The Best Airbnb Tips From 4 Expert Hosts (One Person Made $2K in 15 Days)

Terence Michael in his Los Angeles home
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder
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Have you ever considered earning extra cash by becoming an Airbnb host?

You’ve got lots of questions about it first, right? And your biggest question is, How exactly do I do this?

We’ve got answers from four Airbnb hosts who know all the tricks of the trade, including a young Florida homeowner who lists her three spare bedrooms; a “superhost” who manages properties remotely; a guy who lists a tent in his parents’ backyard; and a San Francisco apartment dweller who markets her space to well-heeled business travelers.

How 4 Airbnb Hosts Make Bank

These veterans of the Airbnb game have collected personal hacks, trade secrets and insider tips. As one of them put it: “My husband and I earned more than $2,000 last year listing our apartment for a total of 15 days.”

They’ve got hard-earned advice on how to build your business, how to keep your sanity and, most importantly, how to maximize your earnings.

Three Spare Bedrooms

When Kristine Dowhan had Airbnb guests in her home, she would stay in her bedroom which had private access by her pool.
When Kristine Dowhan had Airbnb guests in her home, she would stay in her bedroom which had private access by her pool. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

When Kristine Dowhan bought a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in St. Petersburg, Florida, she planned to fill the extra rooms with roommates. But her roommates didn’t work out, so Dowhan started looking for other options, which led her to become an Airbnb host.

In 18 months, she learned some universal truths that anyone who’s thinking about becoming an Airbnb host should know:

  • You don’t have to spend a fortune. Dowhan decided every piece of furniture she brought in would be something she found for free on Craigslist. She waited patiently for good-quality free furniture.
  • Expect the unexpected, because every guest is different. Always have backup linens, don’t take on too much at once, and leave yourself a buffer between guests to make hosting easier and more predictable.
  • Expect to clean it yourself. It’s more affordable that way.

He Manages Properties Remotely

Terence Michael is a Hollywood producer who also makes extra income as an Airbnb super host.
Terence Michael is a Hollywood producer who also makes extra income as an Airbnb super host. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Terence Michael, an Airbnb superhost based in Los Angeles, manages two properties remotely — one in Nashville, Tennessee, and one in Palm Springs, California. He shared some of his exclusive hosting tips with us:

  • Break out the label maker. “People don’t know where things are,” he said. “I have the entire house loaded with labels.”
  • Have your guests work for you — just a little. He orders toiletries on Amazon and has them delivered when people are there. “I’ll just say, ‘Hey, a box is coming. Do you mind just putting it inside?’”
  • Love thy neighbor. “I turn a lot of big groups away. I don’t want anyone going to the cops or the city.”
  • Have a plumber, electrician and a handyman on speed dial. You’ll need them. Go on Yelp to find them.
  • Invest in an Amazon Fire Stick. “It has Showtime, Netflix, HBO — it has every single thing you could ever want.”

Guy Lists Backyard Tent for $46/Night

Everyone knows Silicon Valley is an expensive place to live. So one man started listing a more affordable, innovative space: a tent. And it started making him a ton of money.

John Potter set up a four-person tent in his parents’ backyard in Mountain View, California, just a block from Google’s headquarters, and listed it on Airbnb.

The idea was originally a joke, but Potter was soon flooded with responses. At least half the people who contacted him were tech industry professionals who were in town for business.

Potter originally listed the tent for $20 a night, then $31, then $46. Guests got access to the family’s WiFi and could take a shower inside.

Look on Airbnb and you’ll see plenty of hosts offering tenting options. If you have a room to list instead, even better.

Targeting Business Travelers

Marian Schembari is a San Francisco apartment dweller who has learned how to market her space to business travelers. If you’re strategic with your listing, you can make more money this way.

“My husband and I earned more than $2,000 last year listing our apartment for a total of 15 days,” she wrote. “Every time we opened up an available weekend on the Airbnb calendar, our apartment would be booked within hours.

“Overall, our experience was amazing. Airbnb’s security measures are top-notch, our guests were lovely and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.”

Tips for crafting a business-friendly listing:

  • Offer a discount for longer stays. A monthly rate will be more appealing to an HR rep than a standard per-night cost.
  • Highlight business perks, like a good WiFi connection, a bedroom desk or a printer.
  • Make your space available during peak business times, like your city’s annual boat-engine trade show or makeup conference.
  • Make a welcome packet. Guests will ask you for tips on places to visit, restaurants to check out or spots to do their dry cleaning. Make a big list, complete with a map, and laminate it.

General Tips

The hideaway is a studio apartment space on Airbnb in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

For our complete guide to becoming an Airbnb post, go here.

Here are a few general tips:

  • Be a good host, and make sure your place is stocked with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels.
  • Hosting laws vary from city to city. Make sure you understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.
  • Be personable. A lot of travelers turn to Airbnb for the personal touch they won’t find at commercial properties.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’d have to do some serious cleaning before listing his home.