List on Airbnb the Simple and Smart Way
You’ve heard your friends say it a hundred times before, “this place is amazing, you should absolutely put it on Airbnb.” It sounds like the perfect side hustle—stress-free, profitable, and rewarding. You have the extra space, after all. Before you decide to snap a few pictures and put your place up for rent, though, there are a number of things to consider. That’s why we’ve put together this extensive guide to listing your house, apartment, spare room, or sheep wagon on Airbnb—because passive income is the best kind of income.
Listing Your Property on Airbnb is Easy:
There’s really just a few steps to take to list your space on Airbnb. This article will go into each one in more detail. But in essence, just do these 3 things to become an Airbnb host and start making some extra income on your unused space.
- Get your space super clean, but comfortable looking. Try to create a unique, cozy space that people want to flop down and relax in.
2. Take excellent pictures – and lots of them. Show people what your space looks, and feels, like. Take pics of the bedrooms, bathrooms, living room, kitchen, outside space, etc. Feel free to include photos of the local area as well to remind people of why they’re visiting.
3. List your space and set your prices. Don’t worry about the details, Airbnb will help you. 650,000 people across the world have listed their space – you can too.
And yes your home will be protected...
- Airbnb covers every booking with 1 million dollars in property damage.
- Airbnb covers every booking with another 1 million in insurance against accidents.
- All guests are required to provide certain information before they can make a reservation including phone number, email address and a valid ID.
DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU LIST YOUR SPACE
Deciding on nightly rates and navigating possible restrictions other factors that go into listing on Airbnb means doing your homework. As you start out, spend some time familiarizing yourself with Airbnb’s Help Center for Hosts, making sure to utilize the built-in resources available.
CHECK FOR RESTRICTIONS
Some cities and municipalities require hosts to obtain a license or special certification to operate. (This is in addition to mandated compliance with short-term housing restrictions within certain areas). If you’re a renter yourself, you’ll want to refer back to your lease to find out whether subletting is allowed. Look at Airbnb’s Regulations and Standards page to get an idea of what to look for legally before you list.
FIGURE OUT YOUR FINANCIALS
You won’t necessarily have to research your specific market to decide on a nightly rate, as you can calculate your Airbnb income based on the surrounding area, size of the space, amenities, season, and other factors. However, you’ll want to make sure you’re taking advantage of possible fluctuations in price due to upcoming events, seasonality, etc. There’s nothing worse than realizing you made half as much as other hosts in your neighborhood one weekend because you forgot about that huge music festival. And speaking of income, the average new Airbnb listing brings in about $925 per month. Here’s what a typical cash flow chart from new listings looks like:
Additionally, you’ll want to have a good idea of how taxes, insurance, and other financial concerns will come into play once you’re up and running. Understanding Airbnb’s host service fees and payout methods will help you prepare a budget for your property and estimate how much profit your listing will make.
UTILIZE THE AIRBNB COMMUNITY
The Airbnb community page is an awesome resource for current or prospective users who want to reach out to established hosts. For hosts who need it, this social aspect of the Airbnb experience is extremely useful for tips, feedback, and inspiration. The Tips & Tutorials forum in the community can be helpful for pointers on pricing, customer service, cleaning, and basically anything else you can imagine.
MAKE A CHECKLIST
The number of things that need to be done before each stay can be overwhelming. Start a checklist that you’re regularly updating, so that you’ll know what tasks need to be completed. It will make re-stocking, cleaning, and preparing your space so much easier, and ensure you’re not missing anything important.
ELEVATE YOUR SPACE
This is the time to put those interior design chops to work. Adding mirrors to open up certain rooms, lighting for warmth, and houseplants to create a fresh feel are all great ways of setting your Airbnb apart from other listings.
PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS
Do you have a Spanish-style villa? Minimalist Scandinavian condo? Quaint beach bungalow? Make sure you’re highlighting what makes your Airbnb unique with décor that fits your motif. This can be as involved as re-tiling your kitchen, or as simple as putting out a welcome mat. Just be sure you’re emphasizing what makes your home special.
CURATE YOUR OWN ART GALLERY
Non-personal art is a great way to give your place character. Consider a large, well-placed statement piece, or a mélange of framed prints and photos on one wall. Artsy coffee table books can also be nice little design additions. Moreover, decorating with local art creates an even more immersive feel for out-of-towners.
ADD A BIT OF COLOR
A vibrantly painted door or attention-grabbing accent wall can make any space feel more eclectic and fun. Warm colors or woods create a cozy atmosphere, while bright hues convey a funky and energetic vibe.
BRING NATURE INSIDE
If you’ve perused Instagram or Pinterest for even a moment lately, you know that houseplants are very in right now—and for good reason. A well-placed monstera or snake plant will make your place feel that much cozier, and bring a natural touch to any space.
CRAFT AN ENGAGING AND ACCURATE DESCRIPTION
While the majority of your place’s specs will be itemized automatically when you list, it’s always a good idea to be thorough, and most importantly, accurate in the about this listing section of your home’s page. You want to give potential guests a clear picture of your space, including amenities, location, and restrictions. This doesn’t mean you can’t play up your place’s strengths. Just be sure you’re honest about any possible issues, since you’ll generally get better reviews when your guests’ expectations are met.
HIGHLIGHT THE POSITIVE
This one may seem obvious, but it’s worth pointing out that your description should underscore the best parts of your apartment, home, or extra room. Start with the big things like clarifying exactly how many rooms, beds, and bathrooms are available, especially if there are half baths or bunk rooms that may not be obvious from listing’s official specs.
You’ll also have the opportunity to make a list of nearby landmarks and attractions. Proximity to certain sights or neighborhoods is one of the most important factors when guests book, so be sure to be explicit about all of the wonderful things your area has to offer.
SHINE A (FLATTERING) LIGHT ON POTENTIAL ISSUES
If there are any prospective negatives, such as noise, location, or size, be upfront about them. Guests will usually respond better if they’re aware of these possible issues ahead of time, instead of finding out when they arrive.
As much as you can, however, try to paint these concerns in a flattering light. If your place lacks A/C, maybe it’s because the climate in the area is so mild, or the house has an open floor plan that lets in the sea breeze. If they’re sharing your home with you and/or your family, be sure potential guests know you prepare a fantastic breakfast, or that coffee will be ready when they’re awake.
MAINTAIN A WELL-APPOINTED HOME
While a beautiful home or apartment is a great start when it comes to Airbnb success, amenities are what set your listing apart from the rest (and bring in more money). Sometimes, it’s the thoughtful touches like inexpensive toiletries or kitchen staples that make your guests rave about your place to friends.
Wi-fi, towels, a coffee maker, tea, soap, shampoo and conditioner, and cutlery are all must-haves. And depending on the area, climate control will also likely be a necessity. For safety, you’ll want to stock a first aid kid, and make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, along with extra batteries. Also, be sure your closets are stocked with hangers, and possibly an iron and ironing board.
A complete set of glassware, including wine and hi-ball glasses is always useful, even if your listing doesn’t come with a kitchen. If there is a kitchen, you’ll want to keep pots, pans, and miscellaneous utensils handy.
Make sure guests can easily access a key by utilizing a lockbox if you won’t be there in person. Additionally, most travelers, especially those visiting for business, appreciate having a place to work; so, having a desk or table, along with stationery and pens/pencils goes a long way.
This is where you can really add value to your listing. Access to a pool, free parking, and a functioning kitchen are all high on the list of amenities that can bump up your average price-per-night. Additionally, according to Airbnb, 29% of guests say that a place being pet-friendly is important. If your space does happen to be pet-friendly, consider keeping clean bowls for food and water, dog treats, or even toys for the furry guests.
Bigger appliances such as a washer/dryer, dishwasher, and working stove/range can increase the potential nightly rate you’re able to charge; while smaller appliances like hair dryers, toaster ovens, and blenders will provide added convenience.
Electronics are a great way to add a modern feel to even the most rustic of cabins or hideaways. Smart TVs with access to Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services are great for keeping guests entertained. Some hosts also provide Bluetooth speakers, gaming consoles, and even Spotify-ready iPads for visitor use. Of course, accessories such as extra earbuds, phone chargers, and power adapters are always a godsend as well.
Outdoor areas provide the opportunity for hosts to impart even more coziness to a property. A working grill, beautiful garden, comfy patio furniture, hot tub, or soothing water feature like a fountain can make your place feel like a five-star resort.
Oh, and no one ever complained about a built-in fireplace.
There are tons of other features you can add to enhance your guests’ experiences, and up your rating. Maybe your place is near ski slopes? Have some hand-warmers or other essentials like beanies or gloves handy. Live near a park? You could prep a basket with portable cutlery and wine glasses for a picnic. Obviously, if you can provide guests with access to a bike, kayak, or even skis/snowboards you’ll make your place even more enticing to the adventure minded. Figure out what makes your area unique, and tailor your amenities to help guests better explore.
If all else fails, luxury toiletries, bedding, and/or bath towels will help you recreate the feel of a Four Seasons-quality resort in your humble home. And you’ll never go wrong by setting out some fresh-cut flowers and a welcome note.
TAKE PLENTY OF PHOTOS OF YOUR SPACE
Professionally, if possible. Nice, naturally lit shots of your space are going to be more inviting than almost any description you can write up (although that’s important, too, obviously). Some things to keep in mind when you’re taking pics are staging your space, showcasing all of the most important amenities, and including photos of the neighborhood and surrounding areas.
CLEAN & STAGE
The devil is in the details, so be sure your place is spotless, and everything is arranged similar to how it will look in person. Look at this staging guide for tips and tricks on how to best attract potential guests’ attention. Anything from a well-placed potted plant, to a rolled-up hand towel, can make all the difference in the world.
Note: Bathroom photos will make or break a listing. Trust us.
ALL ABOUT THE ANGLES
Taking photos from the corners of your rooms will showcase the space, and give guests an accurate idea of the entire area. If possible, use a wide-angle lens to ensure you’re capturing the dimensions properly. Don’t forget to take pictures of unique vistas—after all, nothing makes people book faster than the prospect of drinking their morning coffee on a deck with a spectacular view.
Trying to get ahold of hosts you’ve booked with, only to have them reply in a vague and unhelpful fashion days later, is frustrating. As a host, being prompt with communications is one of the best ways of putting your guests at ease, and getting closer to Superhost status (we’ll discuss this in detail later).
Respond to any queries or comments as quickly as you can—within 24 hours, at the absolute latest. Consistently check your messages so that you’re aware of potential problems. Make sure your contact information is up-to-date and, if possible, have an e-mail account that’s solely dedicated to your listing, so you’ll be less likely to miss correspondence. Also, don’t forget to leave reviews for each guest in a timely manner.
Cancellations can hurt your rating, affect the likelihood of booking future stays, and possibly come with a monetary penalty. Things happen though, and if you have to cancel due to certain circumstances beyond your control, Airbnb may waive the fees. No matter what, if you cancel, make sure you do so immediately. Guests will be much more forgiving if you don’t wait until the last minute. And explaining the situation—while offering up alternative dates—will go a long way toward keeping them happy.
Be sure you’re keeping an eye on your schedule to ensure your property’s listed availability is always accurate. The last thing you want is to have to cancel, and possibly lower your rating, because someone booked a time slot that wasn’t actually available.
CONSIDER HOSTING EXPERIENCES
Airbnb’s Experiences program connects visitors with insiders and locals who can provide a unique insight into a place. Experiences are wide-ranging, including anything from a boozy astronomy lesson in Mexico, to a luxury aurora borealis camping trip in Sweden.
Browse the site for inspiration, or come up with a totally unique Experience based on your insider knowledge. If you know all about local flora and fauna, consider hosting a nature walk. Know how to harvest mussels, then use them to cook a fresh paella? Perfect. If you’re going to host visitors at your home, you may as well double up on your possible income by showing them a good time.
BECOME A SUPERHOST
Airbnb’s Superhost program is a way to highlight the most hospitable and trustworthy hosts on the platform. It’s a signal to guests that they can rest easy when they book your place—and a way for you to make more money. To qualify each year, you have to book at least 10 stays, and maintain a 90% response rate (meaning 90% of messages are answered within 24 hours), a less than 1% cancellation rate, and a 4.8+ overall rating.
Once you’ve hosted for over a year, your account will be reviewed automatically by Airbnb every three months to check on your progress. If you’ve met the criteria, you’ll become a Superhost—badge and all!
Bonus: Each year you achieve Superhost status, you’re rewarded with a $100 credit you can use at other Airbnbs around the world.
CONSIDER MANAGEMENT/CLEANING COMPANIES
Especially at first, property management or cleaning companies may not be necessary, or even beneficial. However, once you’ve figured out the ins and outs of hosting, including how to clean, what products to keep in stock, and how to check in/out guests, you may want to delegate many of those duties to someone else. This is particularly useful if your property is far from your personal home, you keep a hectic schedule, or you have multiple listings.
Depending on your area, you may have access to a variety of Airbnb management and cleaning companies. Do plenty of research to determine whether hiring outside help makes sense for you logistically and financially.
The best hosts are those who can place themselves in their guests’ shoes. Making visitors feel comfortable and taken care of simply requires a bit of hard work, attention to detail, and passion for hospitality. If you can make your guests feel like your home is their home, you’ll see a steady stream of bookings, five-star ratings, and of course, passive income.