Starting your first Airbnb is overwhelming, stressful, and filled with uncertainty. Between becoming your own real estate investor, general contractor, project manager, and chief financial officer…it can feel nearly impossible to not get completely overwhelmed and give up before you’ve even started. Get rid of all the uncertainty and get back on track to starting that Airbnb you’ve been dreaming of by following the step-by-step guide in this blog post. By the end of this post, you’ll know exactly how to start an Airbnb.
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How to Start an Airbnb In 7 Can’t-Miss Steps
1. Pick your property
When it comes to choosing which type of property you’ll turn into an Airbnb, you have several options.
You can rent out…
- An unused area of your house;
- Your entire house (or vacation home) when you’re away; or
- A property you exclusively use as a short-term rental
If you can cover the startup costs, having a property solely dedicated to your Airbnb business is a great option. That way, you can get consistent rental revenue while investing in a great piece of real estate.
Once you know the type of property you’ll use, you’ve got to nail down the general location. AirDNA’s free revenue forecast tool is an absolutely essential way to estimate how much revenue an Airbnb can earn across various locations.
After you’ve nailed down a location and are ready to start looking at specific properties, make sure to use this profitability calculator to estimate how profitable a property can be before you invest any of your hard-earned cash.
Recommended: Buy Airbnb Property With Confidence With This FREE Airbnb Calculator
2. Check local requirements
As you start to nail down a specific location for your Airbnb, be sure 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.
Usually you can find short-term rental restrictions and permitting requirements online, but it doesn’t hurt to call the municipality and talk to someone directly, too, because what’s online is not always up-to-date.
Recommended: 10 Property Maintenance Mistakes Successful Airbnb Hosts Avoid
3. Furnish & stock your property
Once you’ve acquired your property, you’ve got to start setting it up. Between necessary repairs, updates, furniture, decor, and supplies…doing everything required to set up your property can be incredibly daunting, especially if you’re on a tight timeline.
Save yourself tons of time, energy, and stress with my FREE furniture and supplies checklist (100+ essential items!):
Recommended: The Best Room-By-Room Airbnb Checklist: 100+ Essential Items
4. Get renter’s insurance
Your homeowner’s insurance may or may not include coverage specific to renting out your property, so be sure to check your policy to find out. If you’re not covered, consider adding this coverage or buying a separate policy specific to short-term rentals.
Be sure to also take a look at Airbnb’s AirCover policy, which covers hosts with $1MM in liability insurance and $3MM in damage protection.
Recommended: Airbnb Host Fees: Are They Worth It for Airbnb Hosts?
5. Find a local cleaning company
The one thing you absolutely can’t skip when setting up your Airbnb is creating a plan for cleaning your property between guests. If you live locally and have the time, you could choose to clean the property yourself. However, I recommend hiring a cleaning company.
Because cleaning is super easy to outsource. There are tons of professional cleaners that will get the job done well, maybe even faster and better than you would (that’s definitely true for me!). Plus, if you clean your property yourself, what happens if you get sick? Or want to go away on vacation? Having a plan in place is crucial.
6. Take listing photos
Once all of your furniture is in place and you’ve found a local cleaning company, you’re ready to take photos of your property!
Pro Tip: Ask your cleaning company to do one deep clean right before you take photos. Not only is this crucial for taking great listing photos, but it’s also a good opportunity for you to make sure everything is cleaned as expected and provide feedback (before your guests do!).
When it comes to taking listing photos, you have two options: do-it-yourself or hire a professional photographer.
Option #1: Do-It-Yourself
To go the DIY route, you’ve got to have some experience taking photos. You don’t need to be a pro, but you do need to be comfortable taking bright, inviting photos and have the right equipment to make that happen. Here’s how to know if taking your own listing photos is right for you.
Pro Tip: What I like about the DIY route is that, as a first-time Airbnb host, you’re probably going to end up making changes to your property after you take photos. If you hire a professional, you can’t just snap an updated photo and add it to your listing.
Recommended: How To Know If You Should Take Your Own Airbnb Listing Photos
Option #2: Hire A Professional
If hiring a professional is right for you, talk to your photographer about your expectations so you’re both on the same page. To make your photos as warm and inviting as possible, consider hiring a lifestyle or wedding photographer over a real estate photographer. Real estate photography tends to be too cold and sterile for an Airbnb listing.
Recommended: 10 Lesser-Known Ways To Perfect Your Airbnb Listing Photos
7. Draft your listing
Phew! Now that you’ve got all that out of the way, you’re finally ready to start drafting your actual listing. This is by far the quickest step so I recommend waiting until last.
There are four main components to your listing: listing photos, title, description, and house rules.
#1: Listing Photos
If you followed all my photo recommendations above, you should be in great shape! Just upload your final photos to your listing and add a descriptive caption to each.
#2: Listing Title
When deciding on your listing title, first do some competitive research to understand what other listings in your area are highlighting. When crafting your own title, state what makes it special compared to other listings, for example: “Cozy Retreat w/ King Beds, Updated Kitchen, Close to Red Rocks”.
#3: Listing Description
When creating your listing description, make sure to incorporate your key attributes in a way that ties your whole property together and invites guests in for a great vacation. Ideally, they’ll picture themselves enjoying your property as they read.
Pro Tip: Have a target guest in mind when creating your listing. Is your place perfect for families with young kids? Romantic getaways? Business trips? Whatever it is, have that ideal guest in mind when you write your listing. Highlight things they would want to know!
Recommended: 10 Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Listing With Airbnb
#4: House rules
House rules are the most straightforward aspect of your listing. Airbnb will ask you a series of standard questions that will automatically populate many of your rules.
In addition to those, think about what other rules are important to you. This might include the potential for additional fees, checkout instructions from your cleaning crew, and/or your municipality’s noise curfew.
Pro Tip: Try to keep this section kind and light-hearted. You don’t want to scare any potential guests away just before they’re ready to hit ‘book’ by coming off as aggressive or threatening.
Learn more about how your house rules can protect you in this post.
Whew, we just covered a lot!
Hopefully, this guide on how to start an Airbnb makes the process easier and more manageable for you. Setting up your first Airbnb is a huge accomplishment! After all your hard work, don’t forget to take some time to celebrate and relax.
But know that the work doesn’t end there. After you start hosting there’s a lot of work that goes into managing your Airbnb.
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Questions about how to start an Airbnb? Let me know in the comments.
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