by Don Wallace

Fiverr Corporate Logo with Caption for ArticleYou may not be able to afford employees. But you can still hire out your grunt work. Almost anyone can afford what I’m about to describe. 

Fiverr (Fiverr.com) is an online marketplace where sellers of inexpensive services, and buyers of those services, come together.

The truly unique aspect that Fiverr has provided since its start in 2010 is that all service providers offer their services starting at five dollars, or a “fiver”. 

However, the downside of Fiverr is that many buyers become frustrated with poor quality or execution from vendors as well as inability to have their needs understood.

Some business owners and freelancers who need tasks done know about Fiverr and use it … but become extremely frustrated with the completed work that they receive – and often stop using the site. Often, you’ll hear comments such as “Fiverr sucks!” with the explanation given that the work coming back is poor quality and unusable. 

This article explains some common issues with Fiverr projects and the vendors who perform the work, and how to make the most of the platform.

What Fiverr is All About

Fiverr sellers will perform any legal service that it’s practical to sell or contract out online, starting at $5 per job assignment:

  • Graphics, art, animation
  • Custom musical scores, voice overs, sound effects
  • Short custom videos
  • Novelty projects such as personal greetings
  • programming and technology projects
  • transcription services
  • writing, editing, documentation, article writing
  • …or just about anything you can imagine someone providing as a service, remotely. 

Some Terminology

A gig is a defined project type on Fiverr that a Fiverr provider offers for a specific price. Fiverr service providers are vendors or independent contractors. (Sometimes in this article I’ll refer to a vendor as “a Fiverr”.)

Most experienced vendors offer multiple gigs at different price levels with different terms. Naturally, Fiverr allows sellers to offer higher priced services with more extensive scope than their entry level $5 prices. Some “Fiverrs” charge $40, $75, $100, or even more, for their premium services.

When you hire a Fiverr contractor you’re buying a gig which is a defined project type and fee level for that project.You pay for a gig with a credit card or Paypal and $1.00 US is always added to your price for every gig as the service fee. So the minimum Fiverr gig always costs you $6.00.

Of course, as with any online marketplace, Fiverr providers ratings of vendors and customers, and keyword-driven searches of skills and gigs offered.

Fiverr services are cheap by American standards. But time is valuable and you don’t need to take on hassles just to get cheap work performed. Or to wait and then pay for work that doesn’t support your goals.  

This article provides some of my own experiences with Fiverr and details how you can plan and manage your Fiverr projects for the best effect. 

Top Problem I’ve Experienced: The Need for Speed

What I’ve experienced most often with a new (to me)  Fiverr vendor is that they’ll deliver fairly poor quality, and/or miss the mark …. but deliver really fast.  

Poor but fast execution is the most common quality issue with Fiverrs that I’ve experienced. In other words you’ll receive a fairly mediocre result with some problems, in almost all cases. But you’ll get the delivered work long before the deadline. 

Why is this? Fiverr allows customers to cancel their project unilaterally if a project is delayed past the gig deadline. Therefore Fiverr contractors tend to complete gigs too quickly in many cases as a defensive tactic.  I assume that Fiverr vendors bank on the customer asking for a revision if they are displeased. 

It’s your challenge to counteract this built-in bias of the Fiverr marketplace. Every Fiverr I have ever hired puts speed before quality with a new client. When you see things from the vendor’s perspective it’s easy to understand why this is.

Tip #1 – How to Cope with Fiverr Culture’s Need for Speed: Pro-Active Communication

Assuming that you want the job done right rather than fast, then emphasize in your initial order description that you want quality and that you’ll tolerate a reasonable delay on completion in order to obtain quality. State this in your initial order. In fact, give the vendor the longest time that you’d want to wait. I recommend 4-5 days for more relatively complex projects such as custom programming. Most Fiverr vendors will give you a revision or a redo or will somehow work to adjust or correct the delivered work, if you tell them that you’re unhappy. 

Secondly, if you don’t achieve satisfaction after revisions, you can charge back the gig in some cases (but of course – you’re damaging the vendor’s reputation, and perhaps your own, on the Fiverr.com website.)

I took a proactive approach with a handwriting transcription project. I hired a Fiverr person (turns out he is based in Venezuela) to transcribe a notebook full of remembrances of a family member, into word processor files. In other words I needed a person to type written notes into a document file.  I sent the Fiverr person scanned images of the notebook pages. 

I did one trial $5 project of so many pages with the fellow. The first results he returned had typos and he was misinterpreting some common English idioms. I simply pointed out the errors, and told him I had about 6 more gig’s worth of pages to transcribe if I was pleased, and to take his time. He complied and took a bit longer than 48 hours to return an error free edited version. After that gig, his pace on the remaining projects rose to fit the 48 hour turnaround, and he produced almost no typos or errors after that first gig.

Tip #2 – Supply and Demand Rules Everything, Even on Fiverr

In popular categories such as graphic design you’ll find dozens if not hundreds of sellers who offer almost identically described services, such as article writing or logo design. You’ll probably observe, though, that the best rated vendors tend to have the longest backlogs for completing work before they will start your work.  Some vendors may not be available to take on new projects for a week or two (or more). And the best vendors will have premium services that are considerably more than $5. The point is, expect that the better “Fiverrs” have their hands full and may charge more than minimum for what you want. 

Tip #3 – Misinterpreted Instructions are the Norm on Fiverr

In my experience, most Fiverr contractors you’ll encounter for specific types of tasks don’t have strong English language skills, and may also be somewhat junior. What do these two issues this mean to you? 

Two important points: First, Fiverr contractors tend to be literal minded with how they interpret instructions. And they often make assumptions that you’d never, ever in a million years expect. 

Secondly, any abstract or conceptual directions from you will usually not be interpreted correctly due to the Fiverr person’s inexperience or lack of English immersion (or both). 

The first item has an impact where you prefer a certain way of doing things and the Fiverr contractor turns your notion on its head. 

I once contracted an offshore Fiverr person to write some website code – HTML and CSS – to create a certain look I was seeking for a web page. I was going to integrate the result into a larger WordPress based website. The person returned source code that was developed with a “stack” of libraries and tools that I never, ever use, have no experience with, and have no need for. She made an assumption (apparently) that my little project would be a resume-builder for her. As a result her work was worthless to me because it was more trouble to integrate than to just rewrite. But I was fair and did not downrate her because I did not communicate something such as “don’t use libraries.”

The lack of ability to follow abstract directions also have an impact. For example, if you want a certain kind of image for a company logo, you may need to provide examples from other businesses rather than explain what you need.

In other words, if you need “special” or something very complex, you will have to use considerable patience, concrete examples, and repetition to get your wishes across. And you may need to ask for revisions on the first gig or two, until the Fiverr vendor learns your general expectations. 

Tip #4 – Overall, Useful Results Will Take Time, Even on Fiverr.

Even though gig lengths on Fiverr are absurdly short, some vendors there will promise the moon – which isn’t practical to deliver. Between waiting for a popular Fiverr to be able to get to your work –  or –  asking your current vendor for revisions, a good result will take your attention and will be a bit time consuming for you. You’ll have to manage most projects, at least a little.

But by far Fiverr is the least expensive alternative available to most of us for producing one-of-a-kind creative or technical works. 

Tip #5 – Be Fair, But Fickle – Go Through “Fiverrs” Until you Find the Right Person.

Fire and re-hire as necessary. Yes, that’s right. 

If you find a Fiverr vendor frustrating to deal with, or they insist on pushing their own agenda rather than delivering what you really need, then simply don’t rehire them. At $5 a pop, Fiverr is the cheapest hire and fire situation on the planet. It may sound callous, but Fiverr is a free market. Conversely – If you DO like a vendor’s work product, tip them and rehire them to keep them interested in working with you. (I sent the handwriting transcription vendor a tip almost as much as the fees I paid! And I feel I received a bargain.)

Likewise, any vendor that you like is not obligated to be available long into the future. I’ve used Fiverr vendors in the past who essentially go out of business and stop providing gigs. 

Important note: as you contract out projects and use Fiverr vendors who “get it”, and you stop using Fiverrs who don’t give you what you need, you’ll build up a stable of reliable Fiverr vendors that you communicate well with and that you can get reliable results from. You might find underpriced, highly available vendors who can work with you well.

Conclusion

Fiverr is an excellent way to get work performed. A high speed of 100% complete, high quality delivery is not a strong feature of Fiverr – low price is the main drawing point. Understand how Fiverr vendors tend to think and how they typically handle their projects, and adjust your working relationship and project instructions with each Fiverr person as necessary. This will assure a great outcome for your own needs. 

Don Wallace
by Don Wallace

I'm the owner of Little Miami Web Works, an online services provider based in Lebanon, Ohio. I have 30+ years of practical business and project experience backed up by a U.D. engineering degree. I'm ready to provide your business with the web presence, marketing reach, and lead generation to help you earn more and serve your customers better. Call me at (513) 760-5699 or email me at don@littlemiamiweb.com.