How Fiverr.com is Changing the Creative Economy $5 at a Time

Excerpts from feature on Yahoo! News - The Sideshow:

"The grand vision of Fiverr is really to create a marketplace where people can start small but take this hobby and create a business out of it," Kaufman told Yahoo. "Very similar to the revolution that eBay brought to products."

Fiverr's success is a strong counterpoint to critics who say that Americans are not willing to work for smaller wages. But it's also a growing testament to an evolving economy, one where workers do not punch a clock from 9 to 5 and take home a steady salary. In fact, Kaufman tells Yahoo the worldwide economic downturn was a direct inspiration for his site's business model:

"We've been seeing this growth in unemployment," Kaufman said. "One of the things we had in mind when we designed this idea of what later became Fiverr was really a place that not only can cater to people who are already offering their services but really to create jobs for people."

As to how Fiverr itself earns a profit, they do take a small percentage of sales from users. But Kaufman says they put customer service first, noting that on the rare occasion when a transaction does not meet a buyer's basic level of satisfaction, Fiverr does not take its percentage of the sale.

"The most important thing is for people to talk with our customers. We're here to help people do great business," he said.

But the immediate question many people have, and it's a fair one, is can selling services for $5 really provide a sustainable income for an average person responsible for monthly bills like rent, groceries and even health insurance?

To find out, I interviewed three of Fiverr's "Top Rated Sellers" to see how much money they've made from their gigs, how much time they put into the services and what they hope to get out of their Fiverr experience going forward.

All three of the top sellers I interviewed for this article agreed on two things: One, at least as of right now, it's unlikely that Fiverr will provide you a sustainable full-time income to cover all of life's expenses. But for creative professionals, or anyone with a unique skill to offer, it can be a significant part of their overall income.

And as the site continues to grow, along with the ever-changing economy, Kaufman says his company may in fact become a true full-time destination for many of its users in the not-so-distant future.

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