Hi Greg. Your background and restrictions sound a little similar to mine, although I don’t know your niche. I also have a near full-time job and I am also restricted to the services I can offer as a freelancer (I’m a writer by trade, but I only offer proofreading on here because of my restrictions). I came to Fiverr seven years ago to earn extra money. I stayed because I quite enjoy the experience and the steady income it brings me pays for a few treats for the family. Let me try and offer some general advice based around your questions. This is only my experience and perspective. Others will say different no doubt.
Once you’re up and running on Fiverr. The important thing is to remain in control of your life and your Fiverr business. There are certain things you can control, and sadly there are a couple of important things you can’t control. What you can control are: the quality of your profile and description and gigs. These will determine whether people think you’re a good person to do business with. Look around the hundreds of posts on these forums from people who say “why no sale?”. Answer. Their profile and gigs are littered with bad English and poor descriptions, they look unappealing, and contain no exemplary examples of work. Why would anyone hire them? They wouldn’t.
You can also control your time and stress. And this is a major one. While you do have to respond to all first messages within 24 hours for it to not affect your profile stats, you do not have to be online 24 / 7 to get expressions of interest or orders. I get orders or messages when I’m asleep. I’ll respond in the morning after a cup of coffee. Talking of time, this is a biggie that a lot of rookie or desperate sellers fail to utilise. Do not set unrealistic gig delivery times, if anything add time (an extra 24 hours) so that you can relax with an order and allow time for life and any issues to be resolved. In my case I offer a 72 hour turnaround service for a job that might take me just 20 minutes. I might choose to do the work at night, I might choose to do it in the morning. I might choose to split it across a couple of days if it’s a larger order. My point being, you are in control. Believe me, when you offer a 24 hour turnaround the clients tend to be of the desperate variety - they are not good to work with. That is experience talking.
You can also limit the number of orders buyers can make, so you don’t end up with a stack of work that will pile the pressure on.
Also, a good rule of thumb. The moment you feel stressed on Fiverr is the very same moment to put the brake on and work out why. You should not be thinking “it’s 2am, my wife is wondering when I’m coming to bed, I’ve got to leave for work at 7am, I’m feeling tired, grumpy, and I’ve not seen the kids in days - BUT I’ve got an order to complete”.
What you can’t control. When orders come in (although as stated you can limit the number of orders in the queue, and control how long you have to complete a job). You can’t also control who orders from you (although you can block people). In my experience most buyers are good people. But sooner or later you will likely come across either a total idiot or a scammer who wants their money back. The result is the same. They waste your time. A general tip should this happen. Stand up to these people politely. So long as what you’ve delivered meets what the gig promised, then you’re on safe ground. Explain this to them. And then if needs be, report them to customer service. Don’t ever fall into the trap of complying with them or accepting a cancellation.
You can’t also control feedback. Most buyers will leave 5 star feedback if you’ve done a good job. Some buyers won’t leave feedback at all. Scammers and idiots, should you choose to fight back, will leave 1 star feedback. It’s just the way it is.
I hope that’s of some help. Actually, an easier phase would be “do it on your terms only” - take control form the start, and don’t let potential buyers / buyers take control of you. It’s not worth it. From what I hear it’s not easy to get started on Fiverr now because the competition is immense, but if you’ve got a skill to offer, you present yourself well and price yourself fairly (I said fairly not cheap), then you’ll find the cream rises to the top eventually.