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Make Money From Gear You’re Not Using

November 1, 2022

Looking to make money from gear you're not using? Repurposing your tech and tools helps you not only justify the costs and bring in some extra cash, but also contribute to the creative ecosystem. 

Choosing the right gear for content creation can be a major process. For starters, you need to decide between renting and buying. Are you looking for a long-term solution or just dipping your toes? What makes the most sense financially?

For instance, if you're looking to get started on Twitch, you really don't need a whole lot. You don't *technically* even need a webcam, depending on what you're streaming (though streaming without a webcam is definitely a more difficult move in 2022). 

But the moment you really dive in, you might find yourself with multiple cameras and lenses, microphones, interfaces, lights, and other tech. So how do you make that gear work for you when it's not turned on?

The Obvious Way To Make Money From Gear You're Not Using

There are a few ways to turn that gear into cash. The first is, well, a little more permanent: sell it. Get strict about what you're using and what you're not using. If you think you might need it but haven't used for the last few months, ask yourself if the money you could make from selling it might better help you create content. 

There are a few places to sell old gear, and you'd be surprised what you can get for some things. Ebay is an obvious and very safe choice. But it can also be a little intimidating if you've never used the platform before. Plus, the fees can be pretty steep, depending on what you're selling.

Interestingly enough, some of the lowest fees on the platform revolve around musical instruments. Guitars and basses, for instance, only have a 6% final value fee. If you're selling musical gear, Reverb is also a good bet. The platform has fewer shoppers than eBay, so it may take longer to sell, but it also charges lower fees and is still a very safe platform. 

And then there are places like OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace. These are a little bit more of a free-for-all. They're still pretty safe, though it's possible to get scammed as a seller and the companies take a hands-off approach in most transactions. You're also more likely to end up holding on to items for a while, since by design you're only really selling to people in your immediate area. Not a huge problem if you live in a big city — harder to do if you're in a small town.

The tradeoff is there are very few fees. But you'll also probably be expected to sell the gear at a bargain rate or be forced to haggle with people. And don't get us started on the no-shows. 

Lastly, there's Craigslist. Please try every other avenue before you try Craigslist. 

The Entrepreneurial Way To Make Money From Gear You're Not Using

Not ready to say goodbye to some gear but still wish it were more of an "earning" asset? There's a growing community of creatives renting out their equipment when they're not using it. 

Sharegrid is the online leader in this space. And while the primary focus is on video and lighting equipment, plenty of creators also list audio gear, musical instruments, and even their own hybrid gear creations.

That's not to say Sharegrid is the only way you can rent out your gear, but they've definitely created a relatively simple way to do it. And while the company was originally only servicing bigger industry towns like Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York, Sharegrid now supports many U.S. cities. 

How To Use Sharegrid To Make Money From Gear You're Not Using

If you want to use a platform like Sharegrid to rent out your equipment when you're not using it, the first thing you'll need to do is make sure your profile looks professional and is set up to receive payments. You'll need to provide ID and connect your bank account, since the company pays you via direct deposit. 

After you've set up your profile basics, you'll need to take good stock of what you want to make available. That means have good listing pictures showing all the details of the items you're renting out. And be sure that your gear is clean and in good working order. It's fine if there's cosmetic damage, but everything needs to be functional. Nobody wants to rent a camera with a history of crapping out or a microphone with a grill guard taped on.  

Lastly, you'll want to make sure you're charging a competitive rate for your gear (and location) and that its availability dates are accurate. The nice thing is that Sharegrid has enough data to typically know how much something might rent out for and will make pricing suggestions based on this data.

You can obviously choose to charge whatever you want, but if you think you'll be getting $200 a day for a camera that most people only pay $50 for, don't be upset when you never get any rental requests. And when it comes to availability, it's best to just leave the dates open as much as possible. You always get to confirm a rental for somebody and can freely chat with them through the app, so you won't find yourself in a bad scenario where somebody can rent something from you when you forget to say it's not available. But do try to block off days you know it won't be available as a courtesy. (Sharegrid automatically lists it as unavailable if somebody rented it through Sharegrid, so you only have to worry about days you'll be using it or that you rented it out through another means). 

Understanding Things Like Insurance And Risk

If you choose to rent your gear when you're not using it in order to make extra money, always require insurance. Gear and rental insurance is its own form of insurance entirely and there are several big companies that offer insurance specifically for these purposes. 

Another reason you may consider Sharegrid over doing it yourself is that Sharegrid requires all renters to have insurance when renting. If they don't have it themselves, they pay for a specific insurance policy that covers that rental via Sharegrid so you know you're covered. There's a paper trail and in general they're very good about handling any claims. 

There's still of course always the risk that a renter misplaces or breaks something. Even though it's covered by insurance, that can lead to headaches and missed opportunities. So it's important to realize that while the community is generally very respectful, accidents happen and you could be without something important for a little while. 

Sharegrid takes a small fee, usually around 5% of the rental price. They also don't charge on pickup and drop-off days and they only charge one day for weekends, which is certainly a renter-friendly policy. That means you're likely to make less money going through Sharegrid than doing it yourself. But you're also protected a lot more and more likely to get people requesting rentals. 

The Most Popular Pieces Of Gear To Offer And Other Tips

In general, the most popular pieces of gear are usually the most practical. Things like lights, fog/haze machines, and accessories usually have a pretty high request rate. Think "popular items that a lot of people may want but not everybody has." Really abstract or old lenses, odd instruments, and vintage microphones are probably just not going to get rented as often (though it's always good to include them on your profile). 

It's also usually really beneficial to offer full packages opposed to individual components. If you've got a small Sony camera you want to list, include the lens, some batteries and charger, and case. Charge accordingly, too. But most of the time people are looking for the all-in solution, not trying to piecemeal a rental strategy. 

You'll probably find that most rentals go for gear that costs between $20 and $50 per day. Sure, you'll occasionally get some big rentals for several hundred dollars if you've got that kind of gear. But the independent rental market is really more about accruing some side money over time, opposed to opening up a complete rental house. The best part is it's kind of a "set it and forget it" scenario. You're not out there constantly trying to convince people to rent your gear.

Another great thing about the independent renter market is that it works both ways, too. You'll typically be able to find affordable gear you may want to test out. And you're almost always dealing directly with the creator or a member of their team. You get to chat a little bit, network, and even collaborate if it's something you're into. 

Basically, there are more advantages to offering your gear up than simply earning a few extra hundred dollars per month. 

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