Fiverr has been bashed repeatedly since its inception in 2010, thanks to its premise of selling voice-over recordings, and anything else you may need, for a mere $5. Fellow voice-over pros have bemoaned everything from the “digital slave wages” it offers to the smarmy feeling they’d be sure to get if they ever stooped so low as to take Fiverr-type gig.
“Personally, if I did a VO for $5, I’d wanna go take a shower right away,” writes Vegas-based voice-over actor Dave Courvoisier, “or be so disgusted with the whole business that I’d sell my (high-end microphone) and go work in a tire shop.”
I have to admit, I was ready to jump on the Fiverr-bashing bandwagon, complete with a sarcastic write-up poking fun at the entire idea of expecting anything other than sub-standard work for sub-standard pay.
But then I did a little more research, and I had a change of heart.
My change of heart didn’t necessarily come from reading about the Cinderella-type story where one voice-over freelancer made enough money on Fiverr to quit her day job and buy a house. It came from realizing there is a niche where services like Fiverr may actually be helpful and provide an important level of service.
Don’t get me wrong, I am surely not recommending clients who need top-notch, professional voice-overs turn to Fiverr to get them. You’ll never find yours truly listed on Fiverr or any site that is driven by low pricing. And I’m not saying Fiverr doesn’t come without the risk of ending up with really bad or even completely unusable audio recordings.
The Fiverr Crap Shoot
Fiverr and similar sites have been described as a crap shoot, both for the buyer and the seller. You never know exactly what you’ll get, but you’re only out $5 either way so what’s the harm, right? Well, that’s not exactly true, as it turns out. The $5 price tag was introduced, in part, as a way to build the brand and get people to remember the Fiverr concept.
Dig deeper and you may find your $5 will only buy you a very limited amount of words or services, with things like a professional audio format, fast turn-around, revisions, proofing your script or a higher word count coming with additional fees. Freelancers can, I heard, charge up to $8,000 on the site. That means the cost is yet another factor you have to watch out for on sites like Fiverr, even though you may not realize that going in.
Watch out for the cost. Watch out for the quality. And keep in mind you’ll probably have to spend a notable amount of time sifting through profiles and testing talent before you land on one that may be able to suit your needs.
Provided you know what you’re getting into when you scope out sites like Fiverr, there are a few instances where getting work from bargain-basement sites may make sense. Ready?
3 Reasons For Hiring Voice-Over Talent on Fiverr
Quality is not your top priority.
Yeah, I know that sounds weird. But it’s sometimes true. Perhaps you need a quick-turnaround narration voice-over for an employee training video for tomorrow’s workshop, or a recorded voice for your inter-office phone system. In either case, no one is really going to care if the voice is as smooth as silk or as deep as James Earl Jones. As long as the words are all more or less pronounced correctly, you may find your match on Fiverr.
You barely have a budget.
Here’s where non-profit organizations, charities, churches, college student entrepreneurs or others who need a voice-over on the cheap may benefit. Perhaps you need a voice-over for your idea’s explainer video, narration for a business idea presentation or a 30-second female voice explaining how worthy your charity is for a radio spot. Give Fiverr a whirl and see what happens.
You need cheap “filler,” or disposable content.
A case in point for this example comes from voice actor’s Steven Jay Cohen’s blog. His pal works in a sizable New York-based agency that uses Fiverr all the time for quick videos required for pitch meetings.
“Fiverr is where I get my filler,” his friend told him. “I don’t need it to be good. I just need it to stand in there while I sell the concept. In fact, if the art or the voice is too good, it actually detracts from what I am trying to do.”
Once the pitch meeting is done, so is the work. If the project is a go, the agency turns to high-end voice-over pros for the final project. If it’s not a go, costs still stay low since the pitch project did not require a major investment.
If you approach a professional voice-over talent in these types of situations, you’ll likely run into some kind of minimum charge of $75 or more just to get them to step into the booth and power up the microphone. There can be exceptions; for instance when the request is coming from a recurring voice-over client who has ongoing work opportunities. If I can do a quick favor for a good client, I’m all for it. But, for a single job, from an unknown source, with a tiny budget, who I may never hear from again, I will more often than not have to pass. I can see how a legitimate need is being met by Fiverr VO talent.
But, just because Fiverr and similar sites have a niche market and may be good for a few scenarios doesn’t mean they’re good for creative industries overall. Or even the economy in general.
Please read Part 2 – “The Downside and Dark Side of Hiring Voice-over Talent on Fiverr” where I explore some of the negative effects that are being created by sites like Fiverr.
Please chime in below and tell me what you think!