Five bucks says you can

by Lisa Rothstein on 12/29/2010


Working with your talents
, and –more to the point –getting paid is not always easy. But what if you were only asking five bucks?

That’s the idea behind a new website fiverr.com (yes the two “rr’s” are on purpose). On it, people can offer pretty much any service, as long at they only charge $5.00 for it. Note, this has nothing in common with the freelance sites where people of questionable skills and mysterious nationalities offer peddle website designs and 500-word articles written for a few dollars, underbidding legitimate solopreneurs. On fiverr, users typically offer a bite-sized version of what they do, or a random item or service that is clearly not meant to be a professional activity.

But what can you get for five bucks? You’d be surprised.  Very surprised.

Services are divided into categories, such as writing, video, advertising and music. But these really don’t do the diversity and creativity of the offerings justice. On my last visit, there was someone offering to write rap lyrics for a hip-hop song, have a professional photo taken of them holding up a sign of your choice, draw your comic book character concept, do a voice over, and even “solve your problems or issues” …all for just five smackeroos. And this was not even in the fun and bizarre category, where offers included drawing a cartoon depicting your death (yikes) and video of the service provider dancing to any song of your choice dressed in a hot dog costume.

But why would any self-respecting creative person with any talent want to offer the fruit of their talents for only $5.00? There are a number of reasons, some amazingly practical.

New clients. Fiverr gives artists a chance to “audition” at low risk to everyone. Once you’ve got a new — and hopefully happy — customer, you can charge your regular rate. Your customer will have seen for herself that you’re worth it.

Market research. Why go through the trouble of offering a product or service, maybe even creating a website and drumming up business, if you’re not sure if anyone wants your hand-painted dog sweaters or customized wedding toasts? Or maybe you’re not sure what niches of people to target. Fiverr gives you a chance to “run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.”

Working out the kinks. When you offer a service or product at such a low rate, you have the latitude that it still be in beta-dress-rehearsal-work-in-progress mode.  This frees you from the demon perfectionism and allows you to learn and course correct as you create.

Free publicity. Fiverr.com is a social network, so its users talk to each other about the services they’ve found and rate them. And because it’s fairly new it is getting a lot of viral buzz all over the internet. People are apt to tell others about the great work a graphic designer did on a logo or a composer did on an original jingle. The fact that it only cost them $5.00 makes them raving fans.

Just for the fun of it. The best thing about fiverr is that everyone there seems to be enjoying their talents and themselves.  It’s a playground for creative expression. Some of the ideas are random and goofy, but it seems there’s a customer for pretty much everything, and that’s a joy to behold.
Activity: You don’t have to be on fiverr.com to use the above principles when working with your talents. Answer these questions: What would it take to give yourself permission to get out there before you’re perfect, and improve as you go? What small “taste” of what you do could you offer to get new people in your door? What ideas could you “float” to learn more about your customers and what they want? How can you have more fun working with your talents?

Want to to re-publish this article?  You’re in luck — it’s allowed if you include the author’s name, a link to this original post and the following text blurb:

Are you struggling with too many talents, skills, ideas? You may have The DaVinci Dilemma™! Find tools, fun quizzes, coaching, inspiration and solutions for multi-talented people at http://www.davincidilemma.com/ .

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