Not all side hustles require an artistic eye or MBA. For some, all you need is a backyard.
More than ever before, today's lucrative side hustles focus less on blue-collar work and delivery jobs, and more on the idea that you can make money off skills you already have and things you already own.
That's particularly true for side hustlers who started their businesses to have a financial cushion during economic uncertainty or offset the costs of owning luxury items.
"Five years ago, the big stories were all about Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and GrubHub," Kathy Kristof, the founder and editor of sidehusl.com, tells CNBC Make It. "Now, that explosive growth is really with professional platforms where people can earn six-figure incomes from home. Any professional job that you can name, there's a platform for it."
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Indeed, today's side hustle platforms can help people earn cash from their cars, boats, swimming pools, garages and more. Some users of these platforms bring in six figures per year off less than 20 hours of work per week.
Over the past year, CNBC Make It spoke with a series of users on those platforms, each of whom built new income streams by monetizing things they already owned. Here are three examples:
1. Rent out your vehicle to strangers
JP Mancini II always wanted to own a boat, but didn't want to sink hundreds of thousands of dollars into one without seeing a return. Then, he realized people would pay thousands of dollars a day to charter his private vessel.
In January 2022, Mancini listed his $400,000 37-foot boat, docked in Key West, Florida, on rental platforms like Boatsetter and GetMyBoat. (For cars, Turo is a popular platform with similar functionality.)
After five months, things went well enough for Mancini to buy a new $300,000 boat, taking out a $150,000 loan to cover half the cost. He docked the second boat near his home in Hampton, Virginia.
In one full year of business, the investment translated to income. The boats bring in $38,800 per month in revenue, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It. About $190,00 of that is income, Mancini said in January.
Mancini only works 30 minutes per day, managing bookings and coordinating with captains. He puts $6,000 every month toward paying off the boats, saving most of his revenue instead to buy more boats in the future.
"I don't like to spend any earned income. I use it to build out other investments," Mancini said. "That's the whole reason I started chartering in the first place. I couldn't subject myself to the costs of luxury [boats], so I found a way for them to pay me back."
2. Charge people to use your swimming pool
In 2012, Jim Battan spent $110,000 building a luxury pool in his backyard. He expected that it would add value to his West Linn, Oregon, home. He never expected strangers would pay him to swim in it.
Then, in September 2020, Battan listed his pool on Swimply, an Airbnb-style platform for swimming pools. Within two years, he brought in nearly $200,000 renting out his amenity-packed pool to more than 10,000 people, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.
With a spa, pool house and neighboring barn with rescue animals, Battan quickly became the platform's top earner. But not all of that revenue translates to profit: Last year, the IT specialist estimated that he'd spent $37,000 simply maintaining the pool over the prior decade.
It's not passive income, either. As of Fall 2022, Battan and his wife spilt 12 to 14 hours per week on bookings, greeting guests and regularly checking the water's chlorine levels.
Battan noted that his pool brings in a lot of money because he spent a lot building it out. And as Swimply has become more popular, demand for his pool has decreased.
"If people think they're going to build a pool and turn it into something that will earn $200,000 in two years, it's a little bit of a fantasy," Battan said in September. "You have to have the right circumstances and a competitive advantage no one else has.
3. Convert your backyard into a private dog park
Rick Powell has always been a bona fide dog-person. He just didn't start making money from it until March 2020.
That's when he started renting out his five-acre backyard outside Tualatin, Oregon, as a private dog park on a platform called Sniffspot. Business was slow at first: He only earned $29 in the first month, he tells CNBC Make It.
As the Covid-19 pandemic fueled new demand for outdoor gathering spaces, Powell's revenue grew. The next month, he made $329, with repeat clients including individual dog owners, puppy trainers, search and rescue canines and Oregon Dog Rescue.
Now, Powell brings in up to $4,100 per month on Sniffspot, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It. Most days, his backyard is booked solid with seven hourlong appointments.
Powell, a senior technology manager for the CPI Card Group, is the platform's top earner, according to Sniffspot. He says it's not luck: His location, nearby horses and sniff-worthy piles of lumber make the space popular.
Powell says he, his wife and his daughter spend five to 10 hours per week setting up stations with towels and water bowls, and mowing the lawn. He also installed a $98 gate and spent $400 on gravel so customers could pull into his backyard and let their dogs jump out of the car without having to leash up.
"It can be as hands off as you want it, but I choose to do it differently," Powell, 53, tells CNBC Make It. "We've always maintained that meeting our guests the first time they visit creates a comfort level."
Like Battan, Powell says he's not sure his park will stay popular as Sniffspot grows. But for now, he says, the benefits — watching greyhounds run, showing his daughter the ins and outs of business and earning cash in uncertain times — outweigh any pitfalls.
"It's given our family a level of comfort," Powell says. "My wife's been a school teacher for 22 years, now. And for us it's been really it's just been a huge blessing."
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