Diane Hall - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelancer, Entrepreneur and mother of two...

Freelancers: How to get what you want – without cash…

The simplest, and probably oldest, form of trading could still work wonders for your business today; swapping skills between contacts and other freelancers can be a way of progressing your career, freelance business, company, gaining addition freelance jobs or expanding your contact base, with no outlay.

Hundreds of years ago, even when money was a recognised commodity, many communities relied on the art of bartering.  Whereas we’d now associate the word with getting some money knocked off that plasma telly in Currys, the act of offering someone something of value, in order to receive something as beneficial to you in return is nothing new.

Swap Shop

I’ve had a number of freelancer meetings over the past month or two with contacts offering services that I can’t afford to purchase for the foreseeable future. 

However, all has not been lost – it has transpired that skills I hold could help them with something they’re missing in their business – meaning both of us get what we want without a penny being spent on either side.

Having this mindset that you can mutually benefit each other is also quite liberating.  For example, my experience in these meetings has shown that they’re conducted differently to ones where a single service or product is being pushed. 

For example, both of you are aware that you’re they’re to help, so there’s less, “Listen to my sales spiel, get to the point, close the sale” type of banter.  Instead, both parties make a huge effort to find out more about the other’s business, to understand where their strengths lie so you can figure out where you can fill in the gaps.

Time…..or value? 

Time seems to be less of an issue, instead replaced by ‘value’.  No one’s looking at the clock intently; more emphasis is put on what you can bring to the meeting and how it can help.  I personally feel there’s less tension as one party isn’t gearing up to sell, and the other isn’t holding their breath whilst they’re being sold to.

The latest ‘skills-swap’ meeting led me to thinking about this subject further.  The skills I will impart for this particular contact are something that I consider of lesser financial value than what my collaborator is offering me – but it this really the case?

When I’ve delved deeper, I’ve realised that if I’m offering a solution to someone who has agonised over a particular area for months; are they likely to care whether my hourly rate is more/less in real time than the actual value of what they’re giving me?  Or, are they just glad that I’m helping them with something they find hard, and vice versa.

Easy, to those who know

Therefore, a skill that may sound so easy to me, (and therefore what I consider of little financial worth), is actually hugely valuable to someone who either can’t get round to it, or who finds it all a little perplexing. 

For me, what my contact is offering is something I’d not be able to do myself, or even afford to engage from another, but because my collaborator can impart his expertise easily, it’s a small price for him to pay to solve the bone of his contention.

Should you find yourself in a position where you’re in need of a service you can’t afford, try approaching your contacts in this area (or intermediaries) to see if there’s room for mutual collaboration.

‘You don’t get something for nothing’ is the saying, and that is true. 

You are offering your unpaid time to help someone else, but if it means you can receive something of value to you and your business in a time when cash in thin on the ground, then great!

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Written by Editor on August 16, 2011 and filed in Featured, Frazzled Freelancer, Freelance Jobs, Freelancers, Opinion , ,

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