By Lucas Miller
(Alternate title: My love-hate relationship with disruptive creative freelancing sites part 1)
As head of a video production company, I should theoretically be horrified of 'disruptive' gig sites like Fiverr. Fortunately I don't really compete with these sites (At least not until cloud editing becomes a thing). If someone wants to pay max $100 to have a twenty minute video edited, most people in my league won't be interested (It usually costs a bit more than that). But for the uninitiated, what is Fiverr?
Fiverr presents the user with a marketplace of graphic designers, editors, animators, musicians and others pledging to produce content for a fraction of what a big design agency would charge.
Want a logo for your martial arts academy? Boom, Done!
Want a hundred likes on your Facebook page? I mean you can, but please don't.
Want to irreversibly damage your YouTube career by paying someone to spout an antisemitic slur? Umm... Worryingly easy.
Want one of those super naff yet very popular whiteboard drawing videos? Seriously, why is everyone obsessed with these?
Having perused Fiverr, I am not in any way horrified. Well, not for myself personally. I think in some situations Fiverr is okay for businesses who can't afford top tier graphic designers or video guys. Maybe you want something temporary while you get something more permanent made. I sometimes work with smaller clients who would consider getting something made with Fiverr. I worry that poor communication, price misunderstandings and high expectations will lead to some users having a bad time. There's an alarming amount of Fiverr artists who plagiarise other people's work or sell the same product over and over. Remember that 99% of the time, you get what you pay for.
I encourage anyone using Fiverr to do the following:
1. Gauge your collaborator's communication skills before starting off
So you've found a Fiverr creator with a decent portfolio. Before getting started, make sure they're going to understand your directions. Fiverr is a global app so not everyone is going to speak your native language. A lot of people in developing countries use Fiverr because the exchange rate makes it actually worth their time. What to look out for is if their written communication skills aren't up to scratch. The animator from Jakarta might have a great reel, but if you can barely understand their emails, you're going to have a bad time. If their written copy is poorly written, look elsewhere. Poor communication will only make this a difficult for the both of you.
2. Make sure their positive reviews are real
While researching this article I took a quick look at Fiverr's music section. I found a very interesting seller whose godawful banner image promised that, for a mere thirty bucks, they would pass on my music to someone at a major record label (also something about getting help).
If this doesn't set off your bullshit alarm maybe the reviews will.
Why yes, it is possible to buy favourable Fiverr reviews. This is a violation of Fiverr's TOS but people still do it.
'Outstanding Experience!' is automatically posted when a reviewer leaves a star rating but doesn't write anything. Still, if no one is saying anything about the actual product or experience, be sceptical. I mean if these musicians did have a good experience, wouldn't they want to elaborate on it? Wouldn't they be excited? Why isn't old mate down the bottom dating Taylor Swift?
Look, for all we know [Name Redacted] really is the brother-in-law of someone at Universal Records and is happy to pass on any chancer's demo tape. Most likely though, they bought hundreds of fake reviews (This guy is a level 2 Seller, meaning they have sold over fifty of these things...). Before setting out with your plucky new freelancer, make sure the reviews say something substantial and come from actual humans.
3. Watch out for plagiarists
Fiverr is largely unregulated, relying on customer reviews as quality control. When looking for a graphic designer, maybe do a reverse google image search to make sure the designer you're engaging isn't selling you someone else's logo. Seriously, this seems to be prolific enough on Fiverr as to discourage me from ever using the service myself. If you absolutely must use a Fiverr designer, make sure they're not selling you a stock template. I don't think I need to tell anyone the consequences of using copyrighted material as your branding. Speaking personally, I wouldn't want stolen assets anywhere near something I produce.
4. Consider the actual cost and whether they allow revisions
Most Fiverr content creators publish their services at a flashy price (ie, Five bucks for a logo). What often isn't included in this bracket are the actual, usable files. Most of the time working Illustrator/Photoshop files, hi res pngs and variants are going to cost extra.
You may get a low res logo on a weird gradient background for five dollars but the actual files and assets may end up costing $60+. Make sure you understand all the delivery options to make sure you get what you need.
Another important consideration is if they allow tweaks. Even with super clear direction, it's unlikely the seller is going to nail your request on the first go. Depending on how much you're able to spend, pick a service that allows revisions. Most sellers, even at this level, will usually allow one or two revisions to ensure you get something usable. If they don't allow revisions on any of their product tiers it's unlikely you'll get something worthwhile.
5. Think about your own deadlines
Some Fiverr creators are super responsive and can prepare something straight away. Some are going to need more time and others may not reply for ages. If this is something you want done straight away, make sure your collaborator is aware and has options to complete your task ASAP (This will often cost extra). Keep in mind that a five dollar project might not be super urgent for your collaborator.
6. For the love of Yahweh, don't buy likes/followers/views
This is more of a bonus point because holy heck is Fiverr rich with these kind of gigs. Buying likes, views, listens etcetera is going to kill your success on any social media platform. Also it's really easy to find out if someone has fake likes or followers. I worked with a social media guy a few years ago who vehemently denied doing this, yet couldn't explain why our travel series had such a huge following in Pakistan. Consider spending any money you would've spent buying likes on creating better content. Like getting some video marketing done.
While researching this blog I came across forums of actual Fiverr users. From what I could tell these people weren't scammers or chancers, but actual freelancers plying their trade on an exciting new platform. I wouldn't have any problem doing business with these folks and wish them the best of luck. As long as you're discerning, communicate well and keep an eye out for dodgy behaviour, it is possible to have a pleasant experience with Fiverr. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to pay the nice man with a nude woman for an avatar to pass on my synthwave demo to his brother-in-law at Warner Bros records. I'm sure I will have an Outstanding Experience!
Studio Kohi is a Brisbane based video production company. Click here to check out our show-reel. Had any experience with Fiverr or any other 'gig' platforms? Let us know in the comments below. Tune in next week where we'll be discussing Airtasker.