Jeremy Abdo doodled a lot as a kid, but as he got older, the drawing supplies got packed away with the action figures. When Abdo stumbled across the drawing tool in Snapchat, it rekindled his passion for sketching and drawing.
“In the beginning,” Abdo admits, “my drawings were really basic, but over time they’ve become more complex, incorporating video and emoji art. I’ve always been involved in the arts, especially studying film the last few years at UT Austin.”
Abdo cultivated a meager online following consisting of friends and UT Austin classmates. Eventually, his snaps brought requests he never expected — people offered money in exchange for personalized snaps.
The first few requests he received were beyond simple to execute. One classmate sent Abdo a picture of his pet turtle and asked him to draw it with the Super Mario Bros. Another guy sent a photo of his wrecked car. He didn’t know how to tell his parents he crashed it, so he asked Abdo to draw the Incredible Hulk smashing the vehicle to use as an excuse. A group of friends throwing a keg party hired the amateur artist to create party invites.
“The weirdest request I’ve drawn,” recalls the 23-year-old film major, “was when some guy actually paid me to turn a photo of his poop into Mr. Hanky from South Park.”
At a mere $5 a pop, customers got their customized photos, and Abdo was able to save up some cash. In the span of a couple months, Abdo knocked out close to 200 drawings and pocketed over $1000. Each completed job was uploaded to his Instagram, to build an online resume for future art commissions.
Abdo’s following ballooned with the rapid growth of Snapchat and the young entrepreneur was averaging about 20,000 views per story on his personal account.
Much like Abdo’s business, Snapchat was also still in its infancy stages. Throughout 2015, Snapchat was consistently among the top 13 downloaded apps and often in the top 3 for photo and video apps. Fast forward to present day and Snapchat boasts an estimated 200 million monthly active users sending over 700 million photos and videos each day. Those snaps were viewed, on average, about 500 million times per day.
Millennials account for more than 7 out of 10 Snapchat users. With companies spending 500% more in an attempt to reach those young eyeballs, Abdo quickly became an “influencer” on the app, even if all he was doing was drawing immature photos of other people’s excrement.
Abdo now makes anywhere from $100 to $5,000 for each story. He’s worked with brands such as Dairy Queen and Krispy Kreme and his Snapchat work has even lead to a paragliding adventure in Maui.
With the money he’s earned off the mobile messaging application, Abdo plans on expanding his business model. He has used some of the money to travel to tech events like SXSW, as well as to California for Snapchat meet-ups.
“I’ve also invested in gadgets for my phone to make storytelling on the platform more interesting,” Abdo points out, “and I’ve been thinking about buying a tablet too. Just to make drawing a little quicker and easier.”
The graduating senior still wants to pursue a career in film, but right now he’s content with his side career.
“I never thought I’d be able to turn it in to a job. Being able to express myself creatively through film, art, and music is really important to me. It’s also gotten me back in to drawing, and I enjoy thinking of creative new videos or drawings to post on my story. ”
While it’s definitely an unusual way to make extra money, Abdo concedes at least it’s not “another stupid app idea.”
Abdo jokes that “while most people waste their time scrolling through endless Facebook feeds during boring lectures, I waste time drawing crappy versions of Spongebob on Snapchat.”
Chris Illuminati is a senior editor with BroBible. If you’ve got a story that deserves to be told, reach out to him here.