Fiverr Is Depressing The Hell Out of Me

Are you familiar the website Fiverr? Its the online capitalist marketplace that enables all of us to sell ourselves short, and it’s upping its profile this month by branching out into apps. Here’s a screenshot of what’s being offered on the main site. Fiverr 500 words for $5 = $.01 a word. A penny for your thoughts, indeed. Here’s another: Fiverr 2 Here’s how the site describes itself:

Fiverr is shaping the future of work every day. Founded in 2009 and based in New York, Chicago, Miami and Tel Aviv, Fiverr is the world’s largest marketplace for creative and professional services, offering any digital service in one click. Whether designing a fresh website, writing colorful advertising copy or recording a catchy jingle, Fiverr sellers deliver high-quality services across 190 countries from a vast catalog of more than 150 categories.

For five bucks. Cue the apocalypse.  As you might expect, some of these vendors are operating from outside the United States: the “design your product label” guy works from India; another who offers to “create a website for your business for $5” is based in Bulgaria. The people who use the site, though? Lots of cost-conscious Americans. These twenty-something entrepreneurs in Ohio, for example, who used to work for Procter & Gamble before they ventured off on their own.

They have been careful to keep the scale of their branding and marketing at what they can afford. They went on an outsourcing site called Fiverr to get their logo designed, a cute globe with a bite taken out of it. It cost $5.

I don’t blame these bright-eyed youngsters for getting the cheapest acceptable logo they could, though they don’t seem as though they were desperate, even when starting out. (“They have been profitable since Day 1, said Bernstein, and have quadrupled their number of subscribers in five months.”) Once there’s a big box store in town, it’s hard to ask folks to keep supporting their local independent businesses. But how can graphic designers — who won’t or can’t sell a logo for, essentially, nothing — compete? How is a gig economy of five-bucks-per-service good for anyone?

It’s going to be a sad day when the most talented illustrators are working for corporate behemoths and the most skilled journalists are working in PR because their industries have been devalued to such an extent that they can’t hack it any other way.

In the meantime, though, we can enjoy some of the wackiest stuff Fiverr merchants have to offer. A guy in South Korea will slap himself in the face for you! Amazing.

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