A redditor asked a similar question recently, which reminded me how common this practice is in our web development industry.

Exchanging goods and services for other goods and services, without using money as means of exchange, is the definition of barter. It’s a common practice and a good idea when value is exchanged for equal value and equal effort.

Let’s say that the client approaches you for your web development services and offers to barter the following with you:

  • his own or third party physical products, i.e. office furniture
  • his own or third party digital products, i.e. software
  • his own or third party services, i.e. his consulting services
  • advertising, exposure or some form of public visibility, i.e. an ad in a print newspaper
  • something cool, like an iPad, a MacBook, an exotic vacation
  • ownership in his (future) company or stocks
  • alternate forms of payment, like coupons

What all these tempting offers have in common is this:

  • You can find some use in your business.
  • They seem very expensive to you, something you would never normally buy because “you can’t afford it”.
  • The offer is usually cool in some way.

Four main reasons why barters are mostly a bad idea …

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