For a lot of people, Airbnb is a more affordable and comfortable way to experience new places. For people who own or rent houses and apartments in attractive areas, though, it can be a really great opportunity to supplement your income without working longer hours or breaking your back for a promotion. If you’re thinking about signing up to be an Airbnb host, you’ll want to consider a few things first.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO RENT YOUR WHOLE HOUSE OR APARTMENT

You might be thinking, “But where am I going to stay when someone’s renting my place?” A lot of Airbnb hosts treat their properties like bed-and-breakfasts or upscale hostels, with one or more guests staying in their home at once. So, if you don’t have another property near where you live, you can rent out just one room if you want.

YOU CAN SAY NO

Whether you’re going to be around or not, if you aren’t comfortable with someone booking your house or apartment, it’s perfectly alright to reject them. Some experts have recommended treating the inquiry process like it’s a first date. Not every date leads to a relationship, and not every inquiry leads to a booking. And that’s okay! While some people won’t be a good fit, there’s a good chance that most will work out wonderfully.

YOU’RE PROTECTED

You’ve probably heard that one horror story of the Airbnb renters who threw a party and caused serious damage to a host’s house. This really isn’t a problem for the vast majority of hosts because Airbnb’s Host Guarantee covers you for up to $1,000,000 of property damage.

Even so, it’s a good idea to have homeowners’ or renters’ insurance, as some things have more limited coverage from Airbnb.

YOU CAN GET MORE RENTERS WITH BETTER MARKETING STRATEGIES

Instead of just relying on people finding your listing through an Airbnb search, you might also want to list your property with other short-term rental sites. And it’s a good idea to do some more online marketing of your own, as well. Starting a blog and/or Facebook page for your listing will help people find it, even when they’re not on a home-sharing site. If you take lots of pictures and do a little bit of work with online marketing, people searching for places to stay in your city might actually find your home before they even think about logging on to Airbnb.

IT ALL STARTED OUT OF NECESSITY AND CREATIVITY

Finally, the most important thing you should know about Airbnb is how it started. In 2008, the founders—Brian and Joe—were roommates who were a bit short on rent. There was a huge design conference going on in San Francisco, where they lived. All the hotel rooms were booked, so Brian and Joe started a website advertising an air mattress that conference goers could rent in their apartment.

After getting completely deluged with offers, they realized that this kind of service had a huge demand, and Airbnb was born.

This story should be an inspiration for anyone who’s been thinking about gaining more independence through the shared economy. There are opportunities everywhere, and people like Brian and Joe are changing the future of work as we speak. Just by hosting on Airbnb, you could bring in enough supplemental income to go on that vacation you’ve been dreaming about or even to quit your day job and follow your dream of owning your own small business.

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