The Fiverr Experiment

I have never been a fan of the mentality that my job is my only source of income. This comes from my parents, my father specifically. If you are good at something, and you enjoy doing it, why not attempt to monetize it in a way that supports that activity, without being greedy?

People are always saying the thing you do in your free time is the thing you should be doing full time. I don’t know if I agree with that, entirely… But I do know that visual thinking is something I do in my free time, and I always get positive feedback when I post the sketchnotes online.

In my attempts to make my sketchnoting and illustrating services a serious thing (i.e. something people pay me to do), I have published a book, given a conference presentation and co-led a workshop, and more recently, joined Fiverr. Fiverr is a website that operates along those old Klondike bar commercials… “What would you do-ooh-oooh for a Klondike Bar?”

Except in this instance, it’s “what would you do for five dollars?”


This is something of a lie, however. The Fiverr buyer pays $5, but the system takes a dollar, leaving $4 for the Fiverr seller as compensation. ANYWAY. The point is I joined the website to see if people would pay for my sketchnotes as a commissioned interaction. I created three gigs:

  • I will sketchnote your talk for $5
  • I will speed draw your text for $5
  • I will create a sketchnote animation for $5

Speakers in the past have paid to have print copies of my sketchnotes of their talks, so I know I’m good enough for that. And after two weeks of being on Fiverr, I am already overwhelmed with gigs that I need to complete… In two weeks I received ELEVEN gig requests, bumping me up to a Level One seller, which allows me to add “extras” such as color, more pages, etc, for more money.

So. I know my sketchnoting is viable in terms of people wanting to buy my designs. With Fiverr, however, you don’t get revisions. What you get from me is what you get. And the money is very little, so while it was exciting to get so much interest (moreso on the videos, and I don’t blame them… a 30 second commercial for $5? Why not?!), I shut down the video gigs. My time is worth much more than $5 per two hours, which is how long it takes me to create a 30 second speed drawing in black and white.

That said, I have been taking the Earn1K course via Remit Sethi, also because I believe my sketchnoting can be a freelance service. I’ve fallen behind, but so far the system seems to kind of be working. I hope so, because I spent $1k to take the course with the expectation that it will help me make that money back. Ergo the title, Earn $1k.

This is an interesting project, for sure, trying to make my sketchnotes a freelance service. And not just my sketchnotes, but my illustration capabilities. I used to do a comic in high school (magical girl manga genre) and a separate one in undergrad (The Adventures of Nerderella).

So yes. If you know anyone looking for help communicating a complex process, or a one page summary of a talk that they can hand out to the audience after speaking, or need illustrations for a book, article, or blog, send them my way. We can make magic happen together at the start of $5 to try out our working relationship. Or if they like what they see, they can jump into the serious query process by contacting me via the form at the bottom of the page.