How Did Emily Invest in Her Backyard for Extra Income?

Emily Behl

How Did Emily Invest in Her Backyard for Extra Income?

I'm a single mom who rents my backyard to dog owners. In 11 months, I made $3,000, which helped me pay the bills.

Emily Behl owns a house with a large backyard in Antioch, about 60 miles from downtown Chicago.

A year ago, she started renting out her backyard as a private dog park for $10 an hour.

The income she earns from her side hustle through the Sniffspot app has helped the single mother of two.

I'm a single mom living in Antioch, Illinois - between Milwaukee and Chicago - with two teenagers and a beagle.

I have been teaching for a long time and make a fair amount of money, but the cost of living has increased. In the past, I've had some problems paying bills. I don't have a husband or roommate, so I have no other income - just me and my kids.Less

A little less than a year ago, I saw an ad on Facebook about hosting on Sniffspot. It's an app that helps homeowners rent their yards as private dog parks. It's a good option for dog owners with interactive pets or those uncomfortable with traditional dog parks.

After learning more about Sniffspot, I decided to clean up my backyard and try it.

I make a good amount of money.

I have a three-bedroom, two-bath house with a large fenced backyard of about a quarter of an acre. There aren't many trees, which makes it a great place to run around and enjoy the dogs.

Since I started renting out my garden last July, I've made $3,000 so far. Although it is not a large amount of money, it covers approximately two mortgage payments. Additionally, it has allowed me to purchase new tires for my car, handle bills, and, most recently, finance a two-night hotel stay for my kids and me to travel to Pennsylvania to visit my sick father.

Before Sniffspot, these additional expenses would have already dented my monthly budget.

It's not difficult to become a Sniffspot host

Preparing my garden for hosting wasn't difficult. I didn't have to do any major tree pruning, just some cleanup.

I added a patio umbrella, moved a table to a designated area, put up cushions for the chairs, and bought some dog toys. I chair cushionsspent about $200, and I didn't put a lot of money into it.

There are few sniffing points in my area, but I have visitors often, even during the winter months.

Sniffspot allows hosts to set their own rates, although they offer a recommended rate. To determine my rate, I looked at similar sniffing spots within a 10 to 15-mile radius. I settled on $10 an hour.

The company has a policy where guests receive a 50% discount if they bring additional dogs. Many of my guests have two dogs, so if they come for an hour, they'll be charged $15. Sinffspot charges its fees, so I usually earn around $11.12.

I could charge more, but I don't want to charge too much and have people not come.

When I started, my first visitors were two women I knew and my neighbor across the street.

Now, I have about six to eight regular visitors. Two of them have memberships and visit frequently, with one even coming twice a day or at least every other day. Then others come from time to time. Lately, we've been getting a lot of returning guests.

The people who use my properties are mostly in their 20s and 30s. Although I never asked them directly, I imagine many live in areas without fenced yards.

I have minimal contact with visitors

I don't usually have any direct contact with guests. They just schedule through the app and let me know when they arrive.

I provide information about accessing the courtyard through the side gate, and then they have the space. They can message me through the app if they have any questions, which makes everything convenient.

I have never felt uncomfortable around people in my garden. They always respected the property and cleaned up after themselves. I haven't encountered any problems yet.

Several times, I have visited a man who recently adopted a new puppy from a local rescue. He was working with a dog trainer because his dog was barking and lunging at people while walking.

The trainer suggested trying a private dog park. He mentioned that the first time his dog was off leash in my yard, it was like that

For the first time ever, you made me so happy.

It's nice to peek out my kitchen window and see all the dogs running around and having fun.

Passive income has been a blessing with

I am a single parent with no family in the area. For a long time, I've been trying to find ways to make extra money without having to do a lot of extra work. (I even considered driving for Uber Eats for a while.)

While there are other ways to make money, such as renting out rooms in your homes, I prefer not to do that while my kids are home.

Being on Sniffspot helps me get a little relief. When I started, my 17-year-old son told me, “This is passive income, mom.” He's right.

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