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Why Fiverr is a rip off

Jen Jeavons


19th July, 2018

6 min. read

If you’ve hung around long enough on Facebook networking groups, I have no doubt Fiverr.com has been thrown around as an affordable option for logo design, web design and SEO work. To the uneducated this might seem like a great option for getting going on budget. But let me educate you with some real life examples that have happened to us on why you should beware of the swamp that is Fiverr (and single figure design services like it).

I have to be honest – Fiverr drives me crazy. I’m triggered in Facebook groups constantly by people posting their logo options from Fiverr and asking for opinions. 7 times out of 10 the logos are dodgy and the other 3 times they are ripoffs of other things. So rather than rant silently to myself (or my design friends) I thought I’d share some of our own experiences and the reason why this culture of undervalued design and the single figure logo / web design makes me so angry.

Let me start with a real life example that happened to us a few years ago.

We received a Facebook message to our Pixel Palace page.

Of course I immediately clicked the link he’d sent and saw this.

I was floored. This was our website. (Note that this was before the recent redesign so it doesn’t look exactly the same now. But it was a screen shot of our live site at the time.)  Not only was this Fiverr designer claiming that our Coffee Beans Delivered site was his – he was also asserting that he could build someone a fully custom designed ONLINE STORE exactly like this for – you guessed it – $5.

Now this was upsetting for a couple of reasons. The first one was obvious. He was claiming our work as his own and infringing on our copyright. We’d spend months working on the design and build of the Coffee Beans website. It’s our own personal eCommerce project and we’d spent endless hours on the design, build and user experience side of it. And this guy most certainly had nothing to do with it.

But the bigger issue is that he was preying on the uneducated. Claiming that a site as heavily designed and thought through in terms of usability and then with functionality as complex as that site has in terms of eCommerce could be built for anything close to $5 is flat out ridiculous. And while most people are probably aware that it’s likely to be more than the initial $5 it is still setting an unrealistic benchmark for the over all pricing of a custom website.

In today’s society most people are educated to understand the fundamental things that underpin the final cost of stuff like cars, houses and appliances. Sure, all cars have 4 wheels and an engine. But that doesn’t mean a Hyundai and a Tesla are even close to the same thing. A kit home and an architecturally designed dream home are clearly not the same and no one expects them to cost the same. However the general public don’t have the same understanding of how cost affects quality in design and technology that they do around things like appliances, houses and cars.

Here’s a great way of looking at this...

You can have good, cheap or fast. But you can pick only two.

This concept is a great way of illustrating how pricing works in terms of design.

GOOD = requires expertise that is usually derived from many years of experience, education and training. An expert who has invested time and money in their own skills is worth more, in more demand and therefore can and should charge more. Sites like Fiverr are a stomping ground for designers who are often self taught, new to the game or happy to steal an existing design and claim it as their own.

FAST = requires availability to start work immediately and execute quickly. This can be achieved by a good designer by bumping other jobs from their busy schedule and prioritising yours (which will come at a premium cost) or by a lesser designer who is desperate for work, looking to build a portfolio or again, happy to rip off an existing design in order to skip the process of having to think through ideas and iterate concepts. Great designers will also work faster in general. Ability to execute quickly comes with experience.

CHEAP = requires either less time spent or less experience/lower hourly rate. We all know time equals money and design is no different. Great design takes time not just on the actual job – but hard won expertise from training and experience. What’s the quickest way to save time on a design job? You guessed it – rip something else off!

With regards to websites and pricing – this concept is critical. Getting it wrong will cost you in ways you can’t even imagine and so much more than what you appear to have “saved” in the set up.

Next up – Logos!

Ah Fiverr and logos… there have been countless hilarious blog posts on exactly this topic. But here’s a real life example of one I came across in a Facebook networking group I’m on.

A few months back these logos were posted in the group. (I’ve blurred the business name to protect their privacy) The business owner was looking for consensus on which version to go with.

Now my first thought was – “Wow they are really good! Those icons in particular are quality! Great work!” And lots of people on the group were commenting similarly and voting for their favourite.

But after a minute or so my spidey senses were tingling. The icons were a bit TOO good – especially given the presentation of the options. A great logo designer with work of that quality would not send logos in that format.

So I threw the icon in to a Google Reverse Image Search  and sure enough – the icons came up. A few quick clicks and I found the original designer on Instagram – George Bokhua.

Turns out George is a quite well known logo and icon designer. He has lots of followers and quite a high design profile. (Deserved too! His work is fantastic) He’s even done a SkillShare course and video on his technique. 

So what? Why can’t I use the icon? He’s doing tutorials on how to create them so I should be able to use them!

Um no. Firstly his work is subject to copyright. So you can’t just steal it and use it for your own benefit without compensating him. And secondly – you have just made the face of your business something that you can never legally own or trademark. At any moment you could be forced to pull down your website, redo your signage, reprint you business cards and re wrap your car – because you took the cheap fast route and stole someone elses design.

For me, this is a no brainer. I love knowing my logo is unique to me, reflects my business and because it was custom designed it can be trademarked and no one else can copy it or take it away from me.

Cheap logo and web design is a dangerous and false economy.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject of Fiverr. Have you used it? What was your experience? And if you did are you now currently madly reverse image searching in a panic? 😉