If you do business online, you’ve probably heard of Fiverr, home of the $5 gig. Things you can have done on Fiverr range from graphic design, marketing and advertising, programming, and whole bunch of other (sometimes strange) things. The lure of Fiverr is that each “gig” is only $5. When a gig has reached a minimum number of sales, the gig provider can add “gig extras” to increase their offerings within that same gig and generate additional revenue. However, the base of the gig remains $5.
With the luster of receiving such awesome services for only $5, it’s easy to see why Fiverr has a large customer base. As a result, it’s understandable that many freelancers would at least give it a shot. They come up with a small gig and sell it for $5 while putting their names and services in front of thousands of potential clients. In theory, yes, it’s a decent idea. However, in reality, Fiverr is great for buyers but sucks for freelancers offering real services. Here’s why:
$5 per gig is cheap. If the service provider is located in a country where the cost of living is much cheaper, then $3.58 (see next section) will be worth more but it’s still not great. If you live in the U.S., $3.58 isn’t worth the time it takes to answer any pre-sale questions you get. For example, if you have a potential buyer email you 10 times asking all sorts of questions about your gig and you spend an hour in all responding to the person, congratulations, you’ve just worked for exactly half the minimum wage in the United States before you’ve even started. By the time you’re done with the gig (if they buy your gig), you’ve worked for pennies.
I will admit that if your gig involves very little time commitment to deliver, then $3.58 may not be something to complain about. For example, if you sell a digital file that is ready to go and just needs to be uploaded, then you’re basically sending an email and making $3.58. With some volume, that can be some easy money. However, if you offer a technical or creative service and you’re talented at what you do, you’re undervaluing your service to the point of practically working for free. Personally, I’ve spent far too much time learning what I do to sell my time for less than minimum wage. I would much rather spend that time doing some meaningful charity work.
When your gig sells, Fiverr takes $1 for every $5 you make, or 20%. This means that as soon as a sale comes through, you have made $4. If someone buys a gig extra for $5, you make $8, and so on. If you have a few gig extras priced at the max and are selling all of them with each order, then you’ll be making decent money. However, most orders will be a single, basic gig for $5.
Once Fiverr takes their cut, you will have to wait 2 weeks from the gig completion date to be able to withdraw your balance. When you do that, you have to pay PayPal’s fee of 2.9% plus $0.30. Let’s do the math for a $5 gig:
$5 initial gig price – $1 Fiverr commission – $0.42 PayPal fees = $3.58.
I don’t want to be overly general with this because I received a few orders from people that eventually spent real money on my services. However, most of my potential customers wanted full, custom service at a price that would barely buy me a shitty lunch off the dollar menu at McDonald’s. In no way am I putting anyone down personally for wanting a deal but, frankly, fuck that.
In my experience, very few Fiverr customers become actual clients so if you are using or considering using Fiverr to “market” your service(s), don’t. The effort would be much better spent on other methods of marketing.
Your Perceived Value
For me, this was probably the thing that pissed me off the most. By offering a service for $5, I was typically perceived as “cheap” and I can’t help but think that many people viewed me as not being worth more than the $5 gig I offered. When a person would message me asking about services well outside the scope of my gig, I would reply to let them know this and how much it would cost for me to provide the service outside of Fiverr. With 3 or 4 exceptions, I would quote someone a price as little as $50 and never hear back. Apparently $50 was way too much for a knowledgeable developer.
After a few gigs, I started to get annoyed with the combination of the four things I just mentioned. Ultimately, I took down my gigs with a smile on my face. My advice to any talented freelancer who values his or her time and expertise, don’t degrade yourself and your talents by using Fiverr.