Fiverr.com lets you outsource your tasks for $5
You can connect with a native speaker in a foreign country for 30 minutes of honing your language skills, get your computer problem solved, a dream interpreted or even your best-man speech written, all for $5. There are also some disturbing tasks offered, like giving your girlfriend's photo a virtual breast augmentation or hiring someone to call your boss in the middle of the night to tell them they suck. Oddball tasks aside, the service offers you numerous opportunities to get small tasks done pretty cheap, and if you can't find what you're looking for you can submit it as a request.
On the flip side, if you have a skill you can sell your services on Fiverr to earn some extra cash. Be warned though, Fiverr takes a dollar for each completed task and you need $40 before you can cash out (10 tasks), so it's not exactly fast cash.
Since it's hard to know exactly what you'll get for $5, I decided to take Fiverr for a spin.
The first task I outsourced was creating a photo mosaic from a picture of my wife's toy poodle. I ordered the mosaic from Fiverr user amgooda who quickly got in touch to learn more about my order. It was easy to send along the first photo I wanted replicated, but when it came to sending over the rest of the 60 images, Fiverr's website was no help so I had to upload it to a file-sharing site. For most tasks this wouldn't be an issue, but it highlights a weakness in the Fiverr site.
About an hour after I sent my files over I had a mosaic waiting in my inbox. Since I only sent over 60 images it didn't turn out the greatest but it was OK for $5, so I marked the task complete and left the feedback. I was surprised to see another message shortly after with a new and improved version of the mosaic.
Mosaic of my Wife's puppy wearing a hat, impersonating a Jazz musician
Intrigued, I decided to find out who was doing my random task for $5 and discovered Amgad, a high school student from New Jersey, who started using Fiverr after he had trouble finding a parttime job. Amgad is saving up for a summer trip to his home country to visit family and friends, but he isn't sure if he'll be able to contribute much to the trip because of the $40 minimum on withdrawals.
I outsourced another task, a caricature of any photo, and was less pleased with the result, but for $5 it was alright. This illustrates the biggest limitation of Fiverr; you are only spending $5, which is a net of $4 for the person completing the task. At those rates it's hard to expect the same results you would get from a professional. I think that as the service grows and feedback is entered it will be easier to find Fiverr sellers like Amgad who want to have completely satisfied customers.
Fiver provides an intriguing opportunity to outsource a wide array of tasks at an incredibly low price. I don't see it competing full scale with Craigslist, dedicated freelance sites like 99designs, or sites that connect you to bids from professionals like MiNeeds; but it is a fun and useful resource for crossing tasks off your to-do list.