How to launch your freelance writing career with Fiverr

Alicia Drover -

Typewriter and paper

If you’ve ever considered a career in writing, you’ve probably heard the bad news: you’ll never make a living with your writing. For years, I made the mistake of believing that advice. Then, a friend showed me how to get started on Fiverr.

This global marketplace of digital freelance services connects freelancers (“sellers”) with people who need their services (“buyers”). Sellers on Fiverr offer everything from logo design, to website and app development, to videos of themselves getting pied in the face…seriously. Just about anything you can do online, you can offer as a service on Fiverr. Because it’s an established marketplace with no barriers to entry, it’s a good place for a new freelancer to get started.

To date in 2017, I have worked on over 400 writing projects through Fiverr. I make a modest living and spend most of my time working from home or from my local library. In July, I took my work with me as I grabbed a one-day promotion for a train ticket and traveled across Canada. It was an incredible experience that I wouldn’t have had if I were at a 9-5 job.

It’s not always a walk in the park, but each day I help my clients succeed and grow. If you enjoy writing and are willing to put in the work, then your words could soon be making a difference, too.

Becoming a Fiverr Seller

If you want to become a freelancer, signing up for Fiverr is simple. You’ll be asked to provide an email address and choose a username. Your username should be short and memorable, so buyers can remember it. Consider including a word related to your niche, so that your profile can come up if anyone searches for usernames containing your chosen keyword.

Read the TOS… Yes, Right Away

Before you get to work, the first thing you should do is read Fiverr’s terms of service – preferably more than once. If you break a rule without knowing it, your account could get shut down without warning. As tempting as it might be to agree to communicate by phone to make a client’s life easier, or to accept payment outside of Fiverr’s system, if you want to make Fiverr your primary income source, it’s not worth the risk. I’ve seen many sellers get their accounts closed due to unknowingly breaking the rules, so don’t neglect this boring but essential step.

Creating Your First Gigs

To sell anything on Fiverr, you must create ‘gigs’ specific to each offer. For example, I have gigs for business letters, web copy, articles, editing and more. Because Fiverr markets mainly to entrepreneurs and small business owners, my offers are targeted towards them. However, I have also been asked to write cover letters, fundraising letters and elevator pitches for students attending job fairs. Play around with different gigs to see which ones you enjoy and which ones get the most interest.

Getting Your First Sales

When I joined Fiverr in July 2016, I created one gig and forgot about it, not knowing that there were actions I had to take to get my offer seen. In December of that year, I learned the secret: buyers’ requests.

When you’re a new seller, your gigs probably aren’t going to show up in search results. They’ll be drowned out by more experienced sellers, and by offers that have been carefully crafted over time to include the right keywords. That’s why you need to reach out to buyers yourself.

Buyers’ Requests is a section on Fiverr where buyers describe what they need, and sellers bid on the jobs. You can make up to 10 bids each day. Write a solid pitch detailing why you’re the right person for the job, and tailor it to each request. This can land you one or more jobs daily. The jobs you see will be based on the categories your gigs are listed under. If you don’t see many jobs on your list, just create more gigs under new categories.

To get your first sales, you can also advertise on social media and ask friends and family to buy from you if they need writing services. Ask them to leave an honest review if they like your work. As you’ll see, positive reviews are gold on Fiverr.

Building Your Reputation

Anyone can sign up for Fiverr, regardless of background or ability. While this allows everyone the chance to do something they’re good at, it also allows some sellers to misrepresent themselves and the quality of their work. Since buyers have no way to verify who you really are, reviews have a high influence on buyers’ decisions. Therefore, getting positive reviews is essential to your success.

The best way to get great reviews is to provide a great service. You may have to bid low to get your first few orders, but do not let that take away from your communication and the quality of your work. The time you take now is an investment in your profile and will help you get future sales.

Always respond to messages in a timely manner and treat your clients with respect. If a buyer frustrates you, ask yourself how the customer service desk of an established business would respond to them, and do the same. Act like your writing is a business, and it will become one.

Once you’ve polished your work and are ready to send it to your client, take another action to help secure your positive review. When you deliver work to your client, you must send a message along with it. In this message, I recommend offering to revise the work if the client needs any changes. By offering revisions, you can make sure your buyer is completely happy with the work they receive. In your message, also invite your buyer to accept the order if they are satisfied. When a buyer clicks “accept order” on their end, they will be asked to leave a review, and each positive one will build up your Fiverr reputation juice.

Leveling Up

Another important component of your Fiverr reputation is your seller level. When you join, you’re considered a ‘new seller,’ and you have the ability to earn different levels to prove your experience on the platform. To get your Level 1 badge, you need to complete 10 orders and maintain an average rating of at least 4 out of 5 stars. You also need to be a member for 30 days, so sign up right away, even if you’re not quite ready to start selling.

To reach Level 2, you must complete 50 more orders within a 2-month period, and maintain a rating of 4.5 stars or more. After that, a select few are hand-chosen by Fiverr to become Top Rated Sellers. Most sellers in this class have amassed thousands of reviews, and demonstrate high-quality work and customer service.

Fiverr recently launched what they call “Fiverr Pro,” a high-end version of Fiverr, where all the sellers are vetted by Fiverr’s team. They look for applications from experienced freelancers, so keep it in mind for later on.

Getting Paid

New sellers are often unsure about one of the most important parts of working on Fiverr: getting paid. After you deliver your work, your buyer will have 3 days to accept it or request a revision. If they haven’t responded after 3 days, the order will be automatically marked as complete in Fiverr’s system. After 14 days, you will be able to withdraw your earnings from that order to your Paypal, Payoneer, bank account or Fiverr Revenue Card – minus the 20% cut Fiverr takes as payment for your use of the site.

Developing Your Skills

Do something you’re good at, and keep learning. There is always more to learn when it comes to writing. I was 9 years old when I started writing a novel while researching and practicing ways to improve my work. I lost count of how many rewrites I did; my writing improved drastically over the years. Because of my sustained research and practice, my skills became razor-sharp, and people constantly complimented my writing.

When I joined Fiverr, I had little experience with copy and content writing, so I started learning it the same way I learned to do the creative writing that had received so much praise. I read lots of articles about how to craft each piece of writing in a way that gets the company’s desired results. I also participate in online communities for entrepreneurs and copywriters and learn much about writing and running my freelance business from my peers. There are also courses you can take, as well as many great books on the subject. Choose something that works well for your own learning style. The important thing is to find trustworthy information, learn it, and practice it continuously.

Getting the Inside Scoop

Every seller eventually encounters situations that he or she is not sure how to handle, often due to uncertainty about how the platform works. Fiverr is also constantly rolling out changes to the way things are done, and these changes can take sellers unawares. Heading to the Fiverr forums every so often will keep you up to date on changes, and keep you educated on ways to increase your success on the platform. If you’re ever unsure about what to do, contact customer support or head to the forums to ask your fellow sellers.

Stepping Out on Your Own

While Fiverr is a good platform for getting started quickly, gaining experience and building a portfolio, good writers should see it as an entryway rather than as a final destination. Fiverr markets itself primarily to entrepreneurs and startup companies that typically don’t have a lot of money to spend on the services they need. Writers who find their own clients can target those who are willing and able to pay rates that better reflect the value they get from well-written, effective materials. If you’ve put a lot of time and effort into building your skills, and your clients are happy with their results, you deserve to be compensated fairly for your expertise.

To this end, I recently created my own freelance writing website and have begun to market my services via social media and email. This will allow me to build lasting relationships with clients that are ready to invest in the kind of quality work that will drive them forward. It will free up time that I can use to grow my business and to enjoy salsa dancing, hiking, cat petting and traveling. This is no get-rich-quick scheme. It takes a lot of work and dedication, but if you enjoy helping others through writing, it’s worth it.