Fiverr should be called Fourer

I’ve recently started doing some work on Fiverr.com, a small services marketplace that offers people the chance to do odd jobs starting at $5. I first heard about it on My University Money, and after ruminating over it for a few months, decided to give it a try.

As a buyer, you pay $5 for a small service. You can browse existing advertisements or you can post your own request and wait for interested sellers. Currently, there are buyers looking for logos, website design and writing, for example.

Photo Credit: Giovanna Spina (http://www.flickr.com/photos/greatg/3526546855/)

As a seller, you post your services in the form of a one sentence headline. Ads range from the useful and intriguing: “I will record a jingle for your established company for $5″ to the bizarre: “I will break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend hood style for $5″. …Hood style? There are sellers offering services in translation, writing and even finger puppetry.

I put up an ad offering to write short 250 word blogs for $5. In my ad description, I asked the buyer to also provide links, if they have it, to similar style blogs and background information. Now, I’m a pretty fast writer and honestly, a 250 word “blog” is basically a copy-writing service. It takes me about 15 minutes to crank out a quality post, especially if someone provides me with all the information up front. If I was not able to write quickly, doing blogs for $5 would NOT be worth my money. But, judging by the quality of writing I saw in some of the blogging ads, I felt like I had a pretty good chance of impressing people and scoring some jobs.

So then, I waited. It took me two days to get my first job – I wrote two brief blogs for a technology site and was paid $5 for each. Pretty easy money for about 25 minutes of work!

The simplified marketplace system comes at a cost however. If you want to do anything other than sell ONE service for ONE $5 fee, it gets complicated. I recently did another job where the buyer wanted a longer blog and was willing to pay more money for it. But since I was a new member, Fiverr did not allow the buyer to place a larger order or even multiple orders at once. Instead, we had to split the article into several smaller articles and the buyer had to pay me separately for each! What a pain. For frequent sellers who obtain certain “levels” of sales, Fiverr permits options such as paid add-ons and multiple orders.

I was also astonished at the cut that Fiverr takes from each order – a whole dollar! What! So for the luxury of using their site, you pay them 20% of your earnings and have only $4 left. Suddenly it seems like less of a good deal? I can see how Fiverr would be a useful source of income for people in less developed countries – $5 can go quite far in many parts of Asia, even after Fiverr takes its cut. Similarly, for sellers who are able to reuse bits and pieces of their work to complete multiple orders – for example, a website designer who can quickly assemble pre-made widgets together with a new colour scheme – Fiverr might be an efficient way to make small amounts of cash very quickly. But to create a video or a logo or even a well written article – I have my doubts.

For now, I am keeping my ad up and seeing what bites I get. I’ve had pretty good results thus far, with a further three to four orders. Does anyone else use Fiverr, either as a buyer or seller?

Posted in: Career and Work, Money

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42 Comments

  1. Modest Money says:

    Despite all the outsourcing I’ve done over the years I have yet to try fiverr. I guess I was always skeptical of what you could actually get for such a low price. The hood style breakup does sound intriguing though. I doubt I’d use it as a seller, especially with such a brutal service fee.

    • CF says:

      From what I read, it sounds like people get a mixed bag of results on Fiverr. A lot of comments I read on other sellers basically said that the buyer ended up doing a lot of editing afterwards.

      My big problem with the service fee is that it’s taken off of every $5! So it’s not even a flat $1 fee, which would at least encourage people to sell more add ons and such.

  2. I’ve never used Fivrr and I just can’t picture being okay with only making $4 for something. Although 250 words for $5 makes sense. But staff writing usually gets you a 650+ word article for $20 or so – have you tried elance?

    • CF says:

      I’ve never tried elance but I just don’t feel like 650 words for $20 is worth it… when I do actual freelance writing with research and full editor support, I get 40 cents a word. Even for a 250 word freelance blurb, I charge $15-$20.

      To write a good 250 word Fiverr quality blog is basically copy editing and doesn’t require a lot of effort or thought. To write a good 650 word article is a lot more work.

    • Eddie says:

      Geez….650 words for $20….pretty low….
      That works out to $10 an hour – considering it takes 1-2 hours to write a decent post, research, edit and re-edit.

      I do agree with you on Fivvr. Certainly not worth the time, but if you’re fast like OM, you may benefit.

      • @Eddie, i do agree with you. but if you are in an asian country. $10 is very encouraging to us. If you convert it to Ringgit Malaysia(which is the place i lived), it is around RM30 for one hour. And, if you multiplied by 8 hours(which is the normal working hour) it is 30X8=240. Think of it, you will get RM240 per day, which is quite a big sum for some of us.

  3. I’ve used Fiverr as a buyer, it’s a great website! The key is to look for people with high feedback and good reputation. Can’t comment on the seller’s end as I’ve never sold anything there. It’s good to know someone in this community is making money there.

    • CF says:

      That’s true, it’s like eBay or any other site in that respect. It would just be nicer if it were a little easier to make money! :)

    • I agree with Veronica. I have used Fiverr as a buyer too and I always make sure to buy from someone that has completed a ton of orders and has a high score (feedback).

      As a seller, I think if you are quick at something, then it could be a way to make extra cash. It is unfortunate that they take a dollar for each job, but many sites online take a big fee.

      I did make some easy money re-writing articles on oDesk for $14 an hour. You might want to take a look at that.

  4. Michelle says:

    Wow, I’ve never been on the selling end of that site…but I enjoyed it from the buying end. Guess it’s a buyers’ market on Fivrr as well as in the real estate world! ;)

    • CF says:

      I’m really surprised at the (advertised) quality of some of the services that people offer for $5. If I were looking for a 2-3 page website, I would definitely get a basic set-up from Fiverr.

  5. Jason says:

    I am also skeptical of what you could really get for $5. The quality simply can’t be that good if you’re paying that little…but maybe I could be wrong.

    $1 cut is quite a lot of money; that’s freaking 20% of the loot. Hopefully you can whip together posts really quickly and if you can start doing them in 10-12 minutes then it’s definitely a good proposition. Is it possible to lower the word count down to 200 and still get sales?

    • CF says:

      Hmm… not sure. I find that to write something useful that is more than a blurb, I need to have ~250 words to work with.

      So far, I’ve been able to keep a good pace on writing so it’s not terrible. But, definitely not an ideal split. I try to do my writing on the bus and stuff when I would not be making money or doing anything else useful anyways.

  6. I had no idea they took such a hefty cut! Glad you’ve had such success from it. Maybe it’ll help you build relationships you can strengthen outside of Fiverr and you can make more money by dealing directly with them.

  7. Interesting, though I don’t know if I’d want to spend more than 5 min. for $5, especially if it’s only really $4.

  8. Interesting to hear about the seller end.
    I’ve purchased twice off of fiverr, two logo designs. I had a photo image but needed someone to replicate it as an .eps or a jpeg and the first person’s work was so shockingly bad! he literally just did a swoop with a brush in paint! the second person was much, much more awesome and produce a usable result.
    I gave the worst possible review to the first guy… I was so shocked at the quality! Someone else told me that sorry, they couldn’t do the work for that price, which was a perfectly acceptable response.

    • CF says:

      Interesting – perhaps I’ll look into some of the design options that are offered. I do agree that it’s best to send a message before ordering anything – you don’t want to make an order and have the seller just slap something together if they’re not able to do it well for $5.

  9. This is a great post – thank you as I have been wondering about what sellers think of fiverr and if there was anything I could sell there for a little extra cash. Glad to hear it’s working out well enough for you – and happy to find your site :)

    • CF says:

      Thanks for the comments! Yeah I have mixed feelings about Fiverr. I still have my ad up, but I only do work during times where I would not be doing anything else useful, like while riding the bus.

  10. Hmmm…doesn’t quite sound worth it me, especially with that huge service fee! That said, $4 for 250 words is better than no dollars for no words. Maybe I’ll give it a try.

    • CF says:

      Maybe there is something else you could do that requires less effort? If I had photography skills, I’d probably try to sell something related to that.

  11. I got the logo for my taco seasoning from Fiverr. I really liked the result.

    I have put up ads for a stripped down version of my ebook conversion service for short ebooks, but I haven’t gotten any bites yet.

  12. Like you, I was shocked when I first found out Fiverr’s service fee is a flat 20%. I know a seller who had a buyer willing to pay him $260 for a fast turnaround. Fiverr took $52 of that. And for what? The same service a seller gets if he sells a $5 gig.

    I like Fiverr; I sold on there for a while until the unreasonable demands of prospective buyers got to be too much and it was no longer amusing. Now I just write a blog about Fiverr and that is loads of fun.

    • CF says:

      Neat blog! The fee is definitely prohibitive. I don’t mind it for once-in-a-while work while I’m on the bus or something but if I wanted to get into freelancing more, I think I would focus my efforts elsewhere.

  13. agentfang says:

    Neat site… but the fee is really hefty. I wonder if the seller ever get to see the buyer’s email so they can contact them personally. I guess not since fiverr wants to make money and will block out that information to prevent the hookup.

    I ended up spending $5 to have an artist create a zombie out of my boyfriend. Been watching the Walking Dead series.

    • CF says:

      Yeah, actually, if it detects a website address or an email within your messages to a buyer or seller, it prevents you from sending the message :p I haven’t bought anything on there yet myself but I might, if I ever need a logo (or a zombie picture of myself…)

  14. Akash Joshi says:

    You are right about $4 is enough for asian countries, I am from India and that $4 turns into Rs200 here, but still I will tell you something, I dont work fo $5 there, minimum payment that I ask for is $50 for a website, and when I talk to my clients I send them my gtalk or yahoo or skype contact details, They add me there and we talk outside fiverr and I dont pay even one single penny to fiverr.

    • CF says:

      Nice! That’s a great way to make contacts and make way more money. I’ve stopped mucking around with Fiverr myself – too much of a bother.

  15. i stumbled upon this post as I was searching for other people who were upset about fiverr’s 20% cut, as i am. i mean, on $5 gigs, thats fine – take a buck. But if i’m looking at doing a decent bit of work for $50 or more… I’m not interested to give the service $10 of that. i am now a level 2 seller, meaning i have sold at least 50 gigs, etc. and I still dont get a discount on that service fee.

    thing is, i would go to another site, but what i’ve been making most of my money on is exactly what fiverr is for. things like taking a picture holding a sign or giving a testimonial for a website.

    I was hoping to find that there is a movement of power sellers out there that are looking to press back against fiverr and demand that once you charge over a certain dollar amount for a service, the fee they charge comes down. I havent found that on this blog, but I have found other people with similar opinions as myself and thats always encouraging.

    • CF says:

      If there was a stronger push towards lower fees for higher level sellers, that would certainly get me interested in Fiverr again. For me, I’ve actually stopped my Fiverr experiment. The fees and the time spent trying to track down buyers and clarify orders just made it not worth it, sadly.

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