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The Best Beginner's Guide to Airbnb Hosting [Must Read for New Hosts]

Airbnb Hosting Basics

Best Beginner’s Guide to Airbnb Hosting | Must Read for New Hosts

8 crucial things you need to know BEFORE you spend a dollar on starting your first Airbnb. Find out what it really takes to be an Airbnb host.

I'm Sabrina, a short-term rental host coach who knows starting your own Airbnb biz can quickly get waaaay too complicated. But it doesn't have to be. I help first-time Airbnb hosts like you go from overwhelmed to "Yes!! Another  booking!"
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Before you invest any actual money in starting your very own Airbnb, you first need to make sure you’ve got the right property in mind and that you have a good sense of what Airbnb hosting takes.

This post will help you determine just that. In the first section, I’m walking you through four crucial things you need to figure out before you spend even a dollar on starting your first Airbnb. Not doing the things in this section could cause your exciting new business to become a total waste of time and money.

In the second section, I’m sharing what Airbnb hosting is really like. There are pros and cons to anything, and Airbnb hosting sure has plenty of each. This section is designed to help you understand what you’re really signing up for as an Airbnb host.

After reading this post, you’ll be able to decide whether or not hosting is right for you, right now. Let’s jump in.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I’m not affiliated with Airbnb in any way (other than being an Airbnb host, of course). Read my full disclosure policy here.

What to Do BEFORE You Start Airbnb Hosting

Below are the four crucial things you need to figure out before you spend even a dollar on starting your first Airbnb.

Airbnb Kitchen
My Airbnb kitchen in Lake Tahoe. | The Realist

Calculate your profitability

The number one thing you can do to ensure your Airbnb has the potential to be profitable is use a profitability calculator. These tools help you estimate just how much you can expect to earn on a specific Airbnb property.

Doing this is so important that I created a free Airbnb profit calculator for you. This is the exact calculator I use before making any real estate investment. This free profit calculator tells you whether or not an Airbnb property is a good investment overall, including how much the value of your property is expected to increase over time, and how much you can expect to earn when you sell the property. It’s an incredibly comprehensive tool that’s essential for anyone considering investing in an Airbnb property.

Recommended: Buy Airbnb Property With Confidence: Get My (FREE) Airbnb Calculator

Estimate your revenue potential

That said, if you don’t have a specific Airbnb property in mind yet, you can still plan for where your Airbnb should be located by using AirDNA’s free revenue forecasting tool. With AirDNA, you can get a revenue estimate in less than one minute by entering an address or location you’re considering for your Airbnb. The best part is, there’s no limit to how many free revenue estimates you get.

To get an even better sense of the potential revenue you can earn, read my income report. In this report, I’m sharing exactly how much I earned my first year Airbnb hosting. You’ll find out how I earned over $85,000 my first year Airbnb hosting. You’ll also see every single expense I incurred and the overall profit I took home. Knowing how much Airbnb hosts actually make is essential for anyone considering hosting.

Pro tip: One of the best ways to maximize your revenue is to optimize your listing.

Estimate your startup costs

Speaking of expenses, before you become an Airbnb host, you’ve got to know how much you could pay in Airbnb startup costs. That’s why in this blog post I’m breaking down every expense you’ll incur your first year Airbnb hosting. That includes your mortgage, taxes, insurance, Airbnb host fees…the list goes on and on. It’s extremely important that you know exactly what you’ll need to pay for so you can plan ahead for those expenses.

Recommended: Airbnb Startup Cost: A Comprehensive Guide for First-Time Hosts

Understand local requirements

Before you choose a specific location for your Airbnb, you need to understand any requirements for short-term rentals in that area. Some municipalities and homeowner’s associations don’t allow short-term rentals at all. Others require certain permitting that can be cumbersome, expensive, and hard to get approved for.

You need to know what the local requirements are before you invest in a property. Usually, you can find this information online, but it doesn’t hurt to call the municipality and talk to someone directly because what’s online is not always up-to-date.

Understanding local requirements is just one of seven steps you need to take before starting an Airbnb. Get my full step-by-step guide to starting an Airbnb in this blog post.

What Airbnb Hosting is Really Like

There are pros and cons to anything and Airbnb hosting sure has plenty of each. Before you start an Airbnb, you need to know what you’re getting into, below.

The main floor of my Airbnb. | The Realist

You’re now a 24/7 customer service representative

As an Airbnb host, the great news is you’re not tied to a 9-5 desk job or commuting to work each day. You’ll have a lot more flexibility and time to do what you love. But, the flip side is that you now need to be on call 24/7 for any issues or questions your guests have. You’re responsible for helping your guests and responding to their messages day, night, holidays, and weekends.

Honestly, it’s zero fun waking up to messages on Saturday mornings about yet another thing being broken at your Airbnb and then spending hours resolving the issue. But, when things go wrong (which they will), responding quickly and thoughtfully to your guests can very much ease any frustration they might be having. I’m confident that my responses to guests when things go wrong have led to many 5-star reviews that otherwise wouldn’t have been.

Learn more about guest communication and all five things Airbnb guests care about most in this blog post.

You’ll need to visit your property for regular maintenance

That said, the most impactful thing you can do to prevent issues from coming up in the first place is conduct regular property maintenance checks.

Taking the time to visit your rental property at least every 3-6 months will ensure that you’re addressing small issues before they become disasters that impact your business.

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll get everything you need to know to do a thorough property maintenance check. Following these steps will ensure your rental is ready to earn the 5-star reviews you deserve.

Recommended: Rental Property Maintenance: Don’t Miss Out on These Crucial Steps

Taking care of your cleaning crew is crucial

Guests care deeply about having a squeaky clean Airbnb property; so, as an Airbnb host, your cleaning crew is everything.

In fact, 40% of my reviews to date either mention how clean my property is or that it wasn’t as clean as my guests expected it to be (yikes!). And, while cleaning an entire property in just a few hours is a huge feat, the smallest imperfection can lead to low star ratings and unpleasant written reviews. I’ve gotten poor reviews for things like a few strands of hair found on sheets. Cleanliness matters to guests. A lot.

So, do your best to find fantastic cleaners (ideally with short-term rental experience), which is much easier said than done. Then, when you first open your Airbnb, visit often. Make adjustments and provide feedback to your cleaners as needed. For example, you might need to add more storage space for your cleaners or print photos so they know how each room should look when they’re done.

Most importantly, show your appreciation every single time you talk to your cleaners (even when things go wrong!) and give generous gifts. They’re integral to your business.

Learn more about this and all five things Airbnb guests care about most in this blog post.

Expect to replace things throughout the year

In every single instance above (during property maintenance checks and when your guests/cleaning crew message you), you’ll most likely learn about an item at your Airbnb that needs to be repaired or replaced.

Accidents happen at your Airbnb a lot more often than you’d expect. Things get more wear and tear than if you lived there yourself. So, instead of feeling frustrated by the need to replace things, expect it. Add a little extra to your cleaning fee to cover the cost of replacement items. And make sure you keep this Airbnb furniture & supplies checklist handy, so you can quickly order new items as needed:


Great work! You now have a really solid understanding about what it’s actually like to be an Airbnb host. You’re much more prepared to pick a profitable property, have very satisfied Airbnb guests, and successfully start your very own Airbnb business!

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Disclaimer: All content on this website is for informational purposes only. You are taking all provided information at your own risk. We are not financial, real estate, legal, investment or other professionals. Nothing on this website should be construed as professional advice. We will not be liable for any loss or damage of any nature. For more information, read our disclaimer.

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I grossed $160,000+ my first two years Airbnb hosting. Now, I’m sharing all my Airbnb hosting tips so you can build your own insanely profitable business.


I'm Sabrina,
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