Fiverr & Upwork: The Pitfalls of Using A Crowdsource Design Service

 In Client Advice, Print Design

We get it. You know you need a professional graphic designer but you don’t have the budget for a high-powered design agency. It makes sense. You also need to find a designer that gets YOUR business. What better place to look than crowdsource design places like Fiverr and Upwork? Crowdsource design communities like Fiverr and Upwork seemed to have sprouted up and grown popular overnight – and at first glance, they seem like a good deal.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH FIVERR?

Fiverr operates offering services called “Gigs” starting at $5. Great deal, right? Well, they offer sellers (designers) on Fiverr to set their minimum (their starting at price) to be whatever they want. It allows them to earn what they are worth and not be undersold. Still not terrible, right? Well, what if I told you that some of the sellers on Fiverr are using logo concepts created by stock artists claiming the work to be original? Or worse, some sellers on Fiverr were blatantly ripping off other designers claiming the work as their own?

I find it really hard to believe that for $5 that someone – anyone – will create me the perfect logo. Call me skeptical. Call me picky. Or, call me experienced. I realize that some of the folks on Fiverr are really just trying to build a portfolio and put food on the table. However, not everyone on Fiverr, or Upwork for that matter, are on the up-and-up.

For instance…

Fiverr & Upworks - Seemed like a great deal at the time

This person did not create the logo they feature above.

 

Fiverr & Upwork - seemed like a good idea at the time

The image of the artist alone should be a giveaway here, but these logos are found on freepik.com, myfreephotoshop.com and pngtree.com.

The point is: be wary of Fiverr. It is possible to find a designer on there that is truly there to create original work for $5. But be careful. A good rule of thumb is to do your homework before you hire anyone to do design work for you or your brand. Only hire those whose work fits with your brand and that is original. If it looks like it could be a scam or if someone is clearly passing off another person’s work as their own, don’t do business with them and report them to Fiverr’s support.

Is Fiverr completely awful? No, but, you’re not likely to get the type of quality you may be looking for. Typically, people are on Fiverr to get design jobs that will help increase their portfolio or to help feed their freelance business. The type of folks who use Fiverr are typically those who aren’t going to pay a lot (or maybe even what you’re worth) for their design. Good relationships between client and designer can begin on Fiverr and grow into a lasting business opportunity. But, that is the exception, not the rule.

WHAT ABOUT UPWORK?

Upwork, in my experiences, I’ve found to be a bit more on the up-and-up. Their vetting process for new accounts can take days – mine took close to a week. Do I use Upwork? No. I did, however, want to try it out, see what was involved with creating an account – AND how much of a cut Upwork takes of your earnings. Upwork suffers from the same trouble that Fiverr does (only on a lesser scale): fake accounts and/or people plagiarizing work that isn’t their own. A good review of Upwork, including pros and cons, can be found here.

The biggest issue for me tends to be that unqualified (or people blatantly plagiarizing work) are spamming quality jobs. And because of that, talented freelancers are leaving the crowdsource design sites. For designers, Upwork takes 10% of your earnings per job. That’s pretty high. As a client, that 10% increase could be added to whatever you pay your designer on Upwork. So, in essence, you’re paying 10% more by going to Upwork for your design.

Additionally, expecting that you’ll get a “mix of experience and value” for $100 is completely unrealistic, as you can see from a recent listing on Upwork.

Upwork Job Detail - Crowdsource Design Pitfalls Upwork and Fiverr

Expecting that freelancers with both experience and quality design skills are going to take you up on your job post for $100 is, honestly, offensive. Much the same way that you wouldn’t patronize a business saying “Well, I’m looking for something that’s a mix of quality and value” and then offer an amount much less than what “quality and value” really costs.

What’s my point? Well, you get what you pay for – if you offer peanuts, you’ll get.. well.. design that is worth peanuts. And, there are people who will work for peanuts – but, is that the message you want to be sending? “I don’t care enough about my design, so I’m going to go with the lowest bidder.” Think about it. Here’s another example:

Upwork Job Post - Crowdsource Design Pitfalls of Upwork and Fiverr

$5 for editing 10 photos by removing a background and enhancing the image – yet, they want someone who will edit 10 photos (which works out to be 50¢ each.  After Upwork gets their 10%, the designer is left with $4.50 which might buy a couple of gallons of gasoline for your car. What’s worse about this ad is that they are looking for an “intermediate designer” as well.

My point in all this: Low paying jobs on crowdsource design platforms are driving the talented and experienced freelancers away from Upwork. What’s left may or may not be the quality, value or experience you’re looking for.

HOW DO I GET MY DESIGN WORK DONE THEN?

If you have no good recommendations for great designers, crowdsource design platforms can be a great solution. And, honestly, even with a recommendation for any designer, you need to do your homework. What’s the designer’s style? Is their design style close to your brand? Do they have a reputation online (IE testimonials or reviews)? I’d expect any new clients that contacted me to do that and there’s nothing that says you can’t.

If you have to use Fiverr or Upwork, just be savvy and do your homework. Don’t offer a budget on something that is way below what the project is worth and offensive to the skill and expertise of the type of designer you want. Make sure that the work that a designer claims is theirs truly is. If their work is, in fact, original, make sure it wasn’t just slapped together from some previously downloaded assets. Be upfront with your designer, whether on Upwork, Fiverr or an agency. Treat them with the respect that you would expect them to give you and you’ll likely get much more in return.

Have you used Fiverr or Upwork before? What are your experiences with either or both platforms?

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