The duality of bartering must be balanced. It's about building supportive relationships.

The duality of bartering must be balanced. It’s about building supportive relationships.


I am the queen of bartering. It’s no joke. It’s what you do when times are tough and your needs require imagination. I am so good, that my first barter was redesigning the barter website for a barter organization in Montreal. Then I bartered translation services and met some really cool people. What I got in return was organic honey, and stuff… It was so long ago I don’t really remember right now.

But I remember the people I met along the way, brave and creative people who didn’t let lack of funds stop them from fulfilling their dreams. The fact that they were willing to barter goods and services (instead of begging on the street for free which is a parasitic way of living), says a lot about their value system. They have self respect and respect others.

Lately, I have had the need to barter.

I bartered pet and house sitting for room and board for almost three months.

I bartered 1 week at a retreat for web design.

I bartered web design for mechanical work.

I bartered an old motor home for roof work on a better motor home (and with all of the rain we’ve had, a great barter…the old one was in pretty bad shape).

I bartered a photo shoot for the entrance fee for an artist auction I was invited to attend.

The point is, with a lack of funds, there is always a service or product that we can barter to provide for our needs.

Granted some try and use the barter system as a get rich quick deal. Others try to get something free or donated to them and then want to sell them. Not the same thing.

Bartering is about building relationships as you get to know the individual. I know it sounds idealistic, but in reality, that’s what true networking is all about.

Sometimes, bartering doesn’t work. Somebody decides that they need to have the upper hand. They do not fulfill their end of the agreement or they demand much more than the original agreement. These things happen. It cost you time. I had this happen to me. I build 6 websites on one website (each section was a different template) and it was only 1 week’s retreat and I still paid for the reiki and breathwork session.

Then a few weeks later I got this email “Maria, can you DO ME A FAVOR? I’m getting spammed and it’s costing me airtime as I’m still in Hawaii, can you take care of it for me?” Sure, I said. I was working on a project and I figured I’d get to her issue over the weekend. I got another email. “Maria, I really need to have you take care of the spam issue right away, it’s costing me money.”.


I had a moral dilemma.

At what point in a business or barter relationship would enough be enough? I had to think about this one and how much time it would take me to solve her problem.

Meanwhile, the next day, her email became more insulting adding that she was a dissatisfied customer.

Thank you, I though.

I explained to her that friends ask for favors and clients pay.

Since she failed to send me referrals as promised, and that I had my own projects to work on, for me to attend to her issues means I need to put my own projects aside.

In order deal with her issues I would have to go into the back end of the website, write down all of the IP numbers of her spammers, ban those IP addresses and install a new plug-in would take a couple of hours at least and $150. She could wire the funds immediatly and I will take care of her issues the same day.

She retorted with a few insults.

I explained to her that she did not only lose a friendship, but in order to save $150 she was going to lose over $1,500 because I was planning on taking Reiki Master classes from her, but now, I will take them with someone else, someone who respects me.

This has happened to me before, so I had plenty of practice. Ultimately it’s the loss of the individual who is disrespectful and parasitic.  Sure, I may have wasted time, but bartering that service helped me work through the Word Press Multi-Site kinks and I found inspiration in the work I was doing. I bartered something I enjoyed doing anyways.

Here’s another example:

A businessman who had political ambitions tried to throw me under a bus (metaphorically speaking) because a socialite wanted the entire motel I was running for 1 night for a  wedding and the town stood to make $350 in hall rental. I offered only 6 of our best rooms and worked with our competitors to meet her needs but refused to budge on the matter. I explained to him that we stood to lose almost $15,000 in income if we did not cater to the group who were staying a couple of months with us.

When he showed he didn’t care about our financial demise, I pointed out we spent about $15,000 annually at his hardware store and that our business relationship was over. “What do you mean?” he asked stunned. I explained to him that to generate $350 it will cost him $15,000 annually at his hardware store as we would make our purchases elsewhere. Then I asked his 6 foot 7 self to leave the motel and get off the property.

The point is, bartering is about building HEALTHY and BALANCED relationships.

Ya know what I mean?

Use your powers for good, not evil.

Peace.