How I Went from Broke Shoe Salesman to Making $1,000+ per week on Fiverr
I know what you’re thinking, don’t worry, I’m not trying to lure you into some dumb program or online course that will guarantee you thousands of dollars in passive income.
This is a brief story of how I got started on Fiverr, began earning over $1,000 per week and my eventual fall out with the platform.
While in my second year as a marketing undergraduate student in business school I was working part-time as a shoe salesman/ stock boy at a retail store. I made $7.65 per hour ($.40 over minimum wage!) and a 2% commission on every pair of shoes I sold but only a few people came to the shoe section a day so I was lucky if I made any sales at all. I was earning $150 per week after taxes give or take which wasn’t bad for a broke college kid. I hated my job though and any other job I was qualified for would have been similar pay and probably worse than my current job. I was getting sick of my routine and I couldn’t stand the thought of continuing at a job that barely paid me enough to buy groceries till my next paycheck.
I started reading articles on how to make money online, kind of like you right now. I came across an article that described how you can make $1,000 a day on Fiverr by finding clients on Upwork and outsourcing the work to freelancers on Fiverr for less. The idea was far-fetched but I was intrigued by the Fiverr website. I had never heard of this website before and I was amazed at all of the different things that people were actually paying money for! I by no means thought I would ever make any real money on Fiverr but I figured all I had to do was make more than $150 per week and I would be doing better than I was.
I saw that design was a popular category on Fiverr. I’d dabbled in Adobe programs like Photoshop and Illustrator in the past but I was no Picasso. Graphic design was something I knew very little about so I watched a few YouTube tutorials on how to do specific tasks in Photoshop and came up with a few things that I could sell on Fiverr for $5. The tasks were extremely simple but users could add extras for an additional fee.
I created my first gig for a logo mock-up and within 24 hours I already had my first order for $10. The order took me about 15 minutes to complete and the customer gave me a 5-star review. After Fiverr takes their 20% cut, I earned $8 for barely any work at all, amazing! I quickly realized that I could make more than I was at my job if I expanded on what I was doing and posted more graphic design gigs on Fiverr.
A little over 1 month after selling on Fiverr I was making an average of $80 per week and had earned level one seller status! I wasn’t putting a lot of effort into the orders at all so I figured if I listed more difficult tasks I would be able to make more money. The current orders took less than 3 hours per week to complete so in my spare time I would learn Adobe Illustrator and new tricks in Photoshop. As I got more confident in my design abilities I started posting illustration services and other more complex gigs.
I barely had a clue how to do most of the gigs I was posting but I figured for a $5-$15 job the stakes weren’t very high. Fiverr tends to be more on the low end for freelance rates so the customers generally don’t know what they want and don’t want to pay an expert to help them figure out. My customers also didn’t care if I used clip art or illustrations I found on freepik.com.
My most popular gig was designing geofilters for Snapchat. Here’s what it looked like…
Here are the 10 most important things that I learned to get more sales:
1. Your profile picture is very important
People on Fiverr like to hire someone that they can relate to. I had a picture of my 19-year-old face as my profile picture for a few weeks and it was fine but I decided to start testing different pictures. I found an image of a friendly looking male and female on the internet and used that as my profile picture and my sales jumped almost immediately. People want to feel like they are hiring someone trustworthy. Some of you might think this is unethical but I don’t see any issue with it. I am simply playing on human tendencies to trust a kind and friendly looking face. Marketing companies do this all the time.
2. Having an animated video explaining my gig converted about 20% better than using an image.
The good thing about Fiverr is that anything you need to improve your gig is probably sold by someone else on Fiverr for a few bucks. And trust me, it’s worth the investment. I paid someone on Fiverr $25 to make a quick 30-second video and paid someone else $10 to do a voice-over for it. The video was simple and to the point but no reading was needed and that helped a lot because people hate to read.
3. CAPITALIZE one word that you want to draw attention to.
It’s important to highlight a keyword in your title so you can draw user’s attention to the purpose of your gig. This will allow people to glance at your title and immediately understand what you’re selling. Fiverr allows you to capitalize one word in your title so you should make sure you’re using this tool and use it effectively. “I will design a LOGO in my style” vs. “I will design a logo in my style” see the difference?
4. Test different categories for your gig and measure which one converts best.
I tried a few different categories before landing on the one that had the least competition and ranked my gig the best in the search results. The category that might seem best fitting doesn’t always drive the most traffic. Try to avoid the “other” category if possible.
5. Highlight, bold, italics.
All of these things will draw attention to certain words and make your gig description much easier to read and understand.
Don’t just write plain text. Try to keep your gig description short, sweet and to the point. Keep in mind that most people won’t read the description, especially if you have big blocks of text. Break it down into small chunks and use bullet points wherever you can. It’s important that you let people know in your description to contact you if they don’t see what they’re looking for. This will help prevent order cancellations which reflect negatively on your seller profile.
6. Communication is Key
Write formally whenever speaking with a customer and be overly nice. People appreciate professionalism and good customer service. There’s no reason for typos, long response times or improperly formatted messages.
Here’s a basic example:
Hi (customer’s username),
Thank you for reaching out to me! I will be happy to (what they contacted you about)! :)
Do you have any examples of what you’d like or specifications about the project?
(If you have enough information already, SEND AN OFFER!)
7. Test your pricing
Don’t assume anything when it comes to pricing or what your customers will pay. It’s always important to test different price points until you find a sweet spot. I noticed that when I raised my prices I had fewer customers but I was making more money. I also tested different pricing structures like the three-tier pricing or having a base price with gig extras. I personally found that three tiers make it easier for customers to understand the value. If your product can be broken down, try offering three different options using the good, better and best pricing model. This will allow you to provide a service for every budget.
If you’re new to Fiverr, I’d recommend over delivering in value until you achieve level 1 seller status. This means pricing your service cheaper than other listings so people will feel more comfortable choosing you over an established seller. If you do this, you will make your money back tenfold in the future.
8. Show a lot of examples and use good pictures.
Buyers like to see examples of other work that you’ve done so make sure you provide as many examples as possible. Make your pictures pop! Consider paying someone on Fiverr to create eye-catching images for your gig.
9. Sell a commercial license as a gig extra.
An easy way to make extra money is to sell a “commercial license” which is kind of a joke in my opinion since we’re not lawyers and we don’t have the ability to give licenses but people will happily pay extra for it.
10. Being active in the community forum will help get you noticed.
Answer questions or occasionally comment on posts in the Fiverr forum. This is also a great place to get advice from other sellers. You never know where your next customer might find you so think of the forum as another place to get discovered.
It turns out, you also need to make sure the Fiverr algorithm doesn’t hate you.
The tips I mentioned above won’t benefit you if no one can see your gigs. Fiverr ranks gigs in their search engine based on several factors and it’s constantly being changed so I would suggest reading about Fiverr’s most recent algorithm and find ways to make it favor you. The most important factor is having great customer reviews and a low amount of gig cancellations. If everyone that buys from you is happy and leaves a good review then Fiverr’s algorithm will assume that you don’t suck and will direct more traffic in your direction. It’s better to cancel a gig than to receive a bad review but neither will benefit you, so avoid both if possible.
As I started receiving good reviews it created a snowball effect, my account grew every day and I was receiving more orders. After three months on Fiverr, I was a level 2 seller and was making enough money to quit my job at the store, finally! I actually got myself fired but that’s another story…
I won’t lie, at this point, I had about five hours of work per day to complete the orders and an additional two hours to respond to messages which I usually did on my phone. Fiverr was still a job, it wasn’t like I was suddenly free to do whatever I wanted and was making thousands of dollars.
It was when my account started doing well that I began to realize the critical flaws with Fiverr.
Here are a few of the INEVITABLE FLAWS of being a seller on Fiverr…
1. I had to work all the time! I felt like I never had a second to come up for air. There are always a million messages to respond to and everyone expects an instant response or they’ll just find a different seller. Customers could order a 24 hour delivery on Friday at 9 pm and that order was expected to be completed within 24 hours or I run the risk of getting a bad review, order cancellation or cancer. Having weekends off was out of the question. Yeah, I could turn on vacation mode but this doesn’t do me much good as a seller because now I have to forfeit profits and I still have to complete all the orders that are in the queue.
3. Fiverr automatically accepts jobs. Occasionally customers would request something that was outside of my gig’s scope and we would have to cancel the order. These orders (and customers) are a huge waste of time and they negatively affect me as a seller on the platform.
4. Waiting forever to get paid. The most annoying part about being a seller on Fiverr is waiting an unreasonable amount of time to receive the money from orders. If I completed a gig and the customer didn’t finalize it then it takes 3 days to auto finalize and then there’s an additional 21-day holding period before I can cash out. Once I cash out it still takes 3–5 days to transfer to my bank account so I was waiting about a month for the money from each and every order.
5. Customers could submit charge-backs to their credit card company or dispute a payment on PayPal and Fiverr. If a claim is raised Fiverr doesn’t protect its sellers one bit, instead, they immediately refund the customer. This was especially frustrating when I had a customer that ordered hundreds of dollars of work from me and then I didn’t get paid anything because they disputed the charge with PayPal and Fiverr gave them a full refund. WTF!
Despite my growing frustrations with the platform I was still receiving 100% of my customers from Fiverr. I decided that if I wanted to have more control I needed to create a website. I began creating a website around my most popular gig, making geofilters for Snapchat. Fiverr helped me validate my business idea so I knew I would have interested customers the moment I launched the site.
I was now in my 9th month on Fiverr and was clearing over $1,000 per week. I knew that if I had my own website I wouldn’t be dependent on Fiverr anymore. I wanted to own my customers so I wouldn’t have to deal with the fees, Fiverr’s algorithm or waiting 30 days to get paid. I also knew that any small slip-ups and Fiverr could quickly turn on me and kick me off their platform. All of these things lead me to create my website.
I bought a catchy domain name, made a simple landing page on Wix, added a typeform with Stripe integration to process the orders and my website was up and running. To get customers to visit my website I would send a picture with each order I delivered on Fiverr that had a coupon and a link to my website. If I was messaging a potential customer on Fiverr I would give them a link to my website and tell them they could order there for cheaper. Which by the way, is a great way to make Fiverr hate you.
I can’t say I was surprised but I still tried everything I could to fight for my account back.
This is a huge issue for anyone who depends on platforms like Amazon, eBay, Fiverr, Upwork, etc. for their income because these companies have the power to control your business. My advice is, don’t put all your eggs in one basket unless you own the basket. I knew I was breaking the rules but it’s hard to believe that they would permanently ban an account that had generated over $7,000 in profits for them (from their 20% cut). What’s the big whoop if a few customers ordered on my website instead of Fiverr? They were still making plenty of money from the other customers buying my gigs through the site...
Before my account was shut down I took these screenshots of my seller dashboard…
Although Fiverr and I didn’t end on good terms, I still love the platform and the community. I owe a lot to Fiverr for helping me validate, fund and eventually drive traffic to my new website. Fiverr is a great place to get started but think of it as a means to an end while having a bigger vision in mind for your business.