Fiverr is certainly unique, to say the least. They seem to offer outsourcing for everything under the sun, all at an extremely cheap price point – $5. Many people out there may be wondering, is Fiverr a scam?, and the short answer I have for that is it isn’t.
That being said, however, there’s a lot you should know about Fiverr before trying to sell your services or get tasks outsourced. While it may not exactly be a scam, there are scammers within the Fiverr marketplace and it’s up to the customer to do some due diligence before getting totally screwed over.
How does Fiverr work?
Fiverr is an open marketplace where people offer service gigs starting at $5. There’s a massive range of services – writing articles, social media marketing, designing logos, video intros, jingles, writing sales copy, legal documents, fake video or written testimonials, video editing, photo editing, ebook covers, and even some really bizarre crap, to say the least.
Anyone can open up a Fiverr account and start selling their gigs, so the market is extremely saturated. Sellers have to work very hard to create a good reputation, and after they work up to a level 1 they can start offering higher priced gigs. There’s even package options they can sell for more advanced services, so they have the ability to make more money.
Fiverr takes 20% from sellers – so for a $5 gig that’s $1. The seller gets further deductions for PayPal service fees, so in the end, they’ll end up with $3 and some change for a basic $5 project.
The good vs bad on Fiverr
Since there’s a huge variety of what you can find on Fiverr, and millions of people using the platform, you’re going to find a wide range of talent. Some people on Fiverr are very talented and just trying to start a career somewhere, others are just looking for some beer money and yet others are complete scam artists.
From what I’ve discovered, there’s some tasks that are great to have outsourced with Fiverr, and others a complete waste of money. You can really only expect so much for $5.
Red flag services:
- SEO services, like link building
- Social media marketing – getting Facebook likes, twitter followers, etc
- Traffic to your blog – “unlimited” targeted traffic
- Article writing – especially insane things like $5 for 10 unique 500 word articles!
- Any service that has 1,000’s of ONLY 5 star reviews but the gig seems questionable (they’re fake reviews) For example, watch out for things within the bizarre category.. some are so bizarre they can’t even be real
Scammers within Fiverr
Some of what sellers within Fiverr are offering for $5 is so ridiculous that there’s no way they can provide their customer with any tangible results. For example, getting blog traffic takes a lot of work, especially targeted visitors. While your $5 might get you visitors (proven with tracking software like Google Analytics) it’s just going to be bots. Bots are pointless because they aren’t real people and aren’t going to convert.
With people offering 500 word articles for $5, it can be hit or miss. You’re never going to find something of exceptional quality, but you may be able to get something that is OK.
What you need to make sure of is you’re not getting a plagiarized article. Some Fiverr sellers are scraping article from the internet, coding them with characters that look like real english letters to the human eye, but when copy and pasted into Google look like gibberish. The reason they do this is so they can fool programs like Copyscape and say it’s “unique”, when in reality it will do nothing to help your website or SEO.
Another thing writers may do is just put an already published article into some spinner software and claim it as their own. This is almost equally as bad.
However, $5 for 500 words is pretty low in my opinion, so I would never expect something truly original. But it isn’t unique or original content and shouldn’t be sold as such. I wouldn’t recommend ever using their writing services if you care about your content. (There are much better alternatives for content outsourcing)
Ok, so they’re not ALL bad…
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to call out all Fiverr sellers as being horrible or scammers. I’m just saying they exist, and as a customer you have to be careful.
There are a lot of sincere people doing honest hard work. I’ve ordered a few gigs from Fiverr and was quite satisfied. These were just little tasks that probably took the person a few minutes, but since it was something I didn’t know how to do (and wasn’t very good at) I would have spent days trying to get it done myself.
The trick is to be realistic with what $5 can get you, and do research on the seller beforehand. You can contact them and see if they’re responsive and interested, and ask for samples of previous work if you wish. It’s also smart to start with only a $5 service and see if you’re satisfied with the seller, and then upgrade your service pack or ask for additional services from the seller in the future.
Buyers are not the only ones that may get a bad deal
Sellers can also get stiffed with Fiverr. Many customers are very rude, and have unrealistic expectations for what $5 will get them – these people will reject their work and leave them with horrible reviews, even if they don’t deserve it.
There’s also many established Fiverr sellers that have gotten their accounts frozen for unknown violations, leaving them with hundreds or sometimes thousands in earnings that they’ll never get paid for. The violations in question I am not sure about, as Fiverr seems to leave that out of the explanation. (Reminds me of banned Adsense accounts!) Still, it is up to the seller to follow Fiverr’s terms of service very strictly.
It’s also very hard for most sellers to earn any real money on Fiverr. It’s oversaturated and you have to really promote your gigs hard to get enough buyers. Even if you do get buyers, you have to be extremely efficient at what you do to make it worth the $5 – otherwise you’ll be working for pennies.
Conclusion – Should you be worried about using Fiverr?
The Fiverr platform itself will not “scam” you – it’s up to the buyer to do their due diligence and not try and buy some gig that is too good to be true (because it probably is).
For sellers, you need to make sure that you’re strictly following Fiverr’s TOS and not try to bite off more than you can chew. In other words, offer a reasonable service for $5 that you can do in a relatively short amount of time, and emphasize the quality of your work. If you want to offer more, create a service pack and upsell your buyers.
Fiverr may be a good stepping stone for budding freelancers who want to start a portfolio, but it isn’t likely going to be a full time job. It’s a decent place to pick up cheap tasks for your website or small business as well, just don’t expect too much.