New moneymaking websites like Etsy, Poshmark, TaskRabbit, and Airbnb have created tremendous opportunities: These online marketplaces let you sell, rent, or do freelance work directly for others. But how much money can you really make?
The Sharing Economy
It used to be that if you had stuff to sell – anything from homemade crafts to handyman services to renting out your boat – you’d list it in the classified ads. That’s changing – fast. Just as online classifieds like Craigslist spelled doom for newspaper ads, newer sites and apps threaten Craigslist by providing what Craigslist doesn’t – a community where both buyers and sellers are rated by other users, and where service providers are often background-checked and insured.
But what’s really changed is the efficient sharing of resources: Only use your car 30 minutes a day? Why not rent it out the rest of the time through a site like Getaround? And how often do you really use that Skil Saw? Name your rental price on SnapGoods.com. There are now dozens of websites and apps that efficiently connect what you offer with people who are willing to pay.
So How Much Can YouReally Make?
Britney Bedford gave up her fulltime job as an aesthetician to work in this new economy – and she makes more now than she did before. Her most consistent work is through TaskRabbit, an online classifieds for odd jobs. “I can make anywhere between 20 and 60 dollars an hour,” she says. “One time I was hired by someone to drive a Rolls-Roycefor their wedding. I had to pick up the car and drive them down the aisle…. I believe I got paid $200 for that.” But more often, tasks are mundane, like going to Costco for someone – she charges about $40 for that task, depending on how far out of her way she has to go.
Britney also uses Poshmark to sell clothes that she or her friends are ready to toss. She dresses a mannequin, takes photos of the items, and posts them online. By selling direct, she can command far higher prices than if she went through a local consignment store. She utilizes a network of friends to gather clothing – and splits the proceeds with them. One month, she made as much as $6000 this way. But even when it’s just a few hundred in a month, it’s still not bad.
Finally, Britney rents out rooms in her California home through Airbnb for $49-$62 a night. She says that income alone covers her own housing costs.
No question, Britney is an energetic, self-motivated hustler of an entrepreneur. “I probably work just as hard, if not harder, than I did before.” But she gets to be her own boss, makes a good living, and gets to spend more time with her dogs.
To be sure, this is just one example of one person, a person who happens to live in an area where TaskRabbit is extremely active. But AirBNB is in 192 countries, and for selling goods online, it doesn’t matter where you live. How much you can make really depends more on how much of a go-getter you are.
A Sampling of Other Sites
Of course eBay started it all, and remains the dominant player in the world of buying and selling used (and new) goods, but newer niche sites create new opportunities:
· Etsy specializes in hand-made crafts and vintage items. No longer do you have to fight for good placement in a local gallery; with Etsy, you offer your talents directly to the world.
· thredUP provides an outlet for clothes your kids have outgrown.
· Uber and Lyft let you be a taxi driver on call.
· RelayRides lets you rent your car when you’re not using it. (And in San Francisco, you can park your car at the airport, and a traveler rents it while you’re gone. Not only do you collect the rental fee, but you don’t have to pay for airport parking!)
· GetMyBoat and Boatbound let you rent your boat (yes theyprovide the insurance).
· ParkatmyHouse even lets you rent out space in your driveway.
· Vayable connects travelers to local hosts who give personalized tours all over the world.
And that’s just to name a few.
[Related: Online Travel Booking Secrets]
I confess I’d be nervous to have total strangers coming into my house, or even renting my car. But on virtually all of these sites, the renters have reviews about them, just as do the service providers. This community monitoring theoretically adds a measure of safety to the transactions. And most of the rental sites provide insurance as part of the deal. Still there are issues around legalities and tax reporting (Sidecar calls theirs a “ride-sharing” service rather than a taxi service, and calls payments to the drivers “donations”). These businesses are all in their infancy, and legislatures and licensing agencies are struggling to keep up with the times. But if you’re looking to earn a few extra bucks – or avoid getting a real job – they might work for you.
Share your experiences with the sharing economy on our Facebook page.