(If you want to know how to get your first client on Fiverr, check out my post here: https://medium.com/@Nathanielmellor/getting-your-first-beta-reading-client-as-a-seller-on-fiverr-a1b5fb4298b7 )
Being a beta reader always seemed like the perfect job to me. I like reading, I live in a place where it’s difficult to find work since I don’t speak the language, and I need money. Also, I always find issues with published books, so I might as well make money from it.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
#1 You can’t say no
Just like ordering something online, when someone orders your gig, you don’t get a chance to review it, accept it, or decline it. If their wordcount is longer than what you accept, you’ll have to bring it up with the client and hope they’re not difficult. If someone sends you a book cover and asks you to rework it, even though you don’t offer that, you’ll have to get the buyer’s permission to cancel the job. If you’re absolutely slammed with work and someone buys a gig with a two-day turnaround time which is normally okay, but not right this second, that’s on you.
The only way I’ve found around this is to make your gigs’ turnaround time longer than it would ever take. Additionally, you can do what I do, and ask people to send a message first. Not only will I give them a tailored quote to their manuscript, I will give them a shorter turnaround time than what’s listed on the gig page.
#2 Fiverr sides with the client; always
Is that the proper use of a semi-colon? Probably not. Does Fiverr always side with the client? Yes.
In any dispute, at least in my experience and the experience of those on www.reddit.com/r/fiverr, Fiverr will side with the client. It’s better for them to keep the prospective buyer than a seller, despite the number of reviews they have.
This is important when receiving a non-paying client, someone who threatens you, or someone who is trying to scam you.
#3 In theory, you don’t have to get paid
On Upwork, you can use their program that will take screenshots at random intervals, log keystrokes, and check for activity to ensure a job is being done. When you use that program, they will guarantee payment.
Fiverr has no such mechanism (thankfully. I don’t love the idea of someone logging keystrokes and taking screenshots.) in place to ensure payment. Unfortunately, as you might find out or read about, if a client is “unhappy” with the work, they can cancel the job and keep the work. As far as I’m aware, even though Fiverr will hold the money in escrow, they won’t release it to the seller in those cases. I’ve never had this happen, personally (thankfully), but it does happen.
#4 No Profile Picture doesn’t mean Scammer
When I first started, I got a number of inquires from potential clients that had no profile picture and accounts made that month. They had no reviews, no biography, no nothin’. Just faceless, often nameless, people who wanted work done.
Because on every other website in the world (Twitter, Facebook, eBay, whatever) this means the person is a low-effort scammer, I would often give an excuse as to why I couldn’t do the work. Because Fiverr always sides with the client, and there’s no mechanism in place to ensure I get paid, I was wary. Over the years I have learned that some people just make an account, add nothing in to flesh it out, and start ordering jobs.
So, go with your gut.
#5 Work is simultaneous
It sounds silly, but I thought Fiverr would give the seller a queue since some seller have on their profile “X orders in queue.” When I got my first back-to-back order I found that wasn’t the case. A job will start when you receive the manuscript or files. Like I mentioned earlier, you can’t say no.
#6 Work comes in erratic waves, not steady rivers
I will often have four or five jobs at the same time, then a week later, have nothing. This is just how it goes. If you’re lucky, you can plan around this and ask repeat clients to work with your schedule.
Getting those badges (New Seller, Fiverr’s Choice, Level One/Two Seller, Top Rated Seller, Repeat Customers) are important to getting work. Really important. They will also allow you to charge more.
#8 Don’t compare yourself
I like to get inspired by other beta readers, but not compare myself to them. For instance, I only offer a Reader Report when I’ve finished a book. It’s 5–10 pages of feedback on what’s good, and more importantly, what I think can be changed to make it a more impactful story. I charge $1/1,000 words + $20 for this. So 10,000 words is $30 and 110,000 words is $130. Personally, it’s writing the Reader Report that’s the biggest pain, not the reading. So I like to make sure I’m getting paid for the Report.
However, when I look at other sellers’ gigs, I see that they’re adding inline comments, it’s color-coordinated to mentions in a Report, they’re offering a free sample of line-editing, and, most importantly, they’re charging less.
This can easily lead to Imposter Syndrome and screwing yourself over. Charge what you think you’re worth and maybe a little bit more.
#9 Money is slow, and then it isn’t
This is all the money I made between January 2020 and May 2022. Obviously, not super for a full-time job. I made $1,700 the first year, $3,200 the second year, and the rest this year. Yeah, I’m in debt, why do you ask?
The first year was riddled with the occasional job. In the second year, I started making between $200 and $300 a month. This year it’s finally started to take off.
I don’t know if this is how it is for everyone, or just for me. But this is all to say, you will make money, just maybe not immediately.