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Too much work, not enough income


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So I originally set up my gig to do caricatures. I figured a colored head for five bucks wasn’t too bad – I wasn’t expecting more than maybe two or three orders a week. I put a deadline of two days – I figured that was enough time to get a drawing delivered along with my other responsibilities. My friend offered to buy some orders for his friends to get things rolling for me, and even only two of them took him up on the offer. Fine, just another place to find a few jobs.

Then my gig was placed on the front page.

I received 57 orders that first day. Fifty-seven people all expecting a colored drawing in TWO DAYS. This was almost a month ago, and I am still working on that first influx.

I extended the time. More came in. Three days. Four days. A week. I finally put a deadline of two weeks. They kept coming in. Some of those 14 day orders are now late because I’m still working on the backlog. 160 orders total so far.

I finally hit the first month. But no level 1. You see, there was no way those orders were going to be done on time. Heck, I have orders in my queue I still haven’t even READ, some with two week deadlines that are now late. It’s just TOO MUCH WORK. People were now cancelling, and my rating was dropping.

I put my gig on vacation. Somehow, a few orders are STILL coming in – I guess they had it bookmarked or something?

I am trying to get through these as fast as I can, with people urging me to rush, and asking for more and more (full body! props! backgrounds!). By some fluke I did finally get Level 1, but the benefits came and gone as the rating wavered. But for what I promised, five bucks (sorry, FOUR bucks since fiver gets some) is killing me. I’m lucky to get four drawings out a day, and if I get all 160 done, that’s still only $640 – not even a rent payment.

The solution would be to strip the gig to bare bones – one pencil sketch, head only, no copyright, small jpg – and put all the extra stuff as add-ons. But because of too much work resulting in cancellations, my rating is too low to take advantage of them.

I’m this close to simply cancelling all orders and deleting my account, to cut my losses. This system is set up to do more harm than good for someone like me – I don’t even get to review the orders before they are assigned to me, and the deadlines and vacations don’t seem to stop them from piling up, so the cancellations and negative reviews are just a matter of time.

Unless there is some way I can fix this, I am going to have to leave, despite it bringing in more work than I’ve ever had at one time. The best option I can see is turning the gig into a pencil-only, saying “No ink or color or bodies for any time in the foreseeable future” and work my ass off to get the ones in the queue completed. And when there’s no economic way to get people the work they WANT, and that I WANT to provide, then what is the point?

Unless I can somehow wipe the user rating and have all the add-ons people have been requesting before taking any more orders, I don’t see how this is anything but a loss.

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I’d say you were lucky to get so many orders so quickly, but it sounds like it was more of a curse than a blessing. My business on Fiverr built slowly, so I had time to readjust what I offer.

When I first started out I offered 3 banner ads for $5, done in one day. Then done in 5, then 7. Then I had to reduce the number of banners to 2 and now I’m at 1 banner delivered in 5 days. No matter how much I reduce what I offer, more and more orders roll in every single day.

It can be frustrating and hard to keep up. Even now I can barely take a break and all-nighters are the norm. My money (real money) comes exclusively from the added extras. If I were doing all this for $4 a pop I would’ve thrown in the towel months ago.

I’d suggest “pausing” or suspending your gig in order to catch up. It takes your order page off the site completely so no one can order from you. Once you finish what’s in your queue then you can decide if you want to keep working or not.

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I did suspend it, and I thought more were coming in, but I just figured out they were orders that had been started but not completed before I suspended it, and folks with existing orders adding add-ons during the brief time they were available (when rating was high enough to get to level 1, before dipping again to keep the level but disable the add-ons). Another user had suggested I disable it on that first or second day the orders were backing up, but I thought extending the time would have been enough. Wrong 🙂 Yeah, I figure I should be grateful for the success, just wish I had been properly prepared for it, and hopefully I can figure out a way to fix it so I can start using it in the best way soon. Maybe once all the jobs in the queue are done, I can see what can be done about fixing the rating – might just have to offer less per order until I get add-ons back!

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I just looked at your gig. The problem here is that you are too good at what you do. Everyone wants to order from the best!

Your only negatives are the automatic ones Fiverr places when a buyer cancels a late order. Even with 7 negatives your gig has an 89% rating. I think your work speaks for itself. If you decide to keep using Fiverr then I’m sure you’ll keep getting work.

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You should be charging more for your work! Use all of the gig extras you are allowed to use. Make the base gig just a black and white sketch with pen and paper.

Then for $20 extra you’ll make it digital.

And for $5 extra you’ll color it in.

etc, etc

Good job on your work by the way- those who have ordered really have gotten an awesome deal.

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I echo what the others have said, you are too good 😉 You got ‘lucky’ by getting on the front page but it was a mixed blessing I can see! I’ve been asked to do a couple of caricature gigs here, even though it’s not my area, and it’s a very specialised skill, so Respect ;-). (I did OK, but it made me sweat. .) madmoo’s advice is spot on, let people know the score and allow them room to be nice and cut you some slack. After all, they want your work don’t they? You could contact them with an update as to where they are in the queue, or with an estimate of when they might get their drawing, just to keep them in the loop.

Definitely structure your gig (when you are allowed) as a basic pencil rough for $5 and and extra for the line and a further extra for the colour and shading. Keep the colour flat and simple when possible, but you do that already I think. Define what you will draw as a single character perhaps.

If you can get them to contact you first to discuss the drawing, that can give you a chance to give them a higher quote for added backgrounds and props etc. Make a ‘draw the project we discussed’ gig with a couple of ‘the extra we discussed’ at $20 or $40 or whatever, for jobs that don’t fit your price structure or are multiples.

The phrase, ‘Be careful what you wish for’ kind of fits here 😉

Best of luck with it all,


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