How To Protect Yourself When Skill Swapping

The freelance world has a new-found fling: Skill Swapping. That’s right. Many of us have joined the skill-swap bandwagon, enlivening our business while not spending a penny in the process. Definitely part of the entrepreneur mindset.

But it wasn’t that long ago when skill swapping was the done thing. Flashback to the 1900s and you’ll find that people used to barter their skills and services all the time. Now, it seems that we have gone full circle and we are adopting the same practice in our digital era.

While there are many pros to skill swapping, there are a few things you need to be aware of. I’m going to let you in on a bit of advice on how to protect yourself when trading your skills with other freelancers.



Skill swapping can be just as easy as trading your Cheesy Wotsits for your best friend’s Wagon Wheel at lunchtime. You get what you want; they get what they want. And no one spends a penny. Even though it can be as simple as that, there are a few things to be aware of when swapping your skills with other creative entrepreneurs.

What are the pros?

  • You can receive quality work without breaking the bank

  • You can learn new things and gain new skills

  • You can broaden your connections with fellow creatives and craft memorable experiences with them

What are the cons?

  • You may trade in your talent for low quality work

  • You may connect with the wrong type of freelancer

  • They may not value the work you do

Taking all of that into consideration, it would be wise to swat up on how to protect yourself when skill swapping - that way, you can benefit from the pros while keeping those cons at bay.


Before you even venture into the skill swapping extravaganza, here are a few things you should do:

Figure out the exact skill you need. I know, that sounds a little obvious at first glance. But trust me - this is really important. Focus on what your business needs. It can be tempting when you see an amazing brand photographer offering to share their skills, but it’s vital that you zone in on what you need at that given time.

Clarify what skills you can give. It’s all well and good knowing what you want from someone, but what about them? What skills can you offer them to make it a fair deal?

“The crucial question is, how do you value a skill, and how do you arrive at a deal where both parties feel satisfied?” - Leonie Taylor, writer for The Guardian.

Once you have those few things down, it’s time to start protecting yourself from those skill swapping cons we talked about earlier. Here are five ways you can start protecting yourself before you trade your talents:


When you bartered food with your mates, you did so because you knew them and you liked the food they liked. It’s totally the same when it comes to skill swapping and collaborating with other business owners.

Where possible, collaborate with freelancers you connect with on social media or ones you have worked with (paid work) before. That way you know exactly what you will get before it’s given to you, and it is with someone you trust. In fact, trading services with biz owners you know and love will automatically rid you of those cons above. So, if you can, you should definitely share with ones you know.


Okay, I cannot stress this enough. Always, always, ALWAYS do your research and check their work and their previous clientele. Yep! I’m giving you full permission to stalk their Instagram profile and check out their followers on Twitter.

If you have any questions or doubts, ask them! Always play detective so you can choose your skill-swapper carefully.


If you are looking for someone with a certain skill-set, it’s probably best to target them in a dignified, personalised manner.

Avoid marketing your skill-swap services on large forums or in busy Facebook groups and focus on connecting with others on an individual level. This will wipe out ones who are looking for quick fixes - it will eliminate the cowboys and give you the real deal.


When we need something, it’s only natural to get a little carried away and start running with the wind. But when it comes to skill-swapping and finding the right creative, it’s vital that you take your time.

Spend time researching, networking and growing your tribe - that way you can choose the right match for you rather than hastily jumping into a potentially unhealthy collab.


I think it goes without saying, but I’m gonna put it out there for ya’ll to see! When skill swapping, don’t hold back your talent and trade fairly. If you’ve followed the previous steps, you would’ve chosen a pretty decent freelancer with some cracking skills. So don’t limit your skills and downplay your work just because they aren’t “paying” you.

You are both paying each other with your skills, so be fair and do your best! They are still a client at the end of the day.


Hopefully, you will now be able to weed out any potential hazards when it comes to skill swapping. But remember: skill swapping has its benefits, BUT it only works when both parties are mutual in 1| their needs, and 2| their skill set. So never settle for less!

If you need any more advice about skill swapping, or you need tailored advice on how to personalise your business and brand, let me know! Let’s start collaborating and sharing our awesome ideas with each other.