Building a Fiverr Business – Redd Horrocks from Fiverrcast Podcast

Building a Fiverr Business – Redd Horrocks from Fiverrcast Podcast

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Creating, building and growing a full-time business on Fiverr.com

We have with us today Redd Horrocks from Fiverr.com fame and voiceover fame on Fiverr, also the official Fiverr podcast, the Fiverrcast. Redd, welcome to the show. I'm super-excited to have you here today.

Redd Horrocks:
Well, thanks very much for having me.

Lance Tamashiro:
I know that you're really busy, and like I was telling you, we got a ton of questions. People just want to know everything that there is to know about you and voiceovers and all of this other stuff. I think maybe the best way to get started is maybe if you could talk about how you got started on Fiverr, and I believe you're full-time now, and what that transition was like from just finding out about Fiverr to using it as your full-time income.

Redd Horrocks:
Well, yeah, my Fiverr story is ... It's very similar to a lot of other people's Fiverr stories. Initially, a few years ago, I think it was back in 2012, I was working on another project, and I had this document that I had no idea how to format. I'm not super technically savvy in everything. Internet, yes. Documents, no. I asked a friend who's like the person that knows how to do that, and he was like, "Oh, you should check out this site Fiverr. There's probably someone on there that can do it for you." I'm like, "Okay, no problem." Went on there, found it, got my document formatted.

I was looking around, and I was like, "Oh, they sell voiceovers. I do voiceovers." It's kind of like, "Well, maybe I can see whether or not I could do that." I got together and put up a gig. It was slow at first, as it always is for everyone. Then over time, it was able to build up to a point where I was making enough income from it that I was able to seriously consider whether or not I could leave my full-time job. I waited a really long time to do it. I actually gave my job four months' notice because I was like, "What happens if it all goes horribly wrong?" Luckily, it didn't, and I left my full-time job then and started doing voiceovers full time back in September of 2014.

Lance Tamashiro:
Oh, wow! So full-time for almost two years then?

Redd Horrocks:
Getting close to it. Yeah, almost two years.

Lance Tamashiro:
Oh, my gosh. What an incredible milestone! When you're talking about this, had you done ...? Were you part of the voiceover world before Fiverr or ...?

Redd Horrocks:
To an extent. I've been doing voiceovers way, way back since I was in college, so about twelve years now. I was doing them kind of off and on, but with no real way to find a reliable source of work because I didn't work with an agent, so I would do things that I found on Craigslist. I would do projects for friends. I was signed on with an audio-book company, so I did a few audio books, but it wasn't really consistent at all. It was one of those things where you always had to hustle to find work.

I was expecting Fiverr to be kind of the same, and for a while, it was. Every time, anytime you're new, there's certain ways that you can kind of hustle for work, but the stability came a lot faster than I was expecting. Luckily, I'm kind of a bit of a ... I've got a bit of a magic trick. I'm British, but I live in the US, so I can actually record in both my normal British accent, and then I have a really solid, standard American accent from living here so long. So the other benefit that I had was I could kind of bridge the gap between people who wanted British or American or both.

Lance Tamashiro:
Yeah, it's really weird. I listened to your demos on Fiverr, and I'm like, "How? This doesn't even sound like the same person." It is a magic trick, having that ...

Redd Horrocks:
If you would like me to, I can switch it on for a little while.

Lance Tamashiro:
Yeah, just as you go, whenever you feel like it.

Redd Horrocks:
Just randomly, I'll be American, and then I'll be British. It's a bit of a party trick. People actually ask me to do it sometimes for fun when I'm out.

Lance Tamashiro:
Oh, that's fun. That's really fun. When you move ...? You started working on Fiverr. I think one of the frustrations for everybody, even when I got started on Fiverr doing this sort of stuff and watching the people that were at the top of the search results, is I'd look at yours, and you've got fifty orders in the queue every single time that I'd look. Then there are the people that are just trying to get started, and they struggle to get any sort of thing going at all.

My experience was it was slow. There were some things that I figured out that I could do, and then this snowball effect happened where I created this monster that I couldn't stop once it got started. It sounds like that was sort of the same path that you took, as well. You're kind of in a unique situation where you get to do the Fiverr podcast. You're involved in the Fiverr community a little bit more. What are some of the big mistakes that you see people trying to get started on Fiverr make?

Redd Horrocks:
There's a couple of different things that people do. One of the things that makes me sad when I see it happen is when people get so frustrated that they give up because they think, "Oh, I can never get there. I'm never going to get there. There's all these people that sell the same service as me, and they're selling it for cheaper or they're selling it ..." The thing that you have to remember is, when you are working on Fiverr, you are working and you are your brand. You're selling a product, but people are choosing to buy from you. If you make your gig personal, if you go in and you tell people a little bit about who you are, how long you've been doing this, just little things that are going to set you apart from the randomness of everyone else ... If you can do little things that set you apart from everyone else and showcase your personality more, that is honestly one of the most important things that you can do.

One of the reasons why I have a lot of orders in my queue is a lot of them are repeat clients. I would say about half the orders in my queue at any one time are people that I've worked with before. It's all about building up client relationships. When you do have the occasional person trickling in, if you're new, see what you can do to make their experience as a buyer be the best experience they could possibly have, and they're not going to look anywhere else because they won't need to. That way, you've got a client that might come back. Then you might get another new one a couple of days later, and you'll find you've got an order from the new one and an order from the old one. It's just all about working really hard to build those connections.

The other thing that I see people do a lot, which I feel sad about too, is when they drastically undersell themselves, when they undervalue themselves. They're doing an extortionate amount of work for a very small amount of money. When you're doing that, that's when it gets really easy to get frustrated. If you've got an order that you've spent hours on, and at the end of the day, you get $5 for it. Don't be afraid to stand by your work. You're a professional. They're hiring you because you're providing a service that they cannot do for themselves. Don't be afraid to charge what you're worth. Yeah, absolutely, in the beginning, discount this, discount that, negotiate with people, but within reason. Don't let people take advantage of your newness.

Lance Tamashiro:
For example, with your voiceover stuff, have you ever changed your pricing model, or have you always done the number of words that you do per gig?

Redd Horrocks:
Yes, I have changed my pricing model twice. When I started out on the platform, I was doing ... Right now, my rate is 125 words for $5. When I started, I was doing 150. It was, I believe, March of last year was the first time I did a rate increase. Then just a couple of months ago, I did another increase, but instead of increasing my word count, I increased the rate to have an extra-fast one-day delivery. Instead of having a $5 one-day delivery, now it's $10 to get one-day delivery.

Lance Tamashiro:
How did that ...? I mean, did you see a slowdown? Did you already have enough ...? How did your repeat clients respond to that?

Redd Horrocks:
Everyone was actually really okay with it. The time that I increased my word ... I upped my rate for the word count, I did give everyone a month's notice, so they all knew it was coming. With the extra-fast, I actually did it as a test. I took a week and saw exactly how many orders I got with extra-fast done on that one rate, and then I switched it for the next week to see how many I got at the new rate. The impact was so minimal to the amount of people that were ordering it that I decided to keep it.

Especially if you're new, it's a great time to play with your prices a little bit to see what's the sweet spot for you because you're not locked into anything. If you do have regular clients, so long as you're upfront with them and you communicate with them, then they're not going to have a problem with it. I do have one client that I still do her work at a discounted rate, but that's only because she was literally the third buyer I ever had on the entire site, so she's just like ... She's got a special spot in my heart and generally orders every few weeks. She'll send in an order, and I'm like, "No, I'm not going to change my rate for you because you've been with me since the beginning."

Lance Tamashiro:
One of the things you mentioned is the repeat buyers. I think that that was probably one of the things that was most surprising to me as a seller on Fiverr is how many repeat buyers there really are on somewhere like Fiverr in a category like voiceover. I think that you're absolutely right. Picking up one at a time ... If you can pick up one repeat client every ten days or every week or something, all of a sudden, you end up with this huge amount of buyers that are buying consistently over and over again. I love that idea of keeping the price the same for some of those people.

That was huge to me. I think that, when I started, I didn't realize how many repeat buyers I was going to see that would turn into customers. One of the big mistakes that I made was I probably didn't treat every buyer the way that I should have getting started. I didn't realize. It kind of felt like this marketplace where people would just buy and then you'd never hear from them again. It turns out Fiverr buyers are this rabid community of people that buy non-stop for all kinds of things.

Redd Horrocks:
Yeah. One of my favorite phrases that I have is, "You never know when your next buyer is going to be your best buyer." That's something that I try really hard to ascribe to whenever I get new clients. It can be tricky sometimes, but for the most part, it's just ... Yeah, you develop a relationship with these people. That's, again, when being personal comes in because all of the time, I get clients, they'll message me, "Hi, Redd. How are you? How's things going?" It's not like, "Here is my order." It's a little bit more engaged. It's definitely a selling point for buyers when they have like ... It's like they have almost like a buy-in to us as people. They have a stake, and they like that.

Lance Tamashiro:
I've noticed even for the stuff that I'll do is I'll randomly, if they message me or sometimes they need something fixed that might be out of the scope, if I fix it for them, and then I tell them, "Thanks for being one of my VIP customers." It's amazing that saying little things like that to people makes them feel so special they never go anywhere else. It's amazing.

I think that is something that's totally overlooked, is that human element. I know you guys talk about that a lot on the Fiverrcast podcast, but I think that people don't really realize how that is the make or break. When you go and look, there's a hundred people that do awesome voiceovers on Fiverr, and at some point, it really is are you able to make that connection with somebody where somebody else may not be able to.

Redd Horrocks:
That's the thing, is, yes, I understand that there are categories like voiceover where you look at it and you think, "Oh, there's all these people that are getting all the work," but look through, and there's plenty of buyers that are way down in search that still have orders in their queue. It's because, especially with voiceovers, people are buying your voice. They are looking for you.

Also, something that happens a lot, which I don't think a lot of sellers realize, especially in voiceover, is I might get an order, and that client might have sent the same script to ten different people. He wants to hear different versions. It's a very inexpensive way ... It's almost an inexpensive way of getting a plethora of auditions from people, and then that's how they decide. That's the thing. If you're doing exactly the same script as me and they like your voice better, it doesn't matter that I've done as many orders as I have. It matters that they like you better.

Lance Tamashiro:
Along those lines, it always is just amazing to me when I open up yours and some of the other top sellers and just see the orders in the queue. What does your typical day look like, and how do you go about managing thirty, fifty, twenty orders at a time?

Redd Horrocks:
Well, some days it's easier than other days. My typical day ... I used to work night. I used to work in the evenings because my fiancee used to have an evening job, so I used to work the same hours as him, but now he's in school full-time, so I don't do that anymore. Now I work almost like a regular nine-to-five. Generally, it's get up in the morning. I'll do my admin work. I'll answer messages. I'll go through modification requests for about an hour or so before I get into the studio.

Then depending on my workload, I have kind of different ways that I approach my day. If it's a heavy day, which is usually a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, then I just absolutely knuckle down, and I just start plowing through my queue. I'll turn off email. I'll turn off Skype. I'll turn everything off so that I can just really focus. Then it's a case of you just get into a rhythm, and you find your rhythm with it, so I'll handle that. Then if it's a lighter day, I have something I call working 30-15s, which is where I'll do 30 minutes of work, and then I'll stop for 15 minutes. My studio is in my house, so I'll stop for 15 minutes and leave the studio. That's when I'll do some housework, or I might do some prepping food for lunch or hanging out with my dogs or something like that.

Lance Tamashiro:
Awesome.

Redd Horrocks:
That enables me to not get burned out, because if you're just going in the studio for seven hours in a stretch, you're going to go bananas because you're standing by yourself in a small padded room talking to yourself.

Lance Tamashiro:
Yes. Some places they call that a mental asylum, right?

Redd Horrocks:
Yes, exactly. Yeah, those are usually the two kind of ways I approach it. I usually do the 30-15s on my lighter days. Today, actually, today is a heavy day, but I'm still doing 30-15s because it's a really heavy day, and I have to work a bit later today and have to keep my wits about me.

Lance Tamashiro:
Do you keep track of your orders, or do you just kind of this one's done, it's delivered? Do you do other admin work on top of the Fiverr to-do list?

Redd Horrocks:
I do the most ridiculously rudimentary tracking ever. I track ... At the end of the day, I go into my analytics and see how many orders I got that day, and I write it down in a notebook.

Lance Tamashiro:
So mostly just to keep track of what you think you should get per day or did something happen?

Redd Horrocks:
It's mostly tracking trends. I like to see how different days of the week compare to other different days of the week and how, say, if I usually get this many orders one day, I can kind of expect others the next day. It also gives me a really good way of tracking my progress, in general, year to year because obviously, with any business, you always want to see an upward trend, so I track order numbers, and I also track revenues.

The other thing that I like to keep an eye on is if it's gotten to a point where my order numbers are really high, but my revenues are lower, that means I'm not selling as many of my gig extras. I might then want to go back and look in and see, okay, is there a reason ... Like, what's not selling? Do I need to tweak it? Do I need to make a price adjustment? Do I need to rephrase it? All that kind of thing. It's mostly just to keep an eye on how I'm doing. I'm really terrible, though. I don't track my extra ... my non-Fiverr ... I have some non-Fiverr clients too, and I don't ever track their stuff. I probably should start doing that, but Fiverr's analytics are so easy.

Lance Tamashiro:
Right, just to see the graph of ...

Redd Horrocks:
Mm-hmm (affirmative), exactly. My graph looks the same every week, the same peaks and divots on different days. It's always the same. It never changes.

Lance Tamashiro:
My wife laughs at me because I started doing the Fiverr thing, and I'd notice that every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, for whatever reason for me, those are always light days, and they always have been. I assume for somebody else in the same category, they're really heavy days. Every single time, I'd be like, "You know, this thing's not going to work out. I think I've got to go do something else." Finally, one day she looked at me and said, "You know you say this every single weekend."

Redd Horrocks:
Oh, my God. My fiancee says this to me every year. Whenever I freak out in December and January, it's like, "Oh, God, I'm not getting any orders. I'm going to have to go back to corporate." He's like, "You say this every year."

Lance Tamashiro:
"You say this every year." It's weird because I think when you're working by yourself in a padded room or on the internet or whatever it is, you kind of lose track of time.

Redd Horrocks:
Yes.

Lance Tamashiro:
It's weird. Some days it feels like I've been working all day long, and then some days I feel like it's been a year since I've worked. I think that that's the value in even just writing down how many orders per day, if nothing else, because I think you need that sanity check. I think we get this weird, warped perception of how long we've actually been doing stuff.

Redd Horrocks:
Absolutely. That's the thing too. The other thing I keep an eye on is my delivered orders. I look to see how many orders I've delivered that day. I think it was either yesterday or the day before, again losing tracking of time, that I looked at it, and I was like, "Oh, my God. I feel like I've been so unproductive today. I feel like I've done nothing." I looked at my delivered, and I'd done a ton of orders. "When did I do that? Was I sleep recording or something?" It's interesting.

The other thing too is giving yourself credit for the amount of work that you're doing is really, really important. That's another thing that's good about tracking trends and tracking things that you've delivered because you really do get to see, okay, I really did do this. This is something that I accomplished and something that I completed. The other thing that I like to do is I set myself targets, like little milestones that I consider small wins. Like, I want to have done this many completed orders. I want this many reviews on this gig. I want to have this much amount of revenue in my ... Then the other really silly one is I want this much world domination on my world-domination map.

Lance Tamashiro:
Right. Isn't it weird how that little map, like, you really pay attention to it?

Redd Horrocks:
No control over it, but I'm always ... Anytime it ticks up a percent, I'm going around trying to figure out which country it was, and I have no idea. I have no idea which country, but I get so excited.

Lance Tamashiro:
They need to make that so you can put that publicly somewhere on your website. Then somebody could make a site for all the sellers of who's dominating the world the most.

Redd Horrocks:
It actually used to be. Back in the day, this is more in ... My podcast co-host, Adam, tells of the days of this. Back when the site began, it was public on what your world-domination map was and also your delivered orders. He managed to come up with some kind of program that tracked all the top sellers that said what their world domination was and who was doing the best in how many orders delivered. He would run like ... This is way, way back. Apparently, he'd run mini-contests for people. This was obviously when Fiverr was much smaller, but it sounds like ... I'm like, "Oh, I missed it. That sounds really fun."

Lance Tamashiro:
Yeah, that does sound ... because there's so many little hidden things that you start exploring and figuring out. I find that I live in basically two or three different tabs. Every time I get some extra time and I start clicking around, I'm like, "Wow, when did they add this? What is this cool thing that I've got here?" One other thing that I wanted to ask you about and talk about is, especially for people that are just getting started, can you remember back to when you were getting going and that first day when you wake up in the morning and you've got ten, fifteen orders in the queue? On one hand, it's what you've been waiting for, but on the other hand, it's like a heart attack.

Redd Horrocks:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lance Tamashiro:
You don't know how to ... One of the things that ... I talk to a lot of people that are getting started on Fiverr. You talked about your daily schedule and your 15-30s and all of these different things, and I think that what a lot of people don't realize is one of the genius things that Fiverr seems to do is they don't let you get yourself in trouble right away. Everybody wants to have fifty orders in the queue. The truth is, can you handle fifty orders in the queue? One of the things for me that I learned ... I had never done voiceover stuff. I didn't know the software. I didn't know my workflow or anything ... is that when Fiverr was giving me an order here, an order there, it allowed me to sort of build a system so that that first morning when I got fifteen, twenty, ten orders, it was scary, but I also knew that I could handle it.

Redd Horrocks:
Yeah, it was very similar to me. When I started out, I wasn't expecting anything, so it was a case of getting an order here, an order there, and then getting ... The other thing too you have to remember if you're new, when you start out, an order is going to take you a lot longer than it's going to take you in six months' time because what happens is you practice, and you get used to it. You get used to the system, and you get used to what you're doing, and you get used to your workflow.

For me, back in the day, a $5 order would have taken me five or ten minutes to do. Now I can knock it out in less than a minute because I've done it so many times. It's a case of just practice, practice, practice, and then ten orders is going to take you a lot less time in six months than it will take you now. That's something that you have to remember is that it does get ... You get better. It's not that it gets easier. It's that you get better.

Lance Tamashiro:
The weird thing is is that, for me at least, there would have been nothing that I could have done that would have prepared me to be better. If I would have done practice reads and tried to deliver it ... Something happens when you're watching that clock ticking on your order queue and you're like, "Oh, my gosh, I've got to get this done. It's got to be perfect. It's got to be the way that the client wants it, and it's got to be fast." You can't simulate that kind of pressure that you get from delivering a real gig.

Redd Horrocks:
Right, exactly. It's just it's something that comes with time. Yeah, there is going to be ... There is always that day when you wake up ... I actually ... I'm not going to lie. I had that this morning when I looked at my queue because it's been a very, very busy week for me. I woke up this morning, and I looked at my queue, and I had this moment of like, "Oh, my God. Okay. Well, guess we're having a long day today." That's just kind of how it was. Back when I was working corporate, too, it was really, really rough because I was working a fifty-hour-a-week job. Then my job got out at midnight, and I would get home, and I would record till 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. Oh, it was rough. I always look back, and it's like, "Well, it could be worse."

Lance Tamashiro:
Yeah. It's a good problem to have, and I love the way that you transitioned too. I think that's the way that people should do that is not go put all their eggs in their basket and say they're going to work on Fiverr full-time, because the thing that I've noticed is you can only grow your Fiverr business as fast as your Fiverr business grows.

Redd Horrocks:
Right.

Lance Tamashiro:
There's nothing you can do, at least that I've seen or any of the people that I've talked to, where it's like if you did this for eight hours a day, you would be full-time in a month. It doesn't happen that way.

Redd Horrocks:
No, it doesn't.

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