Fiverr Is A Virtual Sweatshop

That's a lot of sweat Photo Credit: Nick Fewings on Unsplash

When I was researching which virtual donation service to use, or Ko-Fi, I came across a YouTube video that reminded me of how hard it is to build a business offering your services on Fiverr.

I'd started a side hustle business a couple of years ago, and my thought was to sell my services on Fiverr. I'd done a few Fiverr gigs even a few more years farther back, so I thought I'd go bigger and use Fiverr as a platform to sell my virtual services.

I thought the premise was pretty sound: offer my services on Fiverr, and let Fiverr do my marketing for me. I'd show up on searches for Fiverr services, and I could let Fiverr handle the payments and transactions.

I'd never have to chase a client for payment, and the mechanisms for delivery were already built into Fiverr. There was a messaging system, and an automated way in which to obtain anything needed from the customer in order to fulfill an order for my services.

Something the video I referenced before touches on, that I also realized, was that when it comes to delivery of your service, there are no days off.


No weekends, no holidays, no personal days, no sick days. No. Days. Off.

The way Fiverr is set up is that when you purchase a “gig”, that gig is agreed to be delivered in a certain number of days. Not weekdays, calendar days. So, if you purchase a gig and it's agreed that the gig will be delivered in 4 days, if that 4th day is on a Saturday, you better deliver on the Saturday it's due.

If on that Saturday, the customer's order is due at 2am, because they ordered it 4 days ago at 2am, it had better be ready by then, or you're toast.

If it's not, you get penalized, and the customer gets mad – likely resulting in a refund, meaning you essentially worked for free. If you have a successful enough Fiverr profile, you'll be delivering your finished product 7 days a week.

So, you might be saying to yourself, “So? Just manage your time so that you get everything done earlier than expected so you can enjoy your weekends and evenings.”

And, in theory, that would be correct. However, in order to facilitate that, you're rushing orders to get them off your plate. That can invite inaccuracy, and other mistakes. As well, Fiverr lets you charge an additional fee for “Rush” jobs, but only if the customer wants their order done in a rush and they opt for it.

So, if you're hurrying to deliver an order by the end of your day on Friday, so you can get away for the weekend, but it's not due until Sunday, a customer just got a free rush on their order.

What's more, is that if a prospective customer messages you, day or night, you're expected to respond within an hour. If you don't, you won't get fired from Fiverr, but you will get penalized. Your profile won't show as high up in search results for freelancers with your same skillset.

The ones that answer faster get placed toward the top. And, as a general rule, that makes sense, right? Reward the ones that are on the ball and respond quickly to their prospective and existing customer's messages.

But, the fact that the system actively penalizes you for taking time during a 24 hour day for rest and recovery, or even personal appointments, etc., is akin to working in a sweatshop.

I mean, Fiverr isn't saying don't do those things. They're not saying don't take days off, or an hour or two for yourself, or even not to observe holidays. But, if you do, you fall behind in getting your profile featured in search results. So, it's almost just as bad.

The good thing about Fiverr is that now you can charge well over $5 for the services you offer. In the early days, it was $5 and only $5, but you could find creative ways to get more than just $5 for a single “gig”. If you added extras and rush fees, etc.

But now, there's a lot more flexibility in how much you can charge. Now, if only that same flexibility carried over into managing delivery dates and message response times. Until then, I assert, Fiverr is basically a virtual sweat shop.

And, for some, that's ok. For others, like me, no thanks, I'll figure it out some other way.

tags: #opinion

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