A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Become an Airbnb Host

written by local expert Jane Elmets

Jane always knew she wasn't destined for a desk job... She has travelled all over the world and is passionate about noodles, sloths and her hiking boots! When she isn't busy adventuring around the world, you can find her reviewing travel gear and dishing out travel tips to all the places she's visited.

This post was written in collaboration with Airbnb

There’s no worse feeling than leaving your house empty when going on vacation and knowing you still need to pay rent. Or worse, having a spare room sitting empty in your apartment when you could be making money off of it. 

But what if there was a way to make money from these spaces without disrupting your schedule or routine? Our suggestion: List this space on Airbnb and become a host. Doing this has been an awesome travel hack that has helped tons of people travel for longer!

By becoming an Airbnb host, you’re able to make a more than decent amount of money from letting out your uninhabited room, apartment or house to those who are looking for somewhere to stay. You can even list your home while you’re traveling, as long as you have your space sorted out and have made arrangements for guests to be taken care of while you’re gone. 

While you may think it’s complicated to become an Airbnb host, it’s actually a fairly straightforward process. Here’s a breakdown of how to list your place on Airbnb and some tips to help you become the best Airbnb host possible.

Why Become an Airbnb Host

Freedom, flexibility, and making money off something you already have. Sounds like the ideal way to make money, right? Well, all of this is possible when you become an Airbnb host.

By allowing individuals to list your home or apartment for guests to stay in, Airbnb has created a way for you to earn by utilizing your extra or unused space. At the same time, you’ll get to meet people from all over the world who are stopping over in your neck of the woods.

welcome sign hanging on front door

If you decide to list your room or home on Airbnb, it’s completely free to sign up and there’s no listing fee. Whether you just want to give it a spin to make some extra money or if you’re looking for a long-term source of income, you only pay a fee to Airbnb when you receive a reservation.

One of the best parts of this model is that there’s no commitment. You’re able to start and stop your listing according to your own schedule and preferences, so you don’t have to worry about the place being booked during dates when you’d rather be alone in your own space. This gives you the flexibility to book your place while you’re away traveling!

So how does having an Airbnb listing really work? 

After you create your listing and your home is on the Airbnb “market,” you get paid every time someone makes a booking. Within 24 hours of the guest checking in, Airbnb will release your payment which will then find its way to your bank or Paypal account.

This is ideal because you’re able to make an income on the go, as long as people are booking your space. Forget about waiting for a monthly paycheck! 

I know what you must be thinking, “Sounds like a pretty good deal, but strangers in my house? What if they break or steal something?” 

A home is a precious space, so letting others inhabit it may be a bit nerve-wracking. That’s exactly why Airbnb has a Host Guarantee. Airbnb provides hosts with protection of up to $1,000,000 in damages or loss, in the event that the guests are unable or unwilling to pay.

Aside from the Host Guarantee, you also have the ability to set your own house rules to reflect your own preferences. Some common house rules include not allowing smoking within the home, not allowing pets, and not allowing unregistered guests to stay over. 

Plus, you have the power to vet guests when they book and can deny a reservation based on poor guest reviews from other hosts. Not to worry, with Airbnb, you not only have control over who stays in your home but you also have peace of mind in case anything bad happens.

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How Much Money Can You Make as an Airbnb Host?

Now, for the real question: how much money can you actually make doing this?

First and foremost, you, as the host, are able to set the price for your listing and change it at any time. Airbnb has a smart tool to help you determine a price for your space, based on different factors and in comparison to similar surrounding properties.

As you can probably guess, the amount of money you make as an Airbnb host depends on a variety of different factors. 

The first of these factors is what you’re listing. Are you offering an entire home? An apartment? A private or shared room? The more space and privacy the guest has, the more expensive the listing can be.

upward view of brick apartments and sky

It also depends on where your listing is located. Big cities and popular tourist locations bring in the big bucks, but you’re still able to make a pretty penny if you’re renting a space outside of somewhere central.

The time of year affects the price you set as well. You’re able to charge more for weekends and peak times of the year, like summer and holidays. 

Finally, and what you have most control over, is what your listing looks like. Attractive, well-put together spaces with personal touches tend to do best. Showcase your pad with beautiful photos and an honest and informative description on the listing, and guests will be rolling in. 

Of course, you may have to invest some money into putting your Airbnb together, by ways of decorating the space and sprucing it up. And some of your earnings may go towards paying for cleaning, restocking amenities, and any other services you’ll need to prepare the space for your next guest. As mentioned above, Airbnb also takes a 3 – 5% fee from each booking. 

That said, using Airbnb to earn a hefty profit couldn’t be easier.

If you’re interested in getting a live look at what your property is worth if you listed it on Airbnb, check out the Airbnb calculator which provides a real-time estimate of how much you can earn. Simply input your location and home capacity, and you’ll get an estimate based on 15 booked nights a month.

Things to Consider Before Listing Your Home on Airbnb

Since Airbnb is all about hospitality, you need to make sure your space is adequately prepared before guests start staying. 

Cleanliness and lack of clutter is the top requirement for any Airbnb listing. It’s fine for your house to look homey, but no one needs to see your dirty sweatpants on the couch. So it’s best to clean up personal items and clutter, especially in the room they’ll be staying in as well as any shared areas. Don’t forget that they’re paying guests, not friends or family just staying over for a night or two. 

You should also think about what kind of experience the guest will be getting when staying at your house. Some people may be looking for something slightly upscale and private while others are seeking somewhere inexpensive to rest their head for the night. What type of stay you offer is entirely up to you, but whatever you choose, be sure to prepare for it.

Also, consider logistic issues associated with having guests. How will the guest enter the home? Do you have a spare key and plan to give it to the guest? Is it complicated to find your apartment or difficult to get parking? Think about these and plan accordingly, whether it’s you meeting the guests to show them the spot or leaving detailed instructions. 

Taking care of logistical details will ensure a smooth check-in and a better overall experience for guests. 

A final thought is whether you need to invest in anything to get your space ready to offer guests the best experience possible. Maybe a matching set of bed sheets or fresh towels? Small toiletries are always a nice thing to have in the bathroom as well. Don’t forget the simple breakfast items either! You can also mention these on the listing to draw people in. 

oatmeal, orange juice, coffee

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How to List Your Home on Airbnb

If listing your property is something that’s attractive to you, it’s super easy to get started on Airbnb. Here are the simple steps and a few tips to follow to create the ideal Airbnb listing. 

1. Sign up on Airbnb 

The first step to listing your home on Airbnb is to sign up on the website or app. It’s free to create an account and only takes a few minutes to get started.

You’ll begin by filling out personal information and creating a personal bio, so be sure to write something that reflects you and your personality in the best light possible! Be honest, charming, and personable because guests are more likely to book with someone who seems friendly rather than the alternative.

Next, you have to verify your account with details like your phone number and photos of identification documents. You’ll have to upload a clear photo of yourself as well so get those pearly whites ready. 

2. Create a Listing

Now that you’re signed up, it’s time to create a listing to show off what you have available to guests. Airbnb pretty much guides you through this entire process on the platform, but here’s a breakdown of it so you know what to expect.

First, specify the type of property you’re listing. Is it a home, apartment, treehouse, yurt, or something else? Whatever it is, list this first. 

Then you’ll say whether the listing is a shared space or an entire place. If it’s a shared place, you can list a private or shared room, but if it’s a whole home or apartment, the guests should have the entire place to themselves.

Next, you’ll get to set the price of your listing. Airbnb has a suggested nightly rate for you according to what you’re offering, the dates you’re listing, and where you’re located. They take all the different factors into account and even compare with Airbnb listings in the surrounding areas.

As mentioned, you can change the price of your listing at any time so you can bump it up for a weekend or holiday, too.

After pricing, you can select the dates and block out times the listing will be unavailable. You’re able to list as little as one time a month or for the entire duration — it’s up to you! You can also change the calendar at any time, according to your personal schedule and preferences.

Now that all the logistics are taken care of, it’s time to give some details. Here, you’re given the chance to write an honest and enticing description to give guests an idea of what they’ll be getting when staying at your place. List all the lovely features guests can expect and let them know why your place is special. Including the latter part will make all the difference when it comes to choosing you instead of other listings! 

bed with side table and lamp

In the description, be sure to include things like: the sleeping space, bathroom set-up, general access to the place, and anything special about the location. People love knowing that there are coffee shops, restaurants or shopping just steps away! You can also point out local gems if you’re located in a more remote setting.

If there are any downsides to your space, it’s essential that you address these in the description as well. Guests are likely to be understanding if you’re upfront about anything undesirable such as a noisy location or a shared bathroom. But if these details are never mentioned, you’re going to rack up bad reviews and be hurt from not disclosing these details ahead of time.

When describing said downsides, you can always put a creative spin on them.

While still being honest, you can give reasons for the issues. For example, a listing in a noisy location can be described as being located in a lively district that comes alive at night. Places in more remote areas can be described as charming, peaceful and tranquil. A small space can turn into something “minimalist” and chic, which is totally in these days. You get the idea. 

Also, always let guests know if there are any pets on the property because you never know when someone’s allergic to cats or dogs.

3. Include What Comes Along with Your Listing

There are some basic amenities and features that most successful Airbnbs have, and the platform gives you the opportunity to let guests know if you have them on your listing.

Some of these are things like WiFi, bedsheets, a kettle, and towels. But you can also go above and beyond by providing guests with basic toiletries, breakfast items, snacks, tea, and coffee. 

It’s the little things that count, and who doesn’t like a nice muffin in the morning?

You also want to give guests some extra information about the listing’s surroundings. 

Be sure to mention the most popular activities and attractions in the area, that way if guests are visiting for something specific, they know that they can choose your place to be close by it. It’s also highly recommended to list public transit options because being near a metro or bus stop is a huge selling point for many visitors. 

Finally, add a personal touch. You’re opening your home up to visitors, so it’s nice to know that someone is looking out to make sure their stay is enjoyable and goes smoothly. Let guests know that you’re available for recommendations across the board, whether they’re looking for the best eateries, getting around or finding nightlife. 

a person holding a pen over a map with coffee

During my most memorable Airbnb stay, the host left an annotated map of the area with suggestions of everywhere to go! It made all the difference, so just know that something small and personal can make a world of difference. 

And there you have it, everything you need to include in your Airbnb listed description. 

4. Take Some Attractive Photos of Your Home

Photos are everything when it comes to an Airbnb listing so you need to be very particular and pay attention to detail when it comes to photographing your place. An attractive space draws people in, so make sure that you have some eye-catching, charming details that can help guests envision themselves staying there. 

Before taking the photos, be sure to clean the space. This may seem obvious, but in case it needs to be stated, get rid of all your extra junk that may be lying around the house (or hide it in storage), mop the floor, vacuum the carpet, make the bed etc. Give it the five-star treatment so guests can have a sparkling clean impression of where they could be staying.

Then, be sure to have some decent lighting. Natural light is best! If you can catch the sun streaming through the windows during daytime, you’ll have some awesome pictures. The room should look bright and airy, making it more attractive to those who are browsing listings in your area.

natural light in kitchen

Now that it’s time to actually take the photos, be sure to accurately portray the size of the space. Try to take pictures that show the entire room by standing in the doorway or even on a chair. 

Be sure to also take pictures not only of the room that guests will be staying in, but the accommodation as a whole. Show off that kitchen, living room, and of course the bathroom because people will certainly be wondering where they can shower after a long trip. You can also write crafty captions under each photo to let interested people know what’s what.

Remember that “a picture’s worth a thousand words”! It’s in your best interest to make sure that your photos are high quality and accurate because they’re the prime selling point when it comes to your listing. 

To make it easier for hosts to get high-quality photos of their home, Airbnb has a photography service that can match you up with a local photographer. With the photographer’s help, you’ll get photos that better showcase your listing and attract guests.

The best part? The costs will be deducted from your future payouts, so you don’t have to pay upfront for the service.

And there you have it — a top-notch listing! That wasn’t too hard, was it? Just remember that honesty is key when listing your home on Airbnb. You want people to know exactly what they’re getting, so they can feel right at home while inhabiting your charming space. 

5. Wait for Bookings to Roll in 

Now that you’ve got your listing set up, it’s time to play the waiting game while guests search for somewhere to stay. 

If you’re not receiving any bookings, it may be a sign that you need to tweak something about your listing to make it more attractive to potential guests. Perhaps take clearer photos or give more details about what makes the location so special.

It may also be helpful to offer your first bookings a discount as it gives you a higher chance of a positive review which will prompt more future bookings. 

How to Make Airbnb Hosting Easier

I know it may seem like a lot to have to answer inquiries, prepare the space and be accommodating to each and every guest, but these are the things that go into becoming a quality host. 

Luckily, these days there are many different tools and tricks you can use to make your hosting life that much easier. Here are some suggestions for saving yourself some time and stress on the hosting front.

Create a Checklist

This may seem like a small step but it’s at the top of the list for a reason. Having a set checklist that you can follow for each check-in and check-out will ensure that you don’t inadvertently forget anything important. 

Whether it’s sending your next guest detailed directions to your place one day before their arrival or ensuring you hit every step of preparation from cleaning, to replacing toiletries and taking out the trash, a checklist can be a life-saver. 

Come up with a Cleaning Plan

One of the biggest responsibilities of being an Airbnb host is maintaining a clean space for each and every guest. 

If you can come up with a solid cleaning plan, when a guest checks out, you’ll already know exactly what to do. If you don’t want to clean yourself, you can hire a trusted cleaner to come in and tidy up the space for a price. This is an especially good route if you prefer a hands-off approach or if you’ll be traveling for some time. This way, you know the space will be taken care of while you’re gone. 

Airbnb even allows you to charge a cleaning fee, so the cost of hiring someone will be covered! You can use a local service, or check out Properly, which allows you to find a cleaning service through their platform and give them visual instructions to ensure everything is done, well, properly.

person mopping kitchen floor

Automate Messages

Responding to guest messages and reaching out every time someone books can be extremely time-consuming. 

To make your life easier, there are different tools you can use to send messages that you’ve created to guests. With Smartbnb, you’re able to set automated messages that include your address, map location, check-in instructions and whatever else a guest needs to know at the time of their booking. 

You can also create a simple email template that you can quickly edit for each guest instead of typing it out every time. 

Create a Self Check-in Process

While some guests may be seeking an ultra-personal experience with Airbnb, many are just as satisfied with a hands-off approach to hosting. 

A more hands-off approach also makes your life much easier, especially when it comes to checking in. If you can create a self check-in process that allows guests to access the property without you physically being there, you can stay on your own schedule instead of accommodating theirs. 

This is really helpful for traveling hosts or when guests want to arrive late. Your key will be secure but only accessible to those who have booked. 

To offer a self check-in process, you can simply get a lockbox, store an extra key in it and send the guest instructions at their time of booking. Alternatively, you can opt for a program like KeyCafe which allows you to store your spare key at a nearby cafe and the guest can pick it up when they arrive.

Enlist a Co-Host

Running an Airbnb can become a huge responsibility, especially if you’re located in a super popular location and generating tons of bookings. For this reason, some hosts choose to take on a co-host: someone who can help be sure the entire hosting process goes smoothly from start to finish. 

Whether it’s a neighbor, friend, or family member, you can add up to three co-hosts to your listing. Depending on your preference, if you decide to acquire help from another person, they can do anything from answering messages, to greeting guests or being available in case of emergency. 

Of course, having a co-host means paying someone, but this is worth it if you think that taking on the entire Airbnb hosting responsibility is too much with whatever else you have on your plate.

If you’re working a full-time job or traveling frequently, having someone on the ground who can assist in times of need will make your hosting life much easier. 

two men shaking hands

Leave Your Guests a Welcome Guide 

A final way to simplify your hosting experience is to create a Welcome Guide and keep in the space for all of your guests. 

Generating a detailed, meaningful and personal guidebook for your guests will make all the difference in orientating them to your space and the neighborhood. Some things you can include here are the house rules, WiFi password, how to lock up the house when leaving, parking instructions, thermostat controls, and of course all of your personalized recommendations for what to see, do, and eat around the neighborhood. 

It’s also nice to include an annotated map with the guidebook so guests can find things like public transportation and supermarkets nearby. 

While it may take some work to generate a complete guide, you’ll save yourself a ton of time because guests will have a reference point instead of sending you a message every time they need something.

Not to mention, it will make guests feel like someone’s looking out for them, which is always a prime quality in an Airbnb host. 

More Good Reviews, More Bookings: Airbnb Hosting Tips

The best way to increase bookings is to have outstanding reviews. While you don’t actually have control over what guests post in their reviews, you are able to influence their opinion by doing several things throughout their stay. 

The first recommendation I have on this front is to be friendly. A friendly host is a likable one, and this will give guests a good impression of your space. I know that sounds crazy, but aren’t you more inclined to like a place if you like the person who owns it? Be easy to communicate with, always willing to help, and personable. What’s not to love?

It also helps to be accommodating where possible. Take the effort to address a guest’s specific requests or make a little difference by allowing them an earlier check-in or flexibility with public spaces. 

You can also help guests book tours or connect them with local experiences in the area. The guests staying in your neighborhood are likely looking for some sort of local know-how and who better to help them out than you? All of this ties into weaving personal touches throughout your guest’s stay. 

The more personal and accommodating the experience, the more likely you are to end up with a great review.

If you’re renting a room in the house you’re living in, you can even take the time to get to know your guests if they’re open to it. Cook them a local meal, invite them out, or have a coffee together if you’re comfortable. 

one person serving another a local meal

I’ve have some unbelievable opportunities to get to know Airbnb hosts around the world and it’s been one of the best chances to engage in cross-cultural exchange and meet wonderful new friends. Being an open and inviting host who makes guests feel welcome will bump up your reviews like nothing else, and give you the chance to get to know people from all corners of the globe. 

The last tip and probably one of the most important is to be reliable. The last thing you want is several reviews saying you’ve canceled a booking or don’t answer your messages. While hosting for Airbnb is fairly easy, it does take a bit of work and communication is key. Be sure to keep your availability up to date, stay in touch, and be available to guests as needed. 

Other Things You Should Know About Being an Airbnb Host

Before starting on your Airbnb endeavor, make sure you know all the technicalities about becoming a host. 

First and foremost, you should check out the laws about hosting your city. While it’s rare, some cities actually don’t allow people to sublet or list their properties on Airbnb. Before you start hosting, you may want to read Airbnb’s guide on responsible hosting in various regions. You can also check your local government website for information. 

Next, if you don’t own the property you’re listing, you’ll need to get the green light from your landlord. Just because the city allows you to become a host doesn’t mean your specific lease does. Give your lease agreement a good read, and have a conversation with whomever you’re renting from before opening the space to someone else. 

A last thought is to keep in mind taxes. There’s no easy way to talk about taxes for Airbnb because they differ from host to host, depending on the location’s individual laws. Brush up on the specific tax laws in your area so you know what to collect from guests and report as income. 

On a more specific side, if you make more than $20,000 or have more than 200 bookings in a year, Airbnb will send you a Form 1099-K. You’ll also receive a tax form from Airbnb so that you can report your earnings. It’s worth consulting a professional on these matters though, so you can make sure all your ducks are in a row from someone who knows what’s what.

Is it Worth it to be an Airbnb Host?

In short: yes, it is certainly worth it to list your home on Airbnb. Our team at Adventure in You is all about helping you create unforgettable experiences and if you can do this through the extra moolah that you earn renting out your space, even better!

There’s a lot that goes into being an Airbnb host. It’ll cost you time, money and effort, but it will also lead to a huge payoff by providing a good income while utilizing an unused space.

small white house with red door and front yard

Hosting on Airbnb is like running a mini business and what you put into it, you’ll get out of it as well. Creating a beautiful space that people love to inhabit is something to be proud of, and you’re sure to know it after your first good review.

It’s worth it to host on Airbnb because the flexible structure allows you to earn extra money on your own terms, whether you’re home or away. Plus, there’s nothing stopping you from giving it a try as there’s no commitment and it’s rather easy to set up.

Now that you know all there is to know about hosting on Airbnb, are you ready to take the plunge? Sign up to be an Airbnb host and start making some money on the side!

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How to Become an Airbnb Host | Interested in listing your property on Airbnb? Here's a step by step guide with everything you need to know about becoming a host.

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