I wrote this book for two main reasons. First of all having written a few pieces of between 30-50 words recently for a competition, I was intrigued by writing shorter projects. I found the word limit both challenging and rewarding and I thought that a 4-5,000 word ebook whilst being a total epic in comparison, would also be a nice change of pace after my previous books.
I think it is important to challenge ourselves in whatever we do to keep fresh and to keep improving and when you’re a writer this means writing something different than what you’ve done before. I know many writers find a specialism and stick to it. Whilst all respects to them for doing so, I have always thought this to be a bit of shame personally. Rather like a soap opera actor who plays the same part for 20 or 30 years rather than test their talent as I think anyone with great talent would. Having written a historical romance adventure novel and recently a humorous travelogue, I wanted to do as Monty Python would say, something completely different.
I thought that a how-to guide would be an entirely different challenge and it was although I successfully tied up a factual guide with humour and a little sarcasm.
I was also caught up with a little enthusiasm. The weather is still nice outside so I thought I would spend the day writing outside on the patio table. I wanted to write something and I wanted to see some end results here and now. My first book had taken 7 or 8 years, the second 2 or 3. Book 3 took about 2.5 hours not including a brief break to make a cup of tea. It took longer to format it and sort out a cover in all honesty.
There aren’t many things I could write a how-to book on, well not with any sort of mass appeal anyway although a book entitled “How to work for a bunch of idiots” (and when I say idiots you can insert much stronger words here if you want) did have some appeal, I wanted to write something relatively short and not another epic!!
What I am something of an expert in is Airbnb and other room rental websites such as Wimdu and Roomorama. About 10 months ago I wrote an article on how we were opening our home up to strangers, be they business travellers, backpackers, people who had come half way round the world or simply those who needed a room as they had a meeting nearby the next day.
Well, it has been a complete success. We have had about 35-40 people stay with us through a variety of sites. Some have stayed for just a few hours, arriving very late and leaving very early. Others have stayed for a couple of months. What started off as a curiosity to see if anyone would actually stay with us has turned almost into a full time job with 2 bedrooms pretty much fully occupied month after month with both long term and short term stayers and even a few repeat guests.
There are hundreds of thousands of people who use Airbnb as a way to find cheap accommodation and stay with friendly and interesting people who can make their stay more interesting and unique than simply checking in to a bland and corporate hotel.
There are a number of security precautions which the site provide and so far we haven’t had a single problem and only 1 or 2 slightly less than perfect visitors which was partly our own fault as at the beginning we weren’t so adept at refusing dodgy or difficult people as are today.
It is possible to make quite a lot of money our of room rentals. There have been some recent publicity in New York of this becoming illegal, though it is hard to see how it can be enforced. In the U.K. there is no such problems providing you are not subject to any specific agreements. In fact due to the housing shortage, the U.K. government allows you to rent out a room for over £4,000 tax free! There is nothing to stop you making a lot more so long as you keep your tax records in line 🙂
Whilst we are still hosting because we enjoy meeting people and still go out of way to make sure they have an extra special time it can’t be denied that we seem to have stumbled across a way to have a perfect Airbnb profile.
The only way to encourage strangers to stay with you is to make a good profile. Looking at our “rival” airbnb hosts both locally and around the world, it is amazing just how bad some of them can be. Messed up photos or scruffy bathrooms, descriptions that don’t make sense and a price structure that puts The Hilton Hotel to shame. If your house looks a mess and your tiny room is going to cost someone more than a much better equipped hotel room then why bother? Rather like the story about the tortoise and the hare, our lower but fair prices mean we are always busy while others who charge 5 or more times have yet to receive a guest!
Whilst creating a good profile is important in attracting interest, it is the reviews of guests that makes you stand or fall in the Airbnb community. The only way to get good reviews is to give your guests a friendly and hospitable visit at a competitive price. Whilst you can put on an act for a guest or two, the chances are over a few months or a year that given the ups and downs of life the real you will show to the guests. Having had more downs than most people in the last year, the fact that we continually get great reviews is probably the most rewarding factor about opening up our home to Airbnb. One day we want to run a full-time B&B hotel by the sea-side or a pretty little city and I think that we now have a lot of the experience and also the natural inclinations to be a success with it.
What is interesting is that we often have to turn people down, maybe 2 or 3 a week because we are full. However these people don’t seem to go to our local rivals. This is either that they are drawn to our great reviews or deterred by the bad profile or high charges that our competitors are charging.
So my new short book How To Get Rich Using Airbnb is a place where I thought I can put my knowledge to some use, try a new kind of writing and maybe make a few bonus sales. I’ve been told it is my best published writing yet which is nice to hear although I always remember what someone said about The Spice Girls who famously made a lot of money with not a great deal of singing talent and that is that even some-one with no talent can improve after a huge amount of practice. Maybe I should forget that quote!
I have listed How To Get Rich Using Airbnb on My Books Page, if you’re interested in using Airbnb successfully then why not check it out or visit the Amazon links at the top of this page. Maybe Airbnb is one instance where actually being nice and helpful is beneficial compared to those whose only motives are to make a bit of easy money.
We have never met anyone who reads my blog but if you are planning a trip to the U.K. or if you live in the U.K. and want to visit London or the Harry Potter Experience then we’d love to have you stay with us. You can learn more about me and the link to one of our Airbnb rooms here.
Airbnb is such a great idea if you don’t mind sharing your home with strangers or indeed staying with strangers. Though it hasn’t happened for months, our house feels empty when there is only 1 guest, let alone none. Every day is a little like being on holiday ourselves as we meet different people from different backgrounds. It’s like living in a hippy commune without the hippies, well unless they visit and we’ve only had one or two of those. Some people plan their stay with us a year in advance, whilst others are in an emergency and send through an email just a few hours earlier. Either way, it is entirely up to the host to decide who and when they want to let someone into their home.
What’s next for my writing? Well I do have some more novels in the back of my head but I’d like to write a lifestyle guide for living life frugally and also a TV series episode guide. Which comes first might depend on how much spare time I have as we are fully booked again this weekend!