Fair Trade: Barter and Massage

At the beginning of their careers, almost every massage therapist faces the question of how to build their clientele on a meager or non-existent marketing budget. To help get the word out there without breaking the bank, consider the time-tested technique of barter - the exchange of services and goods for the same.

Massage Therapists can broaden their word-of-mouth clients through their barter buddies while cutting back on their own personal expenses.

To start with, you might exchange a massage for a small ad in a local paper, or get your business cards or other printing done by a local printer in dire need of touch therapy. Branching out, the possibilities are endless:  personal training sessions, acupuncture, chiropractic, reflexology, facials, hair care, nail services, gym memberships, oil changes, dry cleaning, and all the while you are adding more and more people to the list of clients who will recommend you.

One drawback, though, is that barter is fully taxable. According to the IRS, income from barter arrangements must be reported as income in the year in which the goods or services are exchanged. Arrangements on a noncommercial basis are exempt and fewer than 100 commercial transactions in a given year do not need to be reported.