Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Side Hustle Week Day 3: Loanables And Craigslist


Welcome to Side Hustle Week here at Road To A Tesla! Most personal finance bloggers love to talk about side hustles - ways you can make some extra money on the side to help you achieve your financial goals more quickly. These are usually jobs you can do as a hobby or while you are still employed full time somewhere and, with luck, you may be able to parlay them into big-time income producing projects.

I tried out my hand at some side hustles and each day this week, I will be posting my results and thoughts on some of the more popular ones.

Day 1 - Studypool
Day 2 - Wrapify
Day 3 - Loanables / Craigslist
Day 4 - Amazon Mechanical Turk
Day 5 -Udemy

Loanables / Craigslist

The Sharing Economy is the new Big Thing. Uber, Lyft, AirBnB,  and the like are letting people provide services or rent out their property for cash via the internet. In the case of the companies I mentioned, it’s been a pretty big success. It stands to reason then, that there might be an opportunity to rent out items besides cars or spare bedrooms.

Many people have stuff they rarely use – things like power tools, folding chairs, or sports equipment. Why not rent these out to people who need them? Back in 2008 and 2009, there was a big surge in websites specializing in these types of rentals. None reached the popularity of Uber or AirBnB and eventually the whole concept seemed to collapse. The largest company in the field, Zilok, is based in France and operates mainly overseas. Their U.S. site is still up, but you can no longer list an item to rent (you get an error when you go through the process) and the newest renter comments / evaluations I could find were from 2013. I read an article or two that posited that the failure of this concept to take off was due to the ubiquity of Amazon Prime, online ordering, and same- and next-day shipping.

Nevertheless, I felt the idea still had merit. I agree that cheap prices and quick delivery options from online stores are likely limiting how large this field can grow. Why rent a power drill for $10 a day when I can buy my own for $35, own it forever, and get it delivered tomorrow or sooner? But what about for large or heavy items, things that are generally hard or expensive to ship? Or items that are fairly specialized or needed only for a short time, such as crutches? I feel those might have a rental market.

I searched for peer to peer rental sites and mainly found the husks of sites that went away years ago. However, I did come across one that was still functioning: Loanables. It’s a small site, but there were some people on there offering things to rent in my area, so I thought I would try them out. Their company blog hasn’t been updated in months and the comments on their last post seem to imply that it takes months before your items are approved and go live on the site. However, I found the site’s operators to be fairly responsive. They answered my emails usually within 1-3 days. They told me they approve and post items to the site every couple of days. In short, I think the site isn’t necessarily their top priority, but they are still working to keep it going.

The Process

I signed up as a lender. As part of that process, you need to provide a credit card number, which is not stored by the company and is handled by a third party company. The site is free for borrowers and charges a 10% fee for lenders, within a minimum fee of $1. The actual exchange of rental fees between borrowers and lenders is handled directly between the two parties, not the website. The site does collect a security deposit from the renter in case things go south, but they recommend the two parties work things out themselves in the case of damages, etc. rather than the lender simply requesting the deposit be turned over. The site provides a rental contract to protect all parties involved.

When you create your profile, you provide your address and a list of times that are most convenient for you to have the borrower come pick up whatever they rent. Your address is never released to the borrower until you have both agreed to a deal. If someone wants to rent one of your items, you can get an email notification, text message, or both.  Loanables' full FAQs can be found here.

To list an item, you fill out a simple form with a description of the item and indicate rental prices for daily, weekly, and monthly rentals, and a security deposit amount. You can upload a maximum of two photos. It’s a very simple and easy process. After the site’s owner’s have reviewed your listing, they will publish it to the site.

How It Turned Out

I listed 15 items to rent:

(Note: that image is from my admin screen. The page the borrowers see include images, descriptions, and more pricing.)

To date, I have not rented anything out and have not received any inquiries about my items. Given the failure of previous companies in this area, I have low expectations. However, it costs me nothing to have the listings up and the items I am renting are just sitting in my garage anyway, so even a single rental will see me make some money.


Craigslist is one of the largest and oldest classified advertising websites around and has separate sites for major metropolitan areas. The site has several different sections, such as For Sale, Jobs, Gigs, and Discussion, but not one for rental items. However, people do post things for rent in the For Sale area, so that is where I headed.

The Process

I've used Craigslist successfully before for selling various items, including my old car, so I was familiar with how the process worked. You create an account, log in, and a step-by-step process guides you through creating your ad. You can add photos and specify a general area of where you are located via Google maps. To verify your email, you'll be sent a link you need to click on before your post goes live. That email also contains a link to mange your ad - you can edit it later or delete it.

Because I already had done the work of photographing and writing descriptions for my items to post on Loanables, I figured I would go ahead and post some of the same items for rent on Craigslist. One thing I did add to my descriptions for Craigslist was that I would only accept cash, the renter would have to sign a rental agreement (this is done as part of the rental process on the Loanables website), and I would require a valid ID from the renter. This is just to protect myself from theft. Also, while I listed a maximum rental period of one month on Loanables, for Craigslist, I dropped that to one week. I only listed a subset of the items I listed on Loanables, mainly because you have to manage each ad independently, so it's a more cumbersome process than Loanables. Craigslist ads are valid for 45 days, after which they are automatically deleted.

How It Turned Out

I gotten two inquires on items so far, but nothing panned out. Again, it costs me nothing, so I’ll leave the posts up for now.


So far, Side Hustle Week has been a bust. I have either made no money or made a small amount of money that I can’t withdraw. But things are about to take a turn for the better. I actually start making real cash. Come back tomorrow to see how!


Post a Comment