If you’re familiar with Fiverr, I know what you’re thinking. Fiverr. UGH. Cheap rates, cheap clients, ruining the freelance industry – shaking your fist at the sky! I get it, believe me, I felt the same way.
After Bill DeWees and other successful voice-over professionals said listing their services on Fiverr.com was worthwhile, I decided to open my mind. Running your own business means trying things and seeing what works. Apparently, I had created a Fiverr profile years ago, but I never activated it. I went back to update and make my profile live for one year, as an experiment.
Fiverr has a reputation for being low-rent, with poor rates and full of sleazy entrepreneurs trying to weasel work out of decent people for a buck. It definitely has people like that on the site. But so do Upwork and other freelancing websites. There’s no test for ethics or morality before you join. If you meet the requirements, you’re allowed in the jungle. And if it was easy, everybody would do it.
RELISTING MYSELF ON FIVERR
I checked out a lot of competing listings before I decided on my pricing. The $5 entry point is just that – the price of entry. You determine what you’ll do and for how much. Success on Fiverr is all about the upsell as you charge extra for commercial rights, editing, script proof-reading, faster delivery, etc..
For example, you could say you’ll narrate 25 words for $5. Then, every 25 words after that is $15. A client arrives with a 200 word script. That’s $110. But wait, there’s more! It’s for a commercial video. Your commercial rate is $65. And they want it today. Fast delivery: $40. Whatever. It’s up to you. But suddenly that 200 word script is worth a lot more. That’s how it’s done. The $5 myth is just that. Or it should be. (Read on!)
My first job came in almost instantly and at a rate I was very happy with. Another one followed from the same client who, I’m proud to say, has come back several times. I’ve gotten lots of good jobs from several clients at decent rates, most without having to audition. Becoming a Level One seller came easily. (There are metrics you need to hit before you go up a level and earn a badge. The badges inspire trust and reliability in those who want to hire you.)
There are several downsides to Fiverr that are well documented by former users. Fending off insulting low-ballers becomes a sport. Oh, how they lie! They’ll tell you that if you do the job for a horrible rate just this once, there’ll be much more work on the way. Ha – this isn’t my first rodeo. They will take advantage of you and then find another sucker next time. And the YouTube voice-over jobs are posted by the hundreds. The rates are horribly low. Someone hungry and just starting out will probably take them. So they keep coming.
For months, I wasn’t aware that you can search for proposals on Fiverr. My understanding was that it was all about waiting for someone to contact you. But it becomes clear pretty quickly that most of those posted jobs pay offensively low rates. Two-thousand words for $5? I don’t think so!
MY FIVERR MISTAKE
It was my own fault. An online brokerage firm whose name rhymes with Chestgrade caught me distracted by other, time-sensitive work. They sent a twenty-word job for the grand total of FIVE BUCKS. I had no one to blame but myself. I only had to read a tiny sentence but still, they took advantage while I held the door open for them. Never again. They must have been high-fiving each other. That made me feel queasy. They run big-money TV ads constantly. And they got me for $5!
At that point I decided to triple my entry rate to $15 and reduce the work to 10 words. Then a guy who’s much more savvy about Fiverr told me that $20 was the sweet spot. So, I jacked it up to $20. My booking rate immediately went up! I started to get even better jobs with bigger price tags.
I would have moved up the ladder to a Level 2 seller, except for the number of jobs I’ve done. My job count is lower compared to what I’ve earned because my jobs have paid more than Fiverr anticipates. Fewer jobs for more money. But as I worked toward Level Two, something unexpected happened.
We left for our two-week road trip and I couldn’t find Fiverr’s vacation settings. I left it late and didn’t try hard enough, in retrospect. Two great jobs came in but I was unable to do them. I immediately wrote to the client and he was understanding. He canceled the jobs with a promise to hire me another time. But Fiverr doesn’t see it that way. They removed my Level One badge and when I protested their response was, basically, “too bad”. It was a demotion decided by algorithms.
CONCLUSION ABOUT FIVERR
So, after all of this, is Fiverr worth it? Well, I’m far from making six figures on it like some claim. It’s not as bad as its reputation, as long as you don’t mind politely knocking back some low-ballers here and there. I generally don’t negotiate on rates and a client’s begging doesn’t melt my resolve. This is business. Fiverr is a tiny fraction of a fraction of my overall business strategy and income. But you’ve got to try things. Stay open. Experiment. See what’s worthwhile and what isn’t.
September will mark one year of my Fiverr experiment. The demotion from Level One has put a bitter taste in my mouth. But I’ll reassess in September and decide whether to continue. It’s attractive because there is no up front cost to being listed. Meanwhile, the day after my demotion I got two more good gigs; one from a new client, one from a returning client. You just never know.
Below is one of my recent Fiverr jobs for a company in Poland, which I’m proud to share.
*NOTE: This post was edited in March 2023. I had erroneously written that Bill DeWees claimed to make six figures on Fiverr. That was a mistake. It’s Bill’s daughter who makes that much on the platform. I edited Bill’s name out of the second reference.