From Ten Roommates to Top Rated Seller: Jonathan’s Success Story

jonathan coleman

This blog post is adapted from a speech given by Jonathan Coleman, aka jontcoleman, on December 7th, 2016 as part of our Fiverr Academy Presents series. Fiverr Academy Presents is a lecture series which features Top Rated Sellers and Level Two Sellers discussing their Fiverr experiences and offering concrete advice on how to succeed on the marketplace.

My Journey

My name is Jonathan Coleman. I’m a voice-over artist and Top-Rated Seller on Fiverr. This is my Fiverr story.

Almost 10 years ago, I moved from Chicago to New York City, from a career in consulting, to dive into the entertainment industry as a writer’s assistant. It was the best decision I ever made. My only mistake was that I made that decision in 2008, just as the great recession took full effect. I lost my job and was living in an attic in Brooklyn for a while. And I had a roommate, in fact, 10 of them. It was just like a play.

At this point I had only dabbled in voice over work as a DJ at my college’s radio station, and only during the graveyard shift from midnight to 4am (I’d beg my friends to call just so I’d have someone to talk to). But now, in 2008, I knew I needed some sort of supplemental income if I wanted to move out of that Brooklyn attic. So, I decided to revisit voice over. I took vocal lessons. Got business training. Demo production. Built my own website. Built my own studio (literally in a closet). And then started auditioning. Every. Day. 36 months later, in 2011, I landed my very first voice over job. I was officially an entrepreneur. I remember hearing about something called “” that had launched around that time. I actually bookmarked an article about how it could be a good source of supplemental income. And then, for a whole year, completely forgot about it. Because… I was too busy trying not to lose my apartment.

If this story were a movie, everything so far would be the part that happens in the first 10 minutes, before something BIG goes wrong. Do you all remember how the year 2012 was supposed to be the end of the world? For me, it almost was. For the first time in my life, I had nowhere to live. I had been doing what most of those who move to New York to pursue their dreams do: continue moving. I constantly changed apartments. Then in 2012 my rent increased, my salary shrank, and I had to move out. It was a scary time. The feelings of failure, that I couldn’t cut it in this city, which were ALREADY feelings I experienced on a daily basis anytime I auditioned for voice over work, grew stronger. Being homeless in Manhattan will do that to you. I don’t love using the term homeless to describe myself. There are many people who are much less fortunate than I. But couch surfing feels too glib. I was losing everything I had in New York, with no prospect of landing on my feet.

Thank God I have good friends. Two of them, a couple, happened to be traveling a week after I had moved out. They graciously allowed me to stay at their home while I figured out what in the world I was going to do. And even more fortunately, a year earlier, I’d saved that article I’d read about Fiverr. Desperate enough to explore any and all options, I gave it a second look. Filmed a profile video pitching my work, showcasing my demo (I knew I wanted a HOOK that distinguished me from all the other voices out there – so I offered what I call my “Movie Trailer Guy Voice” and if you visit my Gig today, you can see that I still include that as an option for delivery). I uploaded the video. Said a prayer. And waited. Within an hour, I’d gotten my first order. They were willing to pay me $5 to record 100 words. But the crucial thing was: I had not auditioned for this job. That week was a turning point. (I think I maybe made $25 altogether on Fiverr. It barely qualified as supplemental income). But those 5 people were coming to ME, for the work. Not the other way around. When I realized that, it changed everything. I readjusted my schedule to dedicate more time to Fiverr.

The snapshot of my day started to look like this:

7am: Check Fiverr for any orders and messages from the night before.

8am: Audition for other jobs on other websites

8:59am:Not land 100% of those audition jobs.

9am:Start recording the Fiverr jobs already in my queue.

10am: I’d be finished, and begin working my day job.

This process worked extremely well, even though I am not a morning person. And over the years, the time I needed to dedicate to Fiverr grew. 24 months and a lot of hard work later, I was selected by Fiverr as a Top Rated Seller. Today, Fiverr makes up more than half of my voice over revenue. To anyone out there with talent who is faced with anything close to the situation I was, I’d just say this: give it a shot. Create a Gig on Fiverr. It might just change your life. I know, because it changed mine.

Advice To First Time Sellers

Start Small – Price your first Gig at 5 dollars. Working as hard as you can to provide the very best service will lead to repeat buyers and with continued experience and top notch reviews you can ask for higher prices.

Put other people first – A happy customer is a repeat customer and enough repeat customers is a steady reliable business. When you put the needs of the customer first, you increase your chances of success tenfold. Even if you have a rude or overly demanding customer, it’s important that you stay professional, and work them to deliver the best product humanly possible.

Quality Work=More Money – Invest time into delivering high-quality work. Once you’re known for delivering a great product you can start charging more. Having a good reputation with buyers will allow you to increase revenue.

The Fiverr Community initiative

We’re stronger when we work together, which is why I’m so excited for the new community initiative. We each have skills that complement one another’s. I have a voice that works well in some videos, and those videos need awesome illustrators, which works best when there’s some amazing music behind it, and you can promote the whole project with some kick ass SEO.

So when I hear I got passed up for another voice over artist on Fiverr I don’t sweat it! We each bring a unique skillset to the table that helps make Fiverr the remarkable place that I’ve come to know and love. The new community initiative will allow us to further that collaboration, by bringing together Fiverr buyers and sellers from towns and cities across the country. By working together to improve our skills, build lasting friendships, and develop business partnerships, the entire community can grow and succeed together!

Have a Fiverr story to tell? Tell us in the comments below!

Hannah Curran
Hannah Curran is Fiverr's Social Media and Content Manager. Originally from Connecticut, she lives in California and works out of our San Francisco office. Have an idea for the Fiverr blog? Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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Hugh Mura
Hugh Mura

Jon, great stuff! Your journey is an inspiration to many, and your advice is sound. I look forward to traveling a similar path on Fiverr. Not quite a year yet, and building momentum. Thanks again for your thoughts!
Hugh from NJ (hughmura on Fiverr/VO)