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How to Communicate Your Needs and Improve Your Order Experience


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I came across a thread where a buyer asked how he can “explain his wants better” because the sellers who attempted his order didn’t work out. I thought it would make a great topic for tips. I’m focusing on design but the ideas apply to all categories!

There are always two elements to a buyer’s needs: details that are objective and details that are subjective.

Objective details have no variables, so there’s no excuse not to get them right. Asking for a square to be blue and providing the hexadecimal code is an objective detail. Nothing is left open to interpretation. It’s that color and only that color.

Subjective details exist only in the client’s mind. They think they’re being specific, but subjective details can’t be specific. Asking for a square to be blue without providing the exact color code is a subjective detail. There are countless blues of various tints, shades, lightness, and hue.

Understanding the “objective versus subjective” dynamic is the backbone of hiring people to do custom work and it’s where a lot of orders on Fiverr break down.

Keeping that in mind, here are my tips!

TIP #1: Know what you want!

You can’t communicate your needs if you don’t know what they are. Let’s say you want a cool logo. Cool is a subjective detail. You can’t objectively define it but you know it when you see it.

Find logos that you think are cool and ask yourself what objective details they have in common. Maybe they’re all hand drawn. Maybe they’re all monochromatic. Maybe none of them have text. Maybe all of them feature an animal.

The more you explore your taste, the clearer it will be which objective details make up that taste and that’s what you want to bring to a designer. Not the word “cool”.

TIP #2: Know which details are which!

Some terms are used so often that we treat them like they’re objective when they’re not. Vintage. Edgy. Clean. All of those things are open to interpretation. Subjective details are a great way to narrow things down, but they’re only guides. Objective details are better at foolproofing a design.

If I want you to come to my house, which would be helpful? Giving you my address or giving you directions to the area my house is in? Both. My address tells you exactly where to go and my directions tell you how to get there.

That’s the relationship between objective and subjective details. Subjective details will get the seller in the neighborhood, but objective details will land them at your door. Narrow your subjective details down to objective ones whenever possible.

Instead of saying vintage or retro, refer to an actual decade. Instead of saying simple, say that you don’t want more than X number of elements. As always, showing designers examples of what you mean helps too!

TIP #3: Know how to judge a seller’s work!

A good seller isn’t defined by whether or not you like his work any more than a good film is defined by whether or not you enjoyed it. There are great sellers who aren’t the right fit for your project. Don’t penalize them for being a bad match. Get better at finding good ones.

A seller who can’t deliver on objective details is bad. If you say you want a pink logo and they send you a green one without explanation, something is wrong. If you say you want a perfect circle and they keep sending you ovals, something is wrong.

Either they aren’t paying attention (bad), or they don’t have the skills to do what you asked and aren’t being honest about it because they want the sale (bad).

A seller who can’t deliver on subjective details isn’t bad. They’re just not in sync. Some people “get” you and you’re always on the same page. Designers are expected to get inside your head, but not everyone will have that connection with you. Improve your odds of finding someone who will.

Don’t choose sellers just because they have a lot of sales and high ratings. Choose sellers who’ve done work like yours. Then you know they have experience with the style you’re interested in.

Also look for sellers who describe their work the same way you’d describe it because that means you speak the same aesthetic language.

If basing your search on reviews, pay less attention to negative reviews that talk about things like late deliveries (unless it’s rampant) and focus more on reviews that mention deliveries being totally wrong.

There are plenty of good reasons why a delivery might be late or not someone’s cup of tea, but when it comes to delivering a hot dog instead of a bunny rabbit, not so much.

TIP #4: Know what sellers need to know!

Your best defense against a negative ordering experience is knowledge. Know what goes into a seller’s work so you can offer details about your order that are thoughtful and relevant. Give as much information as you can upfront. Overdeliver on examples and specs.

And don’t get so caught up in the look and feel of what you want that you forget to mention its intended use. A flyer stapled to walls around a campus isn’t the same as a flyer handed out to senior citizens in a dark theater.

If you want a seller to speak your language, learn to speak theirs. If you aren’t sure what kind of information they need for your order, ask. Don’t assume they’ll ask you. There may be something about your order they figure is standard that isn’t.

Better to give extra guidance in the beginning than pelt the seller with details in a string of revision requests after the fact.

TIP #5: Give honest feedback!

Most sellers genuinely want you to be happy with the work they do. If you aren’t, request a modification and explain why. Don’t throw up your hands and cancel out of frustration. Don’t leave a bad review without asking the seller to address your issues first.

And don’t say everything is fine just to be nice when the truth is that you hate the work because it’ll annoy you that you spent money on something you didn’t really want and that will sour your experience even more.

The key to communicating your needs is communicating at all. Don’t be afraid to tell the seller what you don’t like as well as what you do with politeness and respect. It will be just as frustrating for them if they continue to work under the impression that you like where things are going only to find out later that you want it redone or refunded.

TIP #6: Be honest about your deadlines and budget!

Time and money may not be the fun part of the discussion, but it’s the most important part because that’s what we’re all here to spend. Time and money.

Be direct about when you expect the delivery to be completed so the seller can treat your order accordingly. Don’t omit delivery time from the conversation as if it’s open-ended, then hound the seller because you want the work in 2 hours. Always verify that they can deliver what you need when you need it.

Also, be upfront about what you can afford. Think about the cost of revisions, extras, and faster delivery. Don’t put yourself in a position where your order is likely to become a march of things you want but can’t pay for and never order cheap with the intent of demanding more for free.

Let the seller know your budget and ask if they can deliver what you want within that range. They may be able to accommodate you in some way. If they can’t, find a seller whose prices are more in line with what you’re willing to spend. There are plenty of fish in the Fiverr sea.

Hopefully, keeping these things in mind will help buyers experience more hits than misses on here and improve their impression not only of Fiverr but of all the sellers on here that make it what it is!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you for writing this. Definitely helpful. I wish I would have seen this about 4 days ago prior to my first order which was a complete disaster. What I learned from that experience was first I went to this forum and chose the “Seller” side and views. I wanted to see what they were talking about with regards to customers. It actually helped me a lot! Really see their side and figure out what went wrong with my transaction. I found a few things here in the buyer section too but what I discovered was that there are “fake sellers” here on Fiverr. Again, I am extremely new to this site and I should have done my homework prior but was so excited that I jumped in without knowing who I was choosing.

With that said, your tip #3 needs an addition. Just because you see their work and like it, make certain that a review is attached to the photo so you can confirm that they did that work. In my case, I put out a request to do a postcard. I got several replies and chose one based off of their photos. What I did not realize is that the photos that had no reviews attached to them and were fake because the few reviews with attached photos were mediocre to bad. Any of the positive reviews must have been fake because there was no completed work attached to them. What I received was so bad that I was at first speechless than I felt like a fool.

Additionally, communication should be key. Getting one word answers or not answering all the questions should be a red flag. After my bad order, I was questioning myself if I gave enough objective and subjective direction and I went back to review the communications. I was very clear and specific. I even gave specific examples of the flyers I liked and said “make it look a lot like that one.” It was all ignored for the initial and revised versions. Both emails responses from the seller took over 24 hours. When I gave up because I just realized that it’s not working out. I’m pulling teeth here, it’s wasting my time and energy, and this person is not the same person who did the graphics I liked. I told the seller after accepting the revision that I was unhappy to just keep the money. I got a cryptic message back that said “i keep you satisfied. rate me” So I did. After the 1 star review, suddenly there were perfectly well written emails trying to address the issue, 43 to be exact and all to expand the course of 3 hours. So my point is, feel comfortable with who you are talking to. If at any point they are not communicating well with you, end it.

Thank you for reading.

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I’m not a designer, but “make it look a lot like that one.” sounds a bit vague; I think that pointing out the parts of the examples you liked (the color? the shade? the font? the playful look? the structure?..) would be more helpful.

(I hope a designer will see this and explain it better)

I’m not saying that that’s where it went wrong with your seller; it’s just a suggestion for future communication.

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I thought I did, but I could be wrong. Here is a portion of what I wrote: “…for the front side add the same or similar font you used for The Beach Party flyer in a bright blue for the word YNGNFRSH.”

If I am missing something here, than I’m good with that and will take responsibility and try to figure out what to do next time. I am the first to admit that I don’t know graphic design terms. I tried attaching the front of the postcard to this post which is the revision. Not sure if it’s showing but it was something that I could have done on vista print.

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Your attachment doesn’t show, unfortunately.

The portion you quoted looks specific enough to me (although, bright blue can be open to interpretation, because there are several shades of it; OP mentioned hexadecimal code).

Hopefully a graphic designer will chime in and help you. 🙂

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