Why I May Drop Out of the Sharing Economy

IMG_0646I started the year with a fun goal: To partake more in the sharing economy. I wanted to try travelling, food delivery, car sharing, unique gifts and dog sitting, among other things, in this new economy that has so much potential.

I not only wanted to spend this year as a consumer exploring services from individuals that were previously only offered by businesses, but to sell my services too. Heck, I've watched friends' dogs for free for years, why not make some extra money at it as a dog sitter?

The extra cash isn't worth the time, for the most part.

While I don't consider myself an expert as a service provider in the sharing economy, peer-to-peer, collaborative or whatever else this area is called, I have used it plenty and have an idea of what to expect as someone on the selling end. I've used Lyft, Webvan, DogVacay and have sold or given away a few things on Craigslist.

I've worked for DogVacay.com and Rover.com as a dog sitter for a year, and I've come to realize that it's not the money-making story I thought it would be. I'm not saying that the sharing economy leads to income inequality, or that it is the best way for anyone to make some extra money. But for me, it comes down to the payout versus my time.

Sharing economy numbers

Here are some numbers from my workload in the sharing economy: I charge $45 a night for boarding a dog for a night. Of that, I get $38.25 per night and DogVacay gets $6.75.

I don't begrudge DogVacay its cut. That's fine and acceptable. Their online booking process is fantastic and leads to some gigs every few months.

The $38.25 a night that I collect, however, isn't always worth it in the long run. I haven't dropped out of DogVacay yet, but getting up in the middle of the night to deal with a barking dog that misses its owner is a hassle I'd rather not deal with. It makes for a long, tiresome day the next day, when I'm supposed to be writing for someone and not taking a nap.

And I don't expect to charge more than $45 per night, based on what other dog sitters charge in my area. As a dog owner myself, I see how crazy it is to even charge that much. I might as well rent a motel room for my dog.

Could I earn $4,800 a month?

IMG_0639I like to think that my dog sitting service is worth the price. I only watch one guest dog at a time, only accept small dogs, I'm home all day to be with the guest dog, and it has my dog and daughter to play with all day. I'll walk the dog and give it plenty of exercise, and we generally have a fun time.

Except when it barks nonstop at any noise outside, pees in the house, won't sleep in its kennel, or howls in the middle of the night. Then, that $38 and change seems like a steal for the dog owner.

I have adapted by vetting dogs better with a meet-and-greet where I try to learn the dog's habits and loneliness factor, and I require a crate for it to sleep in at night so it isn't wandering my house looking for a spot to relieve itself.

One thing that got me interested in being a DogVacay host in the sharing economy, besides it fitting in my schedule as a freelance journalist at home, was when I had my dog boarded at a DogVacay sitter's home. He had a big back yard and had about six dogs roaming the yard and through an open screen door into his living room.

At about $40 per head, he was making at least $240 a day. My dog was there for five nights, as I suspect many of the others were, earning him about $1,200 a week. That's $4,800 a month. Do that year-round and you're making $57,600 per year.

Repeat business

I didn't want six dogs at my house per night, but one dog for a week per month, for example, and I'd be making about $280 per month. That could be some fun money my family could use, or we could put it aside for something else.

I'm still on the fence on my part in the sharing economy, but I'm leaning toward saying goodbye to my attempt as a dog sitter. I don't expect to drop out of the sharing economy entirely as a seller of services, but if I do leave DogVacay it will be a big step toward it.

A dog that has stayed at our house before is coming over in early April for nine nights, which I expect will go fine because he was well behaved on a previous visit. As any hotel or AirBnB host will tell you, repeat customers are the best.

Have you sold anything in the sharing economy? Were the hassles worth the income? Respond below in the Comments section.


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7 thoughts on “Why I May Drop Out of the Sharing Economy

  1. Returns in the sharing economy really depend so much on the business and how much you can leverage it as you've showed in your examples. For me, I found it was worthwhile when I wasn't making a ton of income. Now, I have more profitable ways of using my time for which I am grateful.

    1. Post author

      Agreed. I'm wavering on DogVacay and may give it another chance if it's for day boarding only. But yes, I'd much rather have more profitable opportunities.

  2. Aaron,

    I applaud your honesty! The dog boarding business is not an easy one. Even though Dog Vacay or Rover cover your insurance, there is only so much they cover. Then there is the dog, vaccinations and making sure that your habitat is conducive to a good place for dog boarding. We compete against the Dog Vacays of the world by offering more services like dog daycare with dog boarding, free video cameras, free access to training commands on a daily basis, and other free programs that we can apply to both daycare and boarding dogs. We do not use crates, but I understand the need to confine a "new pet" for the night. Appreciate your honesty on the whole program!


    1. Post author

      Thanks, Jack. The dog sitting I did in early April turned me around on repeat guests. I like the idea of a free video camera to check in with. Sounds like an interesting program you have.

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