The New Sharing Economy: Earning Money From Your Underused Property

Need some cash? Thousands of people are turning to sites like AirBnB to turn their spare rooms, cars, and free time into extra spending money. You can capture some of this entrepreneurial spirit and capitalize on it in three ways.

1.) Rent your spare room

If you haven’t heard of AirBnB, it’s the flagship of this new economy. People list their spare rooms for rent, and short-term vacationers can search them by location, amenities or price. Rates are usually lower than hotels, and the accommodations can be much nicer. The thrill of staying with a local who can recommend nearby attractions or restaurants also attracts tourists. AirBnB is popular – the company boasts 350,000 people who are renting rooms by using the service.

Getting started with AirBnB is as easy as sprucing up a spare bedroom and making a listing. Obviously, living in a tourist hotspot is a major benefit, but it’s far from required. If you want to increase your revenue, renovations like a private entrance, secure storage facilities and private bathrooms are highly sought-after by renters.

If you rent, you may need to check your lease for potential sub-leasing complications. If you own your home, a quick call to your insurance agent to ensure this practice isn’t forbidden by your homeowner’s policy wouldn’t be a bad idea. One New York AirBnB user made $37,000 from renting the spare room in his condo. He used the profits to buy a vacation house, which he now rents on the service.

2.) Share your car

For people traveling by plane, car travel is one of the biggest expenses. Whether by taxi or in a rental car, it can be quite costly to get from place to place. Popular services like Uber allow folk with spare time to undercut the big rental and taxi companies and offer rides to traveling strangers. Alternative services like RelayRides allow you to rent your vehicle to others during extended periods of disuse while you’re traveling or if you only need your car a few days a week.

These services occupy a significant legal gray area. If someone borrowing your car damages it, how will you hold them responsible? If they run a red light and are caught on a traffic camera, will you be stuck with the ticket? You may run afoul of larger, established taxi and rental companies that have the power to influence regulation.

Still, success stories with these services exist. One struggling California musician started renting his car on the service. One $200,000 investment later, he owns eight high-end SUVs and a few sedans. Renting cars has become his full-time job. It’s required sacrifice, as he now finds his music career increasingly confined to weekends. But it’s allowed him to pay the bills.

3.) Share your skills

For some people, like engineers and writers, the freelance economy of the Internet was fairly obvious. These kinds of tasks can be done remotely. Increasingly, though, other kinds of labor are becoming sharable. Services like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk began as a survey site, but entrepreneurs realized its potential as much more. Now, tasks like transcription, data entry, and research can be completed by willing laborers who never have to leave the comfort of their computers.

More specifically, services like Google Helpouts allow you to share skills remotely, too. A video conference instruction enables you to instruct others in doing something you’re good at, and the possibilities are endless. You can use Helpouts to help people practice English, organize a kitchen cabinet or cook your family specialty. You can use your specialized knowledge to make a little extra money and brighten someone else’s day.

Realistically, wages for this type of work are not high at all. A global economy means competing against people who live in countries with considerably lower standards of living. You can expect to earn between $2 and $3 per hour for unskilled Internet labor, though many skilled workers are earning much more than that. With enough dedication and practice, you can turn your hobbies and spare time into your own cottage industry.


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