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This family made $180,000 from a side-hustle

Fred and Britt Atkin standing behind with their two daughters.
Fred and Britt Atkin with their two daughters. (Image: supplied)

A Melbourne man has revealed he and his family has made about $180,000 through a side-hustle in the sharing economy.

Father-of-two Fred Atkin told Yahoo Finance that he realised three years ago he was wasting money paying for maintenance for his family’s caravan, which was only occasionally used.

"It was costing us circa $2,000 a year for storage and insurance."

He then put the customised vehicle on Australian sharing platform Camplify and immediately had eager renters jumping over each other to use it for a fee.

"I thought, 'This is just absolutely too good to be true'."

Now he has earned almost $180,000 through hire fees, which he has re-invested into more caravan and motorhomes. He now runs a fleet of 12 vehicles for hire.

"I would expect to do the best part of that [$180,000] in one year now."

With the spectacular growth in income, the 50-year-old wants to eventually quit his day job to solely hire out campervans for a living.

"Probably in about five years – when my wife and I can just enjoy the leisure time. And to work part-time but have a full-time income."

Camplify motorhome owners are earning an average of $10,000 to $20,000 per year, according to Mike Rosenbaum, co-founder of sharing economy startup accelerator The Sharing Hub.

Camplify vs Airbnb

Atkin, from the southern Melbourne suburb of Waterways, said the demand to hire motorhomes is huge because buying the vehicles is a huge financial burden.

And campervan owners don't face the same restrictions as Airbnb landlords, like local council limits on what percentage of the year it can be rented out, or complaints from neighbours.

But safety does require a lot more attention for caravan owners than homeowners.

"People are towing these vehicles and you have to maintain them. You have to make sure they're safe and roadworthy."

Amazingly, renters don't even need a heavy vehicle licence in Atkin's home state of Victoria – caravans can be driven with a standard car licence.

"That's where the system is a bit deficient… To get behind a car that's the best part of 3 tonnes can be scary without some experience."

After three years and $180,000, Atkin has only had "one or two" bad experiences with renters.

"That's just the cost of business. Most of the problems I've had are with cleanliness," he said.

"Now I just put a sign up saying… it's free if it comes back clean but if it doesn't these are the charges."

Meet Australians earning big with side-hustles

Melbourne people keen on earning some extra cash can head to Collingwood on Sunday to meet people like Atkin who have done it.

The Sharing Hub is running the event, which will feature platforms that allow Australians to rent out parking space (Parkhound), designer clothing (The Volte), cars (Car Next Door) and their time – for massages (Blys) or pet-sitting (Mad Paws).

Rosenbaum said last year was huge for some of its member startups.

"In Victoria alone, Parkhound’s number of hosts has increased by over 40 per cent, with the average earning more than $3,000 per year. Camplify has seen a 176 per cent increase in Victorians using its platform to borrow and lend affordable camping vehicles."

He said the The Sharing Hub Ideas Exchange event would show the public what the future of the sharing economy might look like.

"As well as being able to speak to people who are using it to gain income, we will have fun platforms like Blys, which provide convenient and affordable massages and workshops. Guests can even try out Lime scooters and meet sport stars with PickStar."

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