Fiverr is a marketplace for freelance entrepreneurs, which as it’s namesake implies, has gigs for as low as five dollars on its site. This low cost is possible through the commodification and global reach of its freelancers, who more often than not come from countries with a drastically lower cost of living. In San Francisco, Fiverr has heavily pushed its branding as the “Freelance Services Marketplace for The Lean Entrepreneur”. Their late-capitalism sounding adverts dot the city’s metro reminding you that the dream is still alive:
Say what you will about the labor concerns of contract labor, I think the globalization of traditionally ‘white collar’ services like programming, graphic design, and media production are giving smart motivated people around the world a chance to compete with their (relatively overpaid) Western counterparts. And compete they do: Fiverr is an Alexa-ranked top 130 most visited website, and there are over 3 million gigs on the site at any time. I’ve used Fiverr multiple times to both serious and comedic ends, and have documented a few of my favorite gigs so far below.
Trigger-Me-Timbers — The Chrome Extension for Trigger Words
As a junior in college I participated in a hackathon with 3 friends. We had the idea to build a Chrome extension that would generate trigger warnings when a given trigger word was found on a web page. We figured it was a simple task— build an applet that stores words, and compares them to every word on a webpage. If there’s a match, hide the word and generate a popup. Easy enough. We were all capable programmers and this seemed like a walk in the park. At the end of our 24 hour Red Bull, Chinese food, and coding binge, we were able to create a drop down text box with some broken buttons. Thats it. Four talented Princeton coders and we could barely figure out how to get an extension to run. It was disheartening.
In 2017, YouTube personality PewDiePie found himself in hot water after by pushing the limits of what people on Fiverr will do. Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg uploaded a video showing two young men dancing and laughing with a banner that read “death to all Jews”. Felix sought to show his 53 million subscribers just how crazy the modern world is by demonstrating that some people on Fiverr would do anything for 5 dollars.
I didn’t want to repeat the distastefulness of Felix’s experiment, but the temptation of using Fiverr’s experts for meme production was too tempting. Especially after you read a bio like this:
I tried to come up with a very esoteric meme idea to see just what I could fish out of our expert. I sent him the request below:
I would like for you to create a My Little Pony meme for a Vietnam Veteran's "Brony" Community.
After some initial concerns and confusion about Ponies(tm) and Vietnam, our expert memeologist was ready to flex his muscles. I was initially concerned that the lack of cultural familiarity would hinder our expert’s humor from reading with a US audience. I think he did pretty well though:
Provisioning and configuring an AWS instance for Data Science
My most ambitious Fiverr gig is one I’ve been working on for the last couple weeks in conjunction with an engineer in the UK. An independent contractor and working dev ops engineer from Italy, Alberto Nugnes, has exceeded my expectations for services on Fiverr. I came to him because I was getting infuriated with my current cloud computing setup. Anytime I wanted additional firepower for a machine learning problem, I had to go through almost an hour of setup to provision myself a server with all my necessary data science packages on AWS. Even tools like DataScienceToolbox or Docker’s Data Science Stacks were insufficient to get me up and running as seamlessly as I desired.
Alberto was able to build me a 2-step pipeline that provisions, configures, and connects me via SFTP to a computing environment much faster than what my laptop can support. Using modern dev ops tools like Terraform, Ansible, and Docker, I am able to get my environment ready in a couple minutes. When you’re trying to process gigabytes of data, you need some serious firepower. Not having to wait for that makes it easy to squeeze in work when you’ve got a few minutes to spare or want to kick something off as you’re nodding off to sleep.
I continue to work with Alberto, and each week we both come back with our individual learnings. He didn’t have experience working with data scientists before, and its my first time diving into the land of dev ops. Its a wonderful domain full of endless possibilities. Alberto’s work cost me more than $5 at this point, but in the end its a bargain for having a perfectly tailored system.
Next time you have an idea for an app, a dank meme, or a serious project, I highly recommend taking a look at Fiverr for some help. Rather than letting your idea collect dust on the back burner, have someone on Fiverr build you a proof of concept. You’ll feel good about the initial progress, and its much easier to invest in a project when there’s something already there. It’s inexpensive and can be really fun to hone your managing skills this way.