What Will You Do for $3.88?

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Five dollar bill where Lincoln has mohawk haircut.Fiverr.Com wants to know. They are the hottest ticket on the planet for those who miss good old sweatshops. The concept is this: offer some task or skill for $5—Fiverr calls it a “gig”—and put it up on a website with a million other desperate people. Think it sounds ludicrous? Think again: at last count, over 50,000 souls have put themselves up for sale.

Here are a few examples:

  • “I will do an hour long marketing session on skype for $5”
  • “I will write original lyrics for a short rap on the subject of your choice for $5”
  • “I will write professional ebook for $5”
  • “I will explain the meaning of life and give you the balanced perspective of the universe for $5”

Hey, for that last one, we’ll give you $10, keep the change.

But wait, why $3.88, not $5.00? Well, Fiverr.Com gets a 20 percent cut, and PayPal gets another three percent. So why would anyone work for such a disgraceful wage? First, when your income is $0, $3.88 starts looking good. Second, for many it’s a way to do something useful and enjoyable, and the money isn’t important. Third, its American dollars, and in some parts of the world, it’s enough to buy a day’s worth of food. So it’s not so easy to make fun of Fiverr after all—real people with real needs are signing up in droves.

OK, what’s it got to do with our “Content is King” blog topic? Plenty. There are hundreds of Fiverr freelance writers, including content writers and bloggers, more than willing to write up a storm for $3.88. Countries such as India graduate millions of young, literate people each year, and do not always have enough domestic jobs to keep them all busy. $3.88 converts into about 175 Indian rupees. We don’t know how much that buys, but it probably goes a hell of a way longer than it does in the U.S. Multiply it by the number of gigs you can get in a week, and suddenly your stomach isn’t growling so fiercely.

What’s the quality? Who knows? And frankly, who cares? At $5 a shot, you can afford quite a few duds before hitting paydirt. Will you get a well-written 400-word article for $5? Maybe, it’s certainly worth a try. If it doesn’t work out, there are still very competitive writing sites like Web-Content-Writer.Net to take up the slack.

The larger question is whether this is just a continuation of the trend that began with union busting, job exportation, NAFTA, and all the other little sugarplums that unfettered capitalism has left at America’s door. Frankly, I don’t see any short term solution. In the long term, one hopes that international wages will rise high enough so that Americans can compete successfully on the world stage. I’m afraid that may be several generations away. The flip side is lower wage costs for small companies (hell, for big companies too). That’s got to be good for the economy—assuming there are enough consumers left to fuel the economy.

What’s your perspective? We’d love to hear from you!

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Copyright 2011 Eric Bank, Freelance Writer

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