already receiving their cheapest package! Hello?!
To make a long story short, the representative went on to explain that this “inflated” bill was because the cost of doing business is simply higher now due to fuel, delivery charges, taxes, regulations; you know the spiel.
But unfortunately, as my mom often says, “It is what it is.”
While I can’t do much about the steadily increasing cost of living and operating a business, I have found a way to use my “creativity” to reduce my out of pocket expenses, without reducing my quality of life. And you can too.
Want to know my secret?
In a word: bartering.
And here’s the good news: without realizing it, you’ve likely had plenty of practice over the years.
Remember back in grade school when you’d “negotiate” your apple for your best friend’s pudding cup? Or baseball cards for popular action figures?
Well, bartering’s value has not diminished over time.
Though this form of doing business is as ancient as cavemen, far too few entrepreneurs use it today to enhance their operations and build their client base.
Don’t be one of them.
In a tough economy where people are “cash crunched,” bartering just makes good business sense. Trading services provides a win/win situation for all parties, while building important relationships and future collaborations.
And I should know. Over the last few years, bartering my creative services has saved me a bunch of cash, while providing the following perks and goodies:
Free tickets to events (like a live jazz concert with food)
New kitchen chairs from a local antique shop
Catering for parties
Tree trimming services
Other “enlightened” entrepreneurs are getting on board too…One Chicago restaurant owner has even accepted bartering arrangements to score “hot deals” like vacation packages, new floors, and even dental services.
Bartering can “pay” big for you too! Here are a few practices and principles to observe to get the best from bartering:
Make sure to get everything in writing.
This includes any deliverables, deadlines, and “deal breakers.”
Ideally, the exchange should happen at the same time.
I once got burned because I provided services for a guy who later changed his mind about his end of the bargain, and there was no way to “un-do” or “refund” my half.
Be certain that both parties agree that the services and/or goods are of equal value.
Bartering arrangements that work well include:
- Exchanging photographic or design services for writing press releases or collateral materials
- Providing social media management or clever blog posts to local merchants in exchange for free classes, meals, or merchandise
So, if you’re looking to operate more efficiently in the year ahead, take a new look at the “old-school” advantages of bartering.
For bartering opportunities, consult Craigslist.org in your geographic area, or connect with other artists and entrepreneurs in your social media circles.
By the way...though today's post title is gender specific, these tips work equally well for my male readership.
Your turn. Have you ever bartered your creative services? Anything you would add here?
Image credit: Freedigitalphotos.net