How I made $40,000 on airbnb.com

Your bonus - $25 to travel.

It all started in the of Spring 2012. I moved to San Francisco and my one bedroom apartment in the center of Kiev became vacant.

As is commonly known, there is no such thing as too much money. That, my mortgage and the upcoming football Euro Cup championship — all contributed to me beginning to monetize my apartment.

I immediately knew how to do it, I was first introduced to Airbnb in the summer of 2011, when I rented an apartment in NYC with floor to ceiling windows and I was able to live through Hurricane Irene, one of the most destructive hurricanes in the last 40 years, comfortably in it.

Let me add here that I have a strong aversion to the real estate business, particularly to real estate agents. With this in mind, I trepidatiously pressed the the “List your space” button, and I was able to greet my first guest at Podol Residence within just a few days.

Having checked the dates of the football Euro Cup in Kiev, I was able to greatly increase the price for the correlating days. I was able to fully book the apartment for the time of the Euro Cup and I made an outstanding profit in the process.

Honestly, I could not complain about the influx of guests even after the Euro Cup. The average monthly use of the apartment was typically around 65–70%.

Getting back to San Francisco. When I moved there, I thought Airbnb would be a great way to learn about the city and the local population. I changed apartments every week and after 3 months, I was able to make an educated decision in which neighborhood I wanted to reside permanently.

It also became clear that the flow of the local real estate market will play to my advantage and with the help of Airbnb, I will not only make enough to cover my living expenses but make money in the process. That is exactly what happened ☺

I rented an apartment with two bedrooms and two bathrooms in Avalon Mission Bay North, thinking that I would rent out one of the bedrooms and the living room couch on a regular basis.

The bedroom was rented nearly 100% of the time and for 5 months, I felt great! However, my ideal world would soon come to a crashing halt when I got a very politely worded letter from the administrative offices of Avalon Mission Bay North that gave me the option to either stop competing with their guest accommodations or move out of my apartment. I did not want to move, so I found myself a permanent roommate.

In summary, I hosted 70+ wonderful guests in Kiev, San Francisco and Sevastopol; and I made a little over $40,000 with the help of Airbnb. Now I travel only through Airbnb, never with booking.com, only perhaps in situations where I need to stay only one night.

Here is my advices to those who want to try being a gracious host and make some money doing it

Step 0.

Register! I’m giving $25 off your first trip when you register on this link.

Step 1. “There is nothing like staying at home

On Airbnb you can rent anything. Figure out the type of housing you have available — anything from a classic apartment to something more unique like a castle or even an airplane. Then choose the type of room you are renting — private room, shared room or an entire apartment.

A tried and true rental is a couch in a studio apartment. Try it, you will love it!

If you have a one bedroom apartment and you want to rent out the room and a couch in the living room separately, you will have to create a separate listing on Airbnb — one for the bedroom and one for the couch.

Step 2 “Advertising — A judicious mixture of flattery and threats”

Describe in the most positive way the living space you are renting. Do not totally exclude the negatives altogether. Be honest! If you wrote that you can see the Red Square from your windows but actually you can see the local crematorium, the extremely surprised guest will undoubtedly report you to Airbnb and you will incur a penalty fee costing you %% from the total cost of the rental — totally based on their discretion.

Please note, that there will be different versions of the housing description for each language, but they will not necessarily match perfectly, so when you will out your description keep in mind some of the potential cultural discrepancies.

IMPORTANT! There is no internal mechanism of promoting your advertisement. Therefore, the heading and lead sentence of your advertisement is crucial.

With the use of several words and a few pictures, you have to entice a person to click on your advertisement. Always experiment, checking stats of visitors and clicks, as well as keeping an eye on competing advertisements.

Step 3. “Got pics?”

As soon as possible, order the professional photography service that is complimentary on Airbnb.

On average it takes about a week for a specially trained person to come to your home and another week for beautiful photos to show up on your listing. These photos are not only gorgeous, they will have an official “Airbnb Verified Photo” mark. The official mark greatly enhances the amount of viewings and subsequent bookings.

Before the arrival of the photographer, make sure to wash the dishes, shine the mirrors and clean up. Flowers in a vase, fruits in a basket, and other personal touches — such as the woman in the window- greatly enhance your chances for bookings.

Keep in mind, you should not wait for the photographer to come around. Take some pictures yourself and place them on your listing page. You can always delete them later.

IMPORTANT! Pay attention to the way the photograph looks keeping in mind that people will make their decision to click on your listing or not based on this picture.

Step 4 “About me”

People who used Airbnb to search for housing pay great attention to the owner. This is especially true when it comes to situations of different people renting different rooms of the same apartment. Choose your best picture and include it in the ‘About Me’ section, along with your incredible intellect and your positive outlook on life.

Talk about your job, your hobbies, and try to complete all of the verification processes. All these collectively help the future renter get a good sense of you as an amicable owner.

Similar rules apply both ways — if you have a booking request from a person with no profile, it is totally acceptable to ask them to tell you about themselves. Who are they, what is the purpose of their trip, and how are they planning to use your apartment during their stay.

IMPORTANT! Since you do not yet have positive feedback, as your Facebook or Twitter friends for a reference note where they can tell the world how great you really are. Their wonderful notes will show up on your profile and everyone walks away happy.

Step 5 “Money, money, money”

Now you have to price your listing. The best method for this is to look at comparable properties in terms of size and location.

When you first start out, your main goal is to get positive feedback from your renters. This feedback will greatly enhance your chances of new and recurring bookings. After getting at least 5 positive feedbacks, you can increase your price point.

I do not recommend to put a discounted price for a longer term of renting for the simple reason that people who rent for longer periods of time will always ask for a discount, and it is good practice to grant them this request. If you advertise a discounted price, you will have to go even lower to accommodate the discount request.

Don’t forget about cleaning fee! It’s your power tool. In addition, this helps to cure any issues with people who are staying for a day or two. In my Kiev apartment, I charged a cleaning fee of $45 which helps to outsource cleaning process to someone else.

Booking flexibility — I always put strict. This way, you can still receive at least 50% from the cost of the booking, even if the renter decides to cancel their trip at the last moment.

Step 6 “Next, please!”

The faster you will answer inquires, the faster you will receive bookings. This isn’t quantum physics.

To make sure you do not slow down your own progress, turn on the sms-notification and add the Airbnb app to your smartphone.

If you wish to approve the renter, click the ‘pre-approve’ button and this way you will be bypassing the extra “confirmation” of the booking step.

If the renter is asking for a discount, do not wait and give it to him! Take the discount from the overall booking fee. For example, if the booking is $450, you can easily take of $40 using the ‘special offer’ application, but do not forget to add the cleaning fee to the new discounted price as the cleaning fee does not get automatically added.

Step 7 “The Meeting”

Remember, people use Airbnb because they enjoy communicating with other people, so always be polite and nice!

Besides a brilliant smile and fresh breath, always add an element of surprise.

For example, I like to offer my renters a glass of champagne upon arrival. This does a great job of breaking the ice and offers the possibility of great reviews.

During your courtesy meet and greet, offer advice such as the must see places and best places to dine, people really appreciate local advice from a local. To help me in this, I made a list on Foursquare of the best places to see and eat and I would recommend each renter to sign on to my list.

Step 8. “Reality check”

The morning after your guest arrives, always make sure to inquire if they are ok and if they need anything. If there is an issue, quickly and efficiently deal with it. By doing this, you are effectively lowering your chances of seeing negative reviews.

Step 9 “Rules and Policies”

Remember that this is your housing, and as the owner, you are allowed to make ANY rules and policies you deem necessary!

If you want your renters to not use the kitchen — no problem! Take off their shoes upon entering the apartment — easy! To limit the use of the living space to only them, without uninvited guests — totally acceptable!

If your guest does not follow your rules, you can charge them.

There is a security deposit option available, and you decide on the value of the deposit. For example, $250, you can keep the deposit if the renter damages or destroys your property or breaks house rules.

That’s pretty much it! If you have any questions, please drop me a line sidorenkor@gmail.com

p.s all my readers get a $25 credit towards their first trip, regardless of whether they want to rent out their space on Airbnb. You happy and I’m happy, because it will help me travel all around the world promoting my startup Pure.