Hipcamp: the Airbnb of Camping and How to Make Money With It
Get outside the 9 to 5.
San Francisco startup Hipcamp is adding ways to do just that. The platform, which is essentially Airbnb for camping, offers nature lovers soul-soothing side gigs and adventurers a convenient method to book outdoor accommodations.
In 2013, Alyssa Ravasio, the CEO and founder of Hipcamp, wanted to book a campsite on a California beach for New Year’s Day. After an exhausting search spread across scores of websites, she finally found one, but the experience left her frustrated. At the time, there was no better way to book camping experiences online.
So she set out to make one. She attended a coding bootcamp and designed a rudimentary version of what’s now Hipcamp.
Six years later, the website lists camping spots in all 50 states, including more than 9,000 parks, 18,000 campgrounds and 360,000 sites for the public to enjoy with the ethos that campers should leave the land in better shape than they found it.
The company’s rapid expansion of private and public land listings has opened up opportunities for landowners, photographers and everyday Mother Earth admirers to make a little money.
Hipcamp Jobs and Gigs
Here’s a snapshot of three moneymaking opportunities with the camping website. Side gigs are most popular, but the company offers some flexible career options, too.
Hipcamp isn’t another platform to list your vacation home on the water. The company’s niche is the great outdoors, so your property needs to be large and secluded to be a good fit. Campsites, farm lands, RVs, yurts and secluded cabins are all fair game.
A good rule of thumb is that your land should be at least two acres and your guests should be out of view and earshot of your neighbor’s property. Legally, properties under 20 acres need to offer bathroom accommodations. Boondock RV listings don’t need to offer toilets. (Again, the RV should be on a sizable plot – not, say, a suburban backyard.)
Your listing may be subject to Hotel and Transient Occupancy Taxes. Check your county and state government’s websites to ensure you’re complying with local regulations.
Listings should be available throughout the year. One-time events or festivals aren’t allowed.
You’re not wrong to think it’s a little dangerous to allow strangers to occupy your land in the wild countryside. The good news is that Hipcamp covers hosts with a $1 million insurance policy and a $10,000 property protection plan.
For hosts, it’s hard to give vast acreage a “lived in” feel for their new listing, especially when there aren’t any campers enjoying the property just yet. Grainy or unfocused photos of unoccupied land might give off… the wrong vibe.
Hipcamp has a clever solution for that. The company hires freelance photographers to stay at newly listed campsites – and waives the booking fee. As a photographer, you can camp overnight for free at any listing on Hipcamp’s assignment board, bring a few friends during the stay, and earn between $75 and $100 per shoot.
Hipcamp is looking for professional-level photos, with people and camping equipment in the frame, to give future campers an honest glimpse of the property. Each project requires 15 to 20 high-quality photos and one review of the listing. The gigs pay a minimum of $75. Depending on demand, you could earn up to $100.
Hipcamp encourages beginners and pros alike to apply to become a photographer, but high-quality equipment and photos are a must. Because of a large volume of submissions, the company says it could take more than two weeks to respond.
Once approved, you can skim through the assignment dashboard for the perfect gig.
Work From Home for Hipcamp
Hipcamp employees can benefit from its mission to get more people outside.
The company offers several types of remote jobs, meaning it is entirely possible to basque in nature while being on-the-clock, Wi-Fi permitting. (The Penny Hoarder can’t guarantee you won’t get fired for answering a conference call while hiking Yosemite.) Employees also get “Hipcash” to apply toward camping excursions on their own time.
The company isn’t entirely remote, however. Most of Hipcamp’s 45 full-timers work out of its San Francisco headquarters, but the company confirmed to The Penny Hoarder that it hires remote workers across all departments. Recent remote listings include customer service, engineering and marketing roles.
Numerous employee reviews on Glassdoor suggest the company’s culture is thriving. Overall ratings are 4.9 out of five stars. In addition to camping credits, a typical benefits package includes health, dental and vision care; a 401(k) retirement plan; professional growth stipends; paid time off and parental leave.
Sorry in advance to remote workers. You won’t get to enjoy the kombucha on tap.
Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.