Five Simple Steps to Start Hosting on Airbnb
There are several great reasons to consider hosting on Airbnb. Extra income is the first thing that comes to mind, along with meeting new people and running your own business. Depending on your location and the type of rental you have, perhaps a short-term rental is simply more lucrative than placing a long-term tenant.
1. Choose Your Listing Type
Getting started on Airbnb is relatively simple. Your available space and furnishings will ultimately determine the type of rental and how many guests can be accommodated.
For example you could rent out your entire house or apartment, a secondary unit or in-law apartment, a private room with a private or shared bathroom, or even a shared room.
When I started with Airbnb I simply had a spare bedroom in my house. Because we had another full-bathroom we decided to list the rental as a private room with a private bathroom.
This worked out at first, but after a few successful months we moved some junk into the basement and listed our second spare bedroom. This resulted in two separate listings. Each was a private room for rent with a shared bathroom.
We of course had to buy another bed to furnish the new room, but we made it work by getting ourselves a nice new bed using money we got from the first Airbnb room. Cha-ching!
2. Decide on Common Space
If you’re renting a space in the same house where you live, you may have to decide how much you’re willing to share with your guests. A separate unit with a private entrance, kitchen and living area is ideal if you enjoy your privacy. However, this may not be an option for many hoping to start a rental.
We started renting on Airbnb thinking, one—we probably won’t get very many guests out in rural Connecticut and two—we don’t want to be strict and ruin all the fun. Our listing was very relaxed and inviting. Guests were allowed to use the kitchen, living room, backyard patio, etc. We got our very first guests (who have actually been our worst after 100+ guests) and realized maybe that wasn’t going to fly.
Over time we decided the kitchen and other common spaces were pretty much off-limits, unless invited. To this day, we still have issues with guests doing laundry and cooking. We can’t help that our laundry room is also in the guest bathroom.
I could honestly go on for days about little things guests do that drive us crazy, but when you’re looking to make extra income, there’s always a cost.
3. Furnish the space
Just like any hotel or short-term rental, guests need a bed at minimum, along with bedding and towels. I personally think an empty room with just a bed is far from inviting so we would make sure there was some kind of surface in the room to set things down, such as a desk or dresser.
It’s also nice if there’s another place to sit. If you have room for a full sofa that’s great. One of our rooms has a cushioned ottoman that works well and the other has a desk with a small chair. Nothing extravagant, but it definitely helps.
Additional furnishing or amenities will make the space more comfortable. Just be careful to leave personal items out, such as photos, controversial art, religious symbols, etc. These items could have the opposite effect and make your guests very uncomfortable.
4. Take photos
Having great photos of your space is very important. So important that if you’re not camera savvy, I would even recommend having a professional or aspiring photographer come by to snap photos for your listing.
These pictures are your first impression. If the photos are clear and captivating they will surely get you more clicks on your listing and ultimately, more reservations.
I’m also confident that about 90% of guests do NOT read the listing description. You’ll have a rare few that have read the listing, and it shows. But for most people, the pictures will tell the story.
For this reason, I find it extremely helpful to include a picture of our dogs, the outside of the house (so people know they arrived at the right place), the door key (shows them they can lock their room), the bathroom, and of course, several pictures of the room.
It’s also a great idea to have a few pictures of your neighborhood or city. Whatever it is that attracts visitors to your area. Show off some of your best assets! Include a pic of your favorite coffee shop, a nearby attraction, or a beautiful sunset. Be creative!
5. Create Your Airbnb Listing
Now that you’ve created the space and took photos, it’s time to list your rental! Using the Airbnb website or app to create your listing is very straightforward. You’ll just go through a series of prompts and answer questions describing your space and the amenities available. Upload your photos and voilà!
There’s no doubt that your space will evolve over time so keep your listing updated! You can easily edit any detail at any time. With experience, your space will become more guest-friendly and your photos will also need to be updated. Consider even changing your photos between seasons.
You’ll learn as you go, but these few steps will get you started. The next phase in your Airbnb journey is to simply be consistent and only improve. If you vow to give each guest the same great experience, those five-star reviews will keep rolling right in.
Fortunately, Airbnb has a great reviewing system already in place so there’s really not much to it. So, time to get to work! You’re going to have a lot of fun and get annoyed by a lot of people, but it definitely makes the world a more exciting place.
Meet the Author
Real Estate Agent, World Traveler, Owner, Investor, Entrepreneur, Remodeler, Blogger, Photographer...
Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Vernon, CT