Earning

What it takes to build a successful Airbnb side hustle, according to superhosts

Twenty/20

More than half, 54%, of people who own their own home say they would consider renting it out through a short-term rental service like Airbnb, according to a survey from real estate data company Clever. And 82% think short-term rentals are a good money-making strategy.

They're not wrong: The average Airbnb host earns $924 per month, according to research from low-interest lender Earnest.

The amount you can actually bring home, though, can vary wildly depending on factors like where your property is located. And whether or not you can be successful has a lot to do with how much effort you put in. Reaching "superhost" status, for example, meaning you have near-perfect ratings and respond quickly to guest questions, requires a lot of hard work.

Two superhosts tell Grow how they do it and what it takes.

'I've gotten really quick at cleaning'

Jon Pierson, an Airbnb Superhost from Athens, Georgia, earned roughly $68,000 last year from his Airbnb listings. He's been particularly smart about pricing and coordinating his rentals with local events, like football games at the University of Georgia, to help grow his Airbnb profile and become a superhost.

Still, he says growing his rental income has required a lot of flexibility, because his main property is also his home.

"You're giving up your living space," Pierson says, "so the way that I've had to live my life over the past few years is that I've had to be ready to pack up and leave on a moment's notice and sleep at a friend's place."

VIDEO3:5803:58
How to turn your side hustle into a successful business

Video by David Fang

Pierson also puts in several hours every week managing bookings and cleaning his properties to keep business flowing, juggling those duties in addition to working several other part-time jobs. He's constantly shopping for laundry detergent, toiletries, and furnishings to keep things up to date. All told, the side hustle requires a lot of time and money to keep up.

"On Cyber Monday I bought $900 worth of fancy blinds," he says, and "I've gotten really quick at cleaning."

Pierson is pleased with the results of all of that hard work, though: The money he's made has allowed him to save up to buy another house, adjacent to his most popular property, which he also plans to list on Airbnb.

'It's a really unorthodox lifestyle, but it works for me'

While Pierson rents out his primary living space to visitors, other superhosts are fortunate in that they can list properties that don't serve as their own home. Natalie, a 32-year old artist, photographer, and superhost from Tel Aviv, Israel, says she manages to up her income by renting out her family's centrally located apartment on Airbnb. It's booked almost 100% of the time.

Natalie, who asked that her last name be withheld for privacy concerns, started listing the apartment on Airbnb three years ago. She says that the property's "very prime location, in the city center," made it an instant hit with visitors — and its moderate price of around $145 U.S. per night helps keep occupancy up.

"The only thing I don't like is that I don't get to live there — it's a really great place," Natalie says.

The only thing I don't like is that I don't get to live there — it's a really great place.
Natalie
Airbnb superhost

Like Pierson, Natalie says managing the property demands a lot of her time for cleaning, handling bookings, and more, but the flexibility also allows her to pursue her other professional endeavors, like photography and knitting. And though she says she doesn't know exactly how much she earns from the Airbnb property, the figure is likely in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Prospective Airbnb hosts should be aware that it's not a carefree gig — you need to be available and responsive to customers, she says. "It's not only about time, but it's also about attention," she says. You need to be passionate about it and take it seriously, in other words.

If you have access to a property, can handle the grab-and-go lifestyle, and aren't afraid to get your hands dirty, the short-term rental market can be a viable side hustle.

"It's a really unorthodox lifestyle, but it works for me," says Pierson. "And the cash rolls in. So I do it."

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