Caveat Emptor – 5 Hidden Pitfalls with Fiverr

I’ve been playing with Fiverr for about a year now and felt about time to share my personal experiences with the shortcomings of any micro jobs site. This is not meant as a vote against using them, but a caveat emptor warning if you’re planning to use such suppliers for anything even remotely related to your business.

Copyright and Trademark Infringement Risks

Want a small logo or banner created for you? An icon, image, sign or any other graphics design? Fiverr and its clones seem a no-brainer choice until you get served for infringing other party’s copyright. Stolen or copied logos and designs are the norm among Fiverr sellers, and great feedback means little – most of the times the buyers don’t even know how to check or get too caught on with the proceeding to attempt warning other potential victims of their mishap.

Workaround: use Google Images to search for any prior creation of similar design; better even, avoid dodgy sources altogether.

Negative Impact on Search Engine Rankings

Sure, buying thousands of backlinks for 5USD sounds like a good deal. If we’d still live in ’07. But some cheap xRumer or Scrapebox blasts can actually have a detrimental effect on your rankings by changing your website’s backlinks profile or even triggering a Google Webmasters alert.

Workaround: use a disposable property (free site, disposable domain etc) to test gigs first and stay away from those that are upfront spammy and relying on some sort of automation.

Reputation Blows

Manual commenting on blogs and posting on forums for backlinks are still okay. Except when the poster plasters your links on adult sites, uses broken English or writes some utter drivel as a pretext to leave your URL on some site. Besides the questionable SEO value, the level of embarrassment for only 5USD is amazing in itself.

Workaround: again, use disposable properties. Even better, if you value your online estate and want to protect it, stay the h3ll away from these gigs.

First-page Google Advice

This is one of my favorite categories – people selling you for 5USD what otherwise even the most intellectually-challenged could find out on their own if they punched a few searches in Google. This ranges from basic things like how to search for website footprints to where to get 1,000 open connecters in LinkedIn to beef up your profile.

Workaround: simply put, just Google that very same thing before throwing 5USD at it – you might even learn how to do it properly yourself.

Dodgy Sellers or Getting Ripped Off with Fiverr’s Blessing

If oDesk is popular in Asia for the simple fact that cheap sellers there are lacking access to the most popular electronic payment instruments, Fiverr builds its pool of sellers by giving them unusual protection and free reign to scam buyers under the pretense of “what were you expecting for 5USD” and similar comments. For example, the current workflow (at the time of writing, August 2012), allows a buyer to reject delivery. However, the seller does not have any visible time constraints to re-deliver and make amends. Even better, the seller can mark an order as delivered for a second time, and there is no recourse from there – either leaving feedback (and putting up with it) or complaining to Fiverr Support for your 5USD back. Perfect loss-loss – the seller does not incur any negative feedback, the buyer can hardly complain (“here’s your 5USD back, b1tch!”) and they’re all supposed to go on and live merrily after wasting time and bailing out of what in any respectable marketplace would count as a commercial contract.

Workaround: there is none, this is good for pranks not business.

Just like slots, wasting 5 bucks on Fiverr is supposedly entertaining and has the potential to deliver some value. But true to the comparison, the house takes a hefty 20% off each transaction, boasts about the large number of marketplace users and secures yet another round of undeserved funding for what is technically tax evasion and bottom feeding.