Matt Forney
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The First Principle of Making Money on Fiverr

Most Americans–natch, most people–have no idea how economics works. I blame schools for spending more time showing little Johnny and Janey how to roll condoms onto bananas with their mouths than actually teaching kids useful skills and information. Politicians promising to hand out more taxpayer- funded gimmedats in exchange for votes aren’t helping the situation either.

The first thing you need to know about hustling is that labor is a commodity, like gold or silver or any other valuable resource. Your wages are the price your employer pays for your labor. And like any other commodity, labor is subject to the laws of supply and demand. When the supply of a commodity exceeds demand, the price falls; when demand exceeds supply, the price rises. The reason why gold is so expensive, for example, is because it is rare; if gold grew on trees, nobody would care about it.

Around the time I was writing this book, I read a news story about a Walmart in Canton, Ohio that was holding a Thanksgiving canned food drive for its own employees. Think about that for a second. Walmart’s workers, at least in Ohio, are paid so little that they can’t afford to feed themselves without governmental or charitable assistance. Conversely, in late 2012, I lived and worked in Williston, North Dakota, the epicenter of the new oil boom. When I was there, the Williston Walmart was so desperate for workers that they had not only raised their pay to $21 an hour, they were paying for their employees’ hotel rooms (there was a severe housing shortage in Williston at the time and many workers were living out of their cars).

The reason why the North Dakota Walmart paid much more than the Ohio Walmart is because of the laws of supply and demand. Unskilled labor is cheap; having worked at a big box store when I was a teenager, I know that any moron with an IQ above room temperature can stock shelves and operate a cash register. Because of the glut of unskilled workers in a place like Ohio, Walmart can get away with paying them minimum wage. Conversely, because labor of any kind is scarce in North Dakota, employers have to keep raising wages in order to lure workers. Even the McDonald’s in Williston paid its workers twelve dollars an hour when I lived there. While outside factors such as minimum wage laws and unionization can help to raise wages, at the end of the day, labor will always be subject to these basic rules.

What does this have to do with Fiverr? Simple: if you perform gigs on Fiverr, you’re the economic equivalent of the workers at the Ohio Walmart. With a handful of exceptions, most of Fiverr’s users specialize in unskilled labor, stuff that requires no special skills or talents. This is why it’s near impossible to make huge amounts of money with the site.

Basically, if you have a skill or talent that requires a certain degree of mastery, Fiverr is the worst place to sell it because you only make four bucks a gig. Even tossing in gig extras (which I’ll get to later), there are far better places on the Internet to make use of your talents than Fiverr. If you’re good at making videos, start a YouTube channel. If you’re an excellent writer, start a blog. If you were a hot 18-year old girl, you wouldn’t whore yourself out for the same price as a lazy-eyed, crack-smoking single mother; why would you sell your skills for next to nothing?

It comes down to this: any gig you create on Fiverr has to be something that you can do in a short amount of time. If any gig requires you to spend more than a half-hour working, you’re doing it wrong. Ideally, you don’t want to spend more than ten to twenty minutes on a single gig. I’ll talk more about this later.

Read Next: The Case Against Female Education