Recently, I was asked by another small business owner to trade my web design services.  Before making my decision, I carefully analyzed the pros and cons of trading.  If you are ever asked to trade services, it could be a great option for you.  If it’s a great fit, meaning the services you will receive are ones your business truly needs and would otherwise have to pay for, trading may work in your favor.  If the services are be superfluous, it might be better for you to speak with the business owner about finding one of your packages that fits within their budget.  It’s important to honor both parties’ services and make sure you are being compensated adequately for your work.  Below, I’ve outlined my decision-making process when deciding whether or not to trade services.


Why I Want to Trade Services


      1. Build up my portfolio

Remember when you were first job hunting and potential companies would say, “Come back when you’ve got more experience”?  Meanwhile, you’re exasperated and stuck in a catch 22 of “how am I supposed to get experience if no one will hire me?!” Yeah, I know that feeling.

People usually want to know what you can do before they take a risk on you.  In web development and design, future bosses want to look at your Github and potential clients want to see what you’ve previously done.  Do they like your style?  Do you know what you are doing?  These are important questions that can be answered by looking at your portfolio.  As I build mine, it’s important I show the diversity in what I can build and design.  Trading services with someone who might not pay for mine otherwise would allow me to add another website to my portfolio and show others my capabilities.

      2. Gain experience

It’s important to me to show that I understand different clients’ needs and can build accordingly.  Every client is different and needs different customization built.  Working with new clients in different industries would enable me to learn more technical subsets and be able to offer those in packages in the future.

      3. Hopefully gain a future client

This one is a bit of a gamble.  If I build the client’s site correctly the first time, ideally they would be so overjoyed that they would never, ever want to change it!  In the future, their ideas and focus may change however, and I want them to call me first to work on their site.  Building a solid foundation of clients is important so that they will contact me first for changes and additions to their growing site and services.


Why I Don’t Want to Trade Services


      1. I would not be paid for my services

As I’m building out my business, it’s important that I honor my skill set.  When you’re a beginner at something, it’s easy to charge less for your product and knowledge because you feel it “might not be worth that much”.  I want to stay as far away from this line of thinking as possible.  Luckily, I’ve surrounded myself with many #girlbosses who never let me forget that I bring well-developed technical skills and business savvy to the table and should be compensated for such.  While this isn’t the deciding factor, it’s important to keep in mind.

      2. Don’t need the other company’s services

If I don’t need the other company’s services, then it makes a tough case for trading.  As much as I love helping people get online and bring in a larger audience and more customers, it’s important to my business that I also stay focused on what will help me grow.  Adding this site to my portfolio would be great, but not being compensated for it makes this project too demanding on my time without much reward.  If I needed the other company’s services, say a law firm, accountant, etc, then I would reconsider trading services in order to lower my business expenses.


There you have it!  That’s how I make the tough but crucial decision when deciding who to trade services with.


Have you ever been asked to trade services?  What are some ways you “pay” other service providers outside of traditional payment?


x Haley