At first, I was skeptical. And so were my friends…
Do I really want to invite strangers into my home WHILE I am living there? Sounds a bit crazy.
Some of my friends said it was a bad idea and they could never do it.
Proof is in the bank account!
But, after one year and more than $35,000 in my bank account from only renting my place occasionally and PART TIME, I decided to rent out my place full time on AirBnB. And some of my friends were asking me how I did it!
Start in the shallow end
Well, here is the story of how I get there, risk free and one step at a time. No need to jump into the deep end, lets start in the kiddie pool!
I was able to do it with very low risk to my personal finances and living situation. I came upon this more of my circumstances at the time, than of necessity.
However it dawned on me that what I did via necessity was actually the perfect way to get started in AirBnB for many reasons, and I think it can help a lot of people who are on the fence about getting started with AirBnB.
Please note that this tactic probably won’t be effective for those with more traditional vacation rentals in mind or those only advertising on VRBO or Homeaway, but its perfect for AirBnB when you are living in your apartment.
Use what you have, right now!
The strategy is simple: Start with what you have! Almost everybody, except those in studios, can probably find a suitable room to rent out on AirBnB while they are living there.
Only have a one bedroom apartment? No problem, you can still do this too.
Did you know that AirBnB started out as a spare air mattress in somebody’s living room? Thats where the “Air” comes from in the name. So you can rent out something like that yourself.
To make a bit more money, you can rent out your bedroom to your guests while you take the couch.
Or, rent out your entire place while you crash with your significant other or at a friend’s place for the weekend.
There are really any number of ways to start doing this and to get started with Airbnb on a low risk basis.
Create your Airbnb account with a clear listing
The key thing is this: Just make sure to be clear in your listing exactly what it is you are offering. As long as its clear, guests will more than likely be totally cool with whatever you offer!
What are the amenities and privacy that your guests should expect, and what is exclusively theirs versus shared? Many people are ok with sharing as long as its not a surprise when they show up!
Why start with AirBnB this way? There are many great reasons. Lets dive into a few of them now.
- You can start to judge relative demand in your area. Sure, its not 100% the same exact kind of demand compared to renting out your entire apartment, but it will give you an indicator.
- If there is very strong demand for your private room, then more than likely there will be very strong demand for your entire apartment as well. If there is weak demand for your private room, that doesn’t necessarily mean your entire apartment won’t be fully booked, but you should do some additional analysis.
- You can meet and greet the guests personally (this is a great and easy way to get some 5 star reviews), build some relationships, and also get a feel for the amenities they would like and questions most guests have. This gives you some practice runs to fully stock your place with all the amenities that guests may require.
- Once you host a few different guests, you can get a sense for the questions they may have and preemptively answer them. This will give you a chance to address these questions before your next guest arrives, either in your listing itself, your house manual, or in one of your standard email responses. This will save you and your guests a lot of headaches down the road and make you look like a host that has their act together.
- Lastly, this gives you a chance to get some reviews! One of the most important things in your AirBnB listing is some social proof, aka real certified reviews from people who have stayed at your location before. You want to put your best foot forward during your first few guests, as a property with only one or two reviews which aren’t good is most certainly in trouble. So go all out to make it a 5 star experience for those first guests.
After a few months, you have a solid foundation
Once you do this a few times, you now have an improved listing with real guest feedback, all the amenities that your guests will probably need in the future, plus if all went well, some glowing reviews about your place.
Now you are well on your way to superhost status! The choice is up to you if you want to keep renting out your room, or move out and go to full time host of your entire place. Either way, you have a solid foundation and more information on which to base your next move.