Meet the Puppet Who Made $11,000 Last Year from Silly Online Videos

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Fiverr.com is an online marketplace where people tackle any number of bizarre gigs or “micro-jobs” in exchange for payment of a whopping $5. Users might offer to place 100 flyers on 100 cars, or design a company logo, or record a customized message while imitating the voice of a “Star Wars” character. One of the “stars” to emerge in what might be called the “gig economy” is Professor Hans Van Puppet—who supposedly pulled in $11,000 via Fiverr last year, and has reason to believe he’ll earn a lot more in 2012.

Professor Puppet, a wrinkled, distinguished-looking gent with glasses, curly white hair and a mustache, and a vaguely Eastern European accent, is a proud shill for whoever will hand over five bucks. It’s hard to say what Professor Puppet’s academic field of expertise is exactly, but since offering his services at Fiverr, the professor has made videos endorsing everything from Umami Burger to a brand of wood elixir. He has also found the time to make the rounds hitting on girls at Cannes and Comic Con.

(MORE: Spin for Extra Discounts with Groupon’s Creepy New Gimmick, ‘Clicky’)

Fiverr has also had a hand in some heartwarming stores. For instance, an eight-year-old girl from Washington recently sold enough of her drawings on Fiverr to buy an iPad—which she donated to the classroom of her twin brothers, who both have autism.

But back to Professor Puppet, whose latest client is, fittingly, Fiverr itself. In the video below, the professor explains how he used Fiverr to earn $11K last year. He also lays out the basics of Fiverr’s new structure for buying and selling services, in which “micro-entrepreneurs” can work their way through a series of levels and wind up pulling in a lot more than $5 a pop.

The gist is that, through positive feedback and client interaction, sellers will be deemed trustworthy enough to pass to the next level and possibly make more money. How much? Fiverr’s press release pumps up the new system as “a game-changing new level system,” that’ll appeal especially to “sellers that are looking to the site as a primary source of income.”

Primary source of income? Really? Somebody should check the math on this. I’ll pay $5 to whoever is willing.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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