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A rant on Fiverr

First, let’s define Fiverr. It’s a job board where you can hire someone for a specific task for $5. Read that again. Not $5 per minute. Not $5 per hour. That’s $5 per assignment no matter how long it takes. (Actually the website says “From $5,” whatever that means.)

I am hopping angry about Fiverr though I am still trying to pin down exactly what aggravates me so much. Please help me out by commenting.

The rational side of my brain tells me that if you pay the requested fee, it’s all perfectly respectable. To put it succinctly (and in a way that may be politically incorrect), you can’t rape the willing.

The emotional side of my brain says that there is something very wrong going on.

What has me seeing red at the moment is a new book I scanned this weekend.

The new book describes how to use Fiverr to audition a large number of service providers at $5 each. The author points out that a point-based rating system requires that service providers do their damndest to create perfect work so as to preserve their top ratings. Statistically speaking, one or two low ratings can kill you on Fiverr and will require huge numbers of positive ratings to overcome.

To add some personal interpretation to this concept, it warns me that Fiverr is not a simple way to make a few extra bucks when you have time to kill. Instead, you are committing yourself to effort excessively out of proportion to the payment in order to preserve your ongoing reputation.

Fundamentally, the book is about how sales and marketing personnel can maximize your income while working smarter for fewer hours. The author encourages us to turn over grunt work—and even professional tasks—to people we find on Fiverr and similar services so we boost our own income per hour by astronomical multiples.

I had recently calmed down from another Fiverr rave I saw a few weeks ago. A marketing and copywriting coach communicated via an associate’s ezine that she had generated a knock-your-socks-off infographic through the services of a graphic pro on Fiverr.

She was so pleased with the work that she had tipped him $5 for a total payment of $10. The unnamed individual, she reported, had since suspended his Fiverr offer for awhile, so she suggested that if you find someone, give them lots of work quickly before they change their mind and want more money.

What could this “guru” have done differently?

  • Instead of a $5 tip, she could have increased the payment by a multiple of 10 to an outlandishly generous $50.

  • She could have given the individual additional assignments at a professional rate since he had been road tested.

Plus some free alternatives:

  • She could have granted him a credit line at the bottom of the infographic.

  • She could have publicized his services without revealing that she found him on Fiverr so he could profit handsomely from her sizable audience.

  • She could have given him a glowing testimonial on LinkedIn.

Here’s my profound thought of the day: Some people are as*es and we have to steer clear of them. They may be geniuses and they may be legal, but proceed with caution.

However, I think there’s another issue.

I want a positive business relationship with the people I work with and you can't have a true relationship with someone if you are grossly underpaying them, even if they have agreed to be underpaid.

I don’t want to overpay. My financial resources are not unlimited.

Still, I am paying to have a work relationship where the other person contributes creativity and other fuzzy attributes to the relationship.

Freelancing is an isolating experience. It's helpful to bring in collaborators to enrich the process. Yes, in general, highly professional work costs more. You have to pay for quality.

Sometimes you don't pay for quality but you are lucky and you get quality anyway. Sometimes you waste time and a little money and you lose.

Originally posted 9-23-13

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