Fiverr.com has long billed itself as the solution to all creative challenges that anyone in need could face. But for many years no one could ever think of Fiver as a threat to their business. When I first heard about Fiver in 2010’ish someone informed me about it as a cute way of getting followers for my Twitter account. When I went on the app, I couldn’t possibly take this thing seriously. The app wasn’t very well organized to begin with and mixed in with shady ads for Twitter handle promoters were others who offered services ranging from people who would call your significant other to break up with them for you, to others who would be your pen pal for 5 dollars. The site was unfocused.
Are Fiverr Voiceover Services A Threat To Standard Rates?
Fast forward a few years and you find a site that has allowed its users to charge more than the initial $5 that the site penned its name from. You have a site that has made a fortune from the great volume of service providers and customers who want to exchange services for bargain basement prices, with Fiver being the middleman who collects a small fee.
But still, for many years, this bothered few in the voiceover community. We’ve all been to Fiver and listened to the talent. The large majority are new talent who undervalue, or perhaps, accurately value their services. I perused the site sometime last year and found 2 voice actors who I would honestly say were talented after reviewing the site for about 2 hours. This has long been the problem with Fiver and many of its services. But globalization is changing that.
Are Fiverr Voice Actors Good?
At the same time that I reviewed “voice talent” on Fiverr, I also searched for people who do flyers. I had been using various graphic designers for years in my business and found them to be unreliable, unresponsive when needed, and honestly too expensive. I had grown frustrated and was reminded about Fiverr. I was seriously reluctant to go back to the site where I remembered there being tarot card readers for $5. But I also remembered the grumblings of creative professionals who cited the website for a decline in their businesses. As a creative professional myself, I was conflicted. But I did it. I went to Fiver and before long I found graphic designers, website designers, Animators, Audio Engineer and Video Editors, and marketers all ready to offer their services. They had great reviews and I clicked on some of their work and it was actually good work. Yes, mixed in with the good and even great stuff was a lot of crap but there was still good work. The website and app that I first remembered had become a disruptive player in the creative services space. So how is it that I could only find 2 talented voice actors in the bunch?
Firstly I must admit my bias toward the situation. I am a voice actor and have been so for 15 years so it’s probably difficult for me to identify cheap talent as being good. But the bigger reason is even more simple. Acting is inherently different from other services. When I needed a talented person to do a flyer, I just needed someone who is talented. They don’t need to be anything special, just especially skilled in flyer design. They need to be able to communicate in English but don’t need to have an American accent. They only need to be able to understand the email and write back to me. When I need a video editor, audio engineer or marketer, they can be in Argentina or Eastern Europe or any other country where the average wage could be just a few dollars a day. It doesn’t require the person to be in or even from Virginia. In these places, the talent or service provider can work for significantly less because the cost of survival is less and the expectation of a higher wage is less also. This displaces a lot of people in places like the US where a flyer design for $55 dollars isn’t just what the talent wants in order to help make a Mercedes payment, but instead in order to pay Comcast to keep the internet service going.
Still, voiceover is a different animal altogether. When you search for voiceover on Fiverr, you are not searching the world over for someone who can do the work for a price that will satisfy their needs. You are specifically searching for a talent in a specific country with an accent that represents that nation. With that in mind, the search is much more limited. It’s niche. No longer is the customer looking for just anyone who can do the work.
How Do Voice Actors Survive On Fiverr Rates?
So the search is specific for this country. Yet Fiverr still creates, supports and encourages a marketplace for this niche where the American talent is paid rates comparable that of rates in third world countries. A person in Lithuania will be satisfied with 5, 10 or even 30 dollars for a voiceover but most likely with not be able to pull of a Midwestern US accent. Still there are US based talent who will do these jobs. I questioned why and was given one answer that could satisfy the question. There are US based talent who are making REALLY GOOD MONEY on Fiverr through volume and upselling. After speaking to a colleague with some insight into this, I was told that some top Fiver talent are making upwards of $10,000 a month. I couldn’t imagine what kind of volume it would take to make that kind of money but apparently, it’s happening.
The second answer to this is what most professionals already suspect which is that newcomers to our industry look to Fiverr, sometimes at the encouragement of career coaches, as a way to make money in the industry. Imagine never having done any voiceover and someone tells you that there is an easy and free global marketplace for you to sell something that you already have, where there is no overhead. That’s what Fiverr is. It’s the easy way in the door. And for many newcomers to the business who are unaware of what they should be paid and may look at voiceover as a hobby or spare change, Fiver seems like the answer to their dreams.
And for some it may be. Alice Everdeen quit her job and is making 102k per year on the platform. That’s more than a lot of voice actors earn. She had no experience in the field, just a nice voice, and was doing Fiverr voiceover as a side hustle. In a short time, she was voiceing 41 projects a month. “Wow” you may say. But Alice is the exception, not the rule
But sites like Fiverr are yet another nightmare for voiceover industry pros. It continues to drive down rates, introducing non-professionals into a professional field where clients conflate price with quality. It’s another aggressive assault on a creative industry. And for voice actors, it is especially insulting.
I wrote this blog in 2018 and never released it. I wanted to revisit this idea and thought it would be interesting to review my thoughts. Watch the video for my updated thoughts.