Should Freelancers Trade Services?

As a new freelancer, it can be hard to find clients. While you can spend time working on your own brand, you also need to gain experience working with clients. However, I don’t think you should ever work for free. If you can’t get paying work or you have some extra time on your hands, you could consider trading services.

How does trading services work?

Trading services is where two business people exchange beneficial services instead of cash.

First, think about what you value. Even while trading services, you don’t want to work for something that has no value to you. Perhaps you’d like to do social media work for a local gym in exchange for a free membership. Maybe a free membership wouldn’t be worth it to someone else.

Who should you approach to trade services?

Online business owners and solopreneurs

Small businesses owners and solopreneurs are usually handling a lot of the administrative and marketing aspects of their business on their own. Sometimes they try their hand at making a website or just set up a Facebook page and have no web presence. Depending on your skillset, you could offer the following trades:

  • As a website designer, you may want to approach a copywriter to help you with your site. In exchange, you could spruce up their site’s layout
  • As a social media manager, you may want to offer your services to a photographer in exchange for images you can us
  • As a graphic designer, you may want to offer a new logo to a copywriter in exchange for a rewrite of some website pages.
  • As a virtual assistant, you can offer to send invoices for a marketing company in exchange for social media postings about your business a few times per week.

 

Local businesses

Some local businesses could use help, but may not have the means to pay for your services. You could offer your services in exchange for theirs.

  • You could offer your services for a monthly membership fee (like a gym or club).
  • You could offer your services in exchange for goods or food.
  • You could offer your services in exchange for displaying your business cards or an advertisement for your business.

Special events, conferences, summits

You could offer to do work in exchange for a seat at the conference, event or summit. There are many great online conferences and summits that you could have access to if you helped out with marketing, design, or administrative tasks.

How to get started

  1. Make a list of the skills you’d be willing to trade
  2. Figure out who or what would be worth your trade
  3. Create an email pitch to send to potential swappers

Sample email:

Hi Person,

I’m a content creator/website designer/virtual assistant. I wanted to see if you’d be interested in trading services? I was thinking something like X for X. Does that sound fair to you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks,

You’ll never know what business connections you can make through reaching out and offering a trade. Trading services will add to your portfolio of work and could also lead to more paying gigs in the future. If you need more work, trading services is another way to get your name out there.

freelancers

Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 10/24/16)

This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, marketing, and parenting with occasional wild cards thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.

Freelancing

If you like hearing other freelancer’s stories, check out Jess Creative’s Journeys in Business video series. The first episode is with wedding planner, Ashley Stork.

CloudPeeps has the top 10 trends of freelancing in 2017. Highlights include the digital toolbox continuing to expand and freelancers getting more representation.

Bianca Bass shares 15 money lessons everyone needs to know. This advice is particularly useful for freelancers. I agree 100% with her stance on never working for free.

Marketing

David Kadavy shares what you need to know before starting a course. A lot of his suggestions are about the things that you don’t need before you launch.

Mallie Rydzik shares a cute post on the scariest thing about being a working creative. Most creatives fear losing clients and money.

Being authentic is a current trend in marketing. Camilla Peffer discusses when too much information can be bad for your brand.

Parenting

Interesting musing on how a woman had no sympathy for mothers at her workplace until she became one. Once you become a mother you see that no mother has it easy, whether she stays home, works at home or works outside the home.

Megan Nash’s story about her special needs son being turned down by a modeling agency is making headlines. She’s hoping to get Asher into a national campaign to promote acceptance and inclusion.

mamas-favorites-oct

Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 10/17/16)

This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, marketing, and parenting with occasional wild cards thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.

Freelancing

These illustrations of people who want you to work for free are hilarious. The quotes were taken from real people seeking free work from artists.

Alex Honeysett has some great advice on how to pitch a guest post. Researching the place you’re pitching and catering your proposal to their specifications are two of the suggestions that I fully support.

Stephane Kasriel takes the information from the recent Freelancing in America survey and proposes the three things that freelancers need from the next administration. He suggests that the government study freelancers before proposing any new legislation that affects them.

Marketing

Brittany Berger put together an awesome comprehensive guide to time management systems. If you need to get organized, check out this post!

Alex Mathers discusses how creatives are using social media to gain clients. I’ve found that Facebook groups are a great place to get leads.

Daniel Newman forecasts marketing trends for 2017. Trends include more and better quality video and personalized everything.

Parenting

If you’re looking for a gift for the one-year old in your life, check out this list. Norah got the Beatbo robot for Christmas last year and she’s still obsessed with it.

This article talks about which children are most affected by parenting style. According to Drake Baer, children who have “negative emotionality — the precursor to neuroticism” are the most susceptible to being really hurt by angry and neglectful parenting.

mamas-favorites-balloon

Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 10/10/16)

This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, marketing, and parenting with occasional wild cards thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.

Freelancing

Jason Zook discusses how he got over his fear of writing. Some tips include getting vulnerable, making writing a daily practice, and always sharing something useful.

Brent Jones talks about how he pitched 88 clients in one day. This article motivated me to set a goal of pitching 2-3 new clients per week.

This article on taking the reins in your freelance business is great for those just getting started. Nellie Akalp lays out a plan for getting your business in order.

Marketing

Jon Westenberg offers some quick and dirty tips on increasing your website’s traffic. Of course,  learning SEO is one of the most important suggestions.

John Hall talks about the most important factor in PR and marketing and no surprise, it’s trust. I particularly liked the part about customers being extra sensitive to “me” focused marketing.

This short article talks about brands’ top marketing priorities over the past few years. SEO is ranked #1 and blog content is #2.

Parenting

How does parents’ smartphone usage affect their kids? Parents can feel pulled in all directions and kids can feel ignored. This article suggests setting limits on screen time.

Interesting article on how a child’s intelligence develops. I learned that some portion of intelligence is determined in utero by hormones in the mother!

Guest Posts

I’m proud to announce my first ever guest post on The Write Life. I talked about how I wrote for 30 minutes every day in September. I plan to write for 30 minutes every day until the end of the year then for all of 2017! My next update will be in another ~20 days when I complete a 60 day streak.

mamas-favorites-clouds

Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 10/3/16)

This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, marketing, and parenting with occasional wild cards thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.

Freelancing

Caroline Beaton discusses her journey from full-time employee to full-time freelancer. She made a series of smart, strategic moves to ensure that she could always support herself.

Ryan Robinson shares his tips on how to write an effective pitch for a freelancing client. These suggestions secured him a $500 per post gig!

Julio Vincent Gambuto wants you to be a freelancer who actually makes money. He has some fantastic ideas for how to stay lucrative.

Marketing

Your customer has 30 different needs, does your product or service meet them? Larry Kim talks about the attributes driving customer purchases. Which ones can you tap into?

Email marketing has many benefits including boosting your website’s SEO. Jayson DeMers explains how regular email communication can improve your rankings.

Kevan Lee walks through the process of getting verified on Twitter. A verified account can boost the perception of your online presence, but you need to be a somewhat public figure to be approved.

Parenting

A round-up of 45 hilarious “parenting tips” ‘from Twitter. “Never take a toddler’s word for it” was one of my favorites.

How do Jewish mothers approach parenthood? The Chicago Tribune has four suggestions and I love the one about encouraging geekiness.

Hobbies

Cat Noone talks about how she got started hand-lettering. This is a skill I plan on learning.

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Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 9/26/16)

This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, marketing, and parenting with occasional wild cards thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.

Freelancing

Ali Luke shares six ways to make time to write when you’re a parent. I love her idea about writing in blocks. I also structure my day this way.

Josh Hoffman suggests a ‘Networking of Life’ method for getting new freelancing clients. It involves interacting in the community and staying relevant in people’s minds.

Johnathan Stark doubled his income by switching from hourly billing to value-based pricing. Seasoned workers are rewarded in a value-based system while inefficient workers are rewarded with an hourly structure. I currently have a mix of hourly and value based clients.

Marketing

The value of side projects cannot be underestimated. Lauren Holliday talks about 11 ways you can generate income for your business by providing solutions for your customers.

If your content isn’t working, check out this article by Mike Templeman to find out why. You may not be saying anything new or people may not be able to find your content. If you find the source of the problem, you can fix it.

Parenting

Miriam Mason Martineau shares a heartfelt post about why you have to let go of your ego to parent. Some suggestions include focusing on presence and self-awareness and trusting yourself.

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10 Things You Can Do For Your Business During Naptime

There is no sweeter word in the freelancing mama’s vocabulary than ‘naptime’ except for bedtime. Naptime can be a chance to get between 30 minutes to 2 hours of concentrated work done (or not, it’s up to you). Most days I buckle down and work during my daughter’s naps, but other days I take some time to recharge.

Here are ten things you can do for your small business while your child naps.

1) Update your social media sites

Are you posting regularly on your social media sites? You should be! According to a 2014 study, 62% of people check Facebook to find out more about a small business. If your page is infrequently updated your business may appear unprofessional or closed down. Try to post at least twice a week with a mix of other people’s content and your own – a 60/40 split is a good rule of thumb.

2) Write a blog post

Blog writing keeps your site fresh and your Google ranking high. Make sure to use keywords to describe your services like copywriting, blogging, social media management, virtual assistance, or whatever it is you do. Blog posts don’t need to be long, around 500 words is good. Aim to post something new at least once per week on your site, more often if you can swing it.

3) Brainstorm ideas

How often do you sit in silence with a pen and paper or a blank Word document and brainstorm ideas for your business? Try to make some time to do this once per week. You never know what ideas will emerge when you let your brain have time to imagine.

4) Ask for recommendations or reviews

Take a minute to email a past or current client asking for a recommendation or review. Make sure you ask specific questions like:

  • “How has working with me benefited your business?”
  • “Can you describe a situation where my work had a positive impact on your day?”
  • “Would you recommend my services to a friend? Why?”

Questions like these give your client a framework to think about your services. Your client is more likely to respond to specific questions than a general request to ‘review you.’ Bonus points- set up your questions as a Google form that you can easily send to clients after work is complete and keep track of the responses in one place.

5) Read something inspirational

Reading positive news or inspirational business stories can have a lasting positive effect on your mind. Spending only five to ten minutes reading can reduce stress which increases compassion and unlocks creativity. Plus, you never know where your next great idea is going to come from so keep your eyes peeled for inspiration.

6) Google yourself

What’s showing up when you Google yourself? Make sure your internet presence reflects who you are and what you want people to know about you. Consider which accounts you should make private and which you want viewable to the public. Most clients are going to Google you before working with you so you want to know what they’re seeing.

7) Set up a LinkedIn page for your business

Your business should have a LinkedIn page that lists your industry, website, and contact information. Take ten minutes to set up your page so you’re searchable on the platform. How frequently you update the page will depend on your social media strategy. 

8) Set up a Google+ page for your business

Even though the fate of Google+ is constantly being discussed, it’s still helpful to have a page for your business. Google prioritizes Google+ on search results so as long as the platform is still kicking, you should take 10 minutes to create a page and build your online presence. Again, how often you update will depend on your social media strategy.

9) Join a Facebook group

Facebook groups in your area of expertise, or ones for freelancers in general, can be some of your greatest resources. They are full of other small business owners who are doing the same thing you are. You can ask for advice and even get some work. If you’re not a member, join the Freelance to Freedom group right now!

10) Reach out to a mentor or peer

How often do you communicate your goals with someone else? It can be hard to find a one-on-one mentor, so consider a peer mentorship or mastermind group. You could also find an accountability buddy to share your weekly goals with. Reach out and message someone about how you’re doing and ask them to share the same. Just like receiving snail mail, getting a heartfelt email can be a rare occurrence that can make someone’s day.

Naptime

Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 9/5/16)

This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, marketing, and parenting with occasional wild cards thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.

Freelancing

Before you get started freelancing, check out Kate Darby’s five things to know before you go solo. The article is geared towards designers but can apply to all freelancers.

Many freelancers are pricing their services too low. Justine Clay suggests going from an hourly rate to a project rate or retainer fee.

Contently has some mixed opinions on whether blogging is important for freelancers. We both agree that it gives you a place to express your creativity without any restraints.

Marketing

If you want to write one blog post every day, you should practice these habits from Neil Patel. One of my favorite suggestions is reading more than you write.

Never search for a free stock image again. Buffer pulled together a gigantic list of 53 resources that everyone should bookmark!

No matter the size of your business, you need a plan. Lindsey Evans will tell you why and make you laugh.

Parenting

Children are experiencing high levels of stress at a younger age than previous generations. Dr. Suzanne Farra explains why and tells parents what we can do to help.

Both working from home or going back to the office after having a baby are hard. Katy Widrick talks about her two experiences and the pros and cons of each.

 

mamas-favorites-1

Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 8/29/16)

Mama's Favorites
This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, marketing, and parenting with occasional wild cards thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.

Freelancing

Organizing your finances is extremely important when you’re a freelancer. This detailed article by Kristin Wong gives step-by-step instructions for what you need to do to get your freelancing financial house in order.

If you’re currently a freelancer, consider signing the petition for the Freelance Isn’t Free Act like I did. This act can help freelancers get payment for services rendered. Read the article and sign if you agree.

Josh Hoffman swears that these simple habits translate to a six-figure freelance business. One of the best suggestions is spending time on your business before spending time in your business.

Marketing

Mike Sturm talks about the importance of words and how we’re devaluing our creative work by calling it ‘content’. I’d never thought about this before, but I agree with his conclusion that content is a weasel word.

Social media can be soul-draining, but it’s essential as a marketer. This article by Leila de Bruyne talks about how to stay sane on social media.

Watch these eight Ted Talks for a marketing boost. Kelly Hoey shares a list of inspirational videos that will help improve your marketing efforts. I love Seth Godin’s take on making ideas spread.

Parenting

Parenting can be tough so it’s essential to keep your sense of humor. Amy Camber creates hilarious and sweet comics about parenting her two children ages 3 and 6.

Encouraging your child to try different activities is good for their development, but so is quitting things they don’t enjoy. This New York Times article talks about the benefits of letting your children stop doing activities they aren’t interested in.

Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 8/22/16)

Mama's Favorites Aug 26

This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, marketing, and parenting with occasional wild cards thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.

Freelancing

CloudPeeps shares seven tips for avoiding bad freelance hires. As a freelancer, read this article with an eye towards how you can improve your chances of getting a good gig.

Need to set up your online writing portfolio? Meryl Williams at The Write Life created a simple checklist to get your site in tip-top shape.

Even if you don’t work in an office, you can use these seven creative tips to get ahead in your career. As a freelancer, it’s especially important to network in your network and express gratitude for any help that you receive.

Marketing

Before you set up a pay-per-click (PPC) advertisement, read Neil Patel’s detailed data-driven post. He’s spent big money on advertising and knows what works and what doesn’t.

If you’re ready to go from a one-person shop to an agency model, read this Hubspot post on how to make the leap. I’ll keep these tips in mind as I plan to expand and hopefully employ people in the future.

If you’re wondering why no one’s reading your blog, check out Apurva Chiranewala’s list of five reasons. Even if people are reading your blog, these tips could help improve your conversion rate.

Parenting

One second grade teacher’s decision to not assign any homework for the year is going viral. Research is showing too much homework too early can create negative attitudes about school. This teacher recommends having dinner together, playing outside and going to sleep early – all things that have proven positive effects in children’s lives. Hopefully, this no homework trend will continue.

This Science of Us article explains how people attach morality to danger when it comes to judging parenting. People don’t completely rely on facts when making judgments, they also infuse the situation with whether they think something is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ to do.

Wildcard: Lifestyle

This long read from Benjamin Hardy lists 50 ways happier, healthier, and more successful people live on their own terms. If you focus on a few of these tips, you could find yourself in a better place tomorrow than you are today. I’ve been concentrating on making meditation a regular part of my daily routine for the past week and I’m already feeling the benefits.