Sellers making real money, five bucks at a time (video)

Fiverr.com is an online marketplace for unusual goods and services that you probably never really knew you needed or were for sale. But for some sellers, monetizing their hobbies and skills has raked in serious cash. CNET's Kara Tsuboi reports.

A birthday present like they've never quite had before: Fiverr entrepreneur Anibalf says he "will sing a depressing Happy Birthday as a mouse for $5." Screenshot by CNET

A quick perusal of Fiverr, a micro-services Web site, and your mouth might fall agape. You may think to yourself, "people are willing to do what for money?!" Or maybe the shock comes from realizing that buyers are actually willing to pay for some of these outlandish things. I'm not talking about anything salacious or illegal (Fiverr has strict quality control for those kinds of postings), but rather, the weird, absurd, or plain random.

As the name implies, goods and services are offered on the site for five bucks each. Or in some cases, in increments of five. For example, for $5, a man in Argentina will send you a video of himself acting like a sad mouse while wishing your friend a happy birthday. Yes, really. Or maybe you've been looking for a sketch of yourself as an Anime character. A seller in the Philippines can make that happen for only a five-spot.

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In the less than three years that Fiverr has existed, CEO Micha Kaufman tells us, more than 1 million items have been listed in roughly 120 categories from more than 200 countries. "We saw a huge opportunity in this new services economy. People in today's economy are starting to think outside of the 9-to-5 box," says Kaufman. He adds that 15 percent of Fiverr sellers credit the site as their primary source of income, and that these users are able to put this pocket change toward real problems: "Stories like students who are able to pay off their student loans before graduating while working and studying at the same time. Single, stay-at-home parents who can finally monetize their skills. People who have saved money who are stuck without medical insurance and have saved enough money for an operation."

To learn more about this $5 economy, we met up with Bay Area-based Kristin Pedderson, a full-time singer-songwriter and now, a top-rated seller on Fiverr. While music is her passion, she supplements her income by writing $5, $10, or $15 press releases. "I love writing and I love words, and it comes easy for me, and so I offer 150 words for $5. If they want more words, for instance 300, they can pay two Fiverrs." It was time for my jaw to hit the floor when she shared her net income from these mini gigs: $7,321. "That fun money might go towards something important," she said. And no matter how silly or ridiculous you may find some of Fiverr's listings, that's no laughing matter.

About the author

Kara Tsuboi has covered technology news for CNET and CBS Interactive for nearly seven years. From cutting edge robotics at NASA to the hottest TVs at CES to Apple events in San Francisco, Kara has reported on it all. In addition to daily news, twice every week her "Tech Minutes" are broadcast to CBS TV stations across the country.

 

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