Making and Saving Money in the Sharing Economy, Part II

This article is the second in a two-part series on this topic.  To see the whole story, please start with Making and Saving Money in the Sharing Economy, Part I.

Airbnb.com

What is it? A web and smart phone app that connects people with extra sleeping quarters to those in need of a place to sleep for short periods. On Airbnb.com you can rent anything from a couch to a castle, from a basement to a bedroom.

What should I look out for? Like Uber and Lyft, make sure that your insurance provider knows what you’re up to and that your renter’s or home-owner’s insurance policy covers you and your guests. Airbnb does offer a $1 million host guarantee, which protects hosts from theft or damage to property caused by a guest. Also like Uber and Lyft, always pay attention to reviews left by others. Also, Airbnb will verify user’s IDs, making sure that a person is who they say they are and that they can be located if needed. Always look for the “Verified ID” badge on a user’s profile.

Finally, as a host, you should always pay attention to local laws and regulations regarding zoning, occupancy restrictions, licensing requirements and taxes. Many municipalities forbid short-term rentals, others require that hosts collect and remit lodging taxes to city governments.  In Boulder, CO, for example, short term rentals in residential units may violate zoning restrictions, licensing requirements, and short term lodging taxation requirements.  However, for the time being, the City of Boulder has publicly announced that it will not be enforcing these regulations against short term rentals.   Always call you local government office to find out if you can offer short term rentals from your home.

 

DogVacay.com

What is it? A platform connecting people with pets to people willing to look after pets.

What do I need to become a pet-sitter? Smart phone or camera + computer; love of pets; and a home that lets you take in pets or transportation to and from the pet-owner’s home (some pet owners prefer their pets stay at home).

How much are people making? The average nightly rate per pet is around $30. When you’re starting out on any sharing economy platform, it’s usually wise to offer low prices until you’ve been reviewed by a few people. Once you’ve got some reviews you can always raise your prices!

 

TaskRabbit.com

What is it? A platform connecting people who need odd jobs done to people who can do those jobs. This is especially exciting in Boulder / Denver because very few “taskers” are listed.

What do I need to become a tasker? Access to the website or smart phone app, time to do tasks, a relatively clean background check (TaskRabbit.com requires this) and a client-focused attitude.

How much are people making? The average hourly rate is around $25, but varies greatly depending on the type of task and the experience / reviews of the tasker.

 

RelayRides.com

What is it? A platform connecting people who need to rent a car to people who are willing to rent out their car. This is also exciting in Boulder because we have a large volume of tourists visiting the city, and very few cars available on the site. Want to rent out your bike instead? Try Spinlister.com.

What do I need to become a tasker? Access to the website or smart phone app, a reliable car, and a strong insurance policy. Note that RelayRides may insure your vehicle for certain liabilities, and renters have the option of purchasing additional coverage through RelayRides.

How much are people making? Depending on the make, model, and condition of your car, you could rent it out for anywhere from $15 to a few hundred dollars a day.

 

General notes on becoming a provider on sharing platforms

When you become a provider of any type of resource, product, or service, you essentially become a business owner. Your customers will have basic expectations about the quality of the product or service they receive. Those expectations may be based on what you’ve promised on your profile or listing, or based on general, reasonable expectations in the field. No matter where the expectations come from, your success will depend on meeting and exceeding customer’s expectations.

Customers will leave reviews about their experience with you. If those reviews are positive, you are likely to get more business, if they’re negative, you may never get another customer on that platform. You cannot simply delete a profile and start from scratch – once you start on any of these platforms, you’re stuck with any reviews you get for life.

Next, as someone providing a product or service in exchange for money, you have a heightened responsibility to make sure that what you’re providing is safe. Always think of safety first, and never put your customer or their property in dangerous situations.

Finally, always be sure that the laws in your jurisdiction do not forbid whatever you’re doing, and remember that you will probably have to pay taxes on any income.

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