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5 Easy Ways to Make Good Money From Airbnb

Give yourself an edge to entice guests via the popular home-rental website.

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Airbnb is the most widely known home rental website in the U.S. If you've got a spare room or a whole property to rent out, listing it on Airbnb can provide extra income while allowing you to meet interesting people from around the world.

See Also on Kiplinger: Rent Your Home for Fun and Profit

But you're not the only one with this idea, of course. You may be competing with hundreds of other people offering properties in your city on any given date. It goes without saying that you need to keep your home and bedding spotless, and provide comfortable furnishings and amenities such as a TV, strong Wi-Fi connection, and hair dryer. To make sure you stand out and get the best price possible, follow these five tips.

1. Take professional photos of your space

Listings that have more attractive photos will have more success on websites like Airbnb because the layout of the website is visual. The first thing most viewers will see is a featured photo of your listing. I know from my own experience as a traveler that if an Airbnb rental doesn't have good photos, I'll scroll through to the next listing.

But unless you're a very skilled photographer, taking attractive pictures of interiors can be difficult. Spaces may be tight and lighting, which can make or break your listing, is tricky. A good professional photographer will have the right equipment and skills to visually open up your rooms, and highlight their beautiful and unique qualities.

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Airbnb offers free professional photographers for hosts in many cities. In a pinch, you can rely on your own skills, but it helps to read up on how to photograph interiors first.

2. Offer an added service

When you are initially getting started on Airbnb, you can make your listing stand out by including a free service that adds value for your guests. Some examples: a yoga class, breakfast (B&B style), or transportation from the airport.

Keep it to something that is within reason, of course, and only offer services that you can consistently provide for your guests. This will make all the difference between an average listing and one that truly stands out. (See also on WiseBread.com: How to Rent Your Place on Airbnb and Succeed)

3. Secure good reviews from your first guests

Another critical factor that any potential guests will consider when they are looking into renting your property is the rating that previous guests have left you. In fact, this is one of the most important features of the Airbnb community. Having a high rating (four or five stars) will inspire confidence in future guests, since it is essentially proof of a good track record with your previous customers.

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Getting a great rating does not have to be complicated. Offer the kind of hospitality you would like to receive if you were traveling to a new town or city. Be helpful and welcoming to your guests. If possible, greet them when they first arrive. That way, even if you don't see them for the rest of their stay, you will have given them a good first impression.

As their stay progresses, be sure to check in with your guests and make sure they are comfortable and have everything they need. Also, try to collect the keys when they leave, which can be another good opportunity to make a connection with guests and remind them that you appreciate reviews on Airbnb. (See also on WiseBread.com: Best Websites for Renting Your Extra Space)

4. Include personal touches in the room

Remember that guests are choosing Airbnb either for its affordability, amenities (like a kitchen), or its unique character. If you want to increase the price of your rental, do your best to capitalize on that third characteristic.

Start by thinking of a signature special touch for the room or apartment. Will you provide flowers or a bottle of wine for your guests when they arrive? A welcome package with information about your hometown? An exceptional Airbnb experience often revolves around small details, such as useful pamphlets, a map, or personal recommendations that allow your guests to experience your town like a local. Minimally, you should always have Wi-Fi information available.

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5. Regard it as a business

If you want to earn more from your Airbnb listing, it's important that you regard it as a serious endeavor. You can earn a lot from your listing, but you need to be committed to it. Consider how much time you can devote to running this small business and how you can provide exceptional service to your guests to set yourself up for a very successful listing. Like any small business, you have to consider the costs, not just in time but in real dollars, for example, by paying for professional cleaning after each guest or in stocking your pantry and linens.

This article is from Amanda Gokee of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website.

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This article is from Wise Bread, not the Kiplinger editorial staff.