Look. We get it. Your home is your sanctuary. Your place to be alone. Some days, you don’t even want to have your own family over — let alone people you don’t know.
So, the idea of listing your place on Airbnb is daunting for a lot of folks.
But if you’re willing to give it a shot, you could make some serious extra income.
You can share a spare room — or list your entire place if you’re headed out of town. Yep. You’d basically be making money for going on vacation.
Hollis Giammatteo, a writer and Airbnb Superhost in Seattle, has been listing her downstairs guest suite since 2015. She says it’s a great way to earn extra money — and to capitalize on living in a city that’s so popular with tourists.
Seattle has come a long way from the slow-moving port and manufacturing town Giammatteo remembers it being when she first moved there in 1979. Today, it’s known for its big businesses and major tourist attractions — something she says works in her favor as an Airbnb host.
With Pike Place Market, the Space Needle and professional sports galore, there’s always a demand for space. In fact, Seattle is a top summer travel destination, and there’s a shortage of hosts.
If you’re starting to come around on the idea of becoming an Airbnb host, see how much money you could make by listing your place.
How Much Could Your Place in Seattle Fetch?
First things first: list your property on the Airbnb website. You’ll want to create a listing that stands out from others so potential guests will take notice.
You can adjust or change your information and settings at any time, so you’re not committed to anything permanently.
Yep. You’re not locked in. Try hosting and see if you like it — if you’re curious, it’s worth a shot.
Use Airbnb’s price calculator to see how much money you could make in your area.
We’ll walk you through the process with some insider tips from Giammatteo.
How to Create the Best Airbnb Listing in Seattle
The first step to becoming an Airbnb host is to check your local laws and prepare your space for guests. (We’ll get into that later.)
We’ll show you everything you need to know to make your place stand out from others, with some added insight from Giammatteo.
Answer Some Quick Questions About Your Space/Amenities
To set up your listing, you’ll start by answering some basic questions, such as how many guests your space can accommodate and what amenities are included.
It’s fine if you don’t have an entire house or apartment available for guests. You can rent out one floor or even just a room. Giammatteo has made her downstairs area available as a guest suite, which gives people the feeling of having a one-bedroom apartment to themselves.
Set the Scene with Photos
Put yourself in your guests’ shoes. What would you want to see in the photos of an Airbnb listing?
The platform offers some basic photo tips, which include utilizing natural light, avoiding flash and shooting in landscape mode from the corners of rooms, so you add perspective.
Of course, you’ll want to include pictures of the bedrooms, kitchen and backyard. But Giammatteo knows from experience that guests also like photos of items that may seem like small details but can actually be game changers.
“Guests typically want to know about such amenities as washer/dryer, ironing board, Wi-Fi, parking,” she says.
Think about the details that make your home inviting. Maybe you own a nice ironing board guests can use, or you boast both a drip coffee maker and a Keurig. Capture those amenities. People might not take the time to read about them, so providing pictures could capture guests’ attention.
Write a Description
Now that you’ve provided stellar images for potential guests, it’s time to describe your place. You’ll want to highlight what makes it unique.
Do a little market research by browsing Superhosts’ listings in your area to see how they describe their places. (They’re Superhosts for a reason, right? Their descriptions draw guests to their homes!)
Giammatteo’s main advice? “Never be too wordy.”
She has a point — this is the internet, after all. People like to skim.
In fact, in Giammatteo’s listing, her description is a mere two sentences. She explains how guests can relax and rejuvenate in various parts of the spacious suite. She’s obviously pinpointed her audience: people who want to take it easy on vacation.
Another big tip? “Be as honest as possible about the glories, and limitations, of your space,” Giammatteo says. “Don’t oversell, and don’t omit.”
If the master bedroom has a window with a great view of the Space Needle, let potential guests know. On the other hand, if sound carries throughout the house, give readers a heads up. You don’t want a negative experience to surprise them, resulting in a bad review.
Giammatteo’s home was built in 1948, so there are lots of squeaks and creaks. She lets guests know ahead of time that they will hear her when she walks around upstairs.
Name Your Listing
“Like choosing a color for your new car, naming your space is a tortuous journey,” Giammatteo says. She’s right — naming your Airbnb listing might seem like a shallow detail. But it matters.
When guests scroll through places to stay on Airbnb, the first details they see are the pictures and name of your property. The title should provide an accurate description of the space, catch people’s eye and draw them in.
Giammatteo recommends combining information about both your listing’s location and atmosphere. Her accommodation is listed as “Secluded Spa Retreat with Woodland Garden Deck in Queen Anne.”
“Our space was designed to be a sanctuary, really — to envelop guests in the comfort of high-quality materials, plentiful lighting and a spa/luxury bathroom,” says Giammatteo.
Think about what type of traveller would enjoy your home. (You might better pick up on this once you have your first few guests.) Is it set in a quiet part of town where people won’t be disturbed? Is it in the middle of everything, perfect for thrill-seekers?
Giammatteo also made sure to include Queen Anne in the name, because the neighborhood is walking distance from downtown and a prime spot for festivals and trendy shops.
Think about what your home’s location offers guests. Is it close to a lot of high-end restaurants? Does it provide a view of Mount Rainier? Is it near a Light Link Rail stop or the Seattle Art Museum? Let your guests know.
Set House Rules
Airbnb has a set list of rules you can opt into if you’d like them included in your listing. A few of these include: suitable for pets, no smoking allowed, and no events or parties allowed. You also have the option to write in additional rules.
Giammatteo sets pretty standard rules for her guests, such as banning smoking and requiring people clean up after their pets. Like many Seattleites, she takes recycling seriously, so she requires guests to read and follow her recycling instructions.
Set Up Your Calendar
You’ll arrange a calendar of when guests can stay at your listing. This step is important, because Airbnb will charge you a fee if you cancel after guests have booked time at your home.
Here are some questions you’ll answer:
- How often do you want to have guests?
- How much notice do you need before a guest arrives?
- How far in advance can guests book?
- What time can guests check in?
- How long can guests stay?
You can change your calendar settings down the road, so you aren’t married to the dates and times you set now.
Price Your Space
Airbnb has a Smart Pricing tool. If you choose to use this, Airbnb will automatically adjust your pricing based on demand. For example, if the system notices that a lot of music lovers are booking Seattle spots for Bumbershoot or tourists are flocking to town in August in attempts to avoid the rain, it will likely increase the price of your listing at these times.
You can set a price minimum and maximum so your home doesn’t list for an amount you’re uncomfortable with. Airbnb will suggest these amounts, but it’s a good idea to look at similar listings around Seattle to get an idea of what other people are charging, too.
- Consider your expenses, i.e. utilities, cleaning and any maintenance requirements.
- Be realistic. People tend to have an inflated view of their place.
- Search other similar Airbnb listings in your area and price just below those.
Giammatteo prefers to price her space on the higher end, so guests will understand it needs to be taken care of.
“If you’ve sunk a lot of time and work into your property, and you want to minimize maintenance, go a little higher,” she advises. This will reward your hard work while keeping you from spending a ton of money on repairs later.
Note Your Local Laws
Seattle recently enacted new regulations, including a registration system for short-term rentals. Airbnb provides some helpful information on this topic to point you in the right direction, depending upon the type of home you list.
In addition to short term rental laws, you’ll also want to check with your homeowners association or landlord to make sure listing on Airbnb is permitted. Also note that using your place this way could invalidate some homeowner’s insurance, so check these policies with your provider.
Airbnb also includes liability insurance for up to $1 million, which is a great safeguard, but not a substitute, so consider setting aside extra money for damages.
As you start booking guests, you’ll want to keep tabs on expenses and revenue for tax purposes, too.
Ready to Try Hosting?
How are you feeling? Like we said, listing your place on Airbnb is simple.
Our biggest tip? Stay up on your listing and be connected to it.
Airbnb is constantly changing its features, so keep your eyes peeled. Don’t be afraid to tweak your listing description, prices and calendar settings. Plus, Seattle itself is constantly evolving, so stay in tune with your city.
Use Airbnb’s price calculator to get started.
While Giammatteo does love the extra money that comes with being a host, she says the earnings are just part of the reward.
“I enjoy being an ambassador for our neighborhood,” she says. “It is often delightful to meet and visit with our guests, who have come from as far away as Australia and Hong Kong.”
Laura Grace Tarpley is a freelance writer based in Nashville. She has written for publications such as SoFi, FluentU and Roads & Kingdoms. Follow her on Twitter @lgtarpley.