- Emilina Lomas quit her 9-5 consulting job and became a freelance fitness writer on Fiverr.
- At her peak, she was making $10,000 a month and says working with clients outside of the platform was crucial.
- Lomas shares how to make your profile stand out, impress clients, and rise to the top 1% of earners.
When I was 23, I took a risk to follow my passion for health and fitness and make my own hours. I quit my consulting job at one of the Big Four firms in November 2018 and went back to school for my masters degree.
It was during this time while I was working as an online fitness trainer that I joined Fiverr. I had already dabbled in fitness writing, so I figured I could sell workout plans on the platform for supplemental income.
I started on Fiverr in February 2018 and didn’t make my first sale until three months later in May. I brought in $116 that month.
After a year and a half, I got the hang of freelancing, and by strategizing a bit, I brought in $10,000 a month at my peak.
Since I started, I’ve made $48,798.29 in earnings to date through the platform alone. It’s not the easiest way to make money as a freelancer, but it did help me get my start. I’m still in Fiverr’s top 1% of earners as a niche health and fitness writer.
Here’s the truth about Fiverr: the good, the bad, and the time-wasting
Fiverr is basically an online marketplace for freelance services. According to a 2019 report by Priceonomics, 96.3% of sellers on Fiverr make less than $500 or less per month, with 70% making less than $100. It’s estimated that only 1% of sellers are earning $2,000 or more per month.
Of the $10,000 I was bringing in a month, only about half of that came from Fiverr gigs; the rest came from deals with clients that I had originally met on Fiverr and subsequently worked with outside of the platform.
This was crucial to making money from freelancing, as Fiverr takes 20% of your earnings per gig. I ended up working directly with about 90% of my clients that I had met on Fiverr, usually after completing 3-4 projects for them through the platform.
Based on my own experience, here are some of the most effective tips to be successful on Fiverr.
1. Be specific, but not restrictive
When advertising your service, be specific enough to draw in a customer, but don’t be so specific that your skills can’t be transferable.
There are thousands of writers on Fiverr. Many advertise their gig as blog posts, article writing, or content creation. While this is logical, it also fails to differentiate you. When you’re new to Fiverr, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of other writers.
Differentiate your skill set by being more specific. For example: mental health blog posts, long-form fitness articles, medical writing, etc. Use more specific key terms to help with your SEO.
A prospective buyer may be looking to have a blog post written about pharmaceutical treatments — if they see that you’re a medical writer, it’s clear that your skills are transferable. But if your specialty is too specific, you may put potential buyers off.
Takeaway: Differentiate yourself by being niche enough. Even if you’re new and open to writing anything, choose keywords related to your experiences and interests. It’s the difference between advertising yourself as a writer vs. medical writer vs. medical copywriter. The aim is to find the middle ground to make your gig relevant, specific, and transferable.
2. Say yes to pretty much everything
In the early days of Fiverr, my goal was twofold: get orders and get reviews. It’s essential to stay open to different types of services, even if you may have never done them before.
When I first started on Fiverr, I was solely selling meal and workout plans. One day, I was asked to write a blog post about an exercise concept I had included in my workout plan, so I said yes and added this as a service. After a few months, it was clear that health and fitness writing was a niche I could fill on Fiverr.
Now, I do everything from packaging copy for skincare brands and medical equipment, to ghostwriting ebooks about marketing for gyms — because I always said yes.
To be clear, I didn’t say yes and then cross my fingers that my deliverable would turn out okay. I said yes and then extensively researched the topic and writing style to ensure I was delivering high-quality copy.
Takeaway: If you’re desperate for customers like I was, you’ll say yes to pretty much anything. You won’t have reviews or legitimacy on Fiverr at first, so you won’t have the luxury of being picky. I’ve worked on hundreds of projects I hated, but they helped me get reviews and money, so it was ultimately worth it.
3. Include a high-quality video
According to Fiverr, videos can increase user engagement by 40%. Including a high-quality video in your profile that explains who you are, what your expertise is, and your past experience and background can be a great way to show your personality to potential customers. They’ll feel more connected to you and it’s an easy way to differentiate yourself from other writers.
Try to make the video as high-quality as you can. That doesn’t mean you have to hire a videographer and editor, but it does mean you should consider the points below:
- The video isn’t blurry
- The sound quality is clear
- The lighting is crisp — daylight is preferred
- The background is plain and/or relevant
It’s all about smiling, looking put-together, and making eye contact with the camera. Imagine how you would act and look in a job interview, and replicate that.
Takeaway: Use the resources available to you to show prospective customers that you are a true professional. For a little amount of effort, a video can bring about big rewards.
4. You need some kind of credentials 99% of the time
There are, without a doubt, many successful freelancers on Fiverr without credentials or relevant educational backgrounds. But having these things do help.
I’m a registered nutritionist and personal trainer with two degrees, have work experience as a consultant at a Big 4 accounting firm, and have a solid social media following. This legitimized me as a freelancer and helped me differentiate myself from the crowd.
Takeaway: Be realistic. If you’re attempting to do medical writing, you need to have studied science, medicine, health, or a related topic before you attempt to write a 3,000 word analysis on diabetic treatments. But if you’re offering fashion blog posts, get some certifications in SEO, content creation, and social media — it can significantly help legitimize your services.
5. Be patient
As mentioned earlier, 65% of my earnings on Fiverr came in 2020. When I first joined Fiverr I was charging a low rate for my services and only started increasing my prices this year (once I had enough reviews).
Even if you’ve worked as a writer for 10 years, you can’t expect to join the platform and charge your usual rate — you don’t have any reviews and haven’t built up your credibility yet. But be patient. If you’re consistently working and stacking up your reviews, you’ll notice a big jump in your earnings.
Takeaway: You seriously have to play the long game. Be prepared.
6. Put in the work before you expect a big payout
Start by charging a low rate. Once you get around 30 reviews and are promoted to level one, you can increase your prices.
As I got more reviews and customers, I raised my prices accordingly. When I first started, my rate was $25 for 500 words. After 2 months, I raised it to $50, after 4 months I raised it to $75, and by the end of 2019 I was charging $125.
Takeaway: It’s a good idea to start Fiverr as a side hustle alongside your regular job, as you’re unlikely to make enough money to support yourself in the beginning.
7. Be professional
On Fiverr, I’ve encountered CEOs of publicly listed companies, professional athletes, celebrities, global heads of marketing, among others. These people are used to dealing with highly professional people, so you should take care to rise to their level:
- Always use correct grammar, punctuation, capitalization, etc.
- Reply to messages in a timely manner
- Never miss a deadline
- Underpromise and overdeliver — quote a four-day turnaround and deliver in two
- Offer to discuss a project on the phone
- Do not add colloquialisms — the client is not your friend
- Ensure the client is happy with the final delivery
- If a client isn’t happy and is likely going to give you a bad review, cancel the order — you lose money but you also avoid the knock-on impact of a bad review
- Respect yourself — if a client is rude and disrespectful from the jump, I don’t work with them. They’re likely going to leave a bad review and impact my ability to get work from other customers.
Takeaway: Show your prospective customer you are offering a professional service from the first conversation all the way through to the deliverable.
8. Be attentive
When you’re new to the platform, it’s important to show that you’re online often and can respond to messages quickly.
I recommend downloading the Fiverr app so that it’s easily accessible on your phone (this is key, especially if you’re a student or have a full-time job) and try to open it about every 30 minutes. It may seem excessive, but it was one of the easiest ways to connect with new clients because they always saw that my little green availability light was flashing.
Reply to messages as soon as possible; if you have the app, this is easy because you’ll get a notification. Even if you immediately reply with “Hi” before taking the time to reply to the rest of the message, this will show the algorithm and your potential customer that you’re on the ball.
Takeaway: When buyers go on Fiverr, they want someone to do the job then and there. If you take more than an hour to reply, I can guarantee they will have already found someone else.
9. Sell a PDF
In addition to regular services, I recommend selling a PDF on your profile — have one locked and loaded, so it’s ready immediately when someone buys it. For example, I offered a PDF of a weight loss workout plan. Other examples could be “10 Tips on Web Design,” a meal plan, or an ebook. I’ve seen a lot of people on Fiverr do this, and they usually charge around $5.
Offering this as a cheap service is a good way to get your reviews up and it improves your delivery time because you deliver it instantaneously — which benefits the algorithm and can help you earn money from work you’ve already done.
Takeaway: If you have work you’ve already done that can be resold, why not offer it and see if there’s any interest? You don’t lose anything by doing so.
There are downsides to Fiverr
- Fiverr takes 20% of your earnings
- It’s highly competitive
- A buyer can cancel and receive a refund after receiving the work
- Once an order is completed, the money takes 14 days to be cleared and made available to the seller unless they pay $39 a month for Fiverr Pro
Despite having 234 five-star reviews, I’ve had a few less than four stars. One customer rated me three stars because I wrote in UK English (I’m from the UK). This is considered a low rating, as most successful sellers only have five-star reviews. Even just a few low reviews skew your overall rating, which can cause you to move down in Fiverr’s level system.
If you’re at a low level, it becomes difficult to make any money. When a prospective buyer clicks on your profile, your most recent review is what pops up first. Seeing a poor review isn’t enticing for a buyer.
I reached out to the buyer to explain I’m from the UK (hence my spelling of “colour”) hoping he would offer to change his review. Instead, Fiverr gave me a feedback manipulation warning. I was demoted soon after that for not reaching the requirements to maintain my current level.
You can be demoted if you get a bad review, even if it’s baseless, or if you have a less than 90% response rate — and you’re wading though hundreds of spam messages a day.
At the end of the day, I do recommend Fiverr as a side hustle
There’s no downside to trying — it builds your online presence and introduces you to clients from around the world. This can open the door for you as a freelancer.
But it’s not suitable for people who have higher income needs and are using it as their sole source of income. While making a lot of money on Fiverr might be possible further down the line, it’s rare. Many freelancers don’t want to accept cheap jobs (which is necessary for building good reviews), or they give up before they get their first job, assuming it’s going to be a quick process.
Fiverr is a great option for people who are building a side hustle and already have a full-time job, don’t need to rely on the income (like students who live at home with parents), or can accept cheap work and are willing to put in the time without getting much back.
If you’re patient, open to trying new things, and willing to put in the work — you can find success on Fiverr. It’s definitely supplemented my income, given me solid writing experience, and helped me establish a global network of clients. Overall, it’s been a successful business decision for me.
Editor’s note: Trisha Diamond, Senior Director of Customer Success at Fiverr, provided this statement: “Our Terms and Conditions clearly state ‘Orders are not eligible to be canceled based on the quality of service/materials delivered by the Seller if the service was rendered as described in the Gig Page.’ Our customer support team evaluates each inquiry individually and is responsive to each of our freelancers. That language is found here.”
Emilina Lomas is a freelance health and fitness copywriter. She is also a nutritionist and exercise scientist with a passion for storytelling.