Having strangers sleep in your bed is a good way to make some extra money. Of course, you don’t actually have to be in bed when they are sleeping there. In fact, you really shouldn’t be in your bed at all when they are there. Let me explain. When you sign up as an Airbnb host, you are allowing guests to stay in your place for a fee. My husband and I decided to give it a try at our last apartment and our hosting experience turned out surprisingly well. I can’t wait to tell you how 2 ESL teachers made $1000 using Airbnb with the hopes that you, too, can do the same.
Create A Profile
When creating a host profile, try to give a little more information about yourself than just the basics. For instance, instead of “I enjoy traveling to new places”, you could say something like “I am an avid traveler. Due to my very itchy feet I have been to more than 20 countries, some of which are…”. Spice it up a bit so your potential guests remember you or recommend you to a friend or family member.
Other ways to entice people to stay are:
- Make sure to put up a nice pic of yourself or you and your partner or roommie. People want to see your smiling face(s). Which brings us to our next point of picture-taking.
- Make sure to get yourself verified. Put in your phone number and email address, at least. This will help you connect with guests; and keeping in close contact with them- especially before they arrive and during checkout- is super important on making a good impression.
Just remember, that creating an Airbnb host profile doesn’t take much time, but is an intrical part to enticing future guests. And because we love helping out our readers, friends, and family, we can offer each and every one of you a $75 credit with Airbnb if you sign up through our link to become a host. (Geesh, I wish I could sign up again!) Enjoy!
Snap Great Pics Of Your Pad
Giving your potential guests a look at what your apartment or home has to offer is key. What is kind of great about Airbnb is that they offer a service that sends out a professional photographer from Airbnb to take pics of your place to put on your profile. I suggest you take advantage of that if you can.
Because we are not living in one of the bigger cities in the States, the offer for the photographer did not extend to us. Boo! Whatever though. Stephen’s hobby is photography and even though he is a novice, he was still able to take photos that made our place look inviting and cozy. Besides the following tips on taking photos of your place, what else can you do to make your space attractive to future guests?
- Make sure your space is clean!! Man, that seems like something I wouldn’t have to mention, but if you look at some spaces offered, they have crap laying all over the place. Who would want to stay in a mess…even a little mess? Not me!
- Make sure your place looks as bright as possible. Take pictures during the day or, at least, turn on a light or two to give it a sunshiny look. Many people prefer sunshine to dungeon dark.
- It helps if you have the bed made, of course, but we like to roll up two fluffy bathroom towels and wash cloths and put them on the bed. It shows our guests that we will take care of them while they are staying. It’s the little touches that matter.
- Accentuate your best room(s). If you have a great living room to offer, make sure to take an extra pic or two of it instead of a not-so-great kitchen or bathroom.
- We haven’t actually done this yet, but for our next place we will probably add some pics of the surrounding neighborhood. Show your guests how or why your neighborhood is super neat. Give them more reason to stay with you.
Pictures can make or break your listing. Putting a little thought and time into them can put you ahead of the rest of the crowd.
Now, your profile is complete and you have taken amazing pictures of your lovely apartment or house. What else should you do to ready yourself for your first guest? Here a few of our thoughts on that…
- Stephen and I were actually pretty excited about this part of the process. We cleaned like maniacs. I’m talking scrubbed, as if our life depended on it, from top to bottom. Every nook and cranny. Wow! What a difference this makes and your guests will notice. I notice when I stay in a dirty place or somewhere that isn’t quite up to snuff in regards to the dust bunnies under the bed. Scrub until your fingers bleed…okay, that’s a little OTT, but I’m guessing you get my point.
- Any seriously broken furniture, fix it! You don’t want a guest to get hurt sitting on a spring in the couch or something like that.
- Put all personal or off-limits stuff in a safe place. We actually have a little safe that we put our valuables, documents, etc into, and take it with us while our guests are staying at our place. We tell the guests that they can make themselves feel at home. Well, I have a journal sort-of hidden under some clothes on a shelf in the closet and noticed that a guest had gone through it and made some notes!! How invasive…but I guess I did say make yourself at home. Needless to say, I did another run through of what I considered off-limits and removed them. Lesson learned.
- Make sure you have some rules for your guests. You don’t have to go crazy on them, just make sure to point out what is and isn’t allowed. It gives you ease of mind and gives your guests boundaries. We have a no smoking policy, no hanging from the rafters parties, no air con or heat on while doors are open, and treat our stuff as if it were your own. This has worked for us so far.
- If you have rips or tears in your blankets, pillowcases, or throw pillows it is a good idea to repair or replace them. Some guests don’t give a hoot, but others are a little more picky. We actually had a very nice guest who sewed up our couch throw pillow! I was shamed, appreciative, and stunned all at once. Some people are just so dang nice.
- Make sure that whatever you offer on your profile or in your booklet (read more on booklet below) you have readily available to your guests. Nothing is more annoying than paying for a place because certain amenities are offered online, just to find out they are not there after all.
- Make an extra set of keys for your guests and make sure to get them back when they leave. We just have guests leave them on the kitchen counter when they check out. We have even sent a set of keys to someone on the east coast to use when she arrived. Worked like a charm. But, please, do whatever you are comfortable with.
- Devise a plan for your guests to checkout. Will they return the key to your personally or can they leave it on the kitchen counter? Do you expect your guest to change the bed sheets or not (we didn’t even realize that some hosts demand this of guests until one lady asked us. We tell our guests to not worry about a thing, we will take care of it. They seem to like that!)
Making sure that you are covered legally as a host is vital. You need to check your local laws about housing individuals for pay. Airbnb has a very nice article on how you should make sure you are legally covering yourself as a host concerning neighbors, landlords, and other parties that you might not have thought about in all the flurried excitement of making extra money.
You might also consider talking to your tax person, too. We did and found out that we are allowed to rent out our place for up to 14 days per year without getting taxed. Lack of preparation is what could get you into trouble, so make sure you check these points (and more?) out.
Little Extras Our Guests Enjoyed
- Make a little booklet of your neighborhood. I must admit that I got this idea from a place we stayed at in Colorado. Our host had created a colorful booklet that contained restaurants he liked, shops nearby, and generally what the town had to offer. Additionally, he (smartly) put in the wi-fi passwords, so the guests would not have to call and bother him. He also added what was off-limits such as smoking, leaving air conditioner on while doors are open, etc., and what to help ourselves to in the kitchen (hooray, local beers).
- One of our big selling points is offering some kind of breakfast. We bought a coffee maker so our guests could enjoy a cuppa joe or tea in the morning. We also provide bagels to toast, which has proved a crowd pleaser.
- We let them use our shampoo and conditioner and make sure to have Q-tips, cotton balls, and other various bits and bobs for the bathroom readily available.
- We tell them they can cook in the kitchen and to help themselves to the spices or other things to eat, but normally most of our guests have gone out to eat. Funnily enough, the ones who do cook at home have left groceries behind for us and one couple even cooked us a casserole!
- Many guests that have written reviews for us have mentioned how well we responded to inquiries. Responding quickly gives the guest a sense of security, which in turn gives you a good reputation as a host.
Now, for the numbers. We rented our one bedroom apartment for 13 nights over about one and a half months. We chose to rent during the university football season because…
a) the price of hotels is so high during this time and we could offer accommodation for a little less and,
b) it was still warm enough to go camping outside. Yes, we went camping at a couple of local lakes while our guests stayed in our apartment. We were never more than 20 minutes away (although we are considering taking longer trips in the future), so if anything came up we were available.
In the beginning we offered our place at a lower price than we had originally planned because we had read online that you must first offer a lower price and good some good reviews, then when you have a handful of those awesome reviews you can jack up the price. I think we raised the price by about $20 a night, but after some more study I realized we probably should have raised it by at least $50. Alas, next time…
For 13 nights, we made $920 (I know I put $1000 in the title, but close enough, right?). I would say that about $50 went back into this little side hustle for breakfast food and cleaning. The rest of the money went into our Vanguard index fund to earn more money for us. How sweet.
Hosting with Airbnb is a great way to make a little extra money. It does take someone who is proactive and takes an interest in making sure that their guests have a great experience. By preparing before you rent, your ensuring that both you and your guests will have a nice stay and both parties will benefit.
In order to have the best experience, you must make sure that you are doing everything legally by contacting local authorities and making sure your town or city allows you to rent out to guests on a night by night basis. Finally, making sure that you also speak to your accountant about the tax side of making money is important. Keeping the government happy by paying the appropriate taxes (if any) is a way to maintain a stress-free experience.
There are plenty of other articles online that you can read to help you prepare. I am including this article on hosting posted on the Airbnb site. It has some great ideas that you should look into.
So if hosting sounds like something you would like to pursue, we are happy to help you get started by giving you a leg up with an Airbnb voucher by signing up. Good luck with your new side hustle and remember to invest your hard-earned money to make you more money!
Have you had any experience hosting through Airbnb?
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