Moms

Fiverr.com offers up goods and services both serious and silly

For $5, you can get someone to proofread and lay out your résumé.

Or design a tattoo for you.

Or pretend to be your girlfriend on Facebook.

Or deliver a singing birthday telegram, incorporating your name into lyrics set to the tune of the William Tell Overture.

All of this comes courtesy of a site called Fiverr.com that can get you, well, just about any service you want (as long as it's legal and, ahem, in good taste) for a fixed price of five bucks.

There's no bidding or negotiating. Users offer up what they'll do:

"I will make a custom Twitter background for $5."

"I will give you a wake-up call every day for 7 days for $5."

"I will create a (marriage) proposal video for $5."

You order what you want, use a credit card or PayPal, and it's yours in the agreed-upon time frame. You interact anonymously with the seller until the deal is made to your satisfaction.

It's like eBay -- but instead of buying collectible PEZ dispensers, you're shopping for special skills.

The site, relatively new, is already a hit. Fiverr.com launched in February and, since then, users have offered up 90,000 services (called gigs), from the serious ("I will create a catchy slogan for your business") to the, well, stupid ("I will have e-mails sent to you from my cat"), all $5 each.

Five bucks was a strategic choice, says Micha Kaufman, the site's co-founder and CEO, who's based in Israel.

"The beauty of five bucks is that most people can afford it," he says. "Most people will not think 10 times before spending five bucks -- it's a cappuccino. The risk factor is pretty small."

On the other hand, he says, there are a lot of people out there who want to earn extra cash without committing to a part-time job, and they love collecting $4 for doing somewhat simple tasks. (Yeah, about that: Fiverr takes a dollar from each transaction to cover credit-card fees and, of course, to make some money from all this.)

"It was a sweet spot," Kaufman says, "between those who can afford it and those who can benefit from it."

The most successful gigs, he says, are the ones that require specialized knowledge but are easy, fast work for the person offering the service. You know -- the stuff you can do in five minutes that would take somebody else a day and a half, like setting up a WordPress blog or translating song lyrics into Spanish.

Tiffany Herron, a senior at Texas A&M University, tried Fiverr to earn some extra cash. So far she has made more than $100, mostly from transcribing audio recordings. Herron types like a maniac, so it doesn't take her long to transcribe lectures, interviews and sermons, $5 for every half-hour. Audio files are sent through the site, and she sends back a Microsoft Word or Notepad document with the transcription.

"I'm not doing this for a living or anything," says Herron, who also does some basic editing at $5 a pop -- but it was nice to drop $80 into her bank account recently.

"I was thinking of adding some more gigs -- voice-overs, or writing a poem," Herron says. "But for now, this seems to be working."

Other users offer photo editing, music lessons, personal coaching. An engineering student offers math tutoring. A genealogical researcher offers to trace your family history. And lots of people will sing the song Happy Birthday in any voice or language you can imagine, including Donald Duck.

"There's a lady that reads your palm," Kaufman says. "You can scan it and send her the picture. She is unbelievably successful -- people are giving her amazing testimonials and feedback."

There's a whole category of users who are willing to send postcards from their city, whether it's Athens, Greece, or La Crosse, Wis., "home of the world's largest six-pack of beer."

"We had a nice story of a couple," Kaufman says. A guy was turning 30 and his girlfriend decided to have 30 postcards sent to him -- all bearing birthday greetings -- from locations all over the world.

"She just gave his name and address and the time when the postcards should arrive," Kaufman says. "She actually pulled it off."

Alyson Ward, 817-390-7988

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