A friend of mine talked to a dentist about creating a website for her business. They decided to exchange services. It worked great, he got his teeth fixed, and she got a website essentially for free.
Often small businesses are limited on cash. Offering to exchange services might give you an edge in closing the project. Just make sure the bartering actually works in both of your favors. If you’re designing a website for a cookie business, you may not need a six month’s supply of cookies.
Once I bartered snowboard gear in exchange for working on a client’s website. My wife and I were able to go into the shop and get suited up. It was really exciting. Since the shop owner was limited on cash, and I wasn’t going to pay to buy the gear anytime soon, the transaction worked perfectly for both of us.
Typically a client will be more likely to barter services as opposed to products, since it’s less cost out of their pocket.
However, there is one advantage to bartering with a retail shop. Let’s say that you’re planning to barter with a bicycle shop in exchange for creating a website. You can offer your services at your hourly rate in exchange for the retail price of a bicycle.
In this case the shop owner will be getting a great deal. They paid wholesale for the bike, so they’re getting your services at a discount, which means less cash out of their pocket. For you it’s still a great deal, so long as you wanted a new bike, because you may not have closed the project otherwise.
One thing to keep in mind is taxes. Bartering is still considered income and is taxable. Check with your CPA on this to make sure you’ve filled out the right paperwork.
One final example. A friend of mine has bartered haircuts for years in exchange for hosting his barber’s website on his server. Free haircuts? Not bad.