If you’ve followed me online for very long, then you probably know that I’ve spent the last couple of years doing a lot of writing for Demand Studios to help pay the bills (and you probably also know that it hasn’t been my favorite, but at least it was fairly reliable and steady pay). Well, we ran into a bit of a rough patch earlier this year when the assignment queue there started to dwindle down to nothing, which was followed by an announcement that they were shutting down for “a couple of months” to re-tool — which basically meant that they were temporarily laying off their entire freelance writing staff.
So that kinda sucked, especially since they were the only steady client we had going for us. But then again, I was also relieved to get a break, and it seemed like the kick in the butt I needed to finally get myself off of the content mill hamster wheel and start doing freelance writing on my own terms. Initially, this meant that I was going to start querying online and print publications and pitching articles. But it turns out that the article query process is about as slow as the book query process, and I needed to get paid last week.
Enter Fiverr.com. Based on a tip from Freelance Writers Online, I decided to set up a writing gig there to start building non-content-mill writing samples and collecting testimonials. The plan, originally, was to get enough of both to get off to a good start and post them on my freelance writing CV website. I figured that I’d set a word-count limit that was not completely unreasonable for $5 while remaining competitive, and only accept assignments that interested me from people who were more concerned about quality than cheap and fast.
Granted, I figured this was a long-shot. But my goal was to get good samples, not to make money — something I didn’t really think would be possible on a site where everything costs $5.
Except, I quickly discovered that everything doesn’t cost $5 on Fiverr — at least, not anymore. I originally set up my account on there a few years ago, when they were still new and everything did, in fact, cost a mere five bucks. But it turns out that Fiverr has grown up a lot since then, and once you prove yourself as a reputable seller, you unlock additional benefits, including the ability to add on “gig extras” and start charging more for your work.
Another thing I quickly discovered — there are, in fact, plenty of people who are happy to pay for quality over quantity. It turns out that my gig — 250 words from a veteran writer and blogger with over a decade of experience and a strong publishing record — stood out amidst a sea of gigs offering higher word counts from writers for whom English is clearly not their first language. I started getting work almost immediately — and it was work I actually enjoyed, about topics I found interesting.
After the first 30 days, I had enough sales and positive reviews racked up to earn my Level 1 Seller badge and unlock gig extras — including the ability for buyers to order multiples of your gig, which meant people could hire me to write lengthier articles. Just a week later I had already advanced to Level 2 and was able to add even more gig extras at higher prices. I was a bit worried at first that the pricier stuff might scare off the clientele I had built up, but so far they’ve been happy to pay for the extras.
Long story short (…too late!), in about six weeks Fiverr has gone from a means of jump starting my flagging freelance biz to not only reviving it but forming its backbone. I’ve got a few steady writing clients there, and also a number of editing and novel critique clients. I’ve got several graphic design and self-publishing related gigs on offer, too, because I can do all those things and I thrive on variety, but so far my most popular gig by far is the writing gig, followed by the novel critique one. Between those two, my queue stays busy enough that I’ve had to recruit my husband, who’s also got some good writing chops, to help me stay on top of it. We’re working on expanding it and making him an official part of the team, as soon as we can find the time to rewrite the profile description.
We’re not 100% up to being able to cover all the bills with our Fiverr gigs yet. Demand Studios is slowly starting to release new titles into their assignment queue, so I’m going to have to stick with them a little longer to fill in the gaps. But I’m optimistic that Fiverr will be able to close those gaps for us before too much longer and we’ll be able to bid adieu to content mills forever.
This was ostensibly meant to be a post about how to get started selling on Fiverr, which has been much requested of me on Facebook. But I felt like I needed to give my testimony first, and I didn’t think it would run quite so long. So I hereby promise to do a follow-up post later in the week with some best practices for getting your Fiverr business up and running. In the mean time… is there anything I can help you with for five bucks?