Am I exploiting people when using Fiverr?

Hi fellow Indie Hackers!

If you ever visited Fiverr, it probably crossed your mind:

Is it morally right to pay someone far below value?

For me, far below value means that I would never ever go through all the work given the small pay it yields. Of course, the definition of small pay is debatable, but in general, it is fair to say that Fiverr will never be very profitable unless you're in the top tier.

Case: being an Indie Hacker developer
Imagine being a developer. You don't have much experience in design, but you require a decent design to get your product to the next phase. There's no investor and your personal funds are not sufficient. What would be your advice and are there any alternatives?

The scenario above pretty accurately describes my scenario.
What would you do?

  1. 3

    I don't think you are exploiting anything, if you like the output you can always compensate the value you get. Especially after Fiverr's cut.

    In short, 1 USD is ~9x my currency and ~$400 is like minimum wage. I take a look at first result on the logo design section, she charges €45 for 3 concepts with source files. Which I'd provide to my clients at 2x rate. It really depends on where you live and how much you need to be able to put food on the table.

    TBF Fiverr is for quick and dirty jobs, when I look at their portfolio I can see many free to use icons turned into logo designs within a day or so. In your case it's possible if you go cheap you may end up with a free to use design packaged and sold you for a fair amount. Basically you get what you pay for.

  2. 2

    I'm a seller on Fiverr and have completed over 175 orders (~85% rated with the average rating being 5). So, here is my perspective about it:

    The point that @Rusted has indicated is valid that most of the sellers on Fiverr are from 3rd-world countries. So, they are happy with the order value mainly because of the currency conversion.

    I, almost always, do custom pricing on projects and do not rely on the prices set on the gigs. This way the order value is exactly what I think it should be. So you should communicate with the seller first and ask them about the cost of your project.

    This till sound very negative, but you should be willing to take fair advantage. I won't go into much detail here because it'll become quite controversial. I'd recommend reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

    Here are some tips for anyone looking to work with a seller on Fiverr:

    1. Make sure that you communicate with the seller BEFORE placing an order.
    2. Since, the order on Fiverr are fixed price, so make sure to tell them EXACTLY what you're looking for and what do you expect the outcome of the order to be.
    3. DO NOT add more requirements on an ongoing order without paying for it. There is an option to increase the value of an ongoing order.
    4. There is an option for revisions. Ask the seller beforehand as to what is included in the revisions.
    5. Always leave honest feedback on the order. Not only will it help new buyers, but also help the seller grow.
  3. 1

    Using Fiverr is not exploitation. Remember that "fair value" varies greatly from country to country, person to person, and even over the course of someone's career. Paying people they price they ask, where you agree on the job to be done, is exactly how the free market is supposed to work.

    Others in this thread have pointed out that many Fiverr sellers work in countries with weak currencies. A great privilege of operating a business in today's globalized economy is that you can outsource to workers in a country with a weaker currency, and everyone can be better off as a result of that deal. (As an aside, this is exactly why the West outsourced most of its manufacturing to East Asia over the past few decades, sharply cutting poverty rates in those countries over the same period.)

    There are other possibilities too. The seller could be temporarily working at low rates to build up a portfolio, or just starting to skill up. (You may have done the same early in your career, e.g. working as an intern at low rates or for free.)

    Another possibility is that the seller has access to powerful tools that makes them super-efficient at mass producing output, allowing them to undercut their competition.

    Reading between the lines of your post, I think you are worried about the situation where the person posting low prices is acting against their own interests in a harmful way. That is, they could be voluntarily working at starvation wages because of some personal problem. While this is always possible, I think it is completely impossible for a buyer to second-guess the psychological well-being of the seller. Except in obvious cases, it is hard to see how this would be the buyer's responsibility, either.

  4. 1

    I kind of think it's exploiting something but maybe not the people, depending on circumstances.

    Ultimately I think if you treat people well and have reasonable expectations for the price you're paying I wouldn't kinda dwell on it.

    The same kind of level of exploitation as say opening factories in other countries to get cheaper labour, but with added complication of the whole ethics of gig economy.

  5. 1

    I know exactly what you mean. I used fiverr few times and felt sad paying them so less. But in developing and poor countries that money helps them a little. Also if you give them good feedback it greatly helps them to get more clients.

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