So, if you’re like me, you’ve probably heard all about Fiverr, and maybe you’ve used it for a few things with modest results.
Back in April, I spent $100 creating an animation I wasn’t all that thrilled with.
So in October, I did it again again, but with a $500 budget, and got a video that I liked.
I know I can get a little verbose at times, so if you want the backstory behind this project, click on the explanation tab, otherwise, jump straight to the final videos.
I’ve probably used Fiverr a total of 10 times, and mostly for $10-20 projects (quick graphics, product badges, etc).
So to be clear, I’m definitely no expert, but I wanna share my experience in case it resonates with you, or makes things easier for you the next time you’re hiring out a freelancer.
But about a year ago I got this idea for an animated video that describes Monkeypod using a park ranger analogy, and after a few months of procrastinating, I finally decided to do something about it.
I wrote out a script, storyboarded my vision, and recorded the audio.
Feeling pretty good about myself I hopped in Fiverr and started looking at animation options (there are lots of them), and I quickly realized that you can spend as much as you’d like on custom animation projects.
I wasn’t sure where to start, so I picked a number that I’d be comfortable with in case things didn’t turn out as I hoped.
That number was $100.
I found an animator who fit my budget (it was more like $125), and described the project, my vision, and gave her the audio file I’d already prepared with text prompts for what I envisioned in each “scene”.
That’s when things went south.
Days turned into weeks while I waited, and when I finally did see the first “version” my heart sank.
It was nothing like my vision.
I worked with the animator for well over a month giving detailed notes of the changes I wanted, but after a handful of iterations and minimal progress; I decided it was better to just pull the plug rather than waste any more of her or my time.
The Park Ranger project went back on the shelf.
(I am certain that some of this first disappointing experience was due to my own misaligned expectations – I had no idea what was or wasn’t possible for a $100 video.)
Then, September rolled around and I decided to revisit this idea.
People use Fiverr successfully all the time, so I knew it wasn’t fair to color the entire platform with my one sour experience.
I still felt good about the concept, and I wanted to see what was possible with a little more budget.
So I headed back to Fiverr, this time giving myself a budget of $300.
I found a designer I liked, but the length of my project was longer than the listed “gig” on his profile.
I submitted my concept and asked for a custom quote. (This time I used the $100 video to help illustrate the ‘concept’ I was after.)
His bid was $900.
I told him flat out that I wasn’t ready to spend that kind of money on a 90-second video.
After some negotiating (and me quietly realizing that I clearly had no idea what it takes to make a quality animation) we ended up agreeing to move forward with the project quoted at $550.
I was initially a little nervous, $550 isn’t a ton of money, but it was more than I’d ever spent on a project like this, and so it gave me a little bit of apprehension as I clicked “Purchase”.
But after the project kicked off, my decision was validated every step of the way.
Sanjay was easy to work with, and his first draft exceeded my expectations and after two rounds of revisions, the video was ready to share.
So, I think it’s safe to say that the video I spent more on is better – but what impressed me most wasn’t just how the quality was better; it was how the experience of working with the animator (shout out to Sanjay) was better.
On the $100 project, I felt like I was leading the project, nudging the animator to work on it, prioritizing and packaging up my feedback as delicately as possible, and then crossing my fingers that the next version would be better.
But on the $500 project, I felt like I was collaborating with an animator who actively wanted my vision.
I still provided notes, but Sanjay offered professional guidance as to how he thought my ideas would work best. He iterated quickly and communicated regularly.
(Worth mentioning that Sanjay did have a little headstart because I was able to share the $100 video with him as a concept.)
I wanted to document my experience in creating these two videos because this is a process that was foreign to me; and kinda intimidating – and I imagine that if I felt that way, others might too.
It would have been easy to give up after the first experience, and for a few months I did, but I’m really pleased I circled back to try it again – not just because of the final product, but because it restored my confidence in using Fiverr; and helped me get comfortable in investing to get the results that I’m after.
Btw, I’ve gotta give Wistia a big fat shout out – the idea to share the $100 version of this video didn’t really hit home until I watched their One, Ten, One Hundred docuseries (which is awesome, and definitely worth watching).
This is such a cool case study in a creative space of animation that tends to hold a lot of ambiguity in the process. I know we talked some about this at lunch, but it is fantastic to see how you took your vision and even with the hurdle of an ENTIRE video that didn’t get to the final product you wanted, you continued to persist and craft your vision until it got to where you were at least HAPPY with the final outcome. Bravo for your persistence, and the quality of the updated video is great. If you are reading this post and you feel discouraged about a creative project that didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, I’d encourage you to follow Greg’s lead when it comes to persistence and finding the right person/resources to bring it to life…it’s worth it.
Right, one of the bigger lessons I uncovered in this process was about me; and I realized that I had more of a vision than I realized, and that I hadn’t given the first animator enough guidance (or budget) to bring it to life. Thanks for the support homie!
Awesome post, Greg. As always, high-quality ideas and high-quality writing.
Thanks, and in this case – high quality animation, right? 😉
Thanks for sharing your experience. As the “gig economy” grows, this sort of info is super valuable. The takeaways for my next project are:
1. Be SPECIFIC in your requests.
2. It’s worth spending a little extra to do it right.
3. You’re not always hiring just for technical skill. I like how you mentioned Sanjay took more ownership than the first freelancer. That’s a big one.
Right, I had an idea for the “story” I wanted, and I think I definitely conveyed that – but I didn’t realize that I also had a vision for the animation style, which I hadn’t communicated as clearly. Budget made a big difference, of course, but I think I put the first animator in a position where it would have been tough to succeed.
I really appreciate your insights, Greg. What a great story about the amazing things that can come from a well-matched collaboration when creatives are involved! Super helpful takeaways for both agency owners who offer media assets as well as business owners who want something special to represent their uniqueness.
Thanks! And the final product? Not bad, right?