How to Get In On The Sharing Economy
DogVacay, Schlep and others offer a hand plus a way to make money
You’ve probably heard about The Sharing Economy — renting or borrowing everything from guest bedrooms to garden tools. Maybe you use sharing-economy businesses like the Uber car service or Airbnb’s in-home vacation lodging. But have you thought about getting in on this hot trend to earn some extra cash in your 50s or 60s by sharing what you own or offering up your services?
If you’re not keen on supplementing your income by having a complete stranger sleeping on your sofa, maybe you’d be more inclined to temporarily take in the fluffy, 4-legged kind — or profit by sharing in another way.
(MORE: Earn Money From the Passion for Pets)
Boarding Dogs for Fun and Profit
Sandra Tjader, 52, boards dogs at her Santa Cruz, Calif., property through DogVacay.com (there’s also a CatVacay.com). Previously, Tjader — who has four dogs of her own — boarded a few hounds now and then, mostly through word of mouth. The income was spotty, though, and Tjader didn’t like chasing down payments or marketing her services.
A friend told her about DogVacay two years ago and she signed up, partly because the operation eliminates the pesky billing and marketing tasks Tjader loathed. She's been delighted.
“We are slammed with business,” says Tjader, who is often booked three months in advance and can host up to 15 dogs, at $45 a night each. In fact, business is so brisk, Tjader quit her part-time office job. She says she really enjoys “building relationships with such nice clientele” and loves hosting dogs “10 million times more than working inside.”
(MORE: Retirees and The Sharing Economy)
Hiring Out Your Handy Services
The list of sharing-economy services where you might be able to get paid is growing exponentially these days, through firms such as ridesharing Uber, Lyft and Carpooling.com and businesses like TaskRabbit, which hooks customers up with helpful people like Timm Turnblad.
Turnblad, 50, is an Alameda, Calif. marketing consultant who can also fix just about anything. So he’s putting his talents to good use through TaskRabbit, doing things others don’t have the ability, or time, to do.
Turnblad now earns around $4,000 a month picking up TaskRabbit assignments — troubleshooting appliances, installing light fixtures, assembling IKEA furniture and the like. “It’s really fun, interesting and fulfilling work,” he says.
And, Turnblad says, he has found it an ideal way to supplement his income during the winter months when his other business, a San Francisco Segway tour company, slows down.
The sharing economy has opened doors for plenty of midlifers like Tjader and Turnblad who want more control over their lives, are glad to earn extra money, but most of all, enjoy helping others.
Paolo Parigi, a Stanford University Assistant Professor of Sociology isn’t surprised. Parigi says the sharing economy — thanks to peer and client reviews and intimate face-to-face interaction — often facilitates trust and cooperation. “The sharing economy really breaks down barriers,” he says. “The platforms can quickly connect people to a community.”
A Moving Experience in The Sharing Economy
Sometimes, that happens when you need a hand.
The sharing-economy moving service, Schlep, connected Chris Broxon, 55, to a guy with a truck when she needed help transporting two dressers from a friend’s apartment in Evanston, Ill. to her home in Chicago. Broxon requested a Schlep (what the firm’s part-time movers are called) through an online form and a friendly, vetted guy moved the bulky furniture for a reasonable fee.
Hunter Riley, co-founder of Schlep, understands why the sharing economy is benefiting people who aren’t quite twentysomethings. When his company started in 2013, its first customers were in their 60s or older. “They needed the muscle and the vehicle,” says Riley. “We deliver trust too, which is paramount with this kind of transaction.”
3 Ways to Share and Earn
Here are three other noteworthy sharing-economy businesses you might want to use to supplement your income or to receive services you’d like:
Instacart: It’s a grocery delivery service in some parts of the U.S. where you can make up to $25 an hour helping get fresh groceries to people in your community or you can be a customer. To get paid, you must have a recent smartphone, be able to lift 25 pounds and be able to work some nights and weekends.
SpinLister: Dust off your bike, surfboard, snow skis or stand-up paddle board and rent it out; or use SpinLister to rent someone else’s. Spinlister takes a 17.5 percent cut of your listing fee, so if you charge $20 a day, the company will keep $3.50.
Feastly: With this peer-to-peer dining experience, you host a dinner at your home for local visitors and you set the price (Feastly keeps 20 percent). Alternatively, you can use Feastly while traveling to immerse yourself in a community through a unique meal at someone’s home as an alternative to impersonal restaurants.
Molly Blake is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Entrepreneur magazine and on Forbes.com, Today.com, Inc.com and elsewhere.