fiverr is bad

Fiverr is Bad for Designers? Not Necessarily. Here’s why…

A common idea that I often see discussed in the design community is that Fiverr is bad — outright evil. It drives down the price of creative work for everyone else in the industry, and people are going as far as giving up on design as a career choice because the future of the industry looks grim.  I’d like to shine a different light on that though.

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I know that as a graphic designer I’m supposed to hate Fiverr. I’m supposed to wax poetically about how it trivializes and demeans our work. That’s not exactly true though, and although I likely wouldn’t ever offer my own services on Fiverr, I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad site, and it certainly shouldn’t be cause for concern if you’re a freelance designer or are currently working to become one.

Despite Fiverr’s proliferation, my business continues to grow and earn more and more each year. Fiverr hasn’t had any kind of negative impact on my business, and here’s some reasons why…

Fiverr & I Serve Different Markets

Last year I wrote an article where I likened Fiverr to an online dollar store after hiring a designer out of curiosity. The conclusion that I came to is that in life, you generally get what you pay for.

When you pay someone $5 to create a logo for you, you’re either hiring someone inexperienced or you’re hiring someone who mass-produces their work. They’re probably not going to spend very much time on your project or pay close attention to detail because they have to juggle dozens of other projects at the same time just to keep their heads above water. As a result, you’re not going to get a polished, refined and carefully executed design. You’re going to get fast food design.

fastfood

If that’s all you want, or that’s all you can afford, then great. Fiverr is the perfect solution. Sometimes a quick, cheap meal is just what you need, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. However, this is the only thing Fiverr work is good for.

The people who don’t want fast food design — people who are trying to start and grow large businesses, entice investors, establish trust with the public, and so on — know that they need quality design work. They need someone experienced who is going to invest all of the time necessary to come up with a well thought out and professionally executed design.

They know that Fiverr exists and that they can get cheap design work done there, but they don’t want cheap design work, so they come to somebody like me instead. This is what I mean when I say Fiverr is serving a completely different market than I am.

nissan

Do you think a Nissan dealership that sells new cars for $30,000 worries about someone listing a used ’89 Maxima in the classifieds for $600? Of course not, because they’re not selling the same thing and they’re serving different markets. The person looking to buy the $600 car isn’t in a position to buy a new car, and the person looking to buy the $30,000 car doesn’t want an old, used Maxima. The same could be said for design work.

Ultimately, the clients who spend $5 on a logo were never going to be my clients in the first place, so I don’t sweat it, and I certainly don’t have a problem with them finding a solution for their needs. If you’re a designer, you shouldn’t either. The only affect Fiverr is having on the design industry is that it’s serving a market of people who otherwise cannot afford costly creative services. If you’re aiming to serve a different market than this, it’s hardly something to lose sleep over.

Do you think Instagram went to Fiverr to have their logo redesigned? How about Netflix or Uber? Big brands with public images and standards to maintain, and everybody aspiring to be them, are not using Fiverr for their creative assets. They’re hiring experienced professionals and compensating them accordingly.

Fiverr Qualifies Leads For Me

Believe it or not, Fiverr has actually had a positive impact on my business.

Many of my clients at one point paid someone on Fiverr to design their logo, then came to me ready and willing to pay much more than that because they weren’t happy with what $5 got them. They realized that you do, in fact, get what you pay for, and because of that experience they were more open to my rates.

In those instances, I didn’t have to justify my rates or explain why it is I charge so much more than $5. They already understood. In essence, Fiverr inadvertently pre-sold those clients for me and made the project that much easier to acquire. This is not an anomaly either; it’s a regular occurrence for me.

So not only is Fiverr not a threat to graphic designers, but in some instances, it could also be a positive.

Should You Work For Fiverr?

The answer to that question isn’t always a resounding “NO!” For certain developing economies, $5 is a lot of money. Personally, I think know you could make at least 10x more on a site like Upwork, but if it’s easier for you to have success on Fiverr and you feel more comfortable using it, then go for it. I may not agree, but I understand.

Sites like Fiverr and Upwork make for a perfect starting point for new designers with little-to-no experience. Professional designers with years of experience normally roll their eyes when confronted with the reality of designers creating logos for $5, but they’re forgetting that everyone has to start somewhere. When you’re first starting out, you’re not going to have the skills, competence, understanding, credentials or the experience to lean on and draw from to create work that is sought out by high paying clients. That’s something that is culminated over the span of several years and hundreds of gigs. Once you’ve been around the block a few times, you’ll find that clients are willing to take bigger bets on you.

ladder

When I first started out on Elance and had absolutely no experience, I was designing logos for $50 each. Here I am 5 years later though, charging astronomically more than that. If I tried charging that much 5 years ago, I wouldn’t have had the experience and skill set to justify it, and it would be reflected in my work. Clients would see that my work was clearly overpriced and I would never be hire, or I’d be giving a lot of refunds if I were. Today, it’s justified, because I’m a much better designer now than I was then. And 5 years from now I’ll be an even better designer and will be charging even more.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and if you want to be designing high-end stuff for big name brands, you need to work your way up to that point. And like I said, if you can win a $5 job on Fiverr, you could certainly win a $50 job on Upwork. But if Fiverr is your cup of tea, drink up. It’s not my place to tell you otherwise.

 

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Nick Saporito

Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design.

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