Regardless of what you do for a living, do you think a few hours of your time is worth a new flat screen TV? Let’s say you’re a surgeon. Should an appendectomy get you a kitchen reno? What would you offer your massage therapist in exchange for a 90-minute hot stone massage?
You think I’m crazy, don’t you?
Well I’m not. I’m talking about bartering. Which, I should tell you, goes back as far as the 1830’s, when the Owenite socialists in Britain and the United States first tried to organize barter exchanges. It was also the subject of yesterday’s WordPress Daily Prompt:
“If the world worked on a barter system, how would you fare? Would you have services to barter? Would you be successful, or would you struggle?”
Maybe I’m dreaming, but I think I’d do pretty well. I’m one of the lucky ones. Because of my career in advertising, I actually have something concrete to sell. Or to exchange for something else. I can write a website for you. I can write your blogs. I can develop an advertising campaign for you. Or a press release. Or a promotion. Or a strategy. I can put a team together (all of whom may or may not want to barter for their services), including myself, to create TV and radio commercials for you. Or print ads. Or billboards. Or events.
Value is easy enough for me to establish. I already do this work for paying clients. All I have to do, is look at my invoices.
So when you think about it, why shouldn’t I be able to exchange website copy for a month at a private villa in Barbados; with return airfare? Why shouldn’t I be able to exchange an extensive, multi-media ad and P.R. campaign for an Audi TTS Roadster? Or what about something simpler? Like an ad for a nice, 3-course dinner, with wine, for two people, at a five-star restaurant?
Personally, I think it makes tons of sense. Imagine if you could get access to many of the things you want or need, without ever having to reach into your wallet. What would you barter, for what, if you could?
Right off the top of my head, without even investing much time in it, I can think of several things. I’d write a monthly blog for a luxury hotel chain in exchange for one trip a month, for a week, to one of their properties. A different one each time, obviously. I’d write a micro site for my hairdresser, in exchange for complimentary haircuts and highlights, whenever I need them. I’d offer the same deal to my aesthetician. I wouldn’t mind not having to pay for manicures, pedicures and facials.
In the good, old days, major advertisers often paid upwards of a million dollars for a single TV commercial. All I’d want is a 1500 square foot, two-bedroom condo. If you think about it, it’s a bargain for the developer. Much cheaper than the commercial.
There are so many possibilities flying around in my head, I’m starting to give myself a headache. I may need to lay down. But think about it. I might never again have to pay for food, vacations, clothes, cars, computers, furniture. No more credit cards. No more debt. No more cash, for that matter. You could do the same, I’m sure.
Of course, if bartering really catches on the world economy might tank, but let’s not concern ourselves with that, for the moment.
No taxes either! I love the idea. In the past I have traded copywriting for things like the services of a medical herbalist and gourmet cupcakes. I would love to trade writing for veterinary services, dog food, people food, haircuts/colors, coffee. I know someone that trades her art direction skills for organic butter and cheese from a small dairy farm. Yes please! Sign me up too!
It IS such a great idea. And you! You’re really in a great position — copywriting and gorgeous, healthy produce you can exchange. And the painting and carpentry services of your husband. You’re a real going concern!! 🙂
Did I already tell you about Bruce’s retirement job? Rent-a-husband! No not THAT, silly, he’ll be a Mr. Fix It.
I want more details on that place in the Barbados! I can come up with something to exchange for that!
Lol! I’ll bet you can 🙂
My late dad was a dentist who liked collecting stamps. In Auckland (New Zealand) in the 1970s and early 1980s, he used to do the local stamp dealer’s teeth in exchange for certain valuable stamps. With changes in tax laws, I don’t think it would work any more, because a dentist of course has to write down all treatment and I gather that tax would then be due on such deals, which defeats their purpose, sadly.
On the bright side, trade does still work a lot, particularly in South-East Asia. When I worked at a magazine in Bangkok in the late 1990s, the owner was able to do a lot of what they called “contra”. In return for glossy ads, he got a condo rent-free, coastal holidays (which he sometimes passed on to staff), a free leased car and other benefits. It was the only way it could work, because circulation was actually quite small and wouldn’t have paid the bills – but advertisers liked it because the readership was exactly their target customer. I believe this still goes on in magazine publishing in SE Asia, but I’m not sure if it’s still as extensive as it used to be.
Yes, of course, you’re right. I did some contra work myself, years ago. I think, when it’s possible, it’s a good idea.
It can work really well for advertising/commercial work, yes, and for PR/marketing. I could write someone’s PR material, both print and online, for products/travel etc. Oh, and cruise ships have a deal where you can sign on as an expert lecturer and, although you don’t get paid, you get a cruise in return for an hour or two of work a day. That’s appealing.
Think about it Fransi – barter with revenue – you could be on a winner here – that condo – we’ll all be booking a holiday there, I’ll put my name forward to do all the cleaning required!!
You’re on the list. When would you like it? 🙂
As soon as I succeed in bartering with the airline and get my free passage – so the answer to your question is – scrub me off the list!!!!!!!
Ok. Let me know how you do with the ticket :). I don’t have the condo yet anyway :). Still bartering 🙂
It works for me!
Hmmm. Wonder what I could get in exchange for walking dogs. Or cooking & baking. Or crocheting. Now, the travel thing I could get in to. But I’d probably go for the unusual, out-of-the-way locales. Like an aurora viewing vacation in Alaska to review. 😉 . I’d have to leave Hubby at home, though. He doesn’t care for the cold temps.
You’ve got lots of bartering currency. Get going 🙂