One assignment for the Orbital NYC Boot Camp for which I already have previous experience is hiring someone from a labor marketplace such as ODesk and Elance to do $50 worth of work on my project. My go-to source for finding affordable freelancers for simple tasks has been Fiverr. For the most part, my experience with Fiverr has been great.
Although sometimes guilt-inducing.
My ecourse is based on a novel that is presently out-of-print. Now that my rights have reverted back to me, I have to republish it so that it’s readily available. There’s no just removing the binding (i.e. blow drying the spine until the glue melts so that the pages come apart easily and neatly), scanning the pages and compiling a PDF. It’s starting from scratch, including designing a new cover.
That means the novel has to be retyped, and if that has to wait until I can do it myself, it ain’t getting done. My time is better spent doing those things that only I can do and which can generate an income. This includes finishing that second YA novel in my two-book deal.
Instead I found a lovely young women named Madeleine on Fiverr who is retyping the manuscript for me. I send her PDFs of two to three chapters which is about 30-40 pages. I pay her $15-20 per batch, and she usually turns it around in a day or two. She’s been great and so long as she remains available, I plan on hiring her to retype all three of my out-of-print Black Artemis novels. We’ve calculated that would be almost 1,000 pages. At her rate, this means I’ll have three full-length novels retyped for less than $500.
If I had gone to a traditional transcription service, I’d probably pay that much for just one manuscript. I feel like I’m exploiting Madeleine even if she freely sought opportunities to do this work at this rate.
In comparison, when I’ve had the resources, I’ve also used a virtual assistance company where clients pay upfront for a certain number of hours per work like depositing savings in a bank account. The more you pay up front, the less you pay per hour.
(I use them mostly for audio transcriptions for another labor of love called The Feminist Love Project I initially used Fiverr for this, and that experience taught me the fundamental difference between paying a traditional service provider over using freelancers found in a labor marketplace. As you can imagine, the quality of the output could be an issue at times since freelancers often didn’t have the skills or equipment that businesses did, but for me it wasn’t the main issue since I wasn’t demanding complicated tasks.
Reliability was more of the challenge. A place like Fiverr is not the one to go to if you’re in a time crunch. One, you can’t assume the person who has his shingle up will actually respond to your query. I can’t even tell you why that is — there are surely 101 reasons. For the overwhelming majority of these folks, this is a way to make extra money. They have other things on their plate, and given how much work they’re offering for so little – it’s called Fiverr for a reason – they probably burn out often and need to take frequent breaks.
Two, because their prices are so low, freelancers often want to tweak templates and keep it moving. This is particularly true for design work from logos to landing pages. I once reached out to a freelancer on Fiverr asking how much he would charge to create a logo for me that was a parody of another logo. I knew precisely what I wanted, had the other visual elements he would need and requested a quote i.e. I was willing to pay more than his Fiverr rates. If he was as skilled as his copy boasted, he could’ve whipped out what I was asking for and made some easy money. Dude never replied.
Now it could’ve been some thing else entirely, but when I looked back through his samples, I saw how generic they were. I suspected that he had invested in some kind of software and wasn’t interested in (or capable of doing) work that required him to use any elements outside of his current toolbox. In fact, he wanted to design the logo based on a the minimal input from clients. Now maybe it was a matter of creative fulfillment or artistic pride, and I’m not mad at that, but he still could’ve just answered though if like this:
Three, when dealing with a freelancer from a labor marketplace, you do run the greater risk of unforeseen obstacles. Folks have computers that die, finals that call, and vacations that beckon. Again, ain’t mad at them ‘cause I’m not in a hurry. If I were, however, I’d take my task to CVA because the higher price I’m paying means that my job is going to be delegated to someone who has the time, equipment and focus to do it well and fast.
But I still use Fiverr for those tasks that can be fulfilled within its various constraints. It sparks an internal struggle though ‘cause, on the one hand, I sure as hell wouldn’t work for these rates (the ads on Odesk seeking writers pisses me off to no end. Go look. I don’t wanna here about it but look.) On the other hand, yo no soy hija de Rockefeller. Not by a long shot, and being a freelancer myself, paying someone pocket money for a simple administrative task isn’t like a major conglomerate seeking an unemployed intern.
Or is it?