This article is based on a conversation with Rick Powell, a 53-year-old IT manager from Oregon, about his business as a dog park owner. The text has been edited for length and clarity. Business Insider has verified the income claimed by the author.
Am Head of an application development teambut working in the computer world can mean being very well financially or starving.
I lived through the crisis of dot com and now I am witnessing very closely the mass layoffs that are taking place in technology companies. Due to this instability and the insecurity of this job, I have always looked for safe ways to supplement my income.
In 2019, I worked for Adidas. I was the senior network and connectivity manager for all of North America. At that time there was a restructuring that I did not like and I resigned. I accepted the 5-month severance that they offered me.
I thought I could find another job quickly because in the past I had changed jobs easily, but 8 months later he was still unemployed.
I discovered Sniffspot on Craigslist
Our savings were running outSo I started looking for ways to make money. I found an ad for Sniffspot on Craigslist.
Sniffspot is a service similar to Airbnb for people who want to rent out their yards or gardens as dog parks. If someone has a fenced-in yard, they can advertise it on Sniffspot and owners can pay by the hour to leave their dogs there.
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In Tualatin, Oregon, my wife and I have a fully fenced 2.5 hectare gardenso I signed up. There is no minimum land requirement, but Sniffspot suggests that unfenced lots smaller than 2,000 square meters do not work well on the platform.
I went to the “Become a Host” section, read the information on how I could offer my land and signed up for free. I answered the usual questions about my garden and uploaded our ad photos.
I signed up, but it wasn’t accepting guests at first
Shortly after signing up with Sniffspot, I got the job I currently have as a Senior Application Manager.
At the time I signed up we needed the money, but we weren’t sure we wanted people to rent out our yard either. But when it came the covid-19some friends told us that they had nowhere to take their dogs because the dog parks were closed.
That made me think about our garden and the need that there might be at that time for people to have dogs.
In March 2020, my wife and I launched our ad for good and earned 18 euros in the first month. In April, we earned 300 euros thanks to word of mouth. My wife and I were happy with our little extra income.
Dog owners are 100% responsible for cleaning
as hosts, our only responsibility is to make sure the tenant knows how to access our backyard after making the reservation. Only people on the list can access with their dogs.
Sniffspot provides nearly €2 million in liability cover and we we charge guests 14 euros per hour for the use of our back garden.
Little by little we were gaining followers in Sniffspot through positive comments and recommendations.
In October 2021, we created an affiliate program for regular customers through the platform. Memberships meant we could count on a steady income every month.
Regular registrations start at 28 euros per month and members receive 2 hours per month. We have 2 other packages that offer discounts for booking more hours. They can reserve 4 hours for 60 euros per month and 8 hours for 112 euros per month.
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In December 2021, we managed to earn more than 1,000 euros while dedicating less than 2 hours a week to the garden rental business
we started to do small investments to improve our space and increase revenue.
For example, we bought a pavilion because it rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest and we wanted a place where the dogs could continue to play without getting wet. We put more gates so owners could drive into the yard, close the gate, and let their dogs run free.
We also met with guests to build relationships. Although it’s not required, I try to make people who come with their dogs feel comfortable, so I greet them and then let them enjoy their time alone with their dogs.
The Sniffspot app is easy to useSo we set up automated messages that tell customers everything they need to know to get into our garden and what they can do once they’re inside.
We spend about 10 minutes a day managing our reservations, and we usually have 8 fixed clients a day. I haven’t spent anything on advertising and I don’t post anything on social media. All of our growth has been organic.
We have 64 registered members who represent a recurring income of 2,300 euros per month. Members choose each month the time they want to reserve our garden. We have an exclusive time slot for them every day between 7:00 and 12:00.
Sniffspot has allowed our family to earn great passive income
Between regular member memberships and hourly rentals, we get an average of almost 3,000 euros per month.
I spend 2 hours a month making sure there is no yard waste and mowing the lawn. With the money we have earned, we have remodeled our property and also saved money for our daughter’s collegewho is in his first year of high school.
Overall, we have had a positive experience with our garden rental, but we did have a demanding customer who we had to ask not to come back. He was rude to our daughter, who sometimes helps out with the dog owners, because she prevented him from entering a part of the property that was not available.
Renting out my garden as a side business has given me peace of mind
Renting our garden will always be for me a side business because it can’t match the benefits I get from my main job. But it’s good to know that I have something else to get by thanks to almost 3,000 euros a month if I lose my job.
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