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You know you can save money with a bicycle. In a Forbes’ article J.D. Roth says that, after getting past the first year’s expenses, he’ll save about $2,000 annually commuting to work by bicycle instead of by car.
That’s great! He didn’t even have to give up the car completely.
But what if you want to do more than just save some money with your bicycle? What if you want to use your bike to create another source of income?
Then read on. Here are ten ways you can make money with your bicycle.
1. Sell Advertising on Your Bicycle
As soon I saw the Ads on Bikes website I thought of car wrap scams. Maybe it was the headline saying “Get paid doing nothing.”
Of course even those companies that pay you for ads on your car can be real, but so many are a ripoff that they get their own scam page on the FTC website.
AdsOnBikes.com appears to be legit, although their FAQ page has “possible scenarios,” rather than actual testimonials, which don’t inspire confidence. A more likely problem is the small number of places where they can find advertisers for you.
If you try any bike ad platform, don’t pay to join, and never deposit a check that was written for too much and then pay back the difference or give it to someone else — that’s how the car wrap scams work.
Of course, you could also do the advertising sales yourself. That’s what 12-year-old Milo Amundsen does with his bicycle, in Duluth, Minnesota. He has more than a dozen clients, including a shipping service, a Montessori School, and a dance studio.
Amundsen gets $10 for five trips around town. That’s not much but if you’re commuting to work by bicycle in any case you could at least make a little extra income without pedaling extra miles.
If you want to take this idea to the next level, rent out your bicycle (more on that below) and sell advertising on it. A startup in England found the advertising end to be lucrative enough that they lend out bicycles to college students for free (with a deposit), just to sell ads on the bikes.
2. Get Paid for Commuting on Your Bike
Want your boss to pay you to ride your bicycle to work? A recent law might help you convince him. As explained by BikeLeague.org, “The Bicycle Commuter Act provides a tax-benefited reimbursement for the expenses of bicycle commuting.”
An employer can give you up to $20 per month for commuting by bicycle, and write it off as a business expense. Meanwhile, even though it’s a fringe benefit, this payment is also considered a “reimbursement,” so you don’t have to pay tax on the income.
To convince your boss, explain it this way: If he raises your pay $20 per month he’ll also pay more in social security taxes, medicare taxes, unemployment compensation insurance, and workman’s compensation insurance.
Therefore, a tax-benefited reimbursement of $20 cost him less than a salary increase of that amount.
If nothing else, your explanation of the cost difference between a salary increase versus a “qualified transportation fringe benefit” will let him know he has a smart employee. And in any case you’ll save money commuting by bicycle.
3. Post Your Biking Videos on YouTube
Strap a camera on your helmet and start riding. If you’re mountain biking you might have some good adventure shots. If you’re just bicycling to work watch for interesting events to catch on video. Then load the best videos up to your YouTube account and click the “monetize” button.
How much can you make?
I used to make about $50 monthly from videos on YouTube about backpacking, but that was back when revenue was close to $8.00 per 1,000 views and I had tens of thousands of views.
A recent Forbes article suggests that now the typical revenue-per-1000 views is between $0.25 and $4.00.
Also, a recent rule change requires your channel to have 10,000 views total before you can make anything. So you need a lot of people to see your videos.
How do you get that many views? Getting chased by a bear while on a bicycle got 11 million views which, at, say $1.50 per 1,000 views would bring in $16,500.
But unless you enjoy provoking deadly animals or pedaling off cliffs or something similar, you might have to just post a lot of videos and hope it all adds up.
4. Buy and Sell Bicycles
What’s the easiest and safest way to learn how to make money selling bicycles? Sell the one you have. Then you can buy another for less than what you received, and you’re already ahead financially. If that one sells at a profit, you’re on the right path.
You can learn more about how to buy and sell bicycles on YouTube. To keep it low risk, you might want to just sell bikes you get for free. There are a number of ways to get bicycles for free, and many of these bikes don’t need to be fixed to be sold.
For example, if your community has a spring clean up that’s a great time to go around and pick up freebies. I talked to a scavenger who collected 100 bicycles in one day this way (he had a trailer attached to his truck).
He fixed them as needed and sold them out of his yard.
Craigslist, by the way, is a great place to sell bikes, but also another source of freebies. Under the “for sale” column look for the link that says, “free.”
That will get you to all the stuff people are giving away, and you can often find bicycles there.
Once you know more about values you can start buying higher-quality used bikes for say, $50 or $100, that you can sell for $200 or more.
5. Start a Bicycling Blog
If you love to bicycle, start a blog. It costs nothing to use a platform like Blogger or WordPress. You can monetize the blog in various ways, including selling ad space or putting up affiliate links (you link to products and get paid a commission for any sales generated).
You don’t have to be an expert on bicycles to blog about them. You might blog about your experience giving up a car in favor of a bicycle. You might blog about mountain bike trails. You can choose the niche that makes the most sense for you.
6. Lead Bicycle Tours
Travelers looking for local guides often check online. The platforms they use allow you to offer your services at little or no cost. Shiroube, for example, charges you nothing to set up an account and place ad ad.
Since you decide what to offer, you can set up bicycle tours in your area. Poke around the other offerings to determine how much you should charge.
Not sure you want to go it alone? Work for a bicycle touring company. Job Monkey has a nice guide to bicycle tour guide jobs to help you get started. They say you can make from $75 to $150 per day.
7. Do Bicycle Deliveries
Almost anything can be delivered by bicycle, especially if you add a rack or other modifications. And there are online platforms where you can find customers.
For example, Postmates is a delivery service that’s in hundreds of cities across the U.S. When you join their “fleet,” one of your options is to do you deliveries by bicycle. You choose when and and how much you work, because you’re not an employee, but an independent contractor.
The Postmates website claims you can make up to $25 per hour plus tips. That may be true in some cities (if you’re really fast and efficient). But Ryan Lawler’s experience as a Postmates courier for a day, as reported on TechCrunch, suggests that you might make a fraction of that to start.
TaskRabbit is a platform where you connect with clients who need errands run and odd jobs done. Since you do only those gigs that you want to do, you can choose to make them all bicycle-accessible.
8. Make Your Bicycle a Taxi
If you live in the right area, a bike taxi service can be pretty lucrative. A article from Forbes suggests that during the big South-by-Southwest festival in Austin Texas, pedicab drivers can make up to $100 per hour.
A basic pedicab can cost $4,500 or more, so many drivers rent them. Of course that means you’re losing money if you don’t find clients fast enough.
But since this is an article on how to make money with your bicycle, we have to include another possibility: Convert your bike into pedicab.
One guide to building your own pedicab goes into great detail, with plenty of photos to help you out. The author built the model shown for just $300.
9. Rent Out Your Bicycle
You could hang out a “for rent” sign on your bicycle, or hand out flyers downtown, but there is an easier way. Just rent it out online.
Spinlister is a platform where you can offer your bicycle for rent. You pay nothing to list your bike, but when Spinlister finds a renter they take 17.5% of the rental fee.
That’s not bad considering they find the customers and they guarantee the safety of your bicycle, up to a value of $10,000.
10. Start a Bicycle-Related Business
There are a number of other bicycle-related businesses that might fit your interests. Here are some possibilities to consider:
- Star a mobile bicycle repair service (using your bike, of course)
- Offer bicycle repair and maintenance classes
- Run a bicycle-based restaurant (like this example)
- Sell your favorite bike accessories
- Do bike modification workshops
- Start any of various bicycle vending businesses (take a look at all of the DIY bike vending carts on Pinterest)
How far can you go with a bicycle-based business? Consider the experience of Phil Dumontet. He started delivering food for an Italian restaurant using a Trek mountain bike and an insulated Rubbermaid container.
That small start became “Dashed,” a company with a fleet of bicycles delivering restaurant meals for 500 restaurants. Revenue for 2016: $9.6 million.
If you’ve ever made money with your bicycle, please tell us how below… and keep on frugaling!