I got my first Fiverr order of 2019 today. A client was having difficulty using the audio/video tool ffmpeg, and contacted me with their problem. Their issue fit my ffmpeg Fiverr gig to the T, and I was excited to work for them.
Fitting the original theme of the website, I submitted an offer to fix their problem for a measly $5. I knew I was undervaluing my work, but this was my first order of my ffmpeg service. From past experience doing voiceover work, the first order is always the hardest. Clients do not know if they can trust a seller without any feedback, and often prefer to go with a seller who does.
Since I started offering my ffmpeg gig, my plan has been to grind many small $5 jobs before increasing my price. I feel the need to build prestige to the point where potential buyers feel obligated to spend higher for my services.
The buyer seemed to be in a rush, but I was clear that I would need my standard 24 hours to complete the job. I’m aware of the project triangle after all. Good, Fast, Cheap– Pick two, but not all three.
The buyer accepted my offer and sent me the additional information I requested. Once I had what I needed from the client, I got to work immediately, even though it was 2:30 in the morning and I was tired.
I found several errors with the client’s ffmpeg command which was causing incompatibility with the social media sites they were attempting to upload the resulting video to. I corrected the errors and removed several redundant options in their incantation.
This process took me two hours, during which I went above and beyond, repeatedly uploading my test video to social media sites to ensure the ffmpeg incantation resulted in a valid file. I compared video
Drained, yet accomplished, I delivered my order, specifically stating that if there is any issue, the client should let me know what went wrong, and I will revise the command. A good night’s rest followed.
I awoke to a message in my inbox from my client. They said my command didn’t work, they fixed the issue themselves, and the wanted me to cancel the order.
The order which was already completed. The order to correct their faulty ffmpeg command of theirs which I fulfilled with flying colours. The order which I spent two hours on.
I politely denied their request, stating that I need to be compensated for my time and expertise. I am waiting for their reply.
This is where perfect hindsight comes in. The buyer’s inital message to me wasn’t a request, it was a link to a question they asked on stackexchange. I will call this red flag #1, knowing what I know now. The client was looking for free work, from helpful folks on stackexchange. They weren’t getting any responses, so they went to Fiverr.
If I were not looking to make money, I could have simply answered the question on superuser and got a, “thanks.” Thanks is weak currency, and I’m not on Fiverr to run a charity. I’m there to run a business and make a buck.
I don’t know if they were planning to get free work out of me from the start, but I find it a little suspicious that they contacted me when there were other ffmpeg gigs on Fiverr. Have they already scammed the other freelancers, and are moving on to new sellers who will take their bait? Are they taking advantage of me knowing I want the 5 star feedback for my new gig? This is all speculation, the world may never know.
Red flag #2 was their sense of urgency. In the future I’m going to remember this, and charge extra for people who seem rushed. Rush jobs for extra money are part of Fiverr culture, and I’m going to leverage that.
I’ve learned some things from this job. I have no regrets, as I felt very proud to have solved a ffmpeg issue. I have taken notes, tweaked my job requirement list, and I know I will be a better freelancer in the future because of this. As for the resolution of this Fiverr fiasco, only time will tell!