Fiverr is a global online marketplace that has helped revolutionize the way people work. Founded in 2010, the platform has become a go-to place for businesses and individuals looking to outsource their projects to freelancers in areas like digital marketing, web design, and writing.
In this article, we will delve into the world of Fiverr, exploring how it works, its benefits and limitations, and how you can use it as a freelance writer to kickstart your career or pad your writing income.
How Does Fiverr Work?
The primary way that freelancers find work on Fiverr is by listing a “gig.” The main thing you need to know about gigs is that each gig you create should represent a specific deliverable, like an article or a whitepaper. Clients can then purchase your gig and start working with you, but how on earth do they find you?
Clients who are coming to Fiverr to hire a freelancer will navigate to the homepage and either enter a search term (like “article writer”) or they can filter by categories. Most writing gigs live under Writing & Translation. Aside from pricing and the quality of your gig description, potential clients can be influenced by reviews left on orders you’ve completed along with your “Seller Level.”
As you complete more orders on Fiverr and consistently receive positive feedback from buyers, you can work your way up from “New Seller” (no level) to Level 1, Level 2, or even Top-Rated. Once you earn a level, you get a badge on your profile and you have to maintain certain quality standards in order to keep your level status.
Fiverr checks sellers every 30 days to determine their level-eligibility based on metrics like how quickly you respond to messages, how many orders you’ve successfully completed, and how many of your orders were canceled.
Is Writing on Fiverr Profitable?
The short answer is yes, writing on Fiverr can be very profitable. Fiverr is a popular platform with a huge pool of potential clients, so there are plenty of opportunities for writers to find work. However, like any freelancing platform, it takes some hard work and dedication to make it profitable — and my least favorite part about Fiverr is that your success is very much out of your control.
Beyond picking the right category, price, and image for your gig, your ability to attract clients is all up to the algorithm unless you plan to pedal your gig on social media. And, if you plan to put in the effort to market your services to clients, I would highly advise that you prompt those clients to work with you on a platform where you’ll pay lower fees and have far more ownership of the relationship (like Upwork).
Some other potential downsides to writing on Fiverr include the lack of empathetic support, the high number of cheap/difficult clients, and the huge competition being posed by writers from around the globe.
To illustrate, here are the writing categories as of February 2023:
- “Articles and Blog Posts” has 80,668 gigs available of which 76,742 are in English
- “Ghostwriting” has 14,509 gigs available of which 13,763 are in English
- “Website Content” has 13,625 gigs available
- “Product Descriptions” has 13,080 services available
If you’re planning on entering into any of these categories, which are the most popular service areas, it’s going to be tough to gain a share of the market.
Fiverr’s Fees and Policies
One of the biggest downsides of Fiverr is its high fees. For every dollar you earn, Fiverr takes 20%. That means a $5 gig is only going to net you $4 in profit. There may also be a small withdrawal fee (about $1 per withdrawal) depending on how you choose to withdraw your funds. Fiverr also charges processing fees to clients, so there’s truly no $5 service available anymore — they start at $7.
It’s understandable that a platform like Fiverr has to take a fee. After all, they function as a marketplace, escrow service, and project management platform, so they are definitely adding value for both buyer and seller. With that said, there are countless other platforms that have lower fees or fees that decrease as you continue working with clients. For instance, Upwork starts at 20% but drops the fee to 10% once a client has spent $500 with you — I love that because it rewards you for cultivating a valuable relationship that reflects nicely on Upwork’s reputation as a platform. But, let’s get back to Fiverr!
I stopped working on Fiverr altogether in 2017 due to a number of issues. More on that down below in the section titled “My Experience.”
How to Start Writing on Fiverr
Despite its fees and a few downsides, Fiverr remains a low-risk way to start earning money. You don’t need to invest any money to get going — just sign up, create a profile, and begin offering your gigs.
Let’s be real: Fiverr is not going to get you rich, but the right approach and mindset can help you use Fiverr to start earning money while you continue growing your portfolio and building your writing business in other ways. So, here’s what you need to do.
Psst… I haven’t worked on Fiverr since 2017, so I reached out to Amanda and Rob, two of my friends who are active and successful writers on the platform to make sure this information is solid and sound for 2023.
1. Create Your Profile
The very first step to selling on Fiverr is to create your account, but you need to spend a little bit of time crafting your profile as well. On your profile, you can add a tagline and short description. You can also take free skills tests to help verify your writing capabilities. If you’re going to list a writing gig, you’re required to take the English Writing Skills test, but it will prompt you at the end of the gig publishing process if you don’t take it in advance.
You can link your social media accounts on Fiverr as a means of verifying who you are, but clients actually won’t be able to click over to these profiles. This is one of the many constraints Fiverr puts in place that can get in the way of building your brand and even collaboration. Basically, Fiverr is scared a client will find an alternative way of working with you (like your website) and won’t use the platform, which means they lose money.
On that note, make sure you aren’t advertising your website or email on your profile or anywhere else as it’s against the site’s policies.
The last step to finalizing your profile is adding a nice professional-looking headshot. If you don’t want to use your own photo, you might be able to use an avatar approximation. My friends tell me that Fiverr no longer allows you to use a photo of a pet or landscape. Stock photos might be deleted, too, if Fiverr flags it as “non-original content.” So, take a nice photo of yourself and move on.
2. Come Up With a Unique Gig
When I hopped on Fiverr in 2013, I literally just listed a gig under Articles and Blog Posts (the biggest writing category there is today) and titled it: “I will research and write an article on the topic of your choice.” Back then, that broad strategy worked right away. My friends tell me that’s no longer the case.
In fact, after running a little test at the start of the year and creating a new Fiverr account and posting a stunning gig following all my friends’ best practices, I got a couple hundred impressions and a few clicks, but no orders. So, I’m going to say it’s an entirely different ballgame on Fiverr these days. Based on this experience and what Fiverr superstars Amanda and Rob tell me, you really need to try and close a deal in the first day or two because that’s when the algorithm is going to show your gig to the most people since it’s “new.”
It’s also advisable to:
- Compare categories: Remember the numbers I shared above showing that the articles section has over 80k gigs? Explore the site and see if there’s another area you want to get started with, like white paper writing, which has just 800 services available.
- Niche down: You can create many gigs as a new seller, so come up with 3-5 topics or industries and make a gig around each one. For instance, “I will write a real estate article” or “I will write an outline for your romance novel”
- See what works: Once you have picked a category, take time to examine the top-selling gigs in that niche and see what they’re doing. What are they charging? What do their images look like? What keywords are they using in their gig descriptions?
More than anything, “Keep trying,” Amanda says. It took her three months to really gain traction on her gigs and she credits her success to actively advertising her writing services to her network, which allowed her to get her first few reviews. “The algorithm took it from there, but I think that you have to feed it something.”
3. Set a Fair Rate
Please, please, please don’t underprice yourself! Trust me, I’ve been there, done that. When I listed my first writing gig, I was charging $5 for 1,000 words. My goal was just to get a few reviews and then bump my prices, which I did, but I now realize that these tactics harm everyone. No one should work for that cheap and no client should get it in their head that they can pay so little. And, had I just believed in myself, I definitely could have gotten a lot more right out of the gate.
Obviously, if you’re trying to establish yourself on Fiverr, you probably can’t come out of the gate charging hundreds of dollars per article (unless you become Pro verified), but you shouldn’t charge the bare minimum, either. See what others who are offering similar services are charging and go from there.
For specific numbers of what freelance writers are charging in 2023, we have an article on that. Amanda nets $120 for her article writing gig where she specifies a range of 800 to 1,000 words. When she was first starting, she said she charged $50 for the same work. Rob echoes her statement, saying he started at a price point of $25 for a 500-word article or $50 for a 1,000-word article and increased gradually from there.
4. Use Stunning Images
The specific advice Amanda and Rob would like to emphasize for you is to pay close attention to your images. Your gig images have way more real estate in search results than your gig title.
Both Amanda and Rob suggest showing your face if you can by including a small headshot of yourself. More importantly, though, they advise using bold, clear, simple text that explains what service you offer. Fiverr even has some great examples in their guidelines section (guidelines that many sellers don’t appear to be following based on the above screenshot).
“Use Canva, it’s free and you can create a really professional, sharp-looking image for your gig in a few minutes,” says Rob.
5. Push, Push, Push
So, a couple of Fiverr’s finest openly admit that it’s impossible to gain traction on Fiverr with luck alone, so what do you do to push that initial traffic and get your first few sales? You’re not going to like it, but basically you need to “sell to your network.” That’s right, go hit up your cousin who might need a blog post or your friend’s friend who owns his own business and see if they’ll take your services for a test run.
You know better, but I have to emphasize that you cannot game the system. In other words, a friend or family member can totally buy your gig on Fiverr, but they need to pay for it with their own money and you need to actually provide them with a service that they can leave an honest review for.
If you don’t want to bug your friends and family directly, you can also do what Amanda did and pitch your services in business groups on sites like LinkedIn until you get a bite. “I even cold pitched to some distant connections directly. I just dropped into their inbox to see if they were interested.”
Amanda is happy to say that she no longer has to advertise her Fiverr gigs because she has a steady source of orders from repeat customers, which generally keeps the algorithm happy. However, she doesn’t believe she could have gotten started without those initial orders that she brought in herself.
My Experience With Fiverr
So, now that you know how to use Fiverr, do you want to hear my somewhat cautious tale about the platform?
I started working on Fiverr in 2013 when I was first venturing into freelancing. In my first gig, I offered proofreading services. As clients began asking me to write for them on the side, I soon launched an article-writing gig. I ultimately topped six figures and accumulated over 5,000 reviews in my time at Fiverr, but I stopped working on the platform in 2017 due to a number of issues.
Please note that the following information represents my own thoughts and opinions, and some improvements may have been made to mitigate these issues over the past 5 years, so take them with a grain of salt.
Chargebacks Without Control
First and foremost, I started to lose hard-earned money as the platform grew because scammy buyers were submitting chargebacks weeks or months after happily accepting my work. That resulted in money being withdrawn from my balance even though the earnings from those orders were already cleared and paid to me.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a chargeback, that means a person goes to their bank or credit card issuer and reports a transaction as fraudulent or claims that they never received the goods.
When a dispute is opened, it’s up to the merchant (i.e., Fiverr) to provide evidence to prove the claim wrong. You as a freelancer have no say in this process and you probably won’t even know it’s happening unless the dispute is lost, which I think is pretty likely because I wholly believe that Fiverr doesn’t fight these disputes for you as it’s not worth their time. That means you lose money for no reason, even though you did the work and everything expected of you.
This probably happened a couple dozen times to me over the course of a few years. I reached out to support every time to plead my case. In Fiverr’s defense, they did give me the money back in a couple of instances (I’m not sure for what reasons). However, chargebacks still resulted in thousands in work lost over the course of my time with them.
I never received the elusive “Top Rated” badge, which requires you to be handpicked by Fiverr staff, but I did maintain Level 2 status for the entirety of my time there. On most platforms, once you get some form of recognition acknowledging that you consistently deliver great work, you tend to be upgraded to some sort of priority support team that’s better equipped to address the issues you face in a timely manner. That wasn’t the case on Fiverr.
I could enumerate so many frustrating exchanges that I had with the support team, but I’ll go into detail about one that prevailed over the years as it illustrates just how ludicrous Fiverr’s expectations and policies can be.
In Fiverr’s early days, many university students were coming to the platform and paying people to write or edit their essays and dissertations, which is a big no-no. Fiverr began strictly enforcing policies that banned any seller that was offering these services. I never did, but there were a number of instances where students ordered my completely unrelated article writing gig and asked me to write an academic paper for them. In all of those instances, I declined and refunded their money.
Guess what? Fiverr’s messaging system flagged your account if you exchanged certain terms like email addresses, and apparently words like “schoolwork” or “homework” or “dissertation” triggered it, too. There were multiple instances where explaining to a student that writing their essay was against the site’s policies and that I was canceling their order resulted in the support team sending me a stern email saying something to the effect of: “Your account is being reviewed for violation of our policies.”
This particular issue got so bad that I actually ended up adding a gig image that said in big letters: “Do Not Send Me Your Homework.” I used an image because my attempt to add that text to my gig description also resulted in a flag.
These situations always took far too long to resolve and consistently left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I started to feel that the general theme with Fiverr is that you can be doing everything right and your day can still go terribly wrong. That’s extremely stressful, especially if you’re counting on Fiverr for the majority of your income like I was when I first started out, which is why I wholeheartedly advise against getting into that situation to begin with.
Projects That Fall Into Your Lap
With those big negatives out of the way, let me talk about one thing that I truly appreciated about Fiverr: Projects literally fell into my lap. I’m not sure if I just joined at the right moment or if my work truly stood out from others on the platform at the time, but I gained momentum near the end of my first month and it kept going for years after that. Sure, there were some weeks where I earned substantially less — usually following a bout of cancellations because I was just so busy — and it was certainly a balancing act during those exceptionally busy times to avoid harming my metrics, but I’m extremely grateful for having been able to find early success on Fiverr.
While I think every freelancer will eventually grow beyond a marketplace like Fiverr, if you can find firm footing and start earning some money consistently, I do think it’s a good way to kickstart your career or pad your income. My only warning is to avoid leaning on it entirely or indefinitely, as you are really in no control over what happens to you on any given day and the clients aren’t truly “yours.” In other words, Fiverr success doesn’t really translate into long-term career/business success.
Best Alternatives to Fiverr
If you’re looking for alternatives to Fiverr, there are several other platforms you can consider that offer similar opportunities for freelance writers. Here are some to look into:
- Upwork – Upwork is the largest freelancing platform in the world, with a wide range of categories including writing, design, and programming. The platform allows you to bid on projects posted by clients or set up a “project” (similar to a Fiverr Gig) to bring clients to you. I love it because you can actively seek out projects and since most clients represent companies instead of individuals, the pay is consistently higher.
- Scripted – Scripted is a subscription-based platform that connects businesses with freelance writers who create blog posts, social media content, white papers, and more. You’ll have to submit your application if you want to work with Scripted, but its “closed” status helps ensure there’s enough work for everyone. Writers like me report pay rates between 6 and 10 cents per word.
- Contently – Contently is another platform that connects businesses with freelance writers by acting as the middleman. If you are accepted into the platform, you’ll find it easy to claim projects as Contently does the work to attract paying clients who are ready to work with you. All you need to do is find projects that align with your skills.
Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses, so take the time to research them to find the best fit for you.
Get Help Building a Profitable Writing Business
So, here are the key takeaways if you’re considering getting on Fiverr to offer your freelance writing services:
- Fiverr is not going to get you rich, but it can help you earn money while you build your business
- Fiverr success doesn’t really translate into long-term career/business success
- Fiverr doesn’t offer you enough control to count on it entirely or indefinitely as an income stream
Again, I owe the start of my writing career to Fiverr, so I hope I could shed some light on the subject and inspire you to do things even better, smarter, and faster than I did. In fact, that’s what the Society of Writers is all about.
If you’re looking to build your writing business, why not come join a group of writers who keep it real? In our mentoring community, we openly share rates, experiences, and advice to help freelance writers from all walks of life succeed. Want in? Join our Slack channel!