Not too long ago, in February, I signed up for Simbi, a services website designed to connect individuals through the power (and draw) of the good ol’ barter system.
Some people really seem to love it, but, for me, joining Simbi was pointless.
Here are three reasons why…
#1. It’s benefits are highly location-dependent.
I live in a rural area and I felt like that really excluded me from cashing in on the greater benefits of the Simbi community. Not that I expect greatness (hey, I chose the rural life for a reason: Disconnection!), but I did expect to at least get more than opportunities for remote, video-chat palm and tarot card readings.
#2. The services offered weren’t worth much (to me).
As a stay-at-home wife (and soon-to-be stay-at-home mom), I’m looking for services I can use to help me reduce the workload for things I can’t do. Much of that involves finding people who can help reduce the “honey do” list so my hubby can relax when he returns from a long day at work, bringing in the dough.
On Simbi, I was looking to exchange my writing and editing services to people (and companies) who did things like plumbing, electrical, landscaping, pet-sitting, and other hands-on stuff. More specifically, I was looking for freelancers like myself who were in need of further advertising their business via blogs, logo design, et cetera… things I do as part of my usual business.
Unfortunately, the people I found were hobbyists who “could” do stuff in their spare time but who weren’t completely vested in what they were advertising on Simbi. To me, it was like having a neighbor you don’t really know well who’s a banker in real life who “could” help you organize your garage… if he can do it from a remote location. Like, video chat with you and tell you where to put stuff.
Yes, I’d love to organize my garage with a pseudo-drill instructor on my laptop issuing orders. Fun.
#3. I feel like I misunderstood the premise.
In a Google search, Simbi offers this summary of their site: “Trade skills for skills, and services for services. Join Simbi, a talent-exchanging network of people striving to create abundance outside the dollar economy.”
To me, that sounds like I can trade my services — which just happen to be transferable over the internet — for real life, in-person help, like getting an electrician to fix my breaker box.
But the great number of Simbi offerings are virtual — they aren’t material at all. By that I mean almost every person I saw on there was offering a virtual service for trade: online PC help; business advice; online psych sessions; and, the one I found the most obscure, “a friend to talk to”. What the…?
Writing and graphic design are two skills that overlap the physical-virtual barrier. They’re services easily provided over a long distance (i.e. online) that result in a material, actual product (like a book, advertisement, blog, or logo).
However, writing and graphic design services were numerous in Simbi-land. This presented two problems: I had a lot of competition in a marketplace that (1) didn’t need me and (2) I didn’t want.
“Long Live Barter!”
In the end, Simbi was a nice concept but unfulfilling in execution. Virtual services only go so far until you need a real life person to come to your house and fix your sink.
I still believe in the value and power of the barter system. In fact, I’m currently formulating a proposition for a grant request in order to fund the creation of a Simbi-type directory (the online AND paper kind!) for my small town next year.
I don’t know what I’ll call it yet, or even if it’ll be a success, but I have plenty of time for figuring all that out since my current grant project — under my singer-songwriter identity — is still ongoing until the end of September.
Then, in October, I’m having a baby. So… let’s just say, the rest of 2017 is pretty booked!
Have you tried Simbi? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, what do you think about my reaction to the service?