My journey on Fiverr: the day I decided to let the buyer choose how much to pay and he paid me 2 times what I had in mind

Since August 2016, I’ve been using Fiverr.com to get some gigs and make some money, after my first attempt to build an online business with Shyrwyn didn’t work as we expected (we only made 500€ with it).

Since I come from a career in IT as a SysAdmin specialized in Linux, I decided to start but publishing a gig to automate tasks in Linux servers, charging 5$ for any script that I could do under 1 hour:

One day, I got a message from one guy (I’ll refer to him as “the buyer”) that wanted to automate the process of converting plain text file to Excel spreadsheets, making some transformations in the process. He didn’t send me an order, because he wanted to know first if I could do the job.

It was obvious since the beginning that the buyer wasn’t tech savvy. After making some questions, I learned that he had a WordPress website and so I could develop a PHP script to be hosted on his server.

I created a prototype, and after the buyer validated its operation, I worked on the look & feel of the page, leaving it like this:

Roboto font using Google Fonts, and Font Awesome for the icons, colors from Flat UI Colors.

The work was finished, I had to deliver it, but there was no order on Fiverr yet. I had to negotiate the price with the buyer and send an offer.

That’s when I had an idea: I wanted to see how much the buyer would pay me if I gave him the opportunity to choose how much to pay. My guts said that he probably would be happy to pay me more than whatever I decided to charge him. And so I sent the following message:

And this is the answer I received:

BINGO! I was right. The buyer offered to pay me 50$ (with room for a tip!), which is more than what I would have charged him if I were to make the offer. I sent him a custom offer and delivered the files, with the instructions for the buyer to install them in his server.

Later, he sent me a message asking some information, because the scripts were not working in his server. I sent him all the instructions and said that, if he could not get the scripts to working I could do it for him, free of charge. After failing to get the script to work, he sent me the credentials to log into his cPanel, and then I fixed the issue by updating its PHP version from 5.4 to 5.5.

Minutes later, the unexpected: I got a tip!

I was really not expecting any tip at all, let alone a 40% tip!

In the end, I was paid 70$ for a gig I wouldn’t have charged half that price.

Lessons learned

I learned in this episode that you can impress a client just by doing stuff that are ordinary for you. You only need to over-deliver, that is, deliver more that what you promised to do at first, and more than what your client was expecting from you.

However, many professionals fail to over-deliver because of one simple mistake: they over-promise. The biggest secret to guarantee that you’ll be able to over-deliver is to under-promise. Commit to do the bare minimum, and then do more that what you promised. If you have in mind doing A, B and C, promise to do only A, then do B and C too. A is to justify your payment, B and C are to impress the client.

When I was negotiating with the buyer, I didn’t promise anything. I just asked information and provided a prototype as fast as I could. When the script was working just fine, I improved the look & feel on my behalf and just said: “here, I improved the look & feel”. My client was impressed not because my design is ultra-thunder-mega-blaster-badass: he was impressed because he was not expecting any design at all — he never asked for it!

When you deliver to your clients more than what they were expecting, they will be glad to pay you even more than what you offered. This was only the first time I got tipped on Fiverr. I’ll share with you the other stories here on Medium. Stay tuned!