Despite its name, Fiverr has evolved into a more general freelancing site. You can still find freelancers willing to work for five bucks, but these days you’re almost as likely to find a $500 price tag as a $5 one.

So without its primary gimmick, is Fiverr still a worthwhile freelancing site? How does it stack up against the competition? Can you still find good work for $5? Keep reading to find out.

How Fiverr works

Fiverr is one of the hallmarks of the gig economy—a website where you can order anything from a custom illustration to a theme song for your podcast. Fiverr became popular because users could commission a project for $5, and it would be ready within days or even hours.

Many people don’t realize that Fiverr has always allowed workers to charge more than $5, usually for complex work or for tighter deadlines. Contractors set their own rates on Fiverr, so there’s a wide range of prices. You can find every kind of skill level on Fiverr, from someone who’s just starting out to an expert who charges $1,000 per creation.

While the heyday of Fiverr saw most freelancers experimenting with uber-cheap commissions, that business model just hasn’t been an effective way for self-employed professionals to make a living. Even small projects often take an hour or more, which means you’re making less than minimum wage at a $5 price point.

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When I first started blogging seriously I turned to Fiverr for help with graphic design, commissioning a Facebook ad to promote my free opt-in and encourage email subscriptions. I only paid $5 and received a professional-looking design. The designer was responsive, punctual and captured the aesthetic I was looking for.

A few months later I decided to start my own podcast, so I bought a cover image for $5. Unfortunately, this time I got a very basic design that just had the word “podcast” underneath my already-existing blog logo. When I asked the editor why the design didn’t reflect the ideas I gave him, he told me it would cost $50-$100 to create the type of logo I envisioned.

Now, I know where I went wrong. I found someone who had good reviews, but I should have asked more questions before simply paying his fee. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. In the end, I left with a bad taste in my mouth.

My last experience with Fiverr went much more smoothly. For our first wedding anniversary, I used Fiverr to create a special watercolor illustration as a present for my husband. It cost $10, but it was well worth the extra money.

Like any other freelance site, Fiverr relies on feedback from satisfied (and not-so-satisfied) customers. Once a job is completed, the client is invited to rate the person and leave comments. These reviews are vital to the success of Fiverr contractors.

When looking for a freelancer on Fiverr, pay careful attention to their ratings. Look at how many stars they have and how many total jobs they’ve completed. Sure, an animator with an average five-star review is great, but not if they’ve only had two gigs.

It also helps to ask acquaintances and colleagues if they’ve had experience using someone on Fiverr. That’s how blogger and speaker Amanda Abella found a podcast editor.

“A referral was important because it cut the time I would have to spend looking for someone who could deliver,” she said. “He also had five stars from over 1850 reviews and is a top seller.”

Abella pays him $10 for 60 minutes worth of editing and has had zero issues since hiring him a year ago.

After coming up with a few slogan ideas for custom t-shirts, financial planner Kevin Matthews found a designer on Fiverr to bring his creations to life. He shopped around, compared reviews and stuck to a $5 limit before choosing a designer.

“For the $5 design he made, I made $100,” Matthews said.

Fiverr is an excellent option for freelancers, but there are other solid alternatives to consider as well:

Upwork

Upwork’s freelancing community is pretty typical—writers, virtual assistants, and software developers make up the bulk of the workforce. However, you can also find lawyers, accountants and architects. Upwork keeps freelancers honest, requiring hourly workers who contract on the site to submit screenshots so you know exactly what you’re paying for. This protects both clients and employees from arguing about the amount of hours worked.

Upwork is especially popular with overseas contractors who charge far less than their domestic counterparts. In 2017, the fastest-growing skills on Upwork included artificial intelligence, immigration law and C++ development.

99 Designs

This site specializes in graphic design work, allowing customers to commission anything from a simple logo to a complex presentation. What makes 99Designs stand out is that you can have multiple designers submit drafts so you can have a large selection to choose from.

Pricing depends on what you need and how many submissions you’d like to see. A simple logo design costs anywhere from $299 for about 30 designs to $1,299 for 60 premium designs and responsive customer support. This site is pricer than Fiverr, so it’s best for people with established businesses, not someone just getting started.

PeoplePerHour

Like Upwork, PeoplePerHour is a freelance site with jobs ranging from translation services to web development. Users have to be personally approved to work on PeoplePerHour, which makes the site more trustworthy than its competitors.

Clients have to pay a down payment to start a project and can choose between an hourly or fixed rate. The money is held in escrow until you’re satisfied with the work. Like any other freelance site, workers are evaluated regularly and reviews are public.

Summary

Yes, you can find some freelancers that only charge $5 on Fiverr, but they’re not as common as they used to be. That being said, there are still some great designers on the site that charge a fair price. But consider other alternative sites as well.

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