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From boilermaker to share economy king

Luke gave up his job to rent out camper trailers

camplify luke bird share economy

With under-employment on the rise, millions of Australians are turning to the sharing economy to bring in extra cash.

From driving for Uber and renting out a room on Airbnb to dog-sitting or renting out tools, some are bringing in an additional $30,000 each year. In the April issue of Money, we profile eight Australians who are cashing in on the share economy.

Camplify

Luke Bird, 34, from Brisbane, started using camplify.com.au in April 2016. He rents out four camper trailers and a caravan on the platform for $100 each per night for a minimum of three nights. In 12 months he has made around $40,000.

Why I chose Camplify

Initially I just started with Camplify as a side business. I used to be a boilermaker and I was doing a bit of fly-in fly-out work.

For family reasons it got too hard to continue that. So initially I started hiring out my camper trailers to get some extra income and not have to go away for work. Now I rent out my campers full time.

How it works for me

I did my first hire with Camplify on April 1 in 2016. I had just purchased my first trailer at that point. We had three hires within a week or so of getting it in.

I bought a caravan and four off-road style camper-trailers with hard floors, kitchens, running water, fridges, most with two beds inside, some with TVs and stereos and one with a leather couch. All four are rented on Camplify.

Each camper cost me between $20,000 and $25,000. If I wanted to I could’ve paid a lot of that off with my earnings but instead I’m reinvesting the money back into the business by purchasing more equipment.

For instance, I’ve started renting out my campers from a warehouse instead of from my house. I’ve also started hiring out four-wheel drives for people to tow their campers.

Why I like it

I think it’s a great idea for people with campers just sitting around in their backyard and not getting use for most of the year. Why not make a bit of money out of it? The screening process and the community aspect that Camplify is trying to build means you’re getting more trustworthy people hiring out your campers. It’s not 100% foolproof but I haven’t had any issues yet.

Lessons learned

Aside from insurance and that sort of thing, there will be maintenance costs from time to time, such as checking your bearings, getting the brakes inspected and the suspension. You’re also up for minor expenses for small items like tent poles and pots and pans.

The biggest expense is insurance. Because our camper trailers are allowed to go off-road we use an alternative insurance because a lot of insurers won’t cover you if the hirer is taking it off-road.

However, we’re looking at buying more on-road caravans now and with those will use Camplify’s premium membership, which includes insurance. That’ll work out a lot cheaper. At the moment I’m paying around $1200 to $1500 a year for insurance. If I wasn’t sending them off-road they’d be even cheaper than that.

You also have to spend a lot of time going through your camper each time it comes back to make sure everything’s in order. I find the more I do this, the less I end up having to spend on maintenance.

Tips for others

I’d suggest to someone who was going to try it to do their research on the tax consequences and keep in good contact with their accountant.

I’m treating my work with Camplify like a real business. It’s not until something happens that you’re going to get bitten because you can’t explain where the money has come from and what you’ve spent it on.

The tax implications for me haven’t really been that hard to deal with. I’ve come from running my old business and my wife also currently runs her own business. I write invoices to Camplify to keep a paper trail and reconcile our books two or three times a week.

How you can do it

Camplify has 23,000 members and 1500 vans that can be hired around Australia. The platform claims that by hiring out your caravan or camper you can earn between $280 and $2100 a week.

While it’s free to list your vehicle, Camplify takes a commission of 5% of your sales. All hirers are screened and vetted for your safety, and there’s a $1000 security bond for all hires. It is recommended that you take out your own comprehensive insurance policy before signing up to Camplify.

You can only sign up for Camplify’s top-up or pay-per-day insurance option once you have your own comprehensive policy. Users are also covered by free NRMA roadside assistance.

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