When you boil it down, economies are based on bartering. The vast majority of the time, though, we “barter” currency for some particular good or service. Historically speaking, the majority of transactions throughout history have been what we would consider “traditional” bartering: trading one good or service for another. One of the added pluses of bartering is that, if done well, both parties feel they have gained something, not only in goods or services, but in a relational way. Both feel they have added value to someone else.
Craigslist.com, due to its local listing appeal, has become one site to try if you are interested in bartering. Most people scan through listings on Craigslist for things to buy (and great deals can be found if you are patient), but you can also find those who are willing to trade some goods or services. That is especially true for those who have very tight budgets. They are trying to get something they need, but be able to give something back in return.
So, how do you effectively barter on Craigslist? Here are a few general suggestions to consider:
1. Use the “Barter” section.
I doubt many people even realize that this section exists, but there is an entire page of Craigslist for each locality that is dedicated to bartering. By using this section, you are appealing to those of like minds.
2. Be honest with what you have.
As with any listing on the site, be completely honest with the product or service you are offering. Don’t undersell, but also do not exaggerate. People will expect what you list, so list honestly. If you want to build a reputation as one who can be trusted, it needs to be built from the very first transaction.
3. List what you would like in return.
Many bartering listings on Craigslist just put a question mark as to what they want in return. While this works sometimes, you need to be honest if there is something specific you truly need in return. For example, if you want a working lawn mower in return for your item or service, then be willing to say that. I have had people throw a curveball when we started talking about what they wanted. That ended the conversation because it was unexpected.
4. Offer something useful to a lot of people.
Unless you are well known in your area for some niche service or product, you are going to have a hard time finding something in return for it. Most people need certain things (textbooks, lawn equipment, painting services, etc.) that can cost quite a bit of money. If you can offer something that is useful to a lot of people, you are more likely to find a match.
5. Be cordial.
Bartering turns many people off because we don’t like confrontation, and they see these discussions as confrontational. If you will be honest from the start, the discussions should be simple. Even if the barter is a bit more complex, continue to be friendly. Bartering is not a way to take advantage of someone. See it as a way to help someone out, and you will be glad you did.
6. Give what is expected.
Some can be tempted to “bait and switch” on a product, or to do a shoddy job with the service, since they aren’t receiving real cash in return. Christians, though, are to do their best at all things. And, remember, you have received something in return!
7. Be patient.
The other piece of advice I would give is true of any transaction, whether it is a traditional shopping purchase or bartering: be patient. When you barter, it can sometimes be out of a time of need, and you can fail to get something of good value in return. Just wait for the right match and then do your best to deliver what you have promised when you find it.
Have you ever bartered on Craigslist? What tips would you offer? What stories do you have? Leave a comment below!