Earn Thousands of Dollars, $5 at a Time: Our Guide to Fiverr

June 16, 2014
by Steve Gillman
Image: Fiverr

Earning five bucks at a time may not sound like much, but those little sales can add up to thousands of dollars.

That’s the idea behind Fiverr.com, an online platform where users sell their products and services for $5 each. Fiverr says users create 4,000 new listings, or “gigs,” every day.

What Can You Sell on Fiverr?

Gigs range from the standard data entry and research tasks to the truly out-there. For example, as I write this, sellers in the “Fun and Bizarre” section are offering:

  • A piece of rare metal that will melt in your hand
  • A prank phone call to anyone you choose
  • Three balloons released into the sky with your message in them
  • Your name written on two grains of rice
  • A photo of you on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine
  • A video of a woman pretending to be “crazy in love with you” — which has 253 buyers and a 98% positive ratingso far

If you don’t want to write advertising slogans on your belly or scare someone’s friend, offer one of the thousands of more ordinary products and services, like:

  • Draw the customer as a cartoon character
  • Make a photo into an avatar
  • Promote a business on Facebook
  • Write a short blog post
  • Translate English into Chinese (300 word maximum)
  • Create a video testimonial about a product
  • Teach people how to play blues guitar

How Much Can You Really Make on $5 Gigs?

The stories told in the Fiverr forum and elsewhere suggest a wide variety of experiences ranging from members who haven’t sold a thing after months of trying, to others who are making more from their gigs than from their full-time jobs.

An article about Fiverr on the U.S. News website features Mark Mason, a semi-retired man from Chicago who offers business services like writing marketing materials and makes $150 to $300 per day for a few hours of work on his gigs. The same article explains how college student Morissa Schwartz has made $7,500 in the last year by offering copyediting services.

If you think some gigs are too much work for the money, you’re right. In fact, you don’t even make $5 for a sale. After Fiverr takes their 20% and you pay 2% to have your money transferred to PayPal, you’re really only making $3.92 per sale.

To be successful, you need to find a product or service that costs almost nothing to provide and takes only a few minutes of your time to create and deliver. We’ll look at some examples in a moment, but first let’s look at another way to make gigs worth your time.

Take It to the Next Level

After you’ve made some sales, work to become a Level One, Level Two and Top Rated seller. At each new level you get extra selling tools, like the ability to offer “gig extras,” or add-on services. For example, if your $5 gig is a video about the town where you live, aimed at people moving there, for $40 extra you could spend two hours driving around and videotaping anything the customer wants to know more about.

At the moment, the maximum additional charge for an extra is $100, but depending on your gig, you might also be able to get customers to buy from you again. For example, I’ve bought covers for my ebooks on Fiverr for $15, and I’ve returned several times to the same graphic artist.

To climb the Levels, you’ll need to get positive reviews, deliver on time, respond quickly and politely to customer questions, and follow the rules. Some members have achieved Level One status after only one month and ten sales.

Making Money Without Climbing Levels

While selling gig extras is one of the best ways to increase your earnings on Fiverr, some products and services make sense even for $3.92 — what you net from a $5 gig.

For example, in two months Martin Buckley made $900 selling an ebook on Fiverr. It makes sense to sell something that has zero cost of production and only takes a minute to deliver, but in addition to making $900 from that one book, Buckley had another technique: he promoted other books he was selling on Fiverr within this ebook! It pays to use every trick you can to maximize your per-customer income.

Here are some other gigs to consider:

  • Logo design (using software that does most of the work)
  • Video lessons (for anything you know how to do)
  • Crafts (if you can make them fast and cheap and use one stamp to send them)
  • Photo-into-painting service (using software to convert the photo to look like a painting)
  • Facebook promotion of customers’ products (if you have many friends)
  • Writing (minimal for $5 — charge more for longer work)
  • Business card design (with software doing the heavy work)
  • Conversational language instruction (just a few minutes for $5, extra for longer sessions)
  • Online research for writers (have a template and a system for speed)
  • Ebooks (your own or ones you buy the rights to)

Use your imagination to come up with something of real value. For example, one offer says, “I will answer ten questions about Italy.” Most of us know enough about the place we live to offer a service like that — though I would give the customer an audio file rather than a typed response to make answering quicker.

If you have an unusual career, you could target those who might want to learn more about it by offering a video or PDF file that explains your work and how to get a similar job. Gigs where you sell the same thing over and over — and continue earning with little additional work — are some of the best.

A Few More Tips

Once you have a plan in mind, promote your service or product wherever you can, including telling your friends, family and contacts, in order to make enough sales to become a Level One seller — that’s when you can sell gigs in multiples or sell gig extras.

How you market yourself has a huge impact on your potential earnings. Fiverr seller Mary Ingrassia told Business Insider her business really took off when she used her cell phone to make promotional videos with “Pickle,” her pet bird, and put them on YouTube. She sells graphic designs and says, “Over the past year, it’s grown to five to fifteen orders per day, with people spending different amounts (between $10 and $20). To date, I’ve made $10,000 and the money just keeps growing.”

When you find something that works, try other markets. There are now many websites copying the Fiverr format, with some slight differences. Here are three:

Open a PayPal account to access your earnings. While the debit card Fiverr offers can be cheaper, you’d need to watch out for several fees, including an activation fee, a charge every time you transfer money to it and a $3 fee if you forget to use it for a month. Plus, if you spend your PayPal money using their debit card, you’ll get 1% back on everything you buy.

Just listing your service for sale isn’t enough to make it successful. You need to put it in the right category, post photos and maybe a video, and do some marketing. In the Fiverr forums, members share what has worked or not worked for them. Use this valuable information to help you make the most of your time on Fiverr.

Your Turn: Have you ever bought or sold anything on Fiverr? What’s the most you’ve made in a month? Tell us about your experiences below…

by Steve Gillman
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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