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My top 8 RED FLAGS when selling on Fiverr


smashradio

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I've been asked about this before, especially from new sellers on Fiverr, who might not be aware of certain red flags when selling on Fiverr. The fact is, you're likely to come across a scammer or two when selling your services on Fiverr. 


Most articles I could find online is geared towards buyers rather than sellers. 


So here is my list. It's by no means complete and is based on the scams I've encountered myself, so if you have been the victim of a scam or have different "red flags" than me, I'd love to hear about them! 


Let's help each other avoid bad experiences :D 


#1 Trying to connect outside of the platform


This is a big red flag for me. It's not just against the terms of service – it's also potentially dangerous. You never know who's on the other end. In addition to getting you banned, this could lead to all sorts of scams, including having you do work, then not pay you for it. 


Buyers will sometimes ask for contact information like e-mail or phone numbers. The best response to this is to explain that it's against the terms of service, that you'll only work directly here on Fiverr, and that the platform offers all the tools you need to communicate and collaborate effectively. If they don't respect this, you should report them, block them, and move on. It's not worth it, even if the gig sounds sweet. 


#2 Asking for unreasonable discounts or services


This goes without saying. If someone suggests that you provide them with a discount, especially if they do so in a rude way, it is a big red flag. "Give me your best price" or "I will only pay... for this" and so on, tells me something about the buyer: they are not valuing or respecting my work or time. I don't want to work with buyers like that because it often leads to revision loops (sellers abusing the revision button) or other bad experiences, and it's disrespectful towards the professional. 


#3 Dear sir


I've mentioned this in another post, where I go more into why "dear sir", "dear madam" is a red flag. It doesn't necessarily mean it's a scam, but it puts me on my toes, for sure. Primarily due to experience, so your mileage may vary. 


#4 Anyone who pretends to work for Fiverr


Fiverr has recently implemented a green Fiverr-badge next to the username in chat for users who are part of the Fiverr team. Be very sceptical if someone claims to work for Fiverr and don't have that badge, no matter how professional they might seem. 


#5 If it looks too good to be true...


...It probably is. Be aware of any gigs or offers that don't feel right. This could be the promise of regular work, massive projects etc., especially from new buyers. If a buyer just created their profile, they're not likely to spend thousands of bucks on the platform. Sure, it might be true, but be very sceptical, ask questions, and make sure you get good answers. 


#6 Short/unclear/bad instructions


This also goes for anyone contacting you for a custom offer, promising to give you all the instructions after you've sent them the offer. If they want a custom offer, they should provide you with instructions beforehand. This is because they might mislead you to set up a custom offer, promising that you'll do something, only to give you different instructions after the order has been made. 


It's also likely to cause revisions loops, as I mentioned before, because a buyer with bad instructions probably won't be happy with the end result. Ask questions, make sure you understand the project before sending the offer and require proper instructions from all your buyers. 

#7 Bad beheavior, rudeness


Some people are just rude. They might be a good buyer nonetheless, but my neck hairs tend to rise immediately if this happens. Rude buyers who don't respect you, your services, or who behaves in any way that you're not comfortable with should immediately raise red flags. Be wary about messages using words like "demand," "you shall", or just plain old rudeness. 


#8 Threats


If anyone threatens you with a negative review if you don't do this and that, report them. It's against the terms of service, and it's a big red flag. This buyer will likely force you to work for free, go outside the scope of the original order or refuse to pay you. 


If someone threatens with a negative review, I'll instantly report them to customer service. I'll then wait - I will not accept to cancel the order, and I will not answer the buyer: I'll report it. Then wait for customer support. They will handle it for you, as this is unacceptable. 


Related to this: never ask a buyer for reviews, or talk to them about reviews. The mere mention of it can get you banned or put under review because Fiverr doesn't want you to influence the buyers' feedback. 

I hope this list helps you avoid some common issues with scammers on Fiverr. I probably missed many, though, so if you have red flags to share, please do so! I'd love to read & learn from my fellow doers! 
 

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  • 11 months later...

Let me add some stuff too;

#9 Late Answers:

When i immediately answer a message from a potential buyer, sometimes it takes hours for them to answer. Of course they might be dealing with other stuff, or maybe they have already had another seller. But the thing is, they keep answering you to the point of price and sending the offer. Yet no acceptance comes for that offer and you just spent your hours understanding this buyers project, maybe doing some brainstorming with them and such. But no results.

Later on when doing the job, if you had any questions or any descisions your client needs to make about the order, they may take days for them to answer and it will just eat your delivery time. Even worse, they may not even answer and it will leave you to make a descision by yourself that your client may not like, results in revisions or bad reviews.

You could argue "you should have gotten all the information from the start" Yes. But it doesnt work like that all the time. At least in my field of work.

#10 Too much flattery:

I find this kinda deceiving when a buyer just praises everything you have all the time. You like my work? Say it once and leave it there untill the job is done. If you come across a person who repeats certain things all the time, it usually is a bad sign. They mostly do these things to reel you in. You might get into an endless cycle of revisions. Got to be careful. And believe me, you will never hear from those people again despite they say how much they like your work.

#11 Free sample:

If a buyer asks a free sample of the work, run. Specially if you have a robust foundation within your gig. You have examples and reviews there. They should be satisfactory. You never know what will they do with the free sample. They can just take it and use it with someone else too. Unless you trust them or have a work history with them, say no and say goodbye. This is a hardcore red flag, its both insulting and untrustworthy. I would never accept anything like that unless there is enough money for me to buy an island.

Thats all from me folks

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4 hours ago, ozan_erdi said:

Let me add some stuff too;

#9 Late Answers:

Yep. Buyers that takes a long while getting back to you before the order, is also likely to do so inside the order. Annoying for sure!

4 hours ago, ozan_erdi said:

#10 Too much flattery:

"I absolutely love it and it's PERFECT, but......". After fixing the "but"... "That's great! You're a superstar and you hit the nail perfectly on the head! I'll order a lot more from you and you're absolutely the best seller I ever worked with! But could you just....."

I'm screaming inside. 🙂 

4 hours ago, ozan_erdi said:

#11 Free sample:

If a buyer asks a free sample of the work, run. Specially if you have a robust foundation within your gig. You have examples and reviews there. They should be satisfactory. You never know what will they do with the free sample. They can just take it and use it with someone else too. Unless you trust them or have a work history with them, say no and say goodbye. This is a hardcore red flag, its both insulting and untrustworthy. I would never accept anything like that unless there is enough money for me to buy an island.

Thats all from me folks

I absolutely agree that this is an issue. Even so, I think this often happens because buyers don't know any better. They think it's perfectly reasonable to ask for a free sample. If I get the feeling that the buyer isn't a bad person, but just uneducated, I'll help them understand. If not, I'll just provide my "Due to current demand I'm not able to take on pro-bono projects at this time. Please feel free to reach out when you have a budget ready, and I'd be happy to consider your project again."

Edited by smashradio
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  • 3 weeks later...
On 7/20/2021 at 1:19 AM, smashradio said:

#1 Trying to connect outside of the platform

Apart from it being against the terms of Fiverr, it is mostly scammers who are trying to do the same. I have been getting a lot of unsually high request to connect outside. I always ignore them yeah, I also report those request. 

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  • 2 months later...
  • 5 months later...

One of the most unexpected realizations I’ve had as a freelancer and Fiverr Seller is this:

It’s not so much who you work with, it’s who you don’t work with that really matters.

In plainer terms: avoiding bad clients is important because they suck up your time, energy, capacity, ability to take on other clients and, in general, they make life miserable. Plus, in the context of Fiverr, bad clients are common sources of bad reviews and cancellations, which hurt your success.

But don’t despair. You can learn how to spot problematic Buyers before you work with them.

If you spot one (or more) of these 8 red flags, proceed with caution—or don’t move forward at all:

  • They ask for steep, unreasonable discounts. Not every client has a big budget, but the way in which they ask for a discount (and how much of a discount) does matter. In my experience, asking for unreasonable discounts (let’s say 30-50%+) usually means they don’t value your skills, time or deliverables. If they can’t pay, they’re not a Buyer.

  • They demand tons of pre-project investment. They require 4 Zoom calls, a chat with their CEO and dozens of portfolio pieces before they even think about discussing an offer. If you have to invest this much time on the front end, what’s it going to be like during edits or feedback? Good luck. I’ve consistently found the best Buyers are fairly quick to hire and respect my time.
    Oh, and pre-project tests to “prove” you can take on the job? Any Buyer asking you for an unpaid test is not only going against Fiverr terms, they’re waving one of the biggest red flags of all. Good Buyers don’t ask you to invest your time and skills in unpaid work.

  • They don’t know what they want or need. This is often an innocent red flag, but a red flag nonetheless. If the Buyer is unclear about what they’re trying to achieve, cannot speak to critical details, show confusion about your role/skills or clearly has no experience hiring someone with your skills, you’re setting yourself up for wasted time and a mismatch between your delivery and the Buyer’s expectations.

  • They needed everything done yesterday. Last minute requests happen, but I’ve never had a good client come to me in a panic with a last-minute, dire need. Or demand a call on the spot. Or impatiently ask why I can’t just work through the weekend to get it done.  Disorganized, impatient clients are almost guaranteed to be challenging to work with. If they’re frantic now, they’re not going to calm down as the deadline closes in.

  • They’re not sold on you. If you’ve answered questions, provided samples, referred them to your reviews and adequately proven you can handle the job, a good Buyer should be ready to start. However, if you’ve done all this and they’re still hesitating—saying they’re not sure, needling about discounts, expressing their concerns about your abilities—then move on. I don’t spend any time convincing clients to hire me if they show abnormal levels of reluctance because they’re usually people who don’t buy anyway—or they purchase and have buyer’s remorse once after the delivery.

  • They’ve only had bad experiences with freelancers or Fiverr Sellers. While not every freelancer or Fiverr Seller will be a perfect fit every time, a Buyer saying they’ve never made a good hire is a serious red flag. What is it about this Buyer’s ability to communicate, manage or collaborate that has only generated bad results?

  • They’ve hired others to do this project before—and they all failed. If a Buyer tells you that you’re the fifth writer they’re thinking of hiring or the ninth designer they’ll trust with the project, you have to wonder: why has this failed so many times? They’re hoping you’re the magic ingredient for a project that has failed and failed. What’s the constant variable here? The Buyer.

  • Your Spidey-Senses tell you to move on. This final red flag may seem non-specific, but it’s not. Sometimes I get a feeling about a client—one who has shown no specific red flags—and I choose not to work with them simply because something feels off. However, when I (rarely and stupidly!) ignore this feeling, I pay for it later; the red flags popped up after the purchase. If there’s something about a project or Buyer you find unappealing or it doesn’t feel right, trust instincts and move on.

Particularly if you’ve spent quite a bit of time discussing a project with a Buyer, you may feel pressured to just move on and start anyway. You don’t want to let them down—or feel like you’ve wasted your time. However, it’s easier to send an uncomfortable breakup message now than it is to suffer through a project. Cut your losses and move on.

There’s no need to tell the Buyer it’s because they’re a walking, talking potential disaster. Typically, I tell them my availability has changed and I’m no longer able to take on the project and, so far, I’ve never had a Buyer say much other than: thanks anyway!

If you want to build your red flag identification skills, look through some of your past projects, particularly ones that may not have gone as well as you’d liked. Which red flag (or flags!) did the Buyer show before you worked together? Learn from past mistakes to avoid future problems.

What red flags do you look for in Buyers? What happens when you’ve missed or ignored them in the past? I want to hear your experience. 

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Amazing! This is exactly MY list too. And I had a good relatability laugh about the “Spidey Senses” because I do feel when something is off, for no particular reason, even from the first “Hello!”; and if I ignore the feeling, I do pay for it later. Excellent article! 

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I'm so happy you posted this. I created my own list over my years on Fiverr that consists of mostly the same items! Especially, the one where they "need it yesterday." This will be a nightmare every single time!

I find that anytime I'm slow and think I'll make this 1 exception to one of those rules, I regret it. Every single time!

 

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YES to all of these! Another red flag: "I am desperate." In the beginning, I found out the hard way that these buyers are not worth it. I ended up canceling a couple of projects because bad player will scope creep and become unreasonable if you do not comply. Not worth the bad reviews when you know you did the job as described. 

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Finally someone said it loud and clear. It would be really helpful to NEW SELLERS who mostly become the victim of such RED FLAGs. I would also add my two cents:

1. If a buyer is asking for a FREE sample, then he/she is also asking the same to many other freelancers. You'll only waste your time such "concept hunters or intellectual thieves". They collect the concepts and then do it themselves.

2. You should NEVER offer unlimited revisions. This only decreases your value and quality of the work. If you're a professional, as you claim, then you can get the quality n first go, or second or third go. Only noobs would need unlimited revisions, and genuine buyers know that.

3. Can you do a $200 job in $20? Don't event bother to entertain such clients. REJECT them right away.

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Funny thing is that when you’ve worked as a Seller for a while you’ll know all these instinctively. However, it’s how you succinctly curated these red flags that makes it so perfect. A road map for new, old and veteran sellers. 
To sum it up, some birds on Fiverr are never worth anything or even two in the bush. Don’t learn the hard way (experience) just follow these guide and you’ll be fine (mostly) 😜.

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Most times it's not as if we don't notice this red flag 😂😂😂.

But just to compensate for the time wasted with the clients we still take up the job and later paid dearly for it... I can't write a whole book about my bad experience with clients like this.

 

Another reason why we still take up the job after noticing the red flags is because, they say "winners don't, and they don't complain."

 

But I've found this not to be true in the case of red flags.

I've advised myself to always give up on clients with red flags and don't feel guilty about it.

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I do computer scripting, as well as some limited tech support for clients here on Fiverr, and a big huge red flag for me is when someone starts telling me how easy it is to do my job, or how it "shouldn't take much time". If they don't respect your skills before you have even started discussing their project, then what will they be like once you have an order from them. 

Also if they "tried using ChatGPT" to do the job for them, I would seriously think twice before spending a lot of time with them. They are probably still trying to use ChatGPT, using any knowledge they can skim from you in that process. At the very least I'd go back and look through their interactions with you with a fine tooth comb to see if any of the OP's Red Flags are hiding in plain sight there. 

One last red flag from me is "We have a lot more work like this coming in the future". No, no they don't. OK, maybe 1 in 10,000 actually have more work for you, the other 9,999 are just trying to get you to work for a discount. 

And a bonus red flag for everyone, when you go to research the client, you see they are also a fiverr seller, who is offering the same, or nearly the same services as you. This means they overpromised on a project, and can't deliver. They are probably going to want you to do the job for a discount, or will try to get a fair amount of feature creep into the project. 

 

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Suprisingly this article comes out as Fiverr allows you to pay to select your buyers. Where has this been for the past 5 years, why isnt this standard?

Regardless of red flags or no, you can not choose the buyer unless we now all upgrade to the seller plus program. Stop monetizing your sellers and start helping/supporting us better.

Well written article, and of course agreeable points - but lets read between the lines here.

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