Tl;dr: Badly. It went very badly.
So I’ve been having a lot of joint issues lately. Worse than usual. I’m in the midst of a flare-up. This usually nixes me being able to write long, well-researched authority posts. So I thought I’d look on Fiverr to see if someone could help me write a couple of informative articles for this site.
I spent ages looking through all the sellers and I chose one with a well-written gig outline (probably stolen from someone else’s, given how this turned out). They also had glowing reviews.
Oh I’m SO GLAD I only ordered a $5 one, as the seller offered longer work for significantly more money.
I gave the seller an outline and a handful of suggested references which I’d glanced over and thought would make a good starting point for research. My main requirement was that they… y’know… followed the outline.
I was expecting to get a 3000 word article (the word count I’d paid for) that was probably sort-of-ok-ish and then I was going to polish it up, rewrite sections that needed additional info, and expand on areas to ensure it was in-depth and complete. I just needed a bit of help.
My plan was to tip heavily if it all went well, to compensate them fairly for their time. I thought this was the answer to my problems.
It. Was. Not.
What I got was:
a) The seller asked (in barely-literate text-speak no less) for the outline 3 hours after I’d sent it, so I typed it out again and sent it again. I gave them the benefit of the doubt that we don’t all write messages the way we do formal writing. Two hours later they still seemed incapable of understanding words, however, and opened a dispute against me. For not providing the thing I’d now sent twice.
I was pretty annoyed after that because I’m a Fiverr seller myself (not ghostwriting, I’m not dissing a rival here, and for considerably more than $5) and would prefer not to get thrown off the platform for some frivolous reason to do with a WRITER not understanding ENGLISH. A writer. Not understanding written English. It didn’t bode well, did it? It’s bizarre because I had to pass a copyediting test to offer editing on Fiverr and I just thought ghostwriters would have to pass a similar test.
The dispute got closed. I still had no idea what was going on.
Then mysteriously the work appeared this morning. I downloaded it thinking that was a bit fast.
Oh my God, it was awful.
From what I can gather, they had basically ignored my structure completely and they didn’t work to an outline. Instead, they copied the full text of the articles I sent them, put them through some sort of app that paraphrases text to avoid plagiarism detectors, and sent back the ensuing unstructured word salad.
I especially enjoyed the misuse of “inquire” when the correct word was “enquire” in the opening sentence, and the fact they even COPIED THE PICTURES FROM THE ARTICLES! Just pasted them straight into the “finished article”. Jesus Christ.
Amongst their additional crimes, they introduced new information in the conclusion. Irrelevant information, at that. Most of the words they’d “written” were irrelevant, to be fair, and any sense and meaning the original articles had held was washed away by whatever paraphrasing software they’d used. They didn’t so much write an essay as sneeze words onto the page.
It was nicely-formatted, however. There were clickable chapters. But the work was not in a publishable state.
What disturbed me more was when I ran it through two different plagiarism checkers, one spotted the plagiarism but the other didn’t. I’m guessing this was a content farm?
I see this garbage all over the internet and I always wondered where it came from. I don’t really blame the people trying to make a quick buck, or the people trying to get a good deal, but I do think the people who hit “publish” on anything this bad are… exhibiting poor judgement.
How can this rubbish get past plagiarism detectors? So Google can re-word my search terms completely when I want to know something really straightforward, and give me useless random “approximate” results, but it can’t spot that they’ve changed a few words and SOLD someone else’s work and subsequently, the buyer has re-published it?
Is this where all my readers have gone? Have my perfectly-written SEO articles all been re-worded by these sort of people and now rank higher than me on Google?
I mean I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare but I was expecting it to be… all the seller’s original work. Research isn’t the same thing as re-wording someone else’s article. That’s theft. And big online platforms need to do more to stop it.
So there you have it. That $5 gig on Fiverr? Don’t touch it with a bargepole. The reviews are probably fake (getting their friends to “buy” their gig then give them five stars, maybe?) anyway. Turns out you need to pay someone \ in order to get a good product or service. Which I sorta knew but I wanted to be sure as I’m sure you did when you Googled this.
Consequences of hiring a low-quality ghostwriter from Fiverr:
- You could get sued for using unlicenced images that belong to someone else.
- You could get sued for copyright infringement.
- You could get publicly shamed and loads of negative media attention like Copy and Paste Cris. Her plagiarized books were done exactly like this, only she also had excellent structure and story development.
Fundamentally, the responsibility for a published work stands with you, the person whose name is on the book (or pen name). The ghostwriter can run off laughing into the sunset counting your money and taking zero responsibility for their actions. You on the other hand could face serious consequences for nicking someone’s work. You’d have to be a real idiot to get a bum piece of work like that and actually publish it.
There are tons of top-quality, good writers on Fiverr. They probably don’t sell 3000-word “books” for $5 (plus about $2.38 “fees”). I will keep looking for a better ghostwriter to help me out when I can’t write. And that plagiarised manuscript? Reported to Fiverr.
I’d like to update this when I have their response. Because what was also disturbing was the fact my one star review was immediately hidden. Until the seller reviews me. Which basically means I’m going to get a like-for-like one star review that’s going to now ruin my own Fiverr work.
So I guess since I only completed one gig and got one positive review, that’s the end of me selling editing services on Fiverr (regardless of the fact the same buyer sought me out for more work). I don’t care. This is the hill I die on.
Update: Within an hour of me contacting customer support, they canceled the order and refunded me. I don’t know what’s happening review wise, but at least I got my money back. However, the gig is still available.
2 responses to “I hired a $5 ghostwriter via Fiverr. This is how it went…”
Lol wow. What an experience indeed. I think that the bottom rungs of the price ladder can get very murky, and if we’re to use the platform, it’s best to go for mid-range sellers. I’ve been scouting the platform for book cover designers, and the artists who charge more definitely seem worth it. Anyway, thanks for sharing!
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Yeah, definitely. I’ve had great experiences with beta readers and proofreaders. I sort of wanted to know how low is too low and I definitely found out! Good luck with your book covers, I was horrified that this ghostwriter just nicked the pictures from other people with no acknowledgement!