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How to Build an Airbnb Empire for Financial Independence

  July 16, 2019  |    #Make Money

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Become financially independent with Airbnb

Building an Airbnb empire takes time and effort, but it’s worth it because it helps you reach financial independence sooner. Get all those tips how, and don’t forget to build a solid foundation for that success with your free copy of the 5 Building Blocks of a Happy Gay Life here.

What you’ll find here:

Hear how to become financially independent with your own Airbnb empire:

What does financial independence even mean?

When someone’s financially independent, they’ve accumulated enough assets (cash, stocks, real estate, a business) to never have to work again. They’re free to live a fabulous life on their own terms. In the personal finance space, this usually means a person has saved up 25 times their annual spending rate.

For example, Zeona mentions on the Queer Money® podcast above that Mr. Money Mustache achieved financial independence when he accumulated $600,000 dollars, which allowed him to spend $25,000 annually.

While Mr. Money Mustache is comfortable living on that amount, you might not be. That’s why you’ll have to base your financial independence number on your own annual spending.

How can you determine how much you need to be financially independent?

To know how much money you need to be financially independent, first, calculate your annual financial independence number. Do you know how much money you spend every year? Once you figure out how much you spend, then you’ll be able to calculate your financial independence number.

Let’s imagine that you perform the spending analysis and get the number $40,000 for your annual financial independence number. To calculate your financial independence number, you would multiply $40,000 by 25 and the result would be $1,000,000

Hitting this target would allow you to reach financial independence and possibly retire early. You can achieve this by building your assets through purchasing stocks, investing in real estate, or building your Airbnb business.

How to build an Airbnb business

1. Estimate how much you can charge

When you’re first getting started with building your Airbnb empire, it would be wise to follow Zeona’s advice to research pricing. You can do this by:

  • Researching prices on Airbnb or AirDNA
  • Estimating the occupancy rate
  • Joining an Airbnb host community

2. Research prices on Airbnb or AirDNA

By looking at prices on Airbnb of listings similar to your own, you’ll get a feel for how much you can rent out your own place.

To take a deeper dive into pricing, use the AirDNA pricing tool Zeona recommends. The free version will give you some general information.

But if you pay for the tool, you can access data for:

  • Average daily rates
  • Revenue
  • Occupancy rate

3. Estimate occupancy-rate

According to Mashvisor, the occupancy rate formula is the number of booked nights divided by the number of available nights. To estimate this number, use the calculator on their website.

Your occupancy rate will influence how much money you can potentially earn. Lower occupancy rates can equal lower revenue. However, you can make up for that by raising your prices.

This rate varies from location to location, so be sure to do thorough research.

4. Join an Airbnb host community

If all of this seems a bit overwhelming, consider joining an Airbnb host community. There, you can ask questions and have discussions with other hosts. From doing a little research, I’ve seen Airbnb hosting communities on Facebook, Airbnb and a couple of other places.

5. Estimate your costs

Next, you’ll want to estimate your costs. The difference between your costs and how much you charge will determine how profitable your business is.

Your costs can be divided into two categories: one-time costs and ongoing costs. Let’s discuss one-time costs first.

One-time costs

When you think of one-time costs, what are some things that come to mind? 

You’ll definitely need a bed for your guests to sleep in. A super comfy couch for the living room. Maybe a television for the bedrooms and living room. Those would be the basics.

But, how about paintings on the wall? What type of ambiance do you want your space to have? Will you need to hire an interior decorator to help you create a space your guest will love?

These are all one-time costs unless you decide to upgrade later. Just don’t make the mistake of purchasing poor-quality items that you’ll have to quickly replace.

On-going costs

You should also consider your ongoing costs. Unlike one-time costs, you’ll have to continue purchasing these items. 

While your guests are in the living room, will they be able to watch cable? Will you be responsible for cleaning the space once they leave, or will you hire a cleaning crew?

You’ll also be responsible for paying the light bill, water, and property taxes. Finally, another expense you’ll want to consider for your own protection is insurance. You’ll want to be properly insured in case anything bad happens to your guests or your property while they’re using your Airbnb. 

Getting business insurance doesn’t need to be scary or costly, as we learned from wives Hannah and Jade Sullivan, founders of Pogo Insurance.

Hear what Hannah & Jade have to tell you about business insurance:

6. Use a rewards card for your expenses

To keep these business expenses separate from your personal expenses, use a rewards business credit card. With the rewards from the card, you may be able to do some travel hacking of your own.

Here are two small business credit cards that Debt Free Guys like, in part, because of their rewards and other benefits.

If you’re struggling with credit card debt, hold off on getting these and any other credit cards. Instead, use our Debt Lasso Method to pay off your credit card debt fast.

Next, sign up for the free ‘Improve or Build Your Credit Score Powered by Experian Boost‘ to make your credit score rock solid.

Then, and only then, get a business credit card.

7. Find a property

After thinking through these costs, start looking for a property. Your local area’s a good place to begin your search.

Local at first

To start looking at some properties in your area, start by looking at some real estate databases. Have you ever heard of Zillow or Trulia? These websites allow you to browse homes for sale.

If you need help finding a property, reach out to a local real estate agent.

That way you could speak to someone who can walk you through the process of purchasing your first property. Also, they could break down all the costs associated with buying a property. Finally, they may be a source of referrals for your Airbnb empire, and you can create a mutually beneficial partnership.

Estimate cost of ownership

Estimating the cost of home ownership will help you determine how much it will cost to buy and prepare it for your guests.

Mindy Jensen of Bigger Pockets, also, joined us on Queer Money® to talk about making money with all types of real estate investing. Hear Mindy’s insights on reaching financial independence with real estate.

Mindy Jensen of Bigger Pockets on Queer Money®:

How much will your Airbnb empire cost to build?

When purchasing a property, there are so many costs to consider. Some common ones are:

  • Mortgage/associated costs
  • Buyers fees
  • Down payment
  • Repairs and remodeling

1. Mortgage costs

To buy a property, you might have to take out a mortgage loan. Using real estate databases, you can easily estimate how much your mortgage payment would be per month.

By using a mortgage calculator, you can get an idea of how much interest you’ll end up paying in time.

For example, let’s say you want to take out a 30-year mortgage on a property and the interest rate the bank offers you is 3.8%, the monthly payment would be $790.6 if you put no money down. 

The estimated cost of your mortgage-related expenses would be:

  • $83 for monthly home insurance
  • $200 for monthly taxes paid
  • $41 monthly private mortgage insurance payment (0.5% fee for not having 20% down payment)
  • $67,774 in interest if it takes you 30 years to pay back the loan

As you can see from the above list, a mortgage can be quite expensive.

2. Buyer’s fees

According to Zillow, buyers usually spend 2% to 5% on closing costs. So, if you found a home that has a purchase price of $200,000, expect to spend between $4,000 to $10,000 on this fee.

3. Down payment

If you’re using a loan to buy a property, a down payment may be required. The minimum down payment amount will vary by the loan program you choose.

To estimate this number, you’ll need to reach out to a potential lender or do research on a loan program.

Keep in mind that when you take out a traditional loan, you’ll likely have to make a down payment of at least 20% to avoid paying private mortgage insurance.

Not sure you want to take out a traditional loan? For some alternative ideas, listen to our interview with Chad Carson where he shares five early retirement real estate tips.

Listen to Chad Carson from Bigger Pockets here:

4. Repairs and remodels

Another important cost to consider is how much it will cost to repair and remodel your property. You may need to spend money on:

  • New floors
  • Upgrading the appliances
  • Installing new ceiling fans
  • Remodeling the kitchen

If you don’t know how to do these things yourself, you’ll have to hire contractors to do the work. To help you estimate how much it will cost you to remodel your property, take a look at some online remodeling calculators.

Feeling overwhelmed by all the costs involved? That’s okay. Even if you don’t have the money to buy a property, as we explain below, you can still make money on Airbnb.

Airbnb Empire

To start building your empire now, signup by clicking here to become an Airbnb host.

How to make money on Airbnb without owning property

To make money on Airbnb without owning property, you can:

  • Rent a room in your apartment
  • Partner with another property owner
  • Become an Airbnb Manager
  • Create an Airbnb Experience

1. Renting a room

If you’re not ready to own, the next best thing is to rent. By renting, you can avoid paying taxes, interest and buyers’ fees.

Do you have an empty room in your current apartment? You could possibly rent that out to earn additional money.

Before doing so, please read your lease. I know some of the apartments I stayed in previously did not allow short-term rentals.

2. Partner with another property owner

If renting a room in your apartment isn’t an option, try partnering with someone who owns a property. Do you know someone who’d love to make some extra money from renting out their place but doesn’t know how to get started?

Speak to them about forming a partnership. You could sit them down and have a candid conversation about what each of you brings to the table. For example, you could offer to create an online listing for their home if you’re digitally savvy and they aren’t.

During the conversation, ask what problems the person would need help managing. You may discover that they hate managing people, and that’s something you enjoy doing.

When the person agrees to a partnership, be sure to discuss how you’ll split the profits with them. Will it be 50/50 or do you want to take on more work to negotiate a 60/40 split? That’s up to you and your partner.

Although this option will require you to do some networking, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. 

3. Become an Airbnb manager

While some property owners like to manage their own properties, others like to be hands-off. This gives people who enjoy managing properties an opportunity to make some extra income.

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When looking online, the recommended fee was as low as 10% and the highest I saw was 35%. The management fee is something that varies by location, so do your research and be sure to charge what you are worth.

Some of your duties may include:

  • Making sure the person hired to clean the place does a good job
  • Keeping the property stocked with toilet tissue and other essentials
  • Making sure the check-in and out system is running smoothly
  • Solving any problems guests may have

4. Create AirBnB experiences

A super fun way to make money without owning a property is to create an Airbnb experience. If you have amazing culinary skills, you could create a cooking class and host it at someone’s home.

The cool thing about Airbnb experiences is that you don’t need to use a home to create an experience. For example, if you know the hiking trails in your city well, you could create a hiking experience.

Do you earn money from freelance writing or coding online? Those are in-demand skills people would love to learn. You could further monetize this skill by creating a masterclass experience and charging for it. 

That’s what I’ve seen one freelance writer do. She’s created a story writing tour to help writers overcome writer’s block and get published.

What are some experiences you could create? The opportunities are endless based on your unique skills and hobbies.

But don’t be too quick to dismiss building your own Airbnb empire. It can be a rewarding source of income, you’ll be your own boss with flexible hours and you’ll help create memories for people. 

Airbnb Empire

5 ways to grow your Airbnb empire

Once you’ve started your Airbnb empire, you’ll want to grow it. There’s never been a better time to start or grow a business than today.

Below are a few ways to grow your Airbnb empire. Some of these tips, you may already be good at doing. Focus on them first and scale. Once you’ve implemented what you’re good at doing, add the others as necessary.

1. Start a website

You’ll advertise and showcase your properties on Airbnb, but you want to stay competitive and you want to show what makes your properties stand out from the rest.

Just as Zeona did, you’ll want to create your own website where you can share a little of who you are and why your properties are so ideal for visitors to your city.

But, starting a website sounds hard and expensive, doesn’t it? Trust me, it’s not. We’ll walk you through every single step – step-by-step – at this link here.

Finally, we negotiated a deep discount, $3.95 per month down from $7.99 per month, with one of the most popular web hosts, BlueHost. With all its simplicity and benefits, you’ll want to build your virtual Airbnb empire with BlueHost by clicking here.

2. Hire tech support

One of the reasons some Airbnb hosts avoid creating their own promotional website is because maintaining a website sounds daunting for many people. To be honest, it’s daunting for us.

So, we don’t do it. We contract this work to iMarkInteractive.

Grayson Bell and his team manage the day-to-day and month-to-month maintenance of and catch problems even before we know there’s a problem.

iMarkInteractive’s monthly plans are reasonable, plus they offer courses on using WordPress, which you’ll use with BlueHost above all available at this link here.

3. Advertise on Instagram

Being an Airbnb host makes you part of the travel industry, and there’s no better place to promote travel with Instagram.

Using beautiful and exciting pictures that you take yourself and post on Instagram is a great way to promote both your website and your rentals. Even better is that you’ll be able to use those wonderful pictures in other marketing on your website and elsewhere.

Instagram is as much a science as an art, though, to get its full benefits. To make sure you have you Insta-strategy down, learn the lessons of a pro. Sign up for The Mother of Marketing’s Instagram Masterclass by clicking this link here.

4. Advertise on Facebook

Finally, the best way to find a particular niche – a particular demographic of clients ideal for your Airbnb – is through Facebook and Facebook Ads.

Those same pictures you use for Instagram can be reused on Facebook with a little good copy to find and market to your ideal customer with just a few dollars a day.

Target marketing and good copy sounds scary, though, right? Never fear.

Flourish with Facebook Ads with our Facebook Ads coach, Monica Louie. Monica will help you, as she helped us, start Facebook advertising at $1 a day and scaling up from there with her super-simple strategy. Sign up for Flourish with Facebook Ads here.

5. Write good copy for your website and Facebook Ads

To create that good copy we talked about, sign up for Copy Masterclass by Liz Theresa. You’ll find Liz’s name on the bottom of every page on for a reason. Liz does great work and is great with helping you create good copy for your website and your Facebook Ads.

Sign up with Liz by clicking this link here.

Airbnb Empire

Those are just some helpful tips to help you grow your Airbnb empire. But, take one step at a time. Start your Airbnb empire by clicking here to become a host today.

There are a lot of ways to get started on @Airbnb that don’t require going out and buying a property. - Zeona McIntyreClick To Tweet

Topics covered on building Airbnb empires

What inspired Zeona to reach financial independence at 28 

  • Both parents were bad with money. She knew there must be a better way
  • Liked the idea of retiring at 30 (Mr. Money Mustache)

The steps that helped Zeona reach financial independence

  • Set goal of $600K/year ($2500/month)
  • Use Airbnb to reach a monthly target

Zeona’s definition of Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE)

  • Freedom and choice to pursue passions
  • Say YES to opportunities that don’t create stress

The structure of Zeona’s STR business

  1. Real estate investor (own and list 6 properties)
  2. Manage listings for other people
  3. Consulting for other Airbnb hosts

How to get started without buying property

  • Rent own space (e.g.: spare room, couch, etc.)
  • Property management for friends + family
  • Master lease with owner’s permission

Zeona’s advice for getting started on Airbnb

  • Research pricing on Airbnb or AirDNA
  • Build listing + make sure furnished well

Who’s the right fit for the Airbnb business model

  • Enjoy socializing with people in your home
  • Organized, some time to dedicate

The most common mistakes people as STR hosts

  • Low-quality photos of the listing
  • Lack of basic furnishings (e.g.: end table)

Zeona’s top 3 steps for starting your Airbnb empire

  1. Set goal (define your WHY)
  2. Determine financial independence #
  3. List on Airbnb

Why Zeona loves the flexibility of Airbnb

  • Communicate online with guests, cleaner
  • Manage business while traveling

How Zeona got her start with hosting on Airbnb

  • Rent furnished room in apartment
  • Covered rent and then some

Connect with Zeona

Resources to build your Airbnb empire 

Jerry Brown is an adventurous bibliophile who loves personal finance. He is the mastermind behind the blog Peerless Money Mentor. When he is not reading thought-provoking books or studying finance, he is spending time with family, biking or taking a random adventure somewhere.

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Note: This article contains affiliate links, meaning we’ll receive payment at no cost to you if you buy through these links. We only recommend products we use or thoroughly vet and would recommend to our moms. Buying too many of these is how you live fabulously broke. To live fabulously with financial security, start here.

One response to “How to Build an Airbnb Empire for Financial Independence

  1. An amazing young lady with so much information to share! Great speaker!

    Great ideas on how to start. Now I feel like renting my couch! A lot to think about.

    Thank you Zeona and much success.

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