How do you get some decent graphic design work done for a modest amount of money? One option is Fiverr. This is a website that acts as a means of bringing buyers and sellers together. In case you haven’t come across it, I’ll describe what it is and how it works, and then suggest a couple of ways it might be used in schools.
As a self-published author, I registered with Fiverr in order to explore the possibility of having a book cover designed without spending the earth. I’ve seen prices ranging from around $50 for an off-the-shelf design — meaning that you get an attractive-looking template that you fill in with your name and the book’s title. In some cases the cover will be unique to you, and in other cases someone else could buy exactly the same design. Either way, you won’t have bought a bespoke service.
At the higher end, prices seem to be around $300 for a tailor-made service. The trouble is, though, if you have only just published your first book on Amazon, forking out a few hundred bucks represents a huge leap of faith and a large hole in finances!
Enter Fiverr, so called because prices start from $5.
The services on offer are not restricted to graphic design, but include things like producing jingles and short videos. There are lots of other services available too, including translation services, article writing and website building.
After registering with Fiverr, I put out a request in which I described what I was looking for. Within an hour or so I’d had 22 responses. When someone responds, you can read other people’s reviews of their work, and look at their portfolio. Once you’ve found someone whose work you like, you place your order.
Now, I ought to say that, as of writing this article, I haven’t actually bought a service on Fiverr yet, because I haven’t found a designer who looks right for my requirements. I guess I will either have to fine tune my request, or search through the sellers ‘manually’. However, I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far, because I can see it being used in two ways from a teacher’s perspective.
First, if you need some work done quickly, and of a reasonable (and possibly excellent) quality, Fiverr seems to me like a good place to start. When I was a teacher I’d either design my own posters and manual covers, plead with the art teacher to help me out, or run a competition for kids to design something. But those approaches aren’t always possible in the timescale available, in which case spending a few dollars to outsource the work might be a good idea.
There are also some things that could prove more challenging. For example, if you wanted to have a professional-sounding jingle for your podcast, if you’re anything like me it would take you ages getting it right. Personally I’d prefer to save time and keep my blood pressure at a reasonable level.
So what sort of people would sell on Fiverr for such low rates? Well, that brings me onto the second way I can see Fiverr being a useful thing for teachers to know about. While there are seasoned professionals on Fiverr, it seems to be home to many people just starting out.
In my time as a teacher I came across many talented pupils who had no easy way to cash in on their skills. There was a 14 year old boy who was so talented at drawing cartoons that teachers ‘employed’ him to create posters, book covers and other work. Almost every time you turned a corner, there would be something of his on the wall. In fact, I even searched for him on the web a couple of years ago to see if I could hire him to do some work for me, but was unable to find him. I taught him 27 years ago, when there was no worldwide web where he could set up shop.
Then there was the 13 year old girl I taught who had her own website. She was so good that when a teacher came to me for help in setting up his website, I introduced him to her. That was 20 years ago, when it was possible to set up your own website from which to sell your services, but much less easily than is possible now.
And around 10 years ago I came across a 16 year old girl who was selling her own brand of scarves on the internet, from her own website.
It seems to me that each of these kids could have set up a small business using a service like Fiverr, without a lot of the hassle of going it alone on your own website. My understanding is that there are age restrictions for acting as a seller on Fiverr. I am also not familiar with any other legal restrictions that may apply in particular parts of the world when it comes to pupils running their own business.
All of which amounts to a disclaimer: I’m not advising that you tell your students to start selling on Fiverr, or anything else. However, it strikes me that it would be worth drawing Fiverr to their attention, especially if they are about to leave school with no job or further education to go on to. After all, if they have skills and have no job to go to, Fiverr could be a good option.
You may balk at the idea of suggesting to youngsters that they work for just five dollars. However, that seems to be a sort of entry price. What all the sellers I've looked at do is to offer premium services that cost a lot more.
I imagine too that if someone did a good job of, say, creating a book trailer video, a company might well take them on as an employee or on a contract basis if they had a lot of jobs in the pipeline.
It's certainly a service I would have considered using when I was trying to get articles published in magazines back in the late 1980s. I'd have done a few gigs on Fiverr, not so much for the money, but in order to get five star reviews, and articles published in in-house magazines and websites, that I could show to magazine editors.
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