With a rapidly shifting job market, piecing together an income is the new reality for the 21st century. Not only are sharing economy staples such as Lyft, Uber, and Airbnb a good place to save money on services, but they're also can be a good place to turn if you're looking for extra money to help make ends meet. Using Airbnb to rent out a house, apartment, or even just an extra room can not only help bring in cash, but can be a good way to meet new people and see your city through a new set of eyes.
If you're thinking about hosting your own space on Airbnb, I have been doing it for about six months and these are my six best tips—and considerations—for successfully listing your space on the service:
1. Do you like people?
This should seem obvious, but is worth stating. Are you a people person? If you are, this is the perfect way for you to meet out-of-towners, talk about your favorite hole-in-the-wall spots and make connections that can last beyond the Airbnb experience. No matter if you physically meet your guests or simply have them pick up a key, you'll be spending time making arrangements and coordinating with guests—so make sure this is something you're cut out for.
2. Do you have the time?
Hosting on Airbnb may seem like an easy way to make money, but there's time involved, too. You've got to set up your profile (and the photos really do matter), communicate with guests, and, most importantly, have a space that's clean and neat and ready for newcomers. Don't forget the little things, like cleaning out your microwave, hiding away your alcohol, and locking up valuables like your passport! And then when it's all done, you've got to wash sheets, towels, empty trash, vacuum up (at the minimum). Make sure you've got the extra time in your schedule to handle all this before you commit to hosting.
3. Research your guests
When you get requests from potential guests, you'll be able to view their Airbnb profile. You can take a look at reviews written by previous hosts. These are worth looking at very carefully to assess whether or not you would like to host these guests. Are they respectful of property? Quiet? Do they communicate well? Make sure you get the full picture before committing to host. In some cases, you may get requests from first-time Airbnb users. If that happens, do a little of your own research and try to figure out more about the potential guests. Don't be shy about asking questions, either—this is your space, and it's worth taking the extra steps to ensure you feel comfortable renting it out!
4. Know how to communicate
A big factor in a successful Airbnb exchange is communication. Make sure you regularly check your Airbnb account, email, texts, or Airbnb app for messages. You will eventually be rated on how quickly you respond, so don't make anyone wait too long. And feel free to communicate with potential guests beforehand if you're unsure whether or not you can commit to hosting.
5. Put in the extra effort
Since your success in business will depend on the comments of others, try to establish a friendly relationship with your potential guests even before they arrive. Think of a little "extra" you can leave for them. Some ideas might include: nice chocolates, a gift card to a local coffee shop, a bottle of wine, or even a handwritten note. Guests also appreciate tips on restaurants, maps, and local points of interest.
6. Check out tax laws
Great! You've done the work, set up your bank information, hosted an Airbnb guest, and the money has just landed in your account. But before you celebrate, check out your local tax laws. They're different in every state, and can sometimes be a bit confusing. Make sure you take account of how much you may owe at the end of the year, and put money to the side for when tax season comes around. You may be able to deduct some expenses, as well—it may be worth consulting an advisor to figure out the specifics for your situation.
- When using Airbnb makes sense for business travel: 6 things to consider (TechRepublic)
- We-commerce: The sharing economy's uncertain path to changing the world (TechRepublic)
- 10 sharing economy underdogs you should know (TechRepublic)
- 10 ridesharing companies that can make your work trip more efficient (TechRepublic)
Hope Reese has nothing to disclose. She doesn't hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Hope Reese is a journalist in Louisville, KY. Her writing has been featured in The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, Playboy, Undark Magazine, VICE, Vox, and other publications.