How To Make Money on Airbnb
The sharing economy makes it possible nowadays to make money by renting your things out. You could rent your car out through Turo, your backyard swimming pool for parties or get-togethers using Swimply, and even a spare room or other properties through Airbnb.
But is becoming an Airbnb host worth the trouble? Take a closer look at how to make money on Airbnb to find out if it’s right for you.
What Is Airbnb?
Airbnb is an app and online platform that lets you host guests for stays at your home, apartment or additional properties. The platform is community-based. Guests and hosts can review each other — reviews are important, since others can see them to determine what type of guest or host you are.
How To Make Money on Airbnb
To make money as a host on Airbnb, you will need at least one room you are willing to rent out. However, some hosts have taken Airbnb hosting from a side gig to a full-time business by offering several properties. Think outside the box — even if you don’t have a handful of vacation properties to rent out, you can make money on Airbnb by putting together innovative stays, such as tents, treehouses, yurts, airstreams and geodomes.
But what if you don’t have any space to rent? There are other ways to make money on Airbnb, including:
- Property management
- Hosting experiences
How To Become An Airbnb Host
Becoming a host on Airbnb is fairly simple. The website walks you through the process by asking you questions about the property or room you plan on hosting. The main steps you’ll need to follow in the setup walk-through are:
- Provide info on the rental, such as location, number of rooms and features
- Upload photos
- Create an availability calendar
- Add house rules
- Choose prices
- Review local laws about rentals
If some of the points on the list seem overwhelming, don’t worry. Airbnb makes the process simple by offering tutorials and guides that help you make an informed decision. For example, the website may have information on laws in your city or town about hosting.
Once you become an official host, you’ll — hopefully — start receiving booking requests. Before you decide on whether to accept a booking, you can review the person’s profile to see past ratings from other hosts. You can also communicate with the guest through Airbnb’s messaging platform.
How Much Does the Average Airbnb Host Earn?
How much you can make depends on your location, the number of rooms or properties and your marketing skills. Globally, the average nightly stay costs $137 per night as of 2021, according to AllTheRooms Analytics. However, nightly rates in North America are the highest in the world at $208 on average.
Earning over $100 per night as a host sounds lucrative, but 100% occupancy or being fully booked the whole month is rare. Earnest found that nearly half of Airbnb hosts make at least $500 per month, with average monthly earnings of $924, as of 2021.
Can you really make money with Airbnb? Some hosts beat the average — despite the pandemic — and have hit it out of the ballpark:
- Alexis Schroeder of Fitnancials makes $2,000 in her busiest months for her northern Virginia property.
- Kristen Sarah and Siya Zarrabi of Hopscotch The Globe made $10,000 their first month hosting their Ontario mountain house.
- Susan and Boris Mordkovich of BuildYourBnb earn an average of $5,000 per month renting out a few of their properties.
What To Consider When Pricing Your Airbnb
Before you set a nightly price for your rental, consider some of the costs of doing business as a host. They include:
- Insurance: Having a renters insurance policy is necessary to protect you against the costs of litigation or damage to your property.
- Service fee: Airbnb’s service fee is straightforward. You’ll pay 3% on each booking. It’s not much, but it does add up.
- Taxes: You’ll be liable for taxes on the income you make if you rent for more than 14 days per year. Speak with a tax professional to maximize your write-offs and prepare for the tax filing.
- Utilities: Don’t forget to account for water, electricity, internet, trash service and gas on your rental.
- Cleaning fees: Whether you hire a company or do it yourself, you will incur expenses to clean and prepare the rental before every guest’s arrival. Many hosts offset cleaning fees by charging them to guests upfront.
- Emergencies: A clogged toilet or leak tends to happen at the worst time. Having maintenance contacts on standby in case you need to make an emergency repair is important. Having to call a plumber on a Friday night is going to be pricey but part of being a professional host.
- Supplies: Soap, toilet paper, cleaning supplies and more are part of the cost of doing business. Don’t forget to account for the expense when deciding how price your rental.
Who’s Eligible To Become an Airbnb Host?
As mentioned, you don’t need a swanky beachside villa to make money on Airbnb. You can rent out a room — or even host a tent in your backyard. It seems that the more creative you are about the experience you offer your guest, the more popular your rental can be. There are limits, of course.
According to Airbnb, there are basic requirements all hosts must follow. Some of the main ones are:
- Ensure your home is properly sanitized according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 guidelines.
- Provide essential amenities, such as toilet paper, soap, pillows, sheets and towels.
- Respond to booking requests within 24 hours.
- Maintain a high rating from customers.
- Follow your local area’s laws and ordinances regarding hosting.
- No recording devices allowed in bedrooms and bathrooms. Security cameras in other areas must be disclosed.
- Have a clearly marked fire escape route.
Who’s Not Eligible To Become an Airbnb Host?
Although Airbnb doesn’t set too many limits on hosts, there are things you should look into before you sign up.
- If you rent, your lease agreement may have a clause that forbids you from subletting or hosting your rental.
- Some buildings or communities may limit the number of nights you can rent your location, or even which floors allow vacation rentals.
- Certain neighbors may be hostile about the prospect of an Airbnb rental next door and could make your guests’ stay unpleasant.
It’s important to do your research first to make sure you don’t land in hot water as a host.
How To Make Money on Airbnb When You Don’t Own a Property
If you don’t own a property that you can rent out, there are other ways you can make money on Airbnb. Here are some to consider.
Find an Airbnb Host Who Will Add You as a Co-Host
Even though you won’t be able to earn as much as you would hosting your own Airbnb, co-hosting could be worth your while — especially if you’re looking to gain experience in Airbnb hosting. A co-host helps the host shoulder the responsibilities of Airbnb hosting, such as communicating with guests before and during their stay, overseeing guest check-ins and check outs, conducting property inspections, managing cleaning and maintenance personnel and restocking any required items.
The payment you’ll receive depends your agreement with the Airbnb host who hires you. For example, your payment could be 10% to 20% of the nightly rate, or you could earn a flat monthly fee. Additionally, if you clean the property, you should charge a separate fee.
Become a Rental Property Manager for Airbnb Hosts
Rental property managers for Airbnb hosts do many of the same duties that an Airbnb co-host would do, except they also are tasked with fulfilling property owners’ requests and marketing the Airbnb properties they manage.
Depending on the requirements for your state, you might need a real estate broker’s license or a property manager’s license. Rental property managers for Airbnb hosts can earn a flat monthly fee or negotiate 25% to 50% of the rent collected.
Host an Airbnb Experience
Another way to earn money on Airbnb is host an Airbnb experience, such as taking a food tour by bicycle, leading nature hikes and sharing stories about your city as part of a tour.
To get started, you’ll need to make sure the experience you want to provide is Airbnb approved. Next, you’ll need to create an experience page where you’ll explain your expertise and add photos. Finally, you’ll add dates and start hosting.
Depending on the experience you provide, you might need a business license, so check with your local authorities. To determine what to charge per experience, you’ll likely want to look at other listings that are similar to what you’re offering. Keep in mind that Airbnb charges Experience Hosts a service fee of 20% based on the price of the experience they provide.
Offer Your Services as an Airbnb Photographer
Airbnb hosts often need someone to take pictures of their rental properties as part of their marketing efforts. If you’re skilled at taking interior photos, you could offer your services as an Airbnb photographer.
According to real estate content platform Areyo, when taking Airbnb photos, you should charge twice as much as you would for a home real estate listing, because real estate listing photos are no longer useful once a property is sold, but Airbnb photos can help rent a property over and over.
Offer Your Services as an Airbnb Copywriter
A lot goes into marketing an Airbnb property, and copywriting is a huge part. If the title and the description of the property aren’t attention-grabbing to would-be renters, the host will likely struggle to get bookings.
You can set your own rates for this service, but you should probably look at what current Airbnb copywriters are making. For instance, one copywriter’s website offers a complete Airbnb listing for $219 and two complete listings for $338.
Start an Airbnb Cleaning Service
Perhaps you live in an area where there are hundreds or thousands of Airbnb listings. If so, starting your own Airbnb cleaning service might be a quick way to start earning a tidy sum of cash.
You’ll need to spend some money upfront on marketing your service and buying cleaning equipment and supplies. You might also need to hire a couple of people to help you clean if you want to scale up your business.
The best way to find out what to charge is to look at what other Airbnb cleaning services in your area are charging. According to data from TurnoverBnB, the national average cleaning costs for short-term rentals were $60.68 for one-bedroom properties, $78.58 for two-bedroom properties and $106.49 for three-bedroom properties in 2021.
Airbnb vs. Competitors
While hotels are the most obvious competitors to Airbnb, there are a few other websites or apps that could serve as Airbnb alternatives. Here is how they compare:
Airbnb vs. FlipKey
FlipKey is Tripadvisor’s rental platform. To start off, the website isn’t as clean and user-friendly as Airbnb’s. It only has about 830,000 rentals at this time, compared to Airbnb’s 6 million. However, many travelers live by Tripadvisor member reviews on things to do and places to stay, making it a reputable alternative to Airbnb.
Airbnb vs. Vrbo
Vrbo stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner. Founded in 1995, it’s been around longer than Airbnb. Vrbo offers about 2 million properties, one-third of Airbnb’s 6 million. Although Vrbo has made improvements over the years to create an easier experience for hosts and guests, Airbnb’s platform is still easier to work with for booking and hosting.
Airbnb vs. Couchsurfing
The main difference between the two is that Airbnb is paid and Couchsurfing is free. You could get started by hosting a few couch surfers to get an idea of what it’s like to have guests before you list on Airbnb. However, Airbnb makes it simple to get started and provides plenty of support and resources for new hosts that want to do it right.
Other Things To Look Out For
There are some factors and expenses that could affect the success of your business — and your bottom dollar. First of all, being mindful of the guests you accept at your property is important. Otherwise, you could risk damages to your rental. Wear and tear is to be expected. However, the risk of someone leaving with your towels or linens is also possible. Choosing guests with high ratings could minimize trouble down the road, but having a contingency fund to cover maintenance and replacement of items is essential.
Then there is the issue with upsetting your neighbors. Angry neighbors in some areas are pushing for more local ordinances, making it harder to rent out your space. Having a good list of house rules could be helpful to inform potential guests of what expectations you may have — and to help keep the peace.
Many homeowners and renters can make money on Airbnb. All you need is the desire to provide a fantastic experience for your guests by ensuring they feel comfortable and welcome. It’s a great way to make a little money on the side or pay off your mortgage early.
Being an Airbnb host takes a little initial preparation to get the rental tidy, make it comfortable and take inviting photos. But the payoff is great — you can earn some money by renting out a space you don’t use, your home while you’re on vacation or even a spot in your backyard.
The best part is that even if you don’t own a property, you can still make money on Airbnb. Some possibilities are co-hosting, becoming a short-term rental property manager, hosting an Airbnb experience or offering services as an Airbnb copywriter, photographer or cleaning service.
Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.
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- Internal Revenue Service. 2022. "Topic No. 415 Renting Residential and Vacation Property."
- Aryeo. 2022. "Why You Need To Charge More When Photographing An AirBnb Or Similar Vacation Rental."
- TurnoverBnB. 2022. "Vacation Rental Cleaning Costs: National Averages for Q4 2021."
- AllTheRooms. 2022. "Average Airbnb Prices By City: How Much Should You Charge For Your Airbnb? ."
- Earnest. 2021. "How Much Are People Making From the Sharing Economy?"