Independence will always be a driving force for a Sigma and the pinnacle of independence is your own, self generated income streams. Freelancing would appear to be perfect for that and when done right can allow you the flexibility to design the kind of life you want. The key is finding the right platform. I’ve been working on Fiverr since July 2015 and recently made it to Level 2 seller. I’ve a pretty broad base of experience on the site at this stage, from buyer to part time seller to where I am now, considering going full time with it. I’ve heard about and experienced the ups and downs of working on Fiverr. It’s not an ordinary freelance site and it polarizes people. You love it or you hate it. It’s a great platform to build a business on or it’s a scam. There doesn’t appear to be any middle ground. So, is it actually worth it? There’s no short answer so indulge me.
What is Fiverr?
Fiverr is a site for freelancers offering digital services, its USP being you can get services starting from $5. Sounds great but that is its weak point. Everything on Fiverr becomes about price. There is very little focus on the quality of work upfront. There’s just this all consuming obsession with the price. Buyers expect professional level work for $5. They want heaven and earth moved for less than the price of a cup of coffee. Sellers have to charge as little as possible to get work. Faced with only getting paid $5 for a job, they always try to do the minimum possible to complete the job. Quality always comes a distance second place. Fiverr appears to be very open to people starting out freelancing so there is always an abundance of new and inexperienced sellers. This does have an effect on the level of professionalism on the site. Frankly, it’s amateur hour. It is really difficult to find seller you can have confidence in.
Selling on Fiverr
Despite all that, it is possible to create a real business on Fiverr. In many ways the crowds of amateur sellers make it easier for you to stand out, if you can deliver a professional product. You need to approach this as a business, rather than as a sideline or get rich quick scheme.
Know what your time is worth
Decide how much your time is worth per hour and quote accordingly. Research how much your costs are and the price per hour you need to make a decent profit. There is no point doing a $5 job that takes 3 hours. If you decide you need to be paid $20 per hour, stick to that. There will be times, particularly at the beginning or when you launch a new gig, that you will take on cheaper jobs just to build your reputation a bit. Consider this a short term investment in marketing, don’t let it become the norm.
Underpromise and overdeliver
Part of the price mentality on Fiverr means sellers are always trying to do the minimum possible to complete an order. Ordering a 500 word article will usually mean you receive a 450 word article that isn’t proofread, delivered in .doc instead of html and delivered just before the deadline. Almost every seller will promise you whatever it is you want but very few deliver to the required standard.
You need to do the opposite of this. Don’t promise too much and then always deliver more. If you offer a gig for a 1000 word blog post in 3 days, send a 1400 word proofread article, deliver it in a day and send html and .doc versions. Always offer revisions and be willing to work with the client until the finished article is perfect. This will build your reputation as a professional which will justify you charging higher prices than your competitors.
Do something you have a passion for AND can do well
There’s no point committing time and effort to doing something you don’t like doing but there’s also no point in doing something you like but can’t do exceptionally well. You need both. My gigs on Fiverr are in my areas of expertise. I’m a writer and mathematican, both of these things I love doing but I can also do them better than most people. Brainstorm what it is you want to do, what you can do well and what there is a market for.
Buyers requests section
Avoid like the plague. While you will pick up some work here, you won’t get hired for any decent, well paying jobs. This is where the price mentality really shows through. You will see a lot of requests looking for huge jobs to be done for $5. If anyone is serious about getting a job done, for a realistic price, they will search out sellers themselves. A large portion of the requests are actually sellers advertising their services. These sellers are usually new and desperate for work or have a tenuous grasp on the English language and don’t understand what the section is for. Either way, it can be a massive waste of valuable time weeding these ads out from the real job requests.
Clients who post their jobs in the Buyer’s Requests section tend to be the ones who have unrealistic expectations and are going to be a nightmare to deal with. There’s a much higher chance of ending up with negative feedback from a $5 job found here than there is from a $100 job you get hired for directly. Fiverr doesn’t differentiate between the value of jobs, the negative feedback from a $5 job carries the same weight as positive feedback from a $1000 project.
Reputation plays a big part in succeeding on Fiverr, particularly in your visibility in search results. You need to manage this carefully. While you may be tempted to take any job you can get when you are starting out, to build your reputation, you need to be more selective when you have established that reputation. Research potential clients as much as they research you. If you are about to invest time, energy and reputation in a project, make sure you are going to get an adequate return.
Tips for succeeding on Fiverr
Succeeding on Fiverr is a case of making yourself stand out. There is a huge amount of sellers working on Fiverr and certain areas are saturated, particularly writing and graphic design. You need to identify what your strengths are that give you a competitive advantage. From my time on Fiverr, I’ve noticed several groups of people that tend to do well:
- Sellers working from developing countries who can compete on price. This is particularly true for categories where there are no barriers to entry such as content writing and graphic design. If you can access open source software and create top quality product, while living in a country where the cost of living is not as high as Europe or North America, you can do very well on Fiverr. It means you will be aiming for a low cost/high volume approach, which fits in well with much of the work done on Fiverr.
- Sellers who create their own niche. Some sellers create a product or service that is entirely unique. You can create a very original identity that can’t be copied or imitated easily. As your brand grows and people begin to search for it, you are guaranteed top place in the search results.
- Sellers who can batch jobs or resell the same content repeatedly. You will see a lot of services such as “I will write your in stones on the sand” or “I will hold a surfboard with your company name written on it”. Jobs like these are easy to set up and do in batches, meaning you can offer these for the magic $5 price point. The other option is to sell a product such as how to guide or workout plan. Once the content is created, it is simply a matter of delivering a copy each time a gig is ordered. It becomes, effectively, passive income.
- Sellers who really excel at their particular skill. I mentioned earlier that Fiverr can be very amateur. A reputation as a professional will really set you apart from most sellers, and it will allow you to charge prices at a level where it is possible to earn a good income. This is particularly applicable for those living in developed countries. Being a native or fluent English speaker is a priceless asset on Fiverr. There is an excellent market for writers and content creators with perfect English. This is the area I would advise anyone living in North America or Europe to aim for. Choose a gig that you can deliver professionally, build a reputation based on that and charge accordingly.
Freelancing can require a lot of discipline. Working from home, making your own hours sounds great but it’s very easy to procrastinate and get distracted.
One of the best decisions I made was to rent a desk in a tech co-working space. It put me in the right environment, with like minded people and helped to keep me focused. If you are working from home, create an office space for yourself. Having a space where everything is set up and ready makes you so much more productive.
Set office hours. Flexibility is great but you need to have a routine too. Time management is key in freelancing.
So, is it worth it?
Definitely yes, but be under no illusions that it is easy or won’t take time. Also remember Fiverr charge fairly high commissions at 20%, as well as transaction fees when you withdraw money to your PayPal account.
You need to approach this as a long term project and that will make you stand out from the flood of amateurs.