How I Started An Editing Service on Fiverr

My editing gig on

For a long while it seems I have been finding myself in the informal role of an editor.  Whether it has been friends and family asking me to edit applications and resumes, or as a natural part of my work selecting stories for Story Ink Africa events, I started to quickly notice grammar and spelling errors whenever I saw them, and correcting them became second nature. 

At some point it hit me that perhaps this is a service people actually need. Not everyone is as obsessed with language precision as I am (thank goodness, otherwise no one would get anything done). Though they know the basis of what they are trying to say, many people may not have the time, experience, or willpower to painstakingly check that they didn't accidentally write "at" instead of "it". 

Even those who work with language a lot, like writers, need a second eye to go over their work on multiple levels other than grammar and spelling. They also need to look at consistency, accidental repetition, character, plot, setting, and a range of other bits that keep the machine called "story" moving in the right direction.

Why not use an automatic spell checker?

One word: Context. While a program can certainly make sure you spell your words correctly (and I recommend everyone get a spell checker integrated into their browser), most of them cannot tell you if you have used the wrong word in your sentence (eg pair instead of pear). 

It takes a human editor to keep the context of what you are writing in mind - a university application letter is going to require a much more formal style than a short story. So an editor can go a step further by suggesting alternative words or phrasing that better suit your audience - even if the way you have written it is grammatically correct.

You'd have a better chance with an application that says:

"I have taken on many responsibilities in class, including leading the student union"

rather than

"I've done a lot of stuff in class outside of my normal lessons, like being head of the student union"  

They are technically both grammatically correct and mean the same thing, but one sounds more concise and mature than the other. Those are the kinds of aspects I pay attention to. 

Why Fiverr?

Once I decided to provide an editing service formally, I tried out a few freelance writer platforms to see which one would work for me. I had a number of important factor I needed to consider:

1. Accessibility from my country, Malawi
Sadly, Quite a few online marketplaces don't allow financial transactions to and from Malawi. I'm not a financial expert, but I believe it is a challenge with slow digital infrastructure development. Despite these limitations Fiverr allows me to earn through I did try connecting Fiverr to my PayPal but got some transaction errors, and their customer care never responded. 

2. Competition in the Marketplace
It wasn't enough that people in general earn money from the platform, I had to find out if I could personally do it. That means looking at how easy it was for me to get a foothold and attract customers. Before Fiverr, I tried Upwork, which I discovered quickly was an uphill battle for me, because I am not from an "English Speaking" country. What this means is that I would most likely never be seen, even though I am educated with an international standard of English, and have continued to self-educate from passion. 

The feature in Upwork which allows potential customers to automatically filter out anyone not from the US, UK or Australia, might as well be removed, and instead they can relaunch the site to limit membership to those countries. Someone like me, who has over 80% English Language Competency, but is not from the right country, doesn't stand a chance. They also have an auction structure, which other reviewers of the site have called "A race to the bottom". Everyone just tries to provide the cheapest service without much consideration for quality. 

Fiverr passed this test in my book, because they filter by skill and experience, not by location. 

Pleasant Surprises from Fiverr:

1. Education. They have a section dedicated to providing online courses, ranging from free to high value. I completed their first free course, which gives you the A to Z on how to be successful on Fiverr. I noticed that many users who complained about Fiverr not working for them did not take the course or follow the tips. 

2. Talent Recognition. By following the tips in the start up course, I quickly got onto Fiverr's radar, and they added a Rising Talent sticker on my gig before I had gotten a single customer. That means they thought I had potential and placed me higher on the search algorithms than I would have been as a total newbie.

3. Security for Both Client and Service Provider. Those who have ever provided a freelance service know the stress of that sticky topic - getting paid. If the client pays first, they risk the service provider not delivering and not giving a refund. If the service provider does the work first, they risk the client using the work without paying (or making late payments). Fiverr has a solution for this. 

When an order is started between client and service provider, the client enters their credit card information and the cost of the job is "reserved" but not immediately paid to the service provider. Only when they deliver the job, and the client accepts it does the service provider get paid (minus Fiverr's admin fee). 

If for any reason the client isn't happy with the job, they can use the system to formally turn it down, and the money is refunded to their account. If the service provider delivers the job but gets no response from the client, the payment is automatically paid to the service provider 3 days after delivery. In that way, both are protected. 

At the end of the process both client and service provider get the opportunity to publicly rate each other, so if either make a habit of misbehaving, their profile has a record of it. 

In Short:

Fiverr isn't sponsoring me for this, but I am happy to recommend a good service when I experience it. Personally I provide editing and occasional writing services on Fiverr, but it is also great for graphic designers, programmers, musicians and gosh, just a ton more that you'll have to check out for yourself. 

To Service Providers: As long as you put in the work learning how Fiverr works, setting up properly, advertising your services, and being professional to your customers, there's no reason you can't be successful.

To Clients: On Fiverr the client has the power to choose from a catalog of service providers in each category, so you don't get overwhelmed by vendors harassing you to buy from them. You can choose at your leisure, and base your decision on your needs and budget. 

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