I accidentally became a seller on Fiverr.com but I hope your journey is far more deliberate. After ten years in personal and corporate banking as a fee-only financial planner (one of the good guys) I discovered my passion for online marketing. You could say I “leaned out” of the corporate banking world where I was poised to make big money and do powerful things. But, in my feminist defense, when you are “leaning in” against a brick wall of male-dominated sexism everyday it feels like the definition of insanity. I could have walked down a million different paths to change my circumstances, but one thing continued to resonate inside of me: I wanted independence.

How was I going to get it? Was a large salary truly everything I should be working toward? Was my time more valuable than money? Was there a new definition of “work” that I was blithely unaware of?

Yes, and I was determined to make a lifestyle change before someone handed me a gold watch. So a year ahead of my corporate departure I put my ducks in a row and decided to start planning for Operation: Tracy Happy. I was in my early thirties, I had a business degree, ten years of extensive financial knowledge, and a Master’s degree in Communication – but what did all of that add up to? As it turns out, everything I had wished for.

Enter Fiverr.com

Sellers arrive on Fiverr.com for a million reasons. You may be a SAHM, recently laid off, or looking for some cash flow on the side of your full time job. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, Fiverr.com welcomes you! As of today, I have been a member of the Fiverr.com community for a little over a year. Of that year, I have been selling on Fiverr.com for eight months. Within three months of becoming a seller I was able to achieve a consistent, full-time salary while working anytime, anywhere, from a beach. This is how I did it.

I was a Fiverr.com buyer before I was a seller. I heard about Fiverr.com from a Bloomberg TV segment and surfed right over to the site. What could I possibly get for $5? As it happens, a lot. Many people let the $5 price tag fool them, both buyers and sellers, DON’T! After I quit my job and began designing my new online persona, I relied on many sellers from Fiverr to breathe life into my website and branding. From blog content to videos, I dove into Fiverr as a buyer and by doing so learned the ropes. I had good experiences and bad, but I gained an education.

It didn’t take long for me to understand how powerful Fiverr’s business model truly was. There are what I call “volume sellers” and “premium sellers.” The first type aims for high volume, cheap gigs with a fast turnaround. The second type strips expensive services down to the bone and then upsells far beyond $5. I was getting work done and it was quick, easy, and far higher quality than I could have done myself. Rarely was I paying $5 per gig, instead my average gig purchase was probably $35-$65. I learned quickly that you paid for what you received so if I wanted a quality output, I had to pony up some cash and find premium sellers. Eventually I saw which sellers to hire and which to avoid. This was a key fact when I decided to put out three gigs of my own – I mimicked what I would have purchased.

I took Fiverr.com seriously. My company brand and website launched January 1st 2014 and my entire business plan ground to a halt. I had a beautiful brand but needed traffic and a direction, how was I going to get it? I couldn’t keep spending money building something, I had to produce an income. This is when the thought occurred to me to sell something on Fiverr.com of my own and offset my costs as a buyer. Boom went the dynamite!

I was an online marketer who knew a lot about finance, why not carve out my own niche on Fiverr.com? That was exactly what I did. I launched two promotional blogging gigs and one financial content writing gig. I completed 50 gigs in the first ten days which solidified my place as a Level One Seller in 30 days and a Level Two Seller in 60 days. During my first month selling I completed 200 gigs! I was so excited I didn’t even realize how many smart things I was doing because it was just plain awesome. So upon hindsight, here are my tips:

  • Be 100% authentic when you set up gigs. Include clear, high-quality photos of yourself and your work environment. Nothing fake! Record a quick, clearly stated video of what you provide for every gig you put out. Strive for good lighting and a nice background, but the overall goal is to be real. Fiverr.com shares the statistic that gigs with videos sell 220% more than the competition, I could not agree more. People want to know who is on the other side of a sale, and they do not expect that person to be a supermodel. If you have 1200 characters of description, fill it. If there are three photo boxes available, upload them. If you have one minute of video space, record it!
  • Do not squander your first 30 days as a Green Horn Seller, use them to your advantage. The only option you have in the first 30 days is to sell $5 gigs so your goal should be to undercut your competition, over deliver on quality, and gain positive feedback for your gigs. So for example, I checked out the writing and translation category and discovered most sellers were offering 300 words for $5 so I offered 500 words for $5 in my first 30-days. I was swamped but I put in the time and gained the credibility. Months two, three, and beyond will get better as you raise prices and complete fewer gigs for more money.
  • I stopped trying to predict the market and listened to it. As an entrepreneur I had done my market research, built a business plan, and set out on the path I was convinced would work – which then stalled. When Fiverr.com started producing a substantial income I knew I had to cut my losses and pivot. So all of the “great” ideas and projects I had once been fostering got left in the dust. I forced myself to label those expenses as sunk costs and moved on. I focused all of my attention on Fiverr.com and began listening to what customers wanted. I immersed myself in the Fiverr.com culture by reading books, blogs, and participating in social media conversations. Through this process, new gigs were created and more streams of income deposited into my bank account.
  • I have a strategy and I set goals. Before tossing my first gig into the economy, I read Fiverr’s Terms of Service thoroughly until I understood exactly what the site offered sellers. This allowed me to play by the rules, plan ahead, and increase my prices accordingly. I knew the exact day I would be upgraded to a Level One and a Level Two selling status and was poised to make my gigs more valuable immediately upon promotion. I began cross-selling gigs and exploring again what the competition was doing. Those 500 words I once sold for $5 were downsized to 100 words for $5 with a full blog post priced at $25. “I will do _ for $5”™ is a fun hook, but the real money is made in the upsell. I consider myself to be a premium seller on Fiverr but I also have volume gigs. A smart mix will make your workload manageable.
  • I know my worth. Women especially struggle with this concept when selling or being in business, but by saying “no” to buyers that are demanding, want discounts, and are generally a pain in the butt is one of the smartest Fiverr.com moves a seller can make. I hear other Fiverr sellers claiming they will go above and beyond for each and every buyer regardless of the ridiculous demands they make – I will not. By setting this type of standard, 99% of my customers are professional and a pleasure to work with.
  • I keep track of my progress. I continuously analyze my selling performance. For Fiverr’s part they do a great job of producing analytics that sellers can utilize, so utilize them! I personally keep a spreadsheet of each month’s closing revenue and create a simple line graph out of that data. When I begin to plateau, I know it’s time to evaluate my current position and opportunities for growth. To date, my average gig price is many times higher than $5 and I complete an average of four gigs per day. I take days off and I do not work full time hours. Operation: Tracy Happy, complete!

The most tenured sellers on Fiverr.com have been around for about four years, so in the scheme of things I am still fairly new to the community. That being said, my business potential is still evolving and that is exciting. Today you can find me wearing yoga pants in front of my laptop and spending time with my kids at the park. No longer does the sun dim as I approach an office building, instead, I wake up feeling empowered and successful. I cannot emphasize enough how lucrative $5 can be, especially when the only thing it costs to enter the gig economy is an idea and a smile.

Tracy writes about minimalist living, micro-freelancing, and personal finance. She lives in the Midwest with her football coach husband and three little kiddos.