Something I often hear in the village is “there is no money”. But I found out people rarely realize how much they have to offer in terms of bartering. They have coconuts or avocadoes in their garden, they grow hens and pigs, and most guys have worked in the fields so they are able to clean weeds with a machete. For another guy who may not have money either but could give them a lift next time they need to go to town, or grind their corn into flour for tortillas.
I love the bartering economy, and as I said in this post about how BF is the king of barter, I think one of the most important things about bartering is finding what the other person has and doesn’t want, or can create, and that you find of value. Tonya is bartering her video editing skills for a gym membership for example. Both parties find value as it cost the gym close to nothing to have an extra person go there, and it is super easy for her to make awesome videos.
On our land development, we would accept that a guy works for us for a while in exchange for his monthly dues of a plot. Or we would trade in a car. The guys who dug a well last summer said our land was beautiful and they would love a plot. So next time we dig a well we can offer them a plot in exchange for digging.
Here is how you should proceed if you want to give the bartering economy a try.
1. Find the things you value. I value travel. So every time I recommend Airbnb to a friend or a reader, they give me a $25 travel voucher. But if I were not a travel addict, I would have little use of those vouchers. So I am happy to barter my online promotion skills for travel vouchers. Take it one step further. I could pitch hotels for free nights, in exchange for a review on my blog. Hotels in Guatemala in particular, as I get a lot of traffic looking up my page on relocating and traveling to Guatemala.
2. Value the things you need: Following on my hotel example, if I were to pitch a $15 a night hotel for free nights, I wouldn’t be making a good deal. I’d rather write an online post about credit cards and make a referral fee month after month out of it. But if I were to pitch a $100 hotel and get 3 free nights, then it would be tempting.
3. Value the things you offer: Now I am up pitching the hotel. If sponsored reviews are usually worth $250 on my site, I am offering them a $250 value in exchange for a $300 value on their side. We are roughly even, except they have operating costs. They still need to change the sheets of the room, clean it, and pay for the electricity I used. It may cost them $25 to do so. In exchange, they don’t have to pay me $250 to write a sponsored review. So $25 out of pocket brings them $250 in value.
4. Sealing the deal: The key to bartering is listening to what the other person wants, and finding a way to give them what they want. If they really want to get rid of their car, so they can buy your scooter, why not offer to take the car off their hands? By removing one barrier, you are facilitating the deal.
5. We all love cash: If the offer is unbalanced (a car for a scooter), add a little cash on top to sweeten the deal. Your $1,500 car for my $800 scooter, and I give you $500 cash. Sure it is not the $1,500 you were hoping for, but you don’t have to list it, attend buyers and time wasters, answer a zillion questions, and we can close the deal today.
6. You can barter anything: We often underestimate how much we have to offer when it comes to bartering. A week in your empty holiday home, an evening of your time as a baby-sitter, a month worth of storage in your basement, your website development skills even if you just have a little blog, your language skills to translate a work presentation, the produce that grows in your garden… the list is infinite. Again, listen to the other party and be creative, you surely have something they can benefit from.