At first glance, Jim Battan’s side hustle looks like an American dream: He’s made $195,379 since September 2020 renting out his equipment-filled backyard pool to more than 10,000 people.
But Battan, a 58-year-old IT consultant, says he warns others against imitating his hustle, even though he is Swimply’s biggest earner out of 25,000 pools in the United States, Canada and Australia.
“If people think they’re going to build a pool and make it something that’ll make $200,000 in two years, that’s a bit of a fantasy,” Battan warns. “I put a ton of work into this, and you have to have the right mindset. You have to have the right circumstances and a competitive edge that no one else has,” he says.
Here are three reasons why Battan’s six-figure side hustle isn’t for casual pool owners.
1. Renting your pool as a side business is competitive
When Battan joined Swimply two years ago, the Covid-19 pandemic had closed public pools and there were only about seven other Swimply pools near West Linn, Oregon, the town of 27,000 people where they live. Battan and his wife. Now, there are at least 88 pools available for rent near suburban Portland, Oregon, according to the site.
Battan says that number is growing — and the competition has more than halved its pool traffic.
“[Demand] is down more than 50% in the past two months,” says Battan. “The children are back in school and football practice. On Swimply, there’s been phenomenal growth on the host side, so people have a [larger] choice of swimming pools.”
Despite falling demand, Battan continues to earn more than all other pool owners on Swimply. He hit $117,000 last year, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It, but that figure has dropped to $58,500 in 2022.
In July, Swimply co-founder and CEO Bunim Laskin told CNBC Make It that increased competition just means the platform is growing and successfully run pools will always have swimmers.
“As with any market, there are ups and downs for individual hosts,” Laskin said at the time. “As we talk about Swimply and add more hosts to the platform, we’re also adding so many more users.”
Battan doesn’t regret joining the platform, though some side effects of Swimply’s growth — from increased competition to sometimes slow customer support — have been frustrating. “It was a challenge for me,” he says.
2. Pool maintenance is expensive
Battan’s 26-by-18-foot swimming pool was built in 2012, when his three daughters lived at home and could enjoy it during the summers. But Battan, who says she never shy away from a project, wanted the pool to be a luxury experience. He spent $110,000 building it, which includes a pool house and adjoining spa pool that he maintains at 130 degrees year-round.
“I see it as an investment,” Battan says of the pool. “When we moved in, I knew it would increase the value of the house. And that house has more than doubled in price over the last few years.”
Maintenance is expensive: He says he’s spent $41,344 to sanitize and level the pool’s chemistry since launching on Swimply.
Keeping the pool in top condition is what keeps customers coming back, he says, which is especially important given that Battan estimates that about 35% of his swimmers are returning customers.
Still, Battan says the pool paid for itself and more: With his extra income, he built a “man’s cave” in his house.
3. Income is anything but passive
Because Battan and his wife like to vacation at luxury resorts, they want their pool to mimic a five-star experience. In addition to nearby amenities, it keeps pool toys and towels – plus electric blankets in the winter – close at hand.
They also try to check with each group of swimmers to ensure a positive experience.
Battan and his wife can get 26 bookings a week at the height of summer. The time it takes to care for customers adds up: they spend up to 14 hours a week on the sideline, so the extra income is anything but passive.
Now that they’ve hit $200,000 in revenue, Battan says they’re reducing pool availability, primarily due to the amount of work required to keep the side hustle going. It is now only listed on weekends, for regulars and in response to Special demands.
They are also looking to sell the house in the next few months to downsize and save money for travel.
“I’m really happy to have joined Swimply: the money has been great and I felt happy that so many families were able to get out and exercise,” Battan said. “I would still recommend it to people who are up for a challenge and know what they’re getting into, but I’m starting to feel a lot more relieved by cutting the hours.”
This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Six-Figure Side Hustles series, featuring people of all ages and backgrounds who have found ways to make more money, often on top of their full-time jobs. , and who have good advice, routines, and habits to share. Do you have a great story to tell? Let us know! Email us at AskMakeIt@cnbc.com.
Register now: Be smarter about your money and your career with our weekly newsletter
59-Year-Old Woman’s Lucrative Side Job: Earning $16,000 a Month Selling Recycled Fireplaces on Etsy
Top career advice from an entrepreneur and TED Talks speaker: “Sucks a little less than everyone else”