Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tales of a Fiverr Seller

I discovered Fiverr last year, a few months after it started.  The site is a bit like Etsy for services - people post up what they're willing do to (for $5) and people can then pay them to do that.  Typical gigs include small photoshopping tasks, silly things like taking pictures of animals to promote a business, and also writing.

One my my friends is a very active Fiverr 'seller' - he offers to write slogans for $5.  I asked him if he'd do an interview to share some of his experiences on the site.  (To stay in keeping with Fiverr I asked 5 questions)  Read on!

How did you start with Fiverr?

As someone who had worked extensively in the media, primarily in book publishing, I was keen to keep my skills fresh. In November 2009 I had started writing a blog, called Malapopulisms. A friend who had been mentoring me suggested I consider signing up with Fiverr, to offer the benefit of my experience to a global social network. I completed my first commission for Fiverr in April 2010 and have successfully delivered 80 projects so far: every client to date has posted positive feedback, including around 60 review comments.

What do you offer?

Having worked professionally as an editor and writer, I decided to offer the following copywriting gig to the Fiverr community: ‘I will copywrite three sample titles, slogans or straplines for $5’. As well as brainstorming the slogans, I write contextual reports to explain my thought process. In practice, I supply more than three slogans, as creative thinking always generates many ideas of different tones and styles

Fiverr clients have often had specific needs beyond the limits of my offer. I have taken on many of these orders and have successfully completed work on a range of tasks, including: copywriting web copy, writing scripts for online videos, researching keywords for generalized SEO optimization, providing business advice and coaching, commenting on web functionality, suggesting marketing and sales ideas, and copyediting and proofreading text.

Describe a typical job

Every client is different: even when I am asked to provide my basic gig offer of three sample slogans, the unique target market demographics for each project influence the tone, style and pitch of my copywriting. Many clients commission me to do more than copywrite slogans

So far, I have had no negative feedback. Some jobs, however, are trickier than others, especially those where clients have given a minimal brief. In my earliest work for the site, I would try to tease out further information from the client by asking detailed questions before starting work on a project. In the last few months, Fiverr has introduced the answering of a formal brief as an integral part of the ordering process. This forces clients to think carefully about the type of work they want sellers to provide and so reduces the chance of disappointment in advance.

The range of copywriting projects I have so far completed include:

compiling key features and benefits for a marketing campaign on behalf of an Australian environmental and developmental charity operating in Tanzania;
scriptwriting video commentary and sample target customer profiles for a business social network;
suggesting a company name, domain name and slogans, as well as developing a marketing plan, for an ecommerce site selling ethically sourced, organic sex-aid products for women;
writing slogans for a Californian website dedicated to cruiser motorbikes, run by professional enthusiasts;
suggesting slogans for a London restaurant owned and run by a TV celebrity chef;
suggesting slogans and business strategy for a South African journalist starting a personal relationship blog.

The variety of projects (of which the above list is a small fraction) and their global reach is a great advertisement for the scope of the world wide web.

What do you like about it and what could be better?

Fiverr caters for three types of seller gigs: frivolous, fun offers that can be easily imitated (e.g. writing advertising message on foreheads in marker pen and taking photographs); people wanting to monetize their hobby (e.g. composing music); and professional creatives wishing to build a credible portfolio of work.

Fiverr is a great way of building a worldwide client list of satisfied customers and of garnering positive reviews that can be quoted as testimonials and recommendations. It is a useful stepping-stone to securing work at commercial rates.

The strength of the site is also its weakness. The payment of five US dollars per project means clients enjoy low risk when commissioning work because expectations can be low. (This doesn’t stop some people from demanding a pound of flesh for their investment.) This means that business wrangling and argument is kept to a minimum. Fiverr is missing a trick, however, as certain gigs are worth far more than five US dollars. The website runs the risk of high churn rates as successful sellers find more lucrative outlets for expressing and monetizing their talents.

It would also be useful to have an ‘out of office’ option to display to potential clients for periods when sellers do not have access to a computer for completing work (e.g. in hospital, on holiday).

What is your medium & long-term goal with the site?

My day job is not creative: despite my skills and experience in the media, I am not currently employed in the sector. Fiverr gives me an opportunity to work on projects that match my career profile and aspirations: it helps to keep my writing and editorial talents relevant and current.

Having successfully completed over 80 Fiverr projects, I am actively looking for opportunities to expand my client list and earnings potential. I have researched and written web copy for a men’s bespoke shirt-making business in London and have lined up the opportunity to revise the web copy for a freelance management consultant in Bedfordshire.

I want to explore the possibility of setting up a freelance business or securing an in-house job scaling up the work I do for Fiverr to a point where I can make a sustainable living from my creativity.

Fascinating answers!  You can get in touch with Chris through the site, or get in touch through me if you have any more extensive projects for him.  He's good!

Update - Chris now has a site to promote his copywriting and ghostwriting - CopyGhosting


Jake said...

This is great! Sounds like he should be charging more that 5 dollars though...

Mert Nuhoglu said...

Thanks Dan, this interview is really very instructive.

We are going to launch a new <a href=">fiverr clone in Turkey</a>.

Can I translate this interview to Turkish and publish in our blog with a reference to the original text? This interview would help to many people who are currently unfamiliar with the concept.

Charleen Larson said...

I always like reading about Fiverr seller experiences, being a seller myself. I have more interviews with creative Fiverrers (wow, I got three r's in there) on our blog, Best of Fiverr. One woman makes about $1500 a month writing articles plus she has a full-time job.

Dan said...

A couple of updates -

Mert Nuhoglu has now translated the interview into Turkish - read it here:

@Charleen - can you give the details of the woman who makes $1,500 a month?

Charleen Larson said...

Hi Dan,

I can give you a link. She wrote a guest post for our blog:

The amazing thing to me is that she has 6 kids, a full-time job and she still writes hundreds of articles for Fiverr customers every month.

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