All around the internet people are claiming the Airbnb is one of the best side hustles. Basically close to passive income– phrases thrown out such as “make money while you sleep”, “meet interesting people from all over the world” and “don’t let that spare room go to waste” are all expressions that are continuously said when talking about starting your own Airbnb side hustle. The best part, it is all true but, truth be told, even with safety measures in place it was still a bit intimidating to me.
So I reached out to fellow blogger, Katie from Chain of Wealth who used Airbnb to help her pay her portion of rent while looking for a job. She quickly rose to SuperHost status; so to say the least, I had a couple of hosting questions to ask her.
PK: Were you nervous to let you first guest in? How did it go?
KW: To say no, not at all would be a lie. I had never hosted a stranger in my apartment so this was totally new territory for me. To make it even a little more intimidating, my first guest was a large male from another country- so I really did not know what to expect. To say I was a little anxious would honestly be an understatement, but it was too late to turn back now. He had arrived.
To my relief, my first guest was an absolute gem- I even think he was a bit nervous as it was his first time being a guest. He was so friendly, happy to be there and very complementary to my home. He made nice comments about the room, the area I lived in and asked where he needed to make a priority to visit- since I live in a huge tourist location, this question made sense. He was so friendly, that we even decided to go get pizza together and walk around a bit. I wouldn’t recommend entertaining all of your guests, but I was also hungry and didn’t feel like cooking.
Overall, he was the best icebreaker for doing something so new.
PK: Did you feed your guests?
KW: Generally, no I did not feed them. This was for a few reasons. Mainly, I was hosting so that I could afford to feed myself, I couldn’t afford to feed another mouth.
Second, people are funny about food. Between religious beliefs, random diets and allergies I was not comfortable cooking food for people that I didn’t know- the last thing I wanted was for someone to get sick or have an allergic reaction to the food I made. I did occasionally offer a glass of wine in the evening when talking about their day and I supplied generic snacks in their room. I thought that a little basket with some crackers and Chips Ahoy cookies with a bottle of water was a nice touch.
To compensate for not feeding them traditional meals, I did invite them to leave stuff in the fridge and cleared a section of the pantry if they wanted to store their own food. This didn’t happen super often but some guests did take advantage of it.
PK: How do I know how much to list my room for rent?
KW: I used a few strategies. Obviously, you want to get the best bang for your buck and charge as much as you can but there is a gray area you want to stay in. The platform that you create your listing does a great job at assessing this for you and making suggested prices for the area that you live in. Also, I would look at other options in the area and try to align my prices with theirs.
PK: How do you appear higher on the search for your area?
KW: Mainly, the best way is to stay active. Have quick response times with your prospective guests and try to achieve Super Host status as soon as possible. These are the best ways for people to find your listing.
PK: Did you ever feel unsafe with your guests?
KW: No, I didn’t. I knew that before they booked with me, their government ID was on file with Airbnb so I could see exactly who they are. Also, their credit card was on file, so my belongings were protected with the $1M protection plan that is provided.
I also would message back and forth with the guests before they arrived and that helps to get a feel for their personality. Also, you can look through their profile, see their picture and read the reviews left by other hosts. So I never felt unsafe in any of the situations.
PK: After all the hosting was done, what was the one thing you enjoyed the most?
KW: Well there were a few things. I enjoyed the money and it was easy and paid relatively well considering the effort I had to put in. I made over $7,000 in a couple of months which was a huge relief and blessing. Other than that, I met so many cool people:
- A guy who was interviewing with the Department of Education: this was especially cool to me being a former school teacher. We had some good conversations.
- A freelance writer/ author: this was inspiring since I was trying to break into the freelance world. She gave some good tips.
- An Indy film editor
- Tons of people from other countries
The list can go on and on. Some of them I still keep in touch with and have almost become like friends, others have left me really nice notes. A nice handwritten note is a lost form of communication so it was really nice to receive after they had left.
After my eye opening conversation with Katie, I can definitely see the benefits of hosting an Airbnb guest. Her last advice to me was to just try it. There is basically no cost to having your first guest. Sure, maybe buy a new towel and an extra box of pop-tarts to leave a snack for their arrival- but chances are you were going to buy it anyway.
Her words: try it, you never know, you might like it. If not, at least now you know.