Using a House in Two Unique Ways to Earn $3,000+ per Month in Extra Income

Lily is the author of the personal finance sites The Frugal Gene and Merry for Money

In this interview, she shares how she is able to use her house as an asset in two completely different ways to earn between $3,000 and $8,000 each month in extra income.


Zach: What are your side hustles and how did you first come up with the idea for them?

Lily: One of my side hustles is being a host on Airbnb. It started as an idea of using an asset to generate some cash flow. It was meant to offset the risk of buying into a high-flying Seattle real estate market at the time.

Our Airbnbs were immediately successful. Even today, our booking rate after 3 years on the platform is still above 99%.

The idea for my second side hustle came after Airbnb. Usually, Airbnb guests don’t arrive until later in the day which left this asset of ours empty for most of the day. So I thought, well, OK what’s another in-demand service that would be best during daytime hours while the house is empty…? 

Making money dog sitting for wealthy, corporate urban professionals, duh!

I use the platform Rover to find dog sitting clients. Personally, I tend to pick and choose clients with smaller dogs, mellow personalities, and a stable schedule. I also don’t scale up because I like a personal setting. Every sitter has their preference; for example, I don’t mind dogs that shed while others do.

I wouldn’t knock the scalability of Rover, though. A couple we know makes $100,000 a year with their own Rover sitting business.

Zach: What is the setup process like for each platform?

Lily: For Airbnb, it was a ton of home and furniture shopping. I made a list of Airbnb items every host needs before they start. There was also a lot of learning I had to do because there were very few Airbnb resources out at the time. I thought I was never going to make my money back! 

Once it’s set up and you have your listing published, just play the waiting game. Bookings will come in. The other important thing is getting all your Airbnb hosting templates done. That will save you a lot of time. It’s still not 100% passive but if you want to outsource the cleaning, it’s close!

For pet sitting, some previous pet ownership experience is good but besides things like a dog gate, dog toys, and extra bowls, the dog’s owners should provide everything else.

I’d recommend building up your reputation first and possibly taking a few classes from behavioral to dog CPR. Growing it into a full-time boarding business can be pretty profitable too, especially in an urban city where demand is high.

Zach: How long did it take for you to land your first client on each platform?

Lily: Airbnb was within 24 hours. Rover took about 12 hours for the first inquiry, but a full week and two meetups before I decided to take on a suitable pooch.

For Rover, the time wasted screening clients means that sitters need to aim for repeat clients otherwise it’s not really worth your time. Eventually, your clients may want to hire you “offline” once they become familiar with you.

Zach: How much do you typically earn per month from these side hustles?

Lily: I make anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 per month. However, understanding what I make on a monthly basis doesn’t really help anyone. For both Airbnb and pet sitting, it’s dependent on at least 30+ factors that will differ from person to person.

The best way to learn is to DO IT YOURSELF! 🙂 In regards to all genres of side hustles and entrepreneurship, income will always be unstable.

Zach: What are your favorite aspects of each side hustle? What are your least favorite?

Lily: For Airbnb, unless you commit to becoming an investor in multiple homes, there is no scalability. That’s a potential downside.

But the biggest one for me is how much Airbnb has to fight legality constantly. In many urban cities, Airbnb is portrayed as home-stealing villains, so they may have restrictions placed on them in the future. If this happens, then hosts will simply be powerless against those restrictions. It will never be a fail-proof income.

For pet sitting, it’s hard to think of a downside. I have not had a bad experience; I’m a huge animal lover. The only thing that comes to mind is dealing with owners who sugarcoat their dog’s blatant bad behavior…that’s my least favorite.

So all in all, my least favorite part of pet sitting is…the humans.

Zach: Do you have any plans to expand these side hustles in the future?

Lily: Not necessarily. Even if we end up with another million in the bank, I will still keep doing Airbnb and Rover because it’s FUN! It’s seriously easy money to me.

The biggest annoyance I face is simply the limited amount of time in life. The world is full of opportunities and a zillion business ideas to pursue so I have to prioritize.

If only I didn’t have to sleep…when are they going to invent a pill for that?

Zach: Any advice for other people out there looking to start earning extra income with Airbnb and/or pet sitting?

Lily: For Airbnb, I recommend you toggle “on” the option to have all guests require government ID and past host ratings. This will make it easier for beginner Airbnb hosts to avoid any trouble or concerns.

But above all, my biggest recommendation is: just do it. The best way to learn is to jump right in. People psyche themselves out when they hesitate. I’m not saying you should go in with zero research, but you don’t have to know everything before starting.

For pet sitting, it will depend on your past experience and how much trust you garnered from your clients. Make sure you are comfortable with your list of criteria that you know you can handle. This is another person’s fur baby – reputation is a big part of the game, especially early on.


You can find more insights on personal finance from Lily over at The Frugal Gene and Merry for Money

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