‘I should hit 6 figures, total, by Thanksgiving’: A gamer's online side hustle becomes a booming business

"I was making $800 per month at the school, and in September I made $5,200 on Fiverr."

Jessica Herring.
Courtesy Jessica Herring

When Jessica Herring, 36, started offering graphic design services on Fiverr in October 2019, she didn't have any technical training in the field. A longtime video game lover, she had joined the world of players who livestream their games on sites like Twitch, and her friends admired the graphics she started making for her streams. They started "hitting me up to be like, 'Hey, can you make me decent streamer graphics?'" she says. "They suggested making a Fiverr."

Having gotten a divorce earlier in 2019 and having long been a stay-at-home mom, she needed to make money. "I found myself in a predicament where, here I am, in my 30s, and I don't have a college diploma, I have little work experience," she says. "I was like, 'How am I going to take care of my kid?'"

Herring had gotten a job as a teacher's aide at a local school in upstate New York in September 2019, and she began selling graphic design services for streamers on Fiverr the following month. Eventually she expanded her offerings to video editing and was able to book so many jobs that when the school let her go in September 2020, she knew she could support her family regardless.

"I literally made about six times that month on Fiverr than I did at the school," she says. "I was making $800 per month at the school, and in September I made $5,200 on Fiverr." She has brought in more than $90,000 from the site altogether in 2020 and 2021, and "I should hit six figures, total, by Thanksgiving," she says.

Here's how Herring has been able to turn her side hustle into a full-fledged business.

'Spending an hour on making one wallpaper' to learn the basics

As a gamer ― "it's my favorite hobby," she says ― Herring started to experiment with different screens she could create. If a streamer takes a break, for example, they might put up a screen that says, "be right back."

"I was kind of just testing and trying things out and literally spending an hour on making one wallpaper," she says. She'd use Adobe Photoshop to create them.

When she created her Fiverr profile, a streamer screen package was between $5 and $25 and could include variations like "be right back," "offline," and "starting soon." Her first few Fiverr clients were friends. "After that, it would be like once a month, twice a month if I was lucky, that I would get somebody to come" and make a purchase, she says.

"It was just like a side hobby."

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Video by David Fang

When Twitch introduced trailers, she seized the opportunity

Like graphic design, video editing was a hobby Herring picked up over the years. She remarried in 2020, and "my now husband taught me how" using Adobe Premiere around 2017, she says.

"It would take me ages to make one video, ages. But I had a lot of fun doing it. My son would let me practice on his videos because he's a little aspiring YouTuber," she says.

After the pandemic began in the spring of 2020, and the future of her job at the school was unclear, Herring started to wonder if there were other services she could offer on Fiverr. "I got an email from Twitch saying, 'Hey, you can now upload a trailer advertising your channel,'" she says, "And I was like, 'That's going to be something. I'm going to jump on that.'"

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Video by Stephen Parkhurst

The trailers were 60-second videos that could feature an intro from the streamer and clips from their favorite streaming moments. "That way, the viewer has a really good idea of who they are as a streamer," she says. In April she created a Fiverr gig offering to edit people's Twitch trailers, and "that really jump started" the business, she says.

In April 2020 she brought in just $24. That jumped to $900 in May, and $2,600 in June.

Buyer requests were 'how I got some of my first clients'

Another component of Fiverr that Herring started to take advantage of was buyer requests, or advertisements from businesses and individuals in search of freelancers for particular projects. "This is how I got some of my first clients" for video editing, she says. "I have a client that I found at buyer requests that I still work with a year and a half later."

She spent about 1 to 2 hours a week combing through buyer requests to see if there was anything she was qualified for and could do. "I think that I got equal traction," she says, from adding video editing gigs to her page and responding to buyer requests.

Today, Herring's profile offers an array of services including general video editing gigs for $50 to $150, Twitch trailer gigs for $20 to $45, and even some voiceover gigs for $20. She has edited a variety of videos. "I've had cooking classes, I've had yoga classes, I've had Zoom meetings," she says, adding that the diversity of subject has "actually helped me grow as an editor."

In July, her family moved to Orlando. "Moving to Florida was always my dream," she says. "I am a big Disney nerd, like, big Disney nerd, and I could never go as a kid ever. We couldn't afford it." Now, thanks to her growing business, she can. Being able to take her son to Disney World on a regular basis is "pretty awesome," she says.

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