10 Lesser-Known Ways to Perfect Your Airbnb Listing Photos

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10 Lesser-Known Ways to Perfect Your Airbnb Listing Photos

I made nearly $19k my FIRST MONTH Airbnb hosting. No professional Airbnb photos needed. Read to the bottom for my #1 most important tip.

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!"
9 Surprising Lessons After 9 Months Hosting

10 Mistakes To Avoid When Listing With Airbnb

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When you look at an Airbnb listing, can you tell whether or not a professional photographer took the listing photos?

The difference between professional and amateur Airbnb listing photos can be astounding.

Professional photos make an Airbnb look spacious, well-lit, and high quality. They can definitely help your listing stand out among the crowd.

BUT, you don’t need to take professional photos for your Airbnb right away.

I made nearly $19,000 my FIRST MONTH Airbnb hosting with ZERO professional photos.

Just me, myself, and my iPhone.

So, your Airbnb can still be very successful with listing photos you take yourself.

Plus, professional photos just aren’t worth the money until AFTER you’re done making changes to your property (which might happen a lot more often than you expect).

Read on for 10 lesser-known ways to perfect your Airbnb listing photos (all on your own, no professionals needed).

Make sure to read down to the bottom for my #1 most important tip. (If that’s the ONLY thing you take away from this post, you’ll be successful.)

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. Read my full disclosure policy here.

10 Lesser-Known Ways to Perfect Your Airbnb Listing Photos

1. Know that staging your property is not the end-all-be-all

When you start an Airbnb, you have SO MUCH to do (plan, buy, and assemble furniture; get a short-term rental permit; find a reliable cleaner; fix any existing issues at your property; renovate…the list can feel endless).

So, staging your property is probably very low on your priority list (and that’s okay!)

(By ‘staging’ I mean adding decor and other pretty things to your property so it looks warm and welcoming in photos and turns on-the-fence guests into guests that are so excited they hit ‘book’ right away.)

My (staged) Airbnb living room | The Realist

Here’s what you need to know: if you have time to stage your property before taking your listing photos, that’s fantastic!

However, if you’re drowning in to-do list items and stressed-the-heck-out that you’ll actually mess up something IMPORTANT if you add ‘just one more thing’ to do before you open your Airbnb – then don’t stage your property right away! Your business WILL survive.

I didn’t stage my Airbnb until nine months into hosting. That’s when I FINALLY got my head out from underwater and had time to do some very select non-essential things at my property.

And, like I said, I made nearly $19,000 my first month Airbnb hosting. Here’s a bunch of things I DID prioritize to make that possible!

Recommended: 6 Proven Tactics to Earn More with Your Airbnb Business

2. When you’re ready, stage your property with these high-impact items

All that said, it really doesn’t take much to make your Airbnb look warm and welcoming in photos.

In fact, you should be careful – too many items can make your property seem cluttered and soooo not relaxing.

I staged my dining room table with garland and a full table setting for my max occupancy | The Realist

Here are several easy (but high-impact) ways to stage your Airbnb listing photos:

  • Create a full dining table setup
    • Set your dining table for your maximum occupancy. (If you’re anything like me, you’ll also need to Google how to properly set a dining table.)
    • Make sure your dishes, silverware, and water glasses are all in great condition and match
      • If that’s not the case, just buy a new full set. You can get high-quality, inexpensive dishes, silverware, and water glasses on Amazon. (You’ll never regret having extra dishes for your guests, but you’ll probably regret having listing photos that don’t showcase your Airbnb in the best light possible.)
    • In addition to the basics, investing in a few other great-looking items goes a long way
  • Place a laptop and other small desk decor (like this super cute faux plant and mini lamp) on your laptop-friendly work-from-home spaces, like the one below:
Small details like these help guests envision themselves enjoying everything your Airbnb has to offer. | The Realist
  • Set books out as decor
    • Books look great on shelves, beds, nightstands…almost anywhere.
    • Play around with having your books open vs. closed. An open book can really make a space look comfortable and relaxing in photos.
Play around with adding open and closed books anywhere you can think of. You’ll be surprised at how much more welcoming they make each room. | The Realist
  • Set a cup of tea out on nightstands, desks, and coffee tables
    • Just like an open book, a cup of tea makes your photos really inviting.
Setting a cup of tea out on nightstands, desks, and coffee tables is a super-easy way to make your Airbnb look more inviting. | The Realist
  • Put realistic-looking fake plants EVERYWHERE
    • Try putting plants on kitchen counters, desks, fireplace mantles, nightstands, shelves, console tables, and books…seriously, the more the merrier!
    • Plants bring tons of liveliness and warmth to a space in a way that’s hard to get from any other type of decor.
Adding plants to either side of my fireplace mantle makes this (already) cozy seating area look even cozier. | The Realist

Recommended: Amazon Essentials Your Airbnb

3. Play around with opening or closing doors

In general, keeping room doors open and all other doors shut looks best in photos, but it definitely depends on the photo.

Bathroom doors, for example, are nice to have open when taking wider layout shots so guests know that they’ll have a bathroom in that space.

Having bathroom doors open in close-up shots, though, can look super weird and distracting.

Use the slider below to see exactly what I mean.

In the first photo (which showcases the layout), having the bathroom door open shows guests they have the added benefit of an extra bathroom upstairs. In the second photo, however, (a close-up of the laptop-friendly workspace), having that same door open is distracting. | The Realist

4. Make sure your toilet lids are closed

Shut your toilet lids. We all know what’s in there, you don’t need to show us.

Shut the toilet lids in your bathrooms. | The Realist

5. Turn chairs out

Experiment with this one. A turned-out chair at a desk can look SUPER inviting. On the other hand, one turned-out dining chair at a table for six can look…awkward.

Try turning chairs out to see what you prefer. | The Realist

6. Hide purely functional things

Before taking photos, look around for purely functional items. These are things that don’t add anything to your photos but detract from important things you want guests to focus on.

Some common culprits:

  • Electronics cords
    • Especially ones you don’t notice right away. Like for your TV, lamps, coffee maker…you name it. These sneaky guys might go unnoticed for awhile but once you see them, you can’t UN-see them.
    • (If you don’t want to unplug kitchen appliances, at least turn off their displays so they’re not distracting.)
  • Remotes
  • Propane tanks (for your high quality, low cost grill)
  • Coasters

Recommended: The Best Room-By-Room Airbnb Checklist: 100+ Essential Items

7. Try different camera angles

Again, the goal here is to make your Airbnb look inviting and spacious.

Try putting your camera up high, down low, and eye-level. Which angle makes each room feel the largest and most welcoming?

Don’t hesitate to mix it up and experiment until you find what works best, depending on what you want to showcase in each room.

To get a photo of the entire upper floor of my Airbnb, I squeeze myself into a corner, hold the camera as high above my head as possible, and use the zoom-out feature on my phone. | The Realist

8. Show the layout whenever possible

Guests want to know what they’re getting with their booking.

So, in addition to showing the best features of each room, make sure to take a step back and show how the entire room is laid out (especially if you have an open floor plan!)

Take one or two photos of your hallways as well, and describe the layout in the caption. This is especially compelling if you have a layout guests particularly enjoy.

For example, my Airbnb guests say they love the open floor plan upstairs where friends can spread out across the living room, dining room, and kitchen while still spending time together. So, I make sure to include photos of the upstairs layout with a caption describing why future guests will love it, too.

Recommended: 10 Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Listing With Airbnb

This photo of my upstairs layout quickly communicates everything my guests love about this space. | The Realist

9. Make sure to balance expectations

Guests should feel like they made the right booking decision as soon as they walk into your Airbnb.

That said, when guests arrive, you don’t need to have everything set up exactly the same way they are in your listing photos.

For example, after taking my listing photos, I left any decor that was functional for my guests (i.e. books, cloth napkins, and nightstand lamps).

I also left out anything decorative that was out of the way (like fake plants on the fireplace mantle).

But I did not leave decor in functional areas (e.g. I removed a plant from the kitchen counter so that my guests can fully use that space without having to move decor or worry about damaging it).

10. Remember, the devil’s in the details

If you only take away one thing from this post, let it be this: being detail-oriented is the #1 most important thing you can do while taking Airbnb listing photos.

Before you take a SINGLE photo, remind yourself that every detail matters.

Look around. Is your rug crooked? Is there a spot on your couch? Are your pillows lop-sided?

Then, take a photo. Look at the photo and ask yourself the same questions. It’s crazy how different things can look in a photo.

Only after you’ve spent several minutes doing this are you free to start snapping away. (It sounds like such a pain in the moment, but you’ll thank me later!)

If you only take away one thing from this post, let it be this: being detail-oriented is the #1 most important thing you can do while taking Airbnb listing photos. | The Realist


Look at you go!

I can’t believe you made it all the way to the bottom of this list!

I just know you’re going to crush it with your Airbnb listing photos (and, at this rate, I can tell you’re going to be a thoughtful, detail-oriented Airbnb host, too!)

Bookmark this post to make sure you don’t miss anything while taking your Airbnb listing photos.

Save this post for later:

Airbnb listing photos

Any questions about taking Airbnb listing photos? Let me know in the comments.

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I grossed $85,000+ my first year Airbnb hosting. Now, I’m sharing all my Airbnb hosting tips so you can build your own insanely profitable business.


I'm Sabrina,
Your New Airbnb
Secret Weapon.


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