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Questionably, the Fiverr


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Well, here I go putting in my two cents.

I haven’t been on Fiverr but for a few months now, and have started seeing a few unsettling things.

When I arrived, I told myself that I was going to treat it like an experiment and see how things go. I quickly realized that I would need to heavily slash my hourly rate as a freelancer in order to compete with others. There are an inordinate amount of gigs offering services at unheard of rates. No one (in the real world) “professionally designs” business cards (or anything, for that matter) at the rates that a lot of top sellers are offering.

I decided that I would start with something I do quickly and well. We all know that this is the idea - pick a gig that doesn’t take much time. So I decided to pick illustrating. As for pricing, in my current market an hours worth of work is ~$35. This means that $5 is realistically only paying for 8-9 minutes of work. So I’ve lowered my standards: I work at an hourly rate of $20 here, which means $5 = 15 minutes. This still isn’t enough time to give people a finished hand-drawn product so the $5 is a 15 minute sketch. Those customers that have gotten a full illustration (typically in the minimum $40-$50 range have all really enjoyed what they’ve gotten.)

The $5 gigs I’ve begun seeing are where I believe potentially dangerous practices are brewing. I’ve found that they are usually sourcing the work for someone else, and doing it in multitudes. Some have even come right out and said they’re awaiting many others to come back in order to pick one from their “stack”. Great, so essentially you’re polling a group of illustrators to give one an actual gig for a more realistic price. Often the terms applied to their practice is “awarding” the illustrator with work. So you have a hotbed of self-proclaimed professionals all harshly cutting prices (and corners) to provide a service. I guess if there ever were a sweat shop - it could find work here.

To get back on the track of the case in polling many sellers for the same service, though…

Told to me via customer support: If a customer rejects the work there is no guarantee that you will get paid. So, with this model, someone can come in and employ 10 artists for a full service illustration and then only have to pay one of them.

In a particular instance, the customer paid for $50 worth of work so I gave them that and then some. I even completely redrew the two and a half hour hand-drawn work to sit at a total of five hours. What’s worse? They started the whole thing off granting creative freedom and giving me a particular artist to emulate the style of. When it didn’t come back nearly identical to the artist in question, he wanted a full refund. (I’m not here to plagiarise.)

Customer service told me to continue working it out on my own. Which I did, and ended up retaining %50 of the cost.

I’m a reasonable person but at many points felt as if there were no mechanism, or even care, to protect any of our time. So, if Fiverr continues down this road, I fear it is not a place for professionals.




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Guest celticmoon

Many professionals thrive on Fiverr, some expanding a niche market, others trying out online selling to see how they like it, or sometimes they want to test the response to some of their creative ideas to decide about expanding. It’s not for everybody, and perhaps not for you.

At first only $5 gigs were bought & sold, but early on people came together to work out between themselves project deals where more gigs were purchased, and so Fiverr changed its setup, too. The requirement of all sellers is that we must offer a basic service or product for $5, but we can negotiate with buyers to expand or add-on to the work if they purchase more gigs. As sellers move up levels, they can do that more easily with ‘gig extras’. So you need to be creative enough to figure out what you can offer for $5, knowing that if the buyer needs something more you can work out a deal. It’s not a perfect system, and whether due to misunderstanding or deliberate scamming, issues can arise, but generally most of us buy and sell thousands of times a day without too much difficulty. People don’t post in the forum when things go right, only those times that things went wrong.

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Oh, I’m sure there are a good amount of professionals that do thrive.

Me posting my experience doesn’t mean I’m not concerned for other’s well-being. Price wise, many are on par with stock imagery sites. That should concern anyone in the art industry. Am I wrong? Providing services under a guise of professionalism and undercutting just for the sake of making the bar. Template gigs. It seems degrading to a handful of industries, not specifically mine.

Perhaps it isn’t for me, but for now I’m just changing my policies and hopefully customers that are and have been interested will continue to not be shocked by my “audacity” to want to charge closer to a realistic amount.

I’m not sure your reasoning for the inflammatory statement. I’ve had great experiences with customers and LOVE it when I get ecstatic response, but “Hey, I did it!” posts wouldn’t really be up for much discussion now would they?

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Guest celticmoon
clintdsgn said: I'm not sure your reasoning for the inflammatory statement.
What did I say that was inflammatory?


You seem unhappy with how you're being treated by buyers and by Fiverr, you seem unhappy with the unprofessional sellers of clip-art (basically, that's what they're doling out), while you yourself are a professional graphic designer. You haven't spoken any untruths here, about how Fiverr works, to a certain extent. I merely suggested that perhaps this isn't the right place for you. I'm an artist myself, an illustrator of children's books, but I don't sell any art here. I couldn't see any reasonable way of selling my work as a $5 gig while still maintaining quality, plus I'm not knowledgeable about dealing with graphic files for all the circumstances buyers might present. There are professional artists and graphic designers here, though, who have found a way to offer some sort of basic gig while still maintaining high quality, so it can be done. I have no idea if they stay long, or have other reasons for selling on Fiverr, but they're here. Maybe you'll stay on as one, once you figure out a way to sell your work in a manner that you feel is fair to you and within the parameters of Fiverr's platform.



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