Saturday, August 23, 2014

Working for Free: Part Eight - Fair Trades?

A common theme in the working for free saga is the offer of a trade. In many walks of life this might actually be worthwhile. Your profession and that of the client might be complimentary. Or they may just be offering to trade your time and talent for something that you’d like to have, whether or not its related to what you do for a living. However, this might also be an item that you either don’t want or simply don’t need. It could even be something that you don’t consider as having the same value as your own products or services.

At some events, I’ve exchanged books with fellow authors, since they’re the same type product to my own and often sold a similar price. There are other occasions when a trade isn’t possible. If I’m composing text for a website for a company that manufactures and sells auto parts or some other industrial product, a trade isn’t really feasible. There are also occasions when someone offers a trade when the value of the items isn’t the same. My own books are priced at $10 each and sometimes someone might offer to trade their own item selling at the same price. However, I might consider their product to be substandard and something that I’ll throw in the garbage as soon as you get home. This kind of situation can be complicated and a little uncomfortable, but in the end the wisest policy is to politely decline.

If you do decide to do a trade, make it official. Create something in writing that states exactly what it is you’re both exchanging, complete with the normal price of each item. This not only places a specific value on your services or products but also prevents any embarrassing incidents later on if things have been left a little vague. Trades can certainly work, but need to be carefully considered each time. If you’re thinking of trading your services for a song, you’d be well advised to make sure that both sides in the arrangement are in tune.

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