May 31, 2017

Why Fiverr Sucks


I thought I was finished announcing changes and updates for a while, but I guess I was wrong. Earlier this week, I received an email from my sales platform - Fiverr - that my best-selling Tarot gig had been denied because it was deemed offensive and outside Fiverr's editorial focus. And you know, that's okay - their website is their lair, and it's their choice how to maintain that space. If I had started a gig on Fiverr and they had denied it within the first few months, it wouldn't bother me - their house, their rules. If I don't like their rules, I'll just find a new house.

But what does bother me is when I've been using their sales platform for longer than two years; have been consistently ranked in the top 10 sellers for my category and sometimes as the #1 seller in my category; have pushed my clients to do business with me on Fiverr even when they wanted to pay me directly; built a portfolio of more than 1,800 positive reviews and over 2,000 sales; been a significant contributor to the community forum by writing extensive tutorials on marketing and sales; and have given at least $4,000 of my gross sales in exchange for help marketing, a unified sales and message system, and easy sales processing, and they show me the door without so much as a, "So long, and thanks for all the fish."

Because if I had known that the service I'm offering is outside their editorial focus and that they feel like it's offensive, I wouldn't have spent more than two years of my time building my entire self-employed income around Fiverr. Yes, yes - isn't it funny that the psychic didn't see this coming? Call me gullible and naive if you will, but judging by my long string of success - and the vast number of other readers working on Fiverr - it didn't occur to me that I should be worried about my job security.

So you can imagine my surprise when my gig got denied. After much back and forth with customer support to ask why this decision was made, here's the answer I got:


If Sam's response has left you scratching your head, you're not the only one. I mean, seriously: if Customer Support is unable to advise sellers on editorial rules and guidelines that could get their gig denied and in my case literally years of work thrown out with the trash, you'd think this is a good thing for sellers to know, right?

Well, you'd be wrong, and the reason is because Fiverr can't decide what it wants to be when it grows up. Is Fiverr a fun and friendly destination for budget-services and weird, quirky digital gifts? Or is it a sales portal for self-marketed professionals who enjoy the convenience of a unified sales, message, order, and accounting system?

Fiverr is currently running a marketing campaign to recruit sellers to its marketplace and is using the slogan, "In doers we trust:"


And you know, that's a motivating slogan: if you're somebody who doesn't waste time on shallow words and empty dreams but who actually gets shit done, then Fiverr is the place for you! I know it was sure the place for me. By linking my Fiverr seller profile to all my marketing efforts - my blog, my YouTube channel and videos, my social media profiles, and my mailing list - I was able to drive all my clients to process sales through Fiverr. But the reality I discovered is that Fiverr does not, in fact, trust doers. Not even a teensy little bit. Unlike several other freelance portals I could name, Fiverr is seriously paranoid about letting buyers and sellers have direct contact with each other. 

Consider the inbox messaging system: every single message sent on Fiverr is filtered for links and blacklisted words. If you send the wrong kind of link - or sometimes, any links at all - or use the wrong word, Fiverr's messaging filters will scoop up the message and hold it for review. Hey, nothing like having your inbox slowed down by a snooping nanny to help work get done quickly! 

Or consider the guidelines for creating a gig. Suppose you have a service that requires your buyer's telephone number? According to customer support - whom I asked about this very thing - you can only collect your client's telephone number if you say in the title of your gig and in your gig description that you require that kind of personal information, and additionally you can only collect that information on the page for an active order. Same for email addresses - you can't ask for that information if you don't specify that you require it, and if a buyer gives it to you without being asked, Fiverr can still punish the seller for breaking the terms of service.

And consider the terms of service! Fiverr includes in its terms of service that gigs can be denied if they're deemed to be offensive in nature or outside Fiverr's editorial focus. Naturally, you might ask yourself, "So, what exactly constitutes an offensive service, and what is Fiverr's editorial focus?" The answer is, Nobody Knows! Not even customer support, who - as I mentioned above - are unable to advise sellers on the editorial teams rules and guidelines.

After Fiverr denied the gig I'd spent two years building and all the reviews attached to it, they kindly informed me that I was welcome to create new gigs. How generous of them! I'll admit that part of me thinks I should just shrug off this experience and just create a new gig, but the larger part of me thinks that I can't afford to place my financial security in the hands of an editorial team that won't even tell their customer support what their guidelines are for what's allowed. I've got bills to pay, groceries to buy, and other people who depend on my paycheck. Considering the repurcussions that are happening in my life right now as a result of Fiverr's opaque and inconsistent policies on the kind of services they want on their website, I think it'd be foolish to start down that road again.

So from here on out, I'm marketing for my own website and am processing all my own sales. My business mailing list contains a few devoted clients for whose continued support and patronage I'm deeply grateful, but they don't add up to all the people I steered to Fiverr. I'm effectively starting over, and if history is my guide it's probably going to take 6 months to recover half my income.

But it'll be worth it, because I'll be in control of my business - not Fiverr's capricious editorial team - and I alone will be able to say how I'm allowed to work.

All of which is just a long way of saying:

EAT SHIT AND DIE, FIVERR





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Freedom of Expression =/= Freedom from Consequences.