Is Fiverr a scam? What new buyers and sellers should know…

If you’re looking for novelty “gigs,” Fiverr is your place. On their home page some of their current featured services are “I will sing Happy birthday to you in Welsh, wearing only a thong and wooly hat for $5″ and “I will make a 30 second, HD video of myself dancing in spandex with a custom happy birthday message for $5.” What’s even funnier is that these are not only featured services, but they’re top rated sellers. Fiverr proved that the on-demand freelance marketplace model can work… even with the silliest of offerings. I love the Fiverr concept, but you have to know what you’re looking for. But is Fiverr a scam? Well, Fiverr as a company who facilitates transactions between buyers and sellers, as far as I can tell they’ve done zero wrong. They’ve grown exponentially since launch, now boasting over 2,000,000 services and have raised more than $20M in venture capital from known investors. I have zero worries about Fiverr being a scam, not paying sellers, etc. But that doesn’t mean that their aren’t scammers. Like with any other freelance marketplace, Elance, oDesk, etc. you don’t have to worry about the company, you have to worry about the buyers and sellers who choose to use the platform. I’ve ordered many services, and can offer my two cents as an experience buyer and seller:

Behind all the fun and flash of Fiverr, there are business services that will offer you articles, promote your service to 100,000 Facebook Fans and build backlinks for you for only $5. Here’s what you really get:

Articles: Old content that runs through software to change a few adjectives to pass through “copyscape,” or barely readable articles from a content farm in India (but of course they’ll mention that they’re from the US, graduated with a masters in English and are the current editor for the NYTimes). Or if you browse offers in any black hat forum, or just Google “$1 articles,” you’ll see people selling articles for $1. There are people that will buy those articles and resell them on Fiverr for a “profit.” I use the quotes because after Fiverr’s cut you’re only making $3, but multiply that by 1000 and some kid rocking the black hat found an easy way to make $3,000. I’ve tried my luck first hand, the articles I received weren’t even worthy of publishing.

Social Media Promotion: Tried it, they’re usually from parody accounts with low value or from accounts with fake followers. I used one guy who built a decent legit following (even for a parody account), but he knew if he were promoting crap that those followers would soon unfollow, so he started every paid tweet with the @ symbol. If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, tweets that start with the @ symbol won’t be shown in your timeline. Anyone that complained, they’d get a refund. No negative review, no harm done. The black hat business continues…

Don’t believe me? A quick Google search for “Fiverr Review” and you’ll find similar stories. Such as this one from WarriorForum user Marty S.:

[Title:] 968 positive reviews, 0 negative = FAKE fiverr claims.

The provider who made me realize this actually admitted to me that he gets about 20% refunds, even though his provider score shows ZERO negative reviews. I mean realistically, even the best services in any market have dissatisfied customers, so seeing a big fat ZERO is herewith suspect to me.

Backlinks: Like the other services, you aren’t paying for someone’s time, rather an automated service. Backlink schemes on Fiverr are automated from software, not only are they not beneficial… but can actually harm your business. Again, I learned first hand. I tested even the most innocuous tactics on an old blog with little benefit, then when Google Penguin and Panda hit, the site spiraled in the SERPS, with website traffic trailing right behind.

When it comes to Fiverr, you’re looking at a world of hurt if you’re expecting quality work. Let me revise that statement a bit – there is a huge hill that you have to climb to find someone who’s anywhere remotely what you’re looking for. With that said, Fiverr will continue to grow, alongside their business services, because you’ll seldom find an abundance of negative reviews on a gig. Why? Because even if a seller delivers subpar work, you’ll rationalize it as, “What can I expect for $5?” Even when I did leave a negative review, it’s usually met with an offer from the seller to refund their money in exchange for removing the review. Win/Win for the Buyer and Seller. A loss for all future buyers.

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Update: With the recent launch of V2 of Fiverr, I’m actually happy that they’re allowing sellers to make more money. Intrigued by this, I started selling myself to get a better understanding of their business model. It should be noted that new sellers cannot sell for more that $5, which I feel is a great approach. My goal was to become a “level one” seller opening up “gig extras.” I did it in about a month with a fairly generous gig offering (which will remain anonymous) for a whopping $4 each. My thoughts are as follows:

  • Don’t sell your time. If you’re selling your time how much do you really expect to make? The people who make money on Fiverr have built systems and software to accomplish requested tasks almost effortlessly.
  • Remain Anonymous. As per Fiverr’s Terms of Service: ”To protect our users’ privacy, user identities should be kept anonymous. Requesting or providing Email addresses, Skype/IM usernames, telephone numbers or any other personal contact details (other than your name) is not permitted.” If you’re seller, you love this. Zero recourse, you can do what you want and no one will ever know. It’s one of the reasons why Fiverr has become an extremely popular black hat SEO market.
  • Up-sell. You’re not making much $4 at a time, but if can show value, that’s an excellent opportunity to up-sell. Granted, most buyers on Fiverr are shopping for price, you could still potentially find someone willing to sign on long term with you.

Owning a consulting agency of my own, I know that you have to explore multiple channels to find high quality clients. If you want to sell your time on Fiverr, I think you’re limiting yourself. If you want to build a black hat system on Fiverr I think you could do well. But if you want to build a brand, I don’t think you can do that on Fiverr.

Is Fiverr a scam? Yes or no? Tell me in the comments below!

Latest Comments

  1. David Carlson says:

    Love it. I’d go as far as saying that LaunchAStartup isn’t a Fiverr alternative… two completely different markets. Having been burned a couple times on Fiverr, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on your site. Congrats on the launch and best of luck!

  2. Stefan Doiron says:

    What a refreshing, honest and straight-to-the point post. It’s nice to know there are others who have a clue about the dark side of Fiverr. I actually do well on that platform, and one day decided to offer a gig explaining why you are getting ripped off when buying traffic and Facebook likes – every single buyer felt ripped off and wanted a refund. Apparently, the truth hurts and is not worth $5 lol. Yes, I am one of those few sellers that actually deliver real work and real content and my feedback proves it. I don’t have a perfect score and that is just fine by me. However, I try to spend a lot of my earnings back into the community so I can learn how the system works and so far, after spending $75 in Fiverr’s I’ve only managed to find 3 sellers that I have re-hired for more work. Offers for refunds come a plenty, late deliveries are the norm and sub-par deliveries are what you should expect.

    I will be checking out your LaunchAStartup and most likely signing-up based on what I read here.

    Full Disclaimer: I was not paid, hired, coerced, strong-armed, forced, asked to, pleaded with to post a comment here.

    1. jaysoriano says:

      Truth does hurt! That’s another thing with Fiverr, the longer you’re a buyer – the know you more about the “system.” And most sellers, especially Level 2+ need to protect their feedback, and most will (begrudgingly) refund your money. But at least they’re starting to show cancellation percentages… I saw one listing with perfect feedback, but a 39% cancellation ratio. Insane. That’s a good sign to stay away that an experienced fiverr buyer/seller should know, I wonder if new buyers think the same though? Doubtful.

  3. David Lin says:

    Great article. I was considering to use Fiverr to find some cheap tasks and found your website by searching “Fiverr Review” on Google. Thanks for sharing your experiences, it has saved me a lot of time and money. As you mentioned above, I believe Fiverr is a marketplace for anything doing BlackHat.

    1. UH2L says:

      I just went through the same thing. Why is it called Fiverr if they’re allowed to charge you more for what they say only costs $5? This guy wanted $100 for a product concept sketch when he said he would do product design for $5!

      1. pimnl says:

        And Fiverr knows about this practice, but they allow it because they make money of these scams as well..
        I ordered it on purpose for $25, just so I could leave real review that he wouldn’t do it for $5. But it got deleted twice by the Fiverr staff.

    2. Manuel says:

      I wrote a whole article about this. Fiverr is very complicit in this scam, it’s their whole business model. No negative reviews if your job gets canceled. The only way you can leave a negative review is if you pay full price for unsatisfactory work.

  4. Michelle says:

    Yes it is. I was a new seller with a five star rating. Fiverr banned me without notification. They falsely accused me of trying to get two reviews for the same assignment. Hopefully, I will get the money that I earned for the assignments I completed.

  5. Dan says:

    Fiverr allows sellers to cancel the orders without any chance for the buyer to add any review on the seller’s page. So, all the “ratings” for a seller is suspect. Not only that, the $5 – $15 you paid the seller from your paypal account is not only returned as a Fiverr credit. Your only option is to “waste” it on another seller with suspect ratings!

  6. addoitup says:

    I am a seller on Fiverr, I have a white backdrop in my home with great lighting and an HD DSLR (camera). I used this little set up to just have fun making vlogs. Threw a gig up on fiverr for doing products reviews and promotional call to action videos just to see if anything happened. It’s my first week and I’ve made $124, I know that’s not a lot but I have not had to put much time in to it. My buyers LOVE their videos, I make sure to give them quality, I have fun doing it. Plus people send me free products to review. Overall, I have had a great experience, I will say however that anything to do with SEO, Twitter, or Facebook is most definitely shady shady.

    1. Fely Gabriel says:

      Want to use your service(blog) soon as I get my protoype done. Thank you, looking foward o working with you..probably need a video second week of April…Mahalo, ms Fely Gabriel

  7. sohaibgillani99 says:

    Fiverr doesn’t sucks.. I have a good experience working on it. If you are looking for an expert web designer, dont hesitate to see my portfolio. Order your gig now

  8. Bob Jack says:

    People complaining about $5 for something that is obviously wayyyyyyy more than that.
    If, it sounds too good to be true…it is.
    And, if you do get it…it’s going to be you get what you pay for.
    $5 for most of those gigs is slave labor.
    So, people that use it have to consider it as an interview to a possibly great freelancer and rates (even if they are above $5) below, way below industry standards.

  9. kate smith says:

    AWFUL EXPERIENCE! i used the fiverr website to order a logo for my business. I sent CLEAR specific instructions – even down to researching colors and the names of fonts to be used and stock art work images (i basically did all of the homework of for the graphic designer). 3 weeks later I AM ON MY SECOND GRAPHIC DESIGNER!!!! The quality of the work is “child-like” and NOT PROFESSSIONAL. I would NOT recommend or EVER USE THEM AGAIN!

    1. Ruby says:

      Yep, worst customer service support ever! I caught the seller plagiarising and all customer support would do is tell me to “give him another chance to fix it”. Really? I thought “no stealing” is implied. I will never use Fivver.com again!

  10. james says:

    Avoid this company on linkedin and around the internet, there company name is (Ensurity Group Inc) https://www.linkedin.com/company/ensurity-group

    they’re very dishonest people, they hired me on fiverr to advertise for
    them and get them alot of information and products and then after i
    had over delivered on their order on fiverr and i worked so hard for
    them they then made up a flimsy excuse saying “its not the order they
    expected” in order to get there $45 back and receive free products

    if you’re a seller on fiverr or any other gig site and a buyer named
    “ensuritygroup” trys to order from you then I highly recommend that you
    avoid this person and this company, i feel the strong need to WARN
    others so they can avoid getting scammed atleast by these people ..it’s
    disgraceful behaviour by this company, so only imaging what would
    happen if you actually bought any kind of insurance policy from them.. i
    wouldn’t risk it

    1. james says:

      Please can you HELP me and share this around to help others not to be scammed, please try and share it

      1. Jay Soriano says:

        There’s usually two sides to a story. Especially on Fiverr. And a single comment on a blog post won’t do much. Just leave them a review on their Google+ page. It’s the first thing people see when you Google them.

  11. Patricia Arnold says:

    I’ve had two experiences with Fiverr. The first was for a logo refresh. The logo that was delivered captured the look and feel that I desired and I was absolutely delighted. The second was for an animated logo that I could use for videos. It was the pits. But for the price, I didn’t really care. I’ve paid hundreds of dollars for graphic design that I hated and tired of going back and forth with the designer, so I simply paid for the time and didn’t use the product. This was waaaay better!

  12. Manuel says:

    Problems with the sellers is just the tip of the ice berg with Fiverr scams and ripoffs. Fiverr, the company itself, is super dishonest. I called them out and they deleted my account. I wasted a lot of time and money trying to get work done and in the end just had two weeks of my time wasted with no result. They tried even to keep my “processing fees” and when I pointed out this is theft they deleted my account (although they did begrudgingly return the “processing fees”). Seller ratings are a total sham and a fraud and sellers don’t know about Fiverr’s processing fees for the most part. You can see in their own rants forum where sellers complain about 20% being too, they don’t know the half of it – the real fees are 25-30% and 5-10% of them are hidden from sellers. I have covered it all in detail here:

  13. sebastiandunbar says:

    Shitty sellers selling shitty logos and book covers, that any chimp can create. For book covers for those of you looking for self-publishing a book, fiverr is not the place to get it done even if you pay $40 or $20, most of the crap are basic royalty free images that are photoshopped. Anyone with a mouse can do this for free. Fiverr.com is nothing more than a shill internet scam much like those Kindle outsource book people who claim to make thousands, but do so plagiarizing ebooks.

    1. Fiverr is Fraud Market Place , Never Join This Website says:

      I am the formal users of fiverr, and starting working with fiverr. Initial stage fiverr cleared all my Revenue time to time (only have small amount around $20).

      But when i started work there and my account have around $1000, sudden fiverr disabled my account.

      When i tried to contacted customer supports, they give excused that they have got lot of feedback from customers so my accounts has been disabled.

      Again i asked him to,how i can withdraw account fund… they did not give me any answers.

      One day i got email try to contact us after 45 days.

      After 45 days i contacted again, they said all your order has been canceled and money return to your customer.

      I asked him to provided me customer emails, and order cancelled emails. customer support team unable to give any details and just making non sense talk.

      Lot of time i tried to contact but on-one given my ans. Finally he hold all my money whatever i have earned during the whole month.

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