• Matthew Hood

Trading value for exposure: the best way to grow your audience when starting out


Giving someone a heap of value in the form of a skill you have (copywriting, gym program, a delish breakfast, etc) in exchange for exposure is one of the best ways to grow your audience and make sales.


This may mean writing copy for a local business' landing page or giving someone a free breakfast at your cafe in exchange for a shout out on their Instagram page.


Working for exposure not cash can reward you exponentially. Exposure from one post can bring you more revenue from new sales and clients than charging for the original work would.


You could forfeit $20 to give someone a free breakfast at your cafe. In exchange they could post a photo of them eating at the cafe on their Instagram to thousands of their engaged fans. This could bring in new customers and hundreds of dollars in revenue.


Pillar of Salt Cafe did this with Andy Lee. The post got nearly 2,500 likes! Yes, Andy Lee is taking the piss but for that kind of exposure I think Pillar of Salt Cafe were happy to leave this money on the table.




So if you’re trying to grow your audience and get get more eyes on your product/ service, offering your skills in exchange for a shout out is a winner idea.



Rise of the micro influencer


Don't just think people with tens and hundreds of thousands of followers are the only way to get good exposure.


Think about it...You're more likely to trust a friend of yours who has a few thousand followers rather than an influencer with 100k followers. We know the latter is getting paid to post so we're less likely to believe them.


Smaller account with only a few hundred or a few thousand followers that promote businesses are known as micro influencers.


Social Publi have found micro influencers are obviously much cheaper but also more influential than macro influencers. 83% of consumers trust the recommendations of friends and family over brand advertising.




So how do you find the right people?


The best way to find micro influencers is to search through Instagram using industry specific hashtags. Find profiles with high engagement and reach out to them.


You could also:

  • Look through your own social media following

  • Use an influencer marketplace

  • Google search for niche micro influencers


Even if someone only has a few hundred followers on their page but has really high engagement, it can work.


Try this


E.g. If you’re a hairdresser in Cronulla (or any product or service anywhere):

  • go into Instagram

  • search 'cronulla' in recent posts

  • find someone who has recently posted a photo, who posts often, has good engagement on their page and fits your brand

  • direct message them offering them a free haircut

hey love your page! I’m a new hairdresser in Cronulla, would love to have you come round for a free cut. Let me know


You’re contacting people who like to share their lives so they'll likely give you a free shoutout on their page. Or you could blatantly ask them for the exchange in your message.


The more people the better. So spend time reaching out.



Tip: Trade value for value if you need something done for your business I.e. skill swap


Hello, skill swap


Trading valuable skills with someone is the best way to get important business stuff done for free. There’s so many different things you need to get a new business off the ground. From websites to legal advice to brand photography to promotion and everything in between. Not many small businesses have the bucket full of cash you need to do all this, and do it well.


I knew Banni Digital needed brand photos taken to make our website and socials more personal and professional. When a freelance film producer contacted me needing website help, I jumped at the opportunity and proposed a skill swap.


I’ll help you with your website and you help me with brand photography.


He also loved the idea and within a few weeks, there was a website created for him and dozens of great, new brand photos for Banni Digital in a folder on my Mac.


Tip: Even if you don’t offer something that can directly help another business like web design or photography, think about how you could give value to the person behind the business. The first client who I worked with owned a Pilates studio. She didn’t have a big budget to be paying me however after learning about my sporting commitments and training schedule she offered to give me free Pilates classes, which I gladly accepted.


Reach out


If you don’t have any immediate friends you know who can help, reach out to your personal networks. Post on Facebook/ Twitter/ LinkedIn asking if anyone has [skill] or knows someone who does.


If not, it’s time to search through Instagram and find people with the skills you need. Searching for your keywords on Instagram should bring up a heap of results.



E.g. if you need branding, search it and a heap of results come up with small boutique branding businesses. Ask if they’d be interested in skill swapping. As a web designer, I’d click their website link in their bio to see if it’s any good. If it needs work or they have no website at all, I’ll message them.


The key is figuring out how you can bring value to them. Then reach out. Then deliver!



The wrap


Collaboration is the key to growth, sales and getting stuff done.


For growth and sales, trade value for exposure.


For getting stuff done, trade value for value. Or skill for skill.


If you take only one things from this, start reaching out to people. You'll not only start building professional relationships, but it will exponentially help your business grow.



  • Banni Digital Facebook
  • Banni Digital Instagram