How to make a great, first-time Airbnb listing

Founded in 2008, online marketplace and homestay network Airbnb has now spread across over 191 countries and looks like it is here to stay. As one of the biggest success stories from the shared economy boom, we’re sure that you or at least someone you know would have used the new online homestay service rather than a conventional hotel. Recently, Airbnb estimated that 2 million people used the service on New Year’s Eve 2016 – the population of Slovenia or Latvia.

Airbnb can be a fantastic way to earn some extra income from your space. If you’re ready to give it a try then here are some simple tips, which if you follow, can make your homestay listing much more attractive.


Before you start taking any snaps of your home, it’s wise to take a moment and look at what’s available around you first.

Just like in business, you’re going to be in competition with other listings around your area so you need to look at them with and objective eye.

  • How are the photographs styled?
  • What aspects of the images work well?
  • What are their unique selling points (USPs)?

It’s crucial that you do this step as it will also help with your pricing strategy. Once you’ve completed your photography, look again at how it stacks up compared to competitors.

The Host description

Although good photography is vital, don’t dismiss the importance of a great ‘Host’ description. At first, you might find this uncomfortable, but this is a space where you have to sell yourself as a host to seal the deal. Describe why you live in the area, what you might get up to in your free time and what your passions are. This will help you connect with Airbnb users when browsing. If you’re stuck on the tone of voice, just go back to competitor research and pick out what you liked about others and start from there.

Personality/getting Involved

Consider what your listing is. Will the lodger be sharing with you or family or will they have the place to themselves? This will dramatically change the way you advertise the listing. If the lodger has complete free reign on the property, then it’s better to shoot the house with more of a blank page in mind. However, if they’ll be sharing with you, your family, friends or pets then you have some creative licence to include more personality on the profile. This will help the viewer get a better sense of what the stay will be like and make them more comfortable when clicking ‘book’.

Messy and untidy images of your property will immediately lose potential customers so use this as an opportunity for a spring clean.  We know the property is most likely still going to contain most of your possessions, however, one of the biggest faux pas in Airbnb photography is dirty rooms and untidy living areas. If you don’t clear up, you risk allowing the clutter to draw the viewer’s attention away from a room’s best features and make the room feel smaller.  Always aim to make your area seem as spacious as possible, as it helps a viewer’s ability to see potential in their visit.

Logical Progression

Many people don’t get this point right. It’s easy to make the mistake that Airbnb users will understand the design of the property like you do but don’t ever presume. Most Airbnb users are new to your city let alone your home!

Instead lead them on a journey around their potential stay. Thus, when composing your photographs, make sure that they are arranged in logical order so that browsing takes them on a natural and seamless progression. If viewers can get a confident feel for how the space is laid out, then you’ll increase your chances of an enquiry. Make sure every space which they can use is covered and that there is a mix of outdoor and indoor photography. Also, if there’s a killer view – make sure that’s shown!

Weather & recent photos

Unless you’re pitching a gloomy, horror themed stay, avoid dark stormy days when taking pictures. Natural light will make the rooms feel much more inviting and calm. Also, try to take seasonality out of the photos. Nothing says out of date like a Christmas tree in the summer. Unless you’re prepared to do more work to change them every couple of months, try to take photos which don’t show noticeable seasonal cues.


Arguably the most important thing to get right on your Airbnb listing. The viewer’s interpretation of the space and ambiance is intrinsically linked with its lightness; darkness will make rooms seem smaller and dull, whilst bright lighting makes a room appear clean, crisp and inviting. Regardless of the room’s shape or structure, brighter lighting will lift the mood and increase the chances of a booking. Turning on most of the light is a no brainer, but be careful with natural light coming from windows. If it’s too bright, it can be blinding and reflective which won’t flatter the room as intended. Experiment with drawing the blinds if the room is receiving direct sunlight. A slightly cloudy day can actually work as your natural soft box, diffusing the light.

Lastly, if you are taking images of your garden, make sure the sun is behind to limit long shadows forming. Photos which capture the views from your property might be the exception so long as the light isn’t creating excessive lens glare and shadows on your scene.


You will often find the framing of the room looks best when taken straight on (see below). However, some other simple rules and tricks will also help present the room in its most flattering way. A wide angle lens will increase the illusion of space and keeping on the horizontal plane at the same height will help with flow; preferably mid height (1.25m to 1.50m). Shooting from head height angle can make the images feel skewed as the camera points downwards.

As camera technology has moved leaps and bounds over the last ten years, this issue is less prevalent. It sounds obvious, but make sure you’re using a good camera or modern smartphone if you don’t have one. Use a tripod or see if you can use something to keep the camera steady when shooting. Blurry, out of focus images will be a real turnoff from what could have been a great photo. Also, avoid editing the photos too heavily. There’s nothing wrong with a small touch up, but anything too heavy will seem dishonest and definitely try and keep all the photos to the same style. One heavily filtered photo from Instagram will seem out of place and ruin the flow.

So put your best foot forward on Airbnb with these tips and we think you’ll save hours of time reshooting the property or rewriting the description. Vivo Property Buyers wishes you the best of luck!

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