Are you considering using Fiverr as a platform for your freelancing career?

This article will reveal why that might not be the best idea. Fiverr has a dark side that many freelancers have experienced firsthand.

In this guide, you will discover:

The common issues in Fiverr
Fiverr’s limitations
The downsides of Fiverr
An alternative approach

By the end of this article, you will have a deeper understanding of the challenges of using Fiverr.

Let’s dive in!

You’re not alone on these issues

When I first started my freelancing career, I primarily used two platforms to get clients:

  1. Upwork (around 99% of my clients)
  2. Fiverr (around 1% of my clients)

I didn’t really hate it. But from the first few times I used it, I already felt distant from it.

Some of my reasons then include:

  • You couldn’t do anything until someone contacts you.
  • I felt like clients were looking for cheaper options.
  • It almost always boils down to luck that somebody would message you.

🔊 Opinion:

I would mostly attribute the last part to the fact that there was so much competition in Fiverr that you would be lucky if someone sees your ad.

For example, if you search for “blog article” as a buyer, you would see that there are 24k+ services available:

Searching for blog articles services in Fiverr
Searching for blog article services on Fiverr

Then I read this horror story that really explains the dark side of Fiverr (and most freelance platforms)…

Fiverr Hostage Situation

Lewis Parrott did a good job of narrating what happened to her girlfriend in his blog, TheHireUps.

You can read his post here. But anyways, here’s a summary of what happened with his girlfriend, who was a professional designer:

  • The girlfriend received a $5 logo order on Fiverr and completed it promptly, even including a bonus concept and the source file.
  • The client requested a social media kit, which was not part of the original gig, but the girlfriend decided to provide it for free.
  • The client made additional demands and changes to the social media files, prompting the girlfriend to refuse further requests.
  • The client responded with blackmail, threatening to leave a negative review if their demands were not met.

This is what the client sent:

client: ok, i won't be able to leave a 5-star review then, i hope you understand
Source: Fiverr Review
  • While waiting for Fiverr support’s assistance, the client left a 1-star review to demonstrate their seriousness.
  • The client eventually paid an extra $10 for the social media kit but accompanied it with another threat.

It wasn’t an empty threat, since the client really did leave her with a bad review:

client review: not the best experience
Source: Fiverr Review

Not an isolated case

If you’re the skeptic type, you must be thinking:

That person’s experience is unique, and probably only happened to her. There are a lot of people out there making good money.

But is it really an isolated case, though?

One look at Fiverr reviews in Trustpilot and you will know that freelancers in Fiverr are being abused.

Here’s an example:

negative review on fiverr by zeshan
Source: Fiverr reviewed by Zeshan

If you’re too lazy to check it out, I grouped the reviews together, with the top three being:

  1. Lack of seller protection and Fiverr customer support: Many sellers feel unprotected and unsupported. Buyers can easily blackmail them, force them to do extra work, and threaten to leave bad ratings — with Fiverr having little to no support for its sellers in these situations.
  2. Bias towards buyers: Some sellers report that Fiverr favors buyers over sellers. There are complaints about the order cancellation process, which some sellers feel is biased toward buyers.
  3. Poor customer service: There are complaints about Fiverr’s customer service, with users reporting that they have been lied to and that their issues have not been resolved. Some users also report that they have been unable to change their email addresses.

Let me break down the issues that are plaguing Fiverr:

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    Reasons Why Fiverr Is Bad

    There are a lot of reasons why Fiverr is bad for freelancers (sellers).

    I might not be able to touch base with all of them. But at the very least, the reasons below are the things that are most prevalent.

    1. Lack of seller protection and support

    The first major concern among sellers is the perceived lack of protection and support from Fiverr when dealing with difficult buyers.

    Sellers have reported instances where buyers exploit the platform, blackmail them, demand additional work without proper compensation, or threaten to leave negative reviews.

    Now, you won’t be able to go around this completely, but I have some suggestions on how you might avoid such situations:

    1. Define your gig clearly: Specify your services and set boundaries to manage client expectations
    2. Communicate openly: Discuss project requirements, timelines, and potential revisions upfront to minimize misunderstandings
    3. Establish agreements: If a buyer requests extra work, discuss compensation and terms before proceeding
    4. Keep records: Save all client communication and files as evidence in case of disputes
    5. Report problematic buyers: Notify Fiverr support about abusive or unreasonable clients with detailed information

    Well, it is worth noting that not all buyers on Fiverr are difficult, and many freelancers have successful experiences on the platform.

    However, being proactive and taking necessary precautions can help you mitigate risks and protect your interests as a seller.

    💡 Tip:

    You have to feel the buyer first. Talk to them. If you feel in your gut that there is something wrong with the buyer, then don’t accommodate them anymore. Sometimes, it’s our fear of missing out that leads us to unfavorable situations.

    2. Bias towards buyers

    Several sellers have expressed concerns about Fiverr’s perceived favoritism towards buyers.

    Sellers report difficulties with the order cancellation process, which they believe is tilted in favor of buyers.

    To minimize the impact of bias toward buyers on Fiverr, follow these tips:

    1. Clarify gig terms: Clearly state refund and cancellation policies in your gig description to set expectations upfront
    2. Deliver exceptional service: Focus on high-quality work and outstanding customer service to satisfy buyers and reduce cancellation requests
    3. Communicate effectively: Maintain clear and open communication, provide progress updates, address concerns promptly, and ensure buyer satisfaction
    4. Handle disputes professionally: Stay calm and professional, understand buyer concerns, and seek mutually beneficial solutions to prevent biased decisions
    5. Document agreements: Keep records of discussions, agreements, and delivered work as evidence in case of disputes or cancellations

    While some sellers may perceive a bias towards buyers, it’s important to remember that not all interactions will be negative.

    Looking at it from another perspective, this could also happen to you on other freelance platforms like Upwork.

    3. Poor customer service

    Users have reported instances where they felt deceived by Fiverr’s customer service representatives and encountered difficulties in resolving their issues.

    Complaints range from unhelpful responses to unresolved problems. Additionally, some users have faced challenges when attempting to change their email addresses.

    To avoid frustrations with customer service, consider the following suggestions:

    1. Clearly state your concerns: When contacting customer service, provide specific details about the issue you’re facing for a focused response
    2. Be patient but persistent: Allow time for customer service to address your concern, but don’t hesitate to follow up and escalate if necessary
    3. Gather evidence: Support your case with screenshots, transaction records, or email correspondence to strengthen your position
    4. Explore different channels: Seek assistance through alternative channels like social media or community forums to increase your chances of a helpful response
    5. Engage with fellow freelancers: Connect with other freelancers on Fiverr’s forums or professional networks to gain guidance and insights from their experiences

    Unfortunately, this is one of those moments where there’s almost nothing you can do if you’re stuck with poor customer support.

    Again, this is not something that’s unique to Fiverr. However, there seems to be a great problem with Fiverr customer support than other platforms.

    4. Account suspension and deactivation

    Sellers have reported instances where their accounts were suspended without apparent reason, and Fiverr did not respond to their appeals.

    Criticism has been raised against Fiverr for deactivating accounts and gigs without providing adequate explanations.

    To reduce the likelihood of account suspension and deactivation, consider the following suggestions:

    1. Follow Fiverr’s terms: Adhere to Fiverr’s terms of service to avoid violating policies and risking account suspension
    2. Deliver high-quality work: Provide exceptional work and maintain professionalism to prevent negative reviews and potential account suspension
    3. Communicate effectively: Maintain clear communication with buyers to address concerns promptly and avoid misunderstandings that could lead to negative feedback
    4. Avoid spamming and manipulation: Refrain from spamming buyers or engaging in manipulative practices that could be detected by Fiverr and result in account suspension
    5. Handle disputes professionally: Resolve disputes and cancellations amicably, finding mutually agreeable solutions to avoid excessive cancellations and conflicts
    6. Protect account security: Use strong passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and stay vigilant against phishing attempts. Report any suspicious activity to Fiverr

    While it is not possible to completely eliminate the risk of account suspension or deactivation…

    Following Fiverr’s guidelines, delivering high-quality work, maintaining professionalism, and staying vigilant can help mitigate the chances of encountering such situations.

    🔊 Opinion:

    Make sure to stay on the right side. I have seen plenty of people reporting such cases on Fiverr and even on Upwork and airing them on social media. Then we find out that the person did something against the terms, like contacting the client outside the platform.

    Why You Should Stay Away From Fiverr

    There are other reasons why Fiverr isn’t a good place for freelancers, despite those reasons not reaching review platforms.

    I will go over some of them here:

    1. Low pay rates

    When you sign up as a freelancer on Fiverr, you will quickly notice its unique pricing structure.

    In case you didn’t know, the platform initially made its mark by promoting Fiverr gigs that cost just $5, a figure from which the site’s name originates.

    While Fiverr has evolved to allow freelancers to offer services at higher rates, the lower-end pricing structure still casts a significant shadow.

    How do the potential earnings compare with other freelance platforms

    When it comes to your earnings potential, it’s critical to compare Fiverr with other freelancing platforms.

    For instance, platforms like Upwork or Freelancer allow you to set your hourly rates or project-based fees, often leading to more significant earnings.

    Here is a simple comparison of average earning potentials across various freelance platforms:

    Freelance PlatformAverage Hourly Rate
    Fiverr$5 – $50
    Upwork$15 – $75
    Freelancer$10 – $70
    Toptal$60 – $150
    Guru$10 – $75

    The table above illustrates that Fiverr’s lower-end rates tend to be lower than many other platforms.

    The opportunity to earn more is often greater on other platforms, especially ones like Toptal, which focuses on connecting clients with the top 3% of freelance talent.

    However, remember that higher potential earnings often come with increased competition and more stringent selection processes.

    ⚠️ Warning:

    The information provided in the table above is approximate and should not be taken as an exact representation of all potential earnings on these platforms. Always research and understand the pay structures of any freelance platform you’re considering.

    2. High competition

    As a freelancer looking to make your mark on Fiverr, you will quickly come face-to-face with one of the platform’s most daunting realities:

    Fiverr’s vast user base — with millions of freelancers offering their services, the platform can feel incredibly crowded.

    Let me show another example that’s different from the one earlier:

    Searching for logo design services in Fiverr

    Can you see that? There are more than 200 thousand services available… 😱

    How competition can limit your opportunities

    The intense competition on Fiverr can potentially limit your opportunities. Remember, many clients on Fiverr are looking for quick, cost-effective solutions.

    With a multitude of options at their disposal, they may not take the time to sift through countless profiles or gigs to find the perfect fit.

    This means you may find it harder to land jobs, especially when you’re new to the platform and don’t yet have a strong reputation or portfolio of reviews to back up your skills.

    To gain visibility, you need to:

    • Master Fiverr’s search algorithm
    • Craft compelling gig descriptions
    • Maintain high customer satisfaction rates
    • All while offering competitive rates

    This balancing act can feel overwhelming and might demand more of your time than you would initially anticipate.

    In fact, this race to the bottom competition pushes low-quality services more and more since a lot of cheap clients prefer cheaper services when on Fiverr.

    🔊 Opinion:

    You will need to weigh the potential benefits of landing gigs against the time and effort you will need to invest to truly stand out. This is one of the reasons why I focused more on Upwork than on Fiverr when I first started out.

    3. Fiverr’s high commission rate

    As a freelancer, a significant portion of your earnings on Fiverr will be taken as a commission by the platform.

    Fiverr’s commission structure is designed such that they take 20% of each transaction you make.

    This means that if you charge $100 for a service, you will only take home $80 from your online business while Fiverr takes a hefty $20 cut.

    That’s almost like losing money on a drain! 😠

    How it compares to other freelance platforms

    To fully grasp the impact of Fiverr’s commission rates, let’s compare it to other freelancing platforms.

    Here’s a simplified comparison of commission structures among various popular freelance platforms:

    Freelance PlatformCommission Rate
    Fiverr20% flat rate
    Upwork10% flat rate
    Freelancer10% or $5, whichever is greater, for fixed price projects; 10% for hourly projects
    ToptalCommissions are incorporated into the client’s fee (freelancers receive the full rate they set)
    GuruVaries based on membership level, free accounts have a 9% fee while paid accounts range from 5% – 3%

    You can see that Fiverr has the highest commission rate among the most popular freelance platforms.

    Other platforms, such as Toptal, incorporate their commission into the client’s fee rather than deducting it from your earnings.

    This is an essential factor to consider when you’re deciding whether to offer your services on Fiverr, as it directly affects your take-home pay and overall profitability as a freelancer.

    4. Limited control and flexibility

    The platform has strict rules about keeping all communication within the confines of the site.

    This restriction ensures that they don’t miss out on their commission but also means you have less control over your client relationships.

    You cannot exchange personal contact details or communicate outside of Fiverr’s messaging system.

    This can sometimes make complex projects challenging to manage and can limit the way you build and maintain relationships with your clients.

    Limitations on expanding client relationships outside of Fiverr

    Fiverr’s terms of service prohibit freelancers from taking clients off the platform. This can be a significant disadvantage if you’re trying to build your own freelancing business.

    It hinders you from growing your client base independently and restricts your ability to maintain long-term relationships with clients that can lead to more work and better rates.

    While Fiverr might offer an accessible starting point, it may not be the best platform for your long-term freelance career goals.

    5. Difficulty in handling disputes

    In any freelancing environment, disputes can arise, and Fiverr is no exception.

    The platform has a structured dispute resolution process designed to resolve issues between freelancers and clients.

    Typically, the process begins with attempting to resolve the issue directly with the client. If no resolution is reached, you can turn to Fiverr’s Resolution Center for assistance.

    This process can be arduous and time-consuming, and you will need to provide substantial evidence to support your case.

    Freelancer experiences with resolution bias towards clients

    It’s important to note that many freelancers have expressed dissatisfaction with Fiverr’s dispute resolution process, claiming a bias towards clients.

    Some freelancers have reported situations where Fiverr has favored clients in disputes, even when evidence supported the freelancer’s case.

    Below is an example:

    negative fiverr review by ajay malik
    Source: Ajay Malik – Reviews

    This bias can be disheartening and discouraging, especially when you have invested significant time and effort into a project only to have the dispute resolution process not fall in your favor.

    The impact of a dispute can extend beyond a single project:

    Negative reviews from dissatisfied clients can harm your reputation on the platform, making it harder for you to attract future clients.

    What’s more, if a client cancels an order after a dispute, your earnings from that job are lost.

    This potential risk to both your earnings and ratings adds a layer of uncertainty to your freelancing work on Fiverr.

    It is essential to factor this into your decision-making when considering whether or not Fiverr is the right platform for your freelance career.

    Start With Upwork, Then Find Clients on Your Own

    Kick-starting your freelance career might seem daunting, but with the right approach, you can make your mark in the freelancing world.

    By leveraging established platforms like Upwork, before gradually building your own independent client base.

    Here’s how this strategy can work for you:

    Why starting with Upwork is better

    As a popular online marketplace, Upwork can provide a solid foundation for your freelancing career.

    Unlike Fiverr:

    • Upwork allows you to set your hourly rates, providing an opportunity for higher potential earnings.
    • Its broad clientele and diverse job postings mean you can find work in numerous areas, from writing and graphic design to web development and marketing services.
    • Upwork offers more flexibility than Fiverr when it comes to client communication, job pricing, and dispute resolution.

    However, it’s crucial to be aware that Upwork also takes a commission on your earnings, although they decreased it to a flat 10% rate now.

    👉 Related: What Is Upwork? Is It Still Worth It?

    Then transition to finding clients on your own

    After you’ve built a reputation and portfolio on Upwork, you may want to consider gradually finding clients independently.

    This transition can give you more control over your work, let you set your own rates, and foster long-term relationships with clients.

    • To start, you could create a professional website showcasing your portfolio and outlining your services.
    • Additionally, networking events and social media can be valuable tools for meeting potential clients.
    • LinkedIn, in particular, can be a powerful platform for connecting with professionals who might need your services.

    Remember, though, that building your own client base requires time, effort, and patience. It’s about building relationships and trust, which doesn’t happen overnight.

    Building your freelance business

    Building your own freelance business offers many advantages, but it also comes with responsibilities.

    • You will need to handle your own marketing, accounting, and client relations.
    • You will have to ensure that you’re meeting all your legal obligations as a freelancer (like taxes).

    Starting on a platform like Upwork and then gradually building your own client base, you will gain invaluable experience, contacts, and a better understanding of your worth as a freelancer.

    This approach offers a balanced way to enjoy the advantages of freelancing platforms while minimizing their drawbacks and setting the stage for long-term success in your freelance career.

    How about you? What were your bad experiences with Fiverr? If you have the chance to talk to their leaders, what would you say?


    Alan is the founder of Work Pajama and other sites by Content Growers. When he's not writing here, he's busy helping clients generate more qualified leads and increase sales by educating readers with strategic content and writing blogs.

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