Three months ago, I was considering the possibility of adding video content to Micropreneur Life. After weighing all the technical aspects (is the camera of the phone good enough? Do I need a mic or a stand?), I decided I needed an animated version of the logo to show at the beginning of the videos.
I didn’t want anything fancy or sophisticated. I had this simple concept in mind: initially, there would be a white box, then the (slightly smaller) black box will appear from below it, they will part ways (left-right), separate for a split second, and then the black box will position itself above the white one while the text appeared from the edges of both boxes to configure the final logo as it is displayed on the website.
As a former iOS and Android developer, I have a pretty good understanding of animations and can do some pretty impressive things in the context of an app. I had bought Motion5 in the past and could do some simple animations. However, I decided to look for somebody to help me. I wanted the animation to look professional.
Some friends recommended me Fiverr. To be honest, my experience with platforms such as Upwork in the past had been terrible, but that had been some years ago, so I decided to give Fiverr a try. Bad move.
I had a look at the website, and everything seemed too good to be true (spoiler: it was). There was a myriad of professionals and freelancers there offering animated logo packages for around 10 euros.
Even though I was suspicious, the logos looked really cool, very similar to what I was looking for, and most people listed there had between 4 and 5 star reviews. If a professional has around one hundred positive reviews, I thought to myself, they all can’t be fake, can they?
So I silenced that voice inside of me telling me that everything was so perfect to be true and I decided to hire one of these “professionals”. His tagline was:
I will create custom sensational logo animation in 1 hour
Doing my homework
After less-than-ideal experiences hiring freelancers from Upwork and handing out work to VAs, I wanted to do things right. Perhaps all my previous problems were caused by a poor description of the job or communication with the freelancer?
So I launched Sketch and drawn all the stages of the animation. From the initial white box to the final configuration. I also wrote a detailed description of how the animation should work, including notes on the spring quality of the animation, and how fast or slow every part of the animation should go.
It took me around two hours to finish everything, twice the amount of time it was supposed to take this professional to finish the animation. I was not really expecting him to deliver the animation in just one hour, of course, I was not in a hurry, so 2-3 days, even a week was OK.
So I placed my order and paid my 10,67€.
The problems begin
Late at night, I received a message from the freelancer. It was the first wake-up call that made me understand everything was not going to be as smooth as it was advertised on Fiverr’s website.
hi thanks for ordering me I will take a look at ur file and tell u I saw ur logo in PNG format there is life text but u did not mentioned it in requirments and I did not understand the text below start growing etc
So it seemed we had a communication problem. This guy was from Pakistan, so I needed to use a different language when describing what I needed. So I wrote a very long email and included some more pics with arrows and clear instructions such as “This moves here” or “This grows from this to this”.
I thought that would be enough, so I finished my work and went to sleep. The next morning, while checking my email, I discovered a message from Fiverr notifying me that the job was completed. With excitement, I opened the animation file.
The back and forth
The result was utterly terrible. The guy didn’t understand what I wanted, so it was a completely different animation. On top of that, the movements looked ugly, dull, and lifeless. It was so bad, I considered canceling the order and asking for a refund right away, but I thought it wasn’t fair. So as I had “unlimited reviews”, I patiently wrote another description of what was wrong with the animation and what it should do instead. I had lost four hours by now with this, so I got back to work. I was busy.
Then, in the afternoon, he contacted me through the Fiverr platform. He was obviously pissed off of having to work on the logo again and started to send me message after message, chat-like. As you know, I don’t like chats, especially when I have a lot of work to do and I need to focus, so I answered by asking him to review my notes and sending me an email with a list of things he didn’t understand.
His answer was a lot more aggressive, claiming that he had lost a lot of time already in the logo, but I mentioned that I had no time to engage in a chat conversation with him (I was really busy) and that I would not approve anything unless it matched the job’s requirements. He complained some more but finally left me alone.
Asking for a refund
The next morning, I had another delivery, and it again missed the point completely. So I spent 15-30 minutes again writing down the things that were wrong and sending them to him.
That continued for a couple of days until I had enough. This guy was wasting my time and my energy. I had spent more time than if I had tried to create the animation myself in Motion 5, and he was starting to be quite rude and impolite, addressing me like “Hey dude” and stuff like that.
The logo was not even close to something I could use. It was embarrassing. So I asked for a refund. After a couple of emails with Fiverr’s customer support, it was accepted. I got my money back, but not the investment in time and patience.
You get what you pay for
Obviously, there’s nobody else to blame but me for this experience. After all this time, I should know better.
Before hiring a professional from these platforms, you need to be aware of some facts. First, if your idea of a freelancer offering his or her services through these platforms is a nordic hipster designer or developer, with a degree, plenty of experience, and money to invest in the right tools to do the job, you are in for a disappointment.
These “professionals” are mostly people from underdeveloped or developing countries. They have a cheap laptop and are using pirated old software, from the operating system to every other tool they need.
Of course, I am aware most of them cannot afford to have a Mac and pay for Motion 5 or an Adobe Cloud subscription. Some of them can’t even have access to proper education, much less a degree in design. That does not mean these people don’t deserve a chance. Everybody does. But (let’s be honest here) the quality you will get is not on par with the quality you would get from a true professional.
There are of course good freelancers with knowledge, experience, and the right tools in these platforms. However, Fiverr, Upwork, and the like encourage “bid wars”, where you hire the cheapest professional, not the best one.
Also, you need to be aware of the fact that everything you see is basically a lie. The animations that appear in the portfolios of these people are not theirs. They didn’t make them, they got them somewhere from the web, and pretend it’s their work. Everything you see, from the flamboyant description of the results to the conditions (unlimited reviews, super high quality, speed, communication) is just marketing.
So what do you do?
As I mentioned before, the best option is to look for local freelancers. Yes, they will be more expensive, but when you want professional results, you need to be ready to pay for them. More, at least, than $5.
Find a local designer, developer, or marketer, even if you are on a budget. If you are a nomad, take advantage of the fact that there are amazing (and relatively affordable) professionals everywhere. I have had the privilege of meeting a fantastic developer in Latvia that charges 18€/hour for an excellent work, a designer in Bulgaria that helped us redesign the dashboard of my company for less than 1000€, and even a native American speaker that recorded our intro videos for just 30€/h.
That’s one of the advantages of traveling and making connections everywhere. Talk to people in co-working spaces, ask for their cards, you never know when you may need a copywriter, designer or developer.
Platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork suck, and you should never use them. In this post, I explain my recent experience in one of them, and why you should avoid them and look for local professionals instead.