Fiverr doesn't work for software projects

I have a little calendar problem in my life, which I want to solve with software. Software, that I didn't want to write myself, but rather outsource to someone I can pay for developing it for me. Here is why I ended up coding it myself and why Fiverr doesn't work for these kinds of projects.

Fiverr doesn't work for software projects

I have a little calendar problem in my life, which I want to solve with software. Software, that I didn't want to write myself, but rather outsource to someone I can pay for developing it for me. Here is why I ended up coding it myself and why Fiverr doesn't work for these kinds of projects.

The calendar problem I have, is actually so banal, that I was surprised that there doesn't seem to be an existing solution for it. All I need is a little tool, that runs locally on my computer (not in the cloud), regularly checks my calenders and synchronizes them with each other, so that whenever I have an appointment in one calendar, all my other calendars show a blocker at the same time to avoid overbooking.

Why do I need this? - I have a private calendar, and I am in multiple work projects with multiple Google or Office 365 Accounts. These sometimes overlap. I want to make sure, that colleagues at work see me as "busy" in their calendar planning tools, when I have a private appointment and vice versa.

Why don't you use existing cloud-based sync tools like XYZ? - All online tools require me to sign in with my work account and give them access to my calendar. This is prohibited by my employer's admins.

Why a local tool? - What nearly all admins allow is the integration with the native calendar apps. I am using macOS and with the EventKit API, I can access the local calendars and sync them, without storing data somewhere in the cloud.

But back to Fiverr...

The scope of the project was relatively small. I already did some research and found out, it is technically possible to sync locally with EventKit. I was willing to throw some money at my problem because I had no time to build it myself.

I would have said, these were the perfect conditions, to hire someone to help me to build the tool on Fiverr. So I prepared a briefing, which

  • Describes my problem in detail with examples
  • Describes my desired outcome
  • Describes why it can't be solved with the existing online solutions out there
  • Mentions the research around EventKit, that I already did
  • Outlines the logic for the calendar process
  • Provides a UI Design, I already created in Figma
  • Mentions some of the technical challenges, I was already seeing

You can find the result in this document.

What do you think? To me, it all looked pretty clear. So I sent it out to a few technical friends and asked for feedback and after tweaking a few things, I was excited to present it to the world of freelancers on Fiverr! So I searched for some "Native macOS App" offerings (besides the hundreds of cross-platform ones with Flutter, React Native, etc...) and found a few promising ones. The following text went out to my top 10 candidates.

Hi  👋

I am looking for some help to build a little helper tool for macOS to access the local calendars via EventKit and syncs them with each other.

I tried to summarize my problem that I want to solve and what I have tried so far and why I need a local tool. Could you review the document and let me know if it is clear to you and makes sense?

Do you think you can build that? If so, can you give me a rough estimate about the cost and which packet I would need to book for that?

Thanks a lot and best greetings!

The responses were frustrating. Two freelancers didn't answer at all. Other two were not available at the moment. So far, so good. The remaining 6(!) all either completely misunderstood the requirements, did clearly not read the briefing document carefully or even started to do research, that I already did before.

I will spare you with the whole list of miserable conversations, but here are some of my highlights lowlights:

I will fix the issue on your computer 🙈

One of the freelancers didn't want to understand that there was no existing code to fix and that this is not a problem on my computer but a new app, I needed to be developed.

After this conversation, I double-checked his project offering in case I misunderstood what he was offering, but it was literally called "I will create iOS, iPadOS, macOS App using SwiftUI", which actually sounded like exactly what I needed... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We have done some research - not possible without  vendor APIs 🤦‍♂️

Another one did a bunch of research and, over and over again, tried to explain, that what I was trying to active was probably not possible without accessing the calendar through the official vendor APIs. Completely unnecessary, as I already did that research (as mentioned in the briefing) and even provided code, how to do it without the APIs. Also, not using these APIs was one of my main requirements...


These were only a few out of many more pointless and frustration conversions I had. Trust me, I double-checked each project offer description to make sure that the mistake was not on my end and I misinterpreted what they were actually offering.

This leads to one conclusion: Either, I was badly communicating the requirements, and we had a big communication problem or these freelancers simply did not read the briefing document carefully (or didn't read it at all).

By the end, I didn't find a single one, where I felt comfortable enough to give my little project into their hands. Not a single one.

Why it doesn't work

But why is that? Why were these conversations and misunderstandings by no means the exception?

To me, there is only one explanation for that: Fiverr and other similar platforms only work well for the offeree, if they can achieve a very high output while reusing a majority of their existing work. Due to the mass of freelancers, the price-pressure is so high, that you can only survive if you can deliver a lot of work in a very short time. Not the best circumstances for successful software projects, eh?

I could understand all that for works like logos designs, landing pages, business cards, and creative writings, but are there so many apps being built right now, that freelancers can't even afford to read a 7-page briefing?

How do large companies do that when they outsource their development needs? Do they hire an additional project manager for the communication? Is this different for big-money projects? Is my project just too small and thus uninteresting? What are your thoughts?

For myself, I decided to build the little tool on my own in the evening hours as a pet project. It can't take long, and learning a new programming language like Swift is fun. I will keep you updated about the progress...

☝️ Advertisement Block: I will buy myself a pizza every time I make enough money with these ads to do so. So please feed a hungry developer and consider disabling your Ad Blocker.