Dear Fiverr: Knowest Thou Not Of Employee Burnout?


#1

Just like many, you probably woke up to Fiverr announcing their latest change in the way their herd cattle. Just like many, you probably took to the forums in hope of finding solace and a few answers. Don’t worry, this post won’t be about that. I personally believe that any system which limits a professional’s ability to manage their workload is inherently counterproductive, but that’s as much as I’m willing to say regarding the flashy new feature.

The unveiling didn’t only give us a chance to know what the new year will bring about, though. Most importantly, it shone light on issues that this platform has had for as long as I can remember. A place whose corporate motto is easily paraphrased to “we have people who’d do anything for 5 bucks” doesn’t really sound like a pleasant workspace to begin with, but Fiverr seems to be hell-bent on making their employees’ lives as nightmarish as humanly possible.

The problem isn’t immediately obvious to those who just started out of whose gigs have never been featured before. In fact, I’d hesitate to call it a single problem in the first place. Still, there are several design and management choices that clearly show us how whoever is running this company’s HR department knows bugger all about work-related stress and employee burnout. As my grandma used to say while she taught me how to cook - what? don’t look at me like that! We’re Italians, that’s what we do! - it’s all in the smallest of details. In this case, it’s the underlying passive-aggressiveness sprinkled on top of any interaction between the website owners and sellers.

In layman’s terms: it’s the inability for those they call “doers” to decide which orders to process and which to outright reject; it’s the countdown on express (24 hour) deliveries starting in the middle of the night,; it’s the alleged “buyer’s always right” approach that CS seems to be taking whenever an issue presents itself, the tiny “buyer will be able to cancel unless you deliver quickly” lines that appear on an order when the deadline is less than 24 hours away. It’s many more things that would take too much time to list on a forum post, all while the group pockets 20% of each transaction and tries to sell it as a way to ensure quality and top of the line service.

In the last few months, the feeling wasn’t that of working with a professional company. On the contrary, it felt as if I were being exploited for my skills, forced to lower my hourly rates if I wanted to be competitive, and to prioritize Fiverr above whatever other part of my daily life. Care to guess what all of that did to the quality of my deliveries?

There’s little chance that this post will do anything, but I’d be glad to know I’m not the only one feeling like that. Maybe it’s time to show Fiverr just how dependent on professionals they really are. They might -arguably - be providing us with the infrastructure to get a bit of exposition, but they wouldn’t see a dime if it weren’t for the hard work of the few decent people who still use their site.


#2

The second generation of babies born from the bags under my eyes salute you.


#3

You may feel like it, but I should point out, you are not being forced to do anything. If you don’t agree with Fiverr, their rules, or the new features they release, then you are always free to leave. You aren’t being forced to continue working on a website you dislike. No one is requiring that you stay here. No one is making you do anything against your will. You always have a choice.


#4

Not technically true.

Fiverr’s ToS prevents us from dealing with customers directly. I have no issue with the buyers or the job I do, it’s the system that bugs me. Are you suggesting that I directly go against a contract I signed, pack my bags, and drag my favorite clients along for the ride? 'Cause that sounds like a course of action that I’d rather not take, especially considering how Fiverr reserves the right to freeze your account and cancel all pending payments.

This website might not explicitly tell you so, but the feeling remains “either you adapt to whatever we decide or we can toss you out on the street without warning!”. So yeah, I could leave! It’d cost me, though and I know no other company in the world where such a thing would be considered acceptable.


#5

Business is always changing. If you want to stay in the game, you need to learn how to change with it.

The same is true here on Fiverr. You accepted their TOS, and their right to change and grow their business when you signed up for your account.


#6

Exactly, some people actually hate me for it - my philosophy on Fiverr is simple - get order, do order, don’t get orders, do something else. Rest of it is immaterial. Of course @jonbaas would say - you know what he would say to that :joy: I agree with him, but I’m lazy and don’t understand marketing / social media.


#7

I feel for you, I really do. Fiverr has become much more time intensive for me this year without any direct monetary benefit. As a sincere piece of advice, I’d say just put some distance between it and yourself. At the moment, I’m doing this by replying to but declining every inbox message with a message saying I’m too busy. This in itself has cut down my workload phenomenally and orders have actually increased!

Why? Because instead of spending half an hour reiterating everything already in my gig description to a buyer, I get to spend that half hour not flitting between orders as I juggle inquiries, but actually staying focused on and delivering better quality work. In fact, I’ve been surprising myself lately.

Also, take a figure which you would like to earn on Fiverr each month. I’ve set mine at $700. Focus on achieving that at the start of the month and then try and take it easy. When orders come in after you have hit your total, request extensions to delivery times, do whatever you can so that you can take time out and just not stress.

It’s really really not worth it. Even if you throw everything you have at Fiverr and start making 5K a month, it could all suddenly end one day after an algorithm change, a competitor who can flog a videohive ripped video for half the price that you charge to create work legitimately, or someone from the forum here reporting you to CS because they don’t like your sense of humor.

Fiverr wants to be the center of your life. In reality, you need to be the center of your life.


#8

That applies to work done on fiverr for your fiverr clients. You can still do as much work outside of fiverr as you like.


#9

Fiverr is only a platform to sell your service with website TOS. that’s means - you do promote your gigs to your own capabilities and brings client for purchase your service at fiverr platform. Fiverr do 20% charges for use his platform. You’re free to make your own platform and you can sell your service directly to that.

Nobdy are forcing you to use fiverr platform. But If you do use fiverr platform then you’ve to follow everything of fiverr TOS and feature.


#10

I don’t feel as you do and that’s ok, we all have our differing opinions. There are things I don’t like about fiverr but overall I’m quite satisfied with it. I never realized before that people who are self employed still expect to work 40 hours a week and take weekends off.

I think all these rules about cancellations and the other things you mentioned are a response to having too many shiftless unprofessional sellers and these are attempts to make everyone work as professionals.

No one said this is supposed to be easy. Nor is freelancing the right fit for everyone. Self employment, if you expect to make a living at it, has always been harder than working for a boss, in different ways.

But actually if this were truly self employment we would have the options to miss messages at times and choose which orders we can refuse, so in those ways fiverr is becoming much more like a workplace with a boss, and there is the question in America at least that we are actually working for an employer at this point and not self employed! Which means we are entitled to certain benefits.

Fiverr needs to think about that.


#11

I hear you. This makes sense I can see this being a problem for top rated sellers. Plus being able to decline work creates a trickle down effect because it gives other sellers opportunities. Thus creating new top sellers. And the cycle continues.

In reality you can decline work though you just have to send a cancellation request. So having a feature to directly decline an order before it starts is not really necessary.

I will say though, I don’t subscribe to the thinking that “If you don’t agree with something just leave entirely no one keeps you here”. If that thinking were applied throughout history we’d still be living in the 60s. (I’m speaking from an American point of view). Things get done because we work together, provide feedback, and IMPROVE the systems we use. Not toss them away because its not perfect.


#12

Since we are self employed:

  1. Let us choose which orders to accept
  2. Give us a break from answering messages 24/7
  3. Let us cancel orders that are not what our gig offers without being penalized

By directing our activities to such an extent fiverr is acting as an employer. It’s an important legal distinction at least in the US.


#13

So you see slaving away from Monday to Sunday and renouncing your basic work rights (medical leave and time off among the others) as “changing with the market”? I’m sorry, I’m just not into that “making money for money’s sake” mentality. I became a freelancer to gain more control over my schedule, not to lose it.

That said, you are right! I did accept Fiverr’s ToS and I am legally bound by it. As @misscrystal said, I am technically one of their employees. Still, this isn’t my primary source of income. I don’t feel the need to appease the master and I have no problems discussing hot button issues that seem to affect a good portion of the user-base. I guess the moment water gets to my knees I’ll just jump ship and take my 20% with.

Last I checked, The ToS states that you’re not allowed to share your name, that contact info should be given out only when needed to complete the gig, that you can’t ask for direct payment (say to your Paypal account) and that all business should be conducted on-site. To me, that translates into “try to circumvent us and we may freeze your account without prior notice”.

I would have no problem paying Fiverr’s fees if they could offer a non-toxic work environment. My issue is that, at the moment, my degree of control over the situation is close to that of a Starbucks’ barista while I’m also required to sleep with my phone on unless I want to be penalized.

The new levels system - I had hoped not to mention that - will only further exacerbate the whole thing. I predict a good number of people either being demoted or leaving the site altogether. I mean, from a marketing perspective it would be an amazing move: first you get the so-called “pros” to join, then you weed out anybody else by raising the bar to preposterous levels. Nah, I’m sure that’s just my imagination seeing conspiracies everywhere!

Tiny addendum, just to clear things up:
I can only speak for myself but yeah, self-employed people who are freelancers for a living still expect a few days off every once in a while. It’s not that we expect them, it’s that you need some time to take your mind off of things if you want to function as a human being.

Once again, personal experience: it’s a bit better since my main gig’s isn’t featured anymore, but I spent most of August to mid-October waking up, every day, to 2/4 new orders. I’ve had the queue limits bug out on me and once ended up with 9 deliveries in 48 hours. Imagine having to deal with 9 tasks that take you 4/5 hours each in two days. I’ve had orders delivered 45 minutes past their deadline marked as late only because I was stuck in traffic. I’ve had my completion rate lowered by people who placed an order without even reading the descriptions first.

Do you see where this rant is coming from?


#14

There are some really fantastic things about Fiverr, but I won’t deny… I’ve already burned out after my very first month LOL. I got a lot, a lot, a lot of orders in my first month. The good ones were great, the okay were okay, but there have been a few bad apples who I’d love to never, ever, ever interact with again… who insist on making orders with me anyway.

I wish there were a way to decline orders, even if there were a cap on it like “only one decline a week” or something. Some buyers are friendly and helpful - some are glorified scammers who will back you into a corner and break every rule of your agreement, whether it be twisting your arm for early deliveries or demanding extra revisions despite the fact that you clearly followed their directions, who will give ZERO directions and tell you to follow your heart, only to demand extra revisions when you don’t correctly read their mind, who will hold the threat of a bad review over your head if you don’t get them extras for free. And then, worst of all, they come back!


#15

Hate when that happens. It’s like "hey, I liked abusing you so much that I came back for another round!"
PS: want to get less orders and make a bit more money? Raise your gig’s prices. I’m pretty sure you can double them without much of a problem!


#16

I find this very amusing…

Every other company in the world is like that. Did you know that when my friend asked to quit his job at Coca-Cola because he didn’t like the changes the company made for their employees, they forced him to give up all of his sales contacts and trade secrets the minute he said he wanted to quit and then escorted him out of the building. He got his last two weeks paid, but he wasn’t allowed back in the building.


#17

They prevent you from dealing with their Customers directly (the one they brought to you through their platform).

Make your own website, create your own brand, build your own reputation and market yourself on your own and - you’ll be able to make your own rules.

In the meantime, adapt and overcome.


#18

Sorry I’m late to the game on this one, but I agree with @mgjohn78 on this one.

I never signed a non-compete clause when I signed on with Fiverr. If I had, then I wouldn’t be able to convert my Fiverr clients to my fulltime clients.

There’s a TRS that does exactly this, Fiverr even lets them! The moment you order a gig, it takes you out to their website to fill out the gig requirements. Then when you receive your gig, it takes you to their website for your report and asks if you want to start a subscription with them (outside of Fiverr).


#19

Nope, but you did accept that “To protect our users’ privacy, user identities are kept anonymous. Requesting or providing Email addresses, Skype/IM usernames, telephone numbers or any other personal contact details to communicate outside of Fiverr in order to circumvent or abuse the Fiverr messaging system or Fiverr platform is not permitted” and that “Fiverr reserves the right to put any account on hold or permanently disable accounts due to breach of these terms of service or due to any illegal or inappropriate use of the Site or services”.

Your TRS friend might be doing that, but he’s going against the ToS just as much as a newbie would. I’m not saying you’re not allowed to drag your clients with you once you’re done with the site, but your account (and your uncleared funds) might be frozen if you’re caught doing so. Considering that it takes 15 days to clear these funds and that CS reads your messages, the website’s basically structured to force you into taking a 2 weeks break if you ever decide to leave.

PS: I wanted to sarcastically highlight how your friend at Coca-cola was an employee and not a freelancer, but the difference has already been discussed by others in this post.


#20

I am not practicing this method currently.

I understand the TOS and wouldn’t intentionally violate them.

Fiverr has been great to me so far and I would like to continue to give them their share of my earnings to continue marketing and building a safe and secure network of freelancers for buyers to browse.

Maybe the TRS is doing it only for the subscription model because Fiverr obviously does not have a subscription model available?