This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.
I'm thrilled to introduce Andrea from The Write at Home Mom! I've heard a lot of positive reviews about Airbnb, but have never chatted with someone who has actually made a decent income from it. Please give Andrea a warm welcome — I know you will be inspired by her pro hosting tips and want to try this idea for yourself!
Do you make your bed every day? Do you wash your sheets once a week? I made $4,465 last year, in addition to our household income, for washing sheets and making a bed less than 50 times. How is that possible? Let me introduce you to a little secret called Airbnb.
When my husband and I first considered opening up our home to strangers, we were a little wary. We had heard of couchsurfing and home exchange, but the former was a little too vagabond for us and the latter too upscale. We needed something in between. So when we heard about Airbnb for the first time, through an NPR segment, we were intrigued.
The concept is pretty simple. As a host, you offer up a room in your home (or your entire home, if you choose) for rent. Someone can stay for just a night or for up to a month. That’s up to you. Here's how you get started.
6 Steps to Listing Your Home on AIRBNB:
1. Detail what type of home you have: apartment, house, bed and breakfast, loft, townhouse, condo, bungalow, cabin, villa, castle, dorm, treehouse, boat, plane, RV, igloo, lighthouse, yurt, tipi, cave, island, chalet, earthhouse, hut, train, or tent. Yes, those are all options on Airbnb. Which is kind of amazing when you think of all of the amazing, strange, and unique places around the world you could stay at through Airbnb!
2. Choose your maximum number of guests. If you have one guest bedroom with a queen sized bed, this number is probably two. But maybe you have a fold out couch in the living room and wouldn’t mind hosting four.
3. Write a title and summary. Composing a descriptive headline for your listing and detailing the highlights will help potential guests see if your place is the right fit for them.
4. Set a price. Airbnb will give you a suggested price, but you can also choose your own. You can even set a separate weekly or monthly price, in case you want to discount or charge more for longer stays.
5. Set your address. Only confirmed guests will see this.
6. Add details. Share what makes your space unique. You can list amenities the guests will have access to and how often you plan to interact with them. You can also overview the neighborhood and detail whether or not there is convenient public transportation in your area. There is even a section to add house rules such as “no smoking” or “keep things quiet after 10 pm.” Of course, you can add photos of the spaces the guests will have access too as well.
You can limit the guests who are allowed to instant book to only guests with positive reviews. You can also set how much notice you require. Ex. 24 hours, three days, etc. Just like a hotel, you add terms such as check in and check out times and a cancellation policy. If you would like, you can list whether pets are allowed, whether you have pets, or even if your space is wheelchair accessible or family/kid friendly.
So now that you know the basics of setting up a listing on Airbnb, here are my tips to making a successful income from hosting. This is coming from someone who hosted over 50 individuals in just one year and made nearly $5,000.
Pro AIRBNB Host Tips:
1. Upload quality photos. I’m a professional photographer on the side, so I used a technique called HDR (Hi-Dynamic Range) to take my photos, which gave a greater range of luminosity more similar to what you see with the human eye. But if you aren’t ready to get that technical yourself, Airbnb will send a professional photographer for free to take photos of your house for you. Can’t beat that!
2. Stock the amenities. Think of what you would find in a hotel room and bathroom. Ex. towels, shampoo, soap, hair dryer, a spare blanket and extra pillows, a lamp, coffee and a selection of tea, snacks, and a wastebasket.
You'll also want to read: 8 Must-Have Essentials to Make Every Guest Feel at Home
4. Be courteous. Make sure to clean up before their arrival and then be there to meet your guests when they check in to give them a quick tour. I always wrote a little note and left it by the bedside welcoming them to town, and then took some time to chat with them when they first arrived.
5. Offer guidance. I put together a helpful, laminated sheet with our wifi login information and a list of favorite local restaurants. We also kept a guidebook of the area and some brochures of things to do on the dresser.
6. Provide food. While you don’t have to cook them a full breakfast every morning, it’s nice to offer a few choices of cereal or let them know they are welcome to use the kitchen to cook. We always offered to share our meals with guests, but they typically made plans to eat out and explore the city, so it was never a burden for us. The few meals we did share with guests were always enjoyable and some even contributed a bottle of wine like true dinner guests.
7. Respect their privacy. If guests don’t want to make small chat, that’s ok. Let them enjoy their trip in their own way. Do not enter their room once they have checked in, unless they are staying for a longer period of time. In that case, let them know beforehand that you’ll likely empty the trash or sweep the floor.
If you have pets and your guests forget to shut their door, please do so for them. You don’t want Fido jumping on their bed or digging through their belongings. Finally, make sure you do your part to keep the house quiet after they head to bed and the same goes for in the morning if they haven’t left the room yet.
Overall, having guests in our house throughout the year wasn’t any interruption to our daily lives. Most guests were in town for a conference or to explore the city, so they were out and about throughout the day, only coming home to get ready for bed.
We met so many interesting and kind people from all over the world including a couple from a dairy farm in New Zealand who brought us a handcrafted chocolate bar, a children’s book author from Kenya who signed a copy of his book for me, a man from Germany transporting organs for medical research, and travelers from across the U.S. The experience enriched both our lives and our bank account, and we would love to continue hosting once we buy a house again in our new city.
I hope you take the plunge and try hosting in your home, even if just for a night. Remember, you have full discretion in who you approve. Be smart and look into each potential guest’s profile prior to approving them, but don’t worry yourself too much. For us, Airbnb was a wonderful way to make a side income and meet new friends from around the world.
Would you be willing to try Airbnb?
Andrea Stang is a recovering middle school teacher who finished her MFA in creative writing before making the decision to stay at home with her daughter (born early 2015). She is now a freelance writer and work at home mom (WAHM) blogger. You can read more of her posts at The Write at Home Mom where she helps simplify your work from home life with time management tips, product reviews, and ideas for work/life balance.
Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.