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What I Learned on Fiverr After Delivering 40+ Orders

It's a great tool for learning

· Gig work,Career

Many freelancers are quick to dismiss Fiverr because of its reputation as a low-cost marketplace.

Not so fast, I say.

I wouldn't advise anyone focus on it to generate substantial money (even though apparently some people make six figures on Fiverr). I think of it more like a test environment -- offering a great way to hone your freelance services and experiment with different service packages. It can also help you develop business efficiencies.

Here's how:

Doing something at low cost helps you identify what is easiest to ship

I first used Fiverr to purchase transcription services about five years ago -- before I started working independently. I liked the website interface and was kind of amused at the assortment of services people offered for five bucks. It got me thinking: what would I provide for $5?

Friends and colleagues often ask me to read cover letters or emails to reporters and lots of things in between. I hadn't connected the dots before, but most of the stuff people ask my help on tends to be some sort of pitch when you boil it down. I've worked in PR and in journalism, so I get the view of pitching from both sides. I've also made and seen a lot of mistakes along the way.

So without overthinking it, my first Fiverr gig was born in 2013.

My gigs and the platform have changed over time, and I've been able to raise my rates and create custom invoices (some for $100 for less than an hour of work). Even though I can earn a decent rate on Fiverr now, I've found it valuable to think through the $5 lens.

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If you're smart about offering a service at that cost, you're going to find a way to provide something that takes up little time and isn't draining or difficult to do. Ideally, it should be fun or interesting. Providing a service for $5 is a good framework for finding a balance between what's easy for you to do and what people are willing to pay for.

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Freelancers often wonder whether working for free makes sense when you're just starting. It might. Or you can start and learn with $5 micro projects.

The marketplace is a good way to test and refine your offering

A marketplace isn't a magic bullet for getting customers, but it can provide more visibility for your services. It's certainly a step up from starting with a website that gets no traffic and provides an avenue for interacting directly with someone who wants to buy from you. In my case, I'd estimate that 95% of the business I've received through Fiverr has been the result of people searching for something, finding my gig, liking what they read and then placing an order.

Over time, those client interactions can offer critical insights and help you see patterns. For example, transactions with customers have helped me:

  • Determine what most people expect for a basic level of service
  • Identify common "extras," so I can anticipate needs ahead of time
  • Ask better questions so I can deliver a solid final product 

Based on this knowledge, I've tweaked the language of my gig and changed what materials I ask for upfront. It streamlines my process and helps me deliver better service. And of course, this isn't just restricted to Fiverr, I use my learnings with all my clients!

The 10,000 hour rule might be a myth, but there's no disputing that the more often you do something, the better you get at it.

Fiverr's gig template helps you "productize" your service

There are many, many great reasons to productize your services. For one, it can help you stay in business.

Service businesses (especially smaller ones!) often fail because they don't have enough sources of recurring revenue as this piece from Elaine Pofeldt explains. It goes on to outline five strategies for generating repeat revenue, including the implementation of systems. "The key to building recurring revenue is to move away from providing customized service to everyone who wants to work with you and standardizing your offerings a bit," Pofeldt writes.

If the idea of productizing a service is at all appealing and you don't have experience doing this, Fiverr provides a 101 framework. When you first set up a gig, you'll be prompted to complete a description for the service along with up to three package options.

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Taking the time to think through your service in this way gets you into the productizing mindset -- a great first step in the direction of increasing income. Down the road, you can level up these basics. Jake Jorgovan, for example, created a LinkedIn marketing service and started earning $33,000 per month once he productized it.

Let's keep in touch. I send periodic emails with smart ideas for living, learning, and creating on your own terms.