So you're ready to become an Airbnb interior designer that makes the fat cash? Well, I can bet that there are a shit ton of people out there that need your help. You know why?
There are so many vacation rentals that are uglier than sin. These poor people really need help. Desperately because they obviously are trying sooooo hard but they need you!
Here's the sad but true part... you're already seen as the enemy by some.
The Airbnb Hosts out there on forums think a lot of things like:
Only the rich hire designers.
They think that they can go on Pinterest and create their own design.
Designers don't really give two shits about the Airbnb Hosts, they just want their money.
They believe that any custom design type of furnishings would be a bad investment because of the wear and tear on the rental.
It's hard to prove to an Airbnb Host that they will see a return on their investment by hiring you (and forget about getting new Hosts to hire you).
It's not really that different from any other person who would hire you, though. We've heard all of these same things before and that's why it is important to be their advocate and resource. You need to look at helping the beginner and the experienced Airbnb hosts. They will each have different things that they are interested in and you must become the one they know, like, trust and refer.
1. Address their concerns head on
Before you can EVEN begin to think about becoming their new BFF in the world of Airbnb design, you're gonna have to come right out and acknowledge their concerns, honestly.
Because you're a business owner, step into their shoes. They need to know that you get them, how hard it is to run a business and you're here to help.
Then you gotta sell the benefits... and even compare for them like 'you could do this and waste money in this way or you could hire me, yadda yadda.'
Remember you're a salesperson first and sales aren't about being some sleazy bastard. You're offering Airbnb interior design services that can help them earn more money, book out their rentals and possibly become an Airbnb baller!
2. Take some time to analyze the Airbnb market as if you're the person with the vacation rental
Think about all of the people who are Airbnb Hosts, maybe they're brand new to this, maybe they're struggling to get people to stay in their rental or maybe they want to be booked all year long.
You need to become the resource that these people want to work with. But get this, you're not just going to talk about interior design and this is the post that is gonna resonate with my peeps who love travel and design. Or the peeps that love art history from around the world and interior design. But we will get to that in a bit.
Get yourself some edumacation on how Airbnb works and start writing down all of the questions and concerns that these Hosts have or could have. Come to this research with a curious mind.
3. Craft a KILLER freebie
You know I always talk about growing your email list, and you will wanna do this by creating a KILLER freebie that people will want and can only get it by signing up for your email list (in case you weren't too clear on this whole freebie shit). So what should it be about?
You could share some a design checklist for setting up their first rental property, you could share some real-life budgets for decorating a rental, you could share how they can get rave reviews of their rental by doing X, Y, and Z or how to decorate their first rental. It's really no different than what'd you create for any other interior design niche freebie, i.e. help them in their first steps to becoming a client of yours.
4. Plan your content
While you're going to be talking about rental design, you also can tie this into the topic of travel locations. And who doesn't love to get the fuck away from all of their troubles every now and then?
You can share stories of your favorite restaurants to visit when you're in Las Vegas. You can tell stories about how much you loved hiking in Sedona because you've never experienced energy like that in your life (and the best places to do that). You can talk about how they can really bring the Big Easy vibe into their New Orleans rental. You can even talk about the best paint colors for rentals.
No matter what form your content takes whether it's blogging, video or some type of lifestyle blog, you need to come up with the topics you want to cover and that they are going to be really interested in.
5. Create a portfolio
Yep, even if you've never worked on a rental (or even had your first "real" project) you need a portfolio. Now, if I was you, I might scan Airbnb and see if you could find a rental that could use your help (start by looking at the lower budget rentals). Then, if I was you, I'd offer them some tips in exchange for being able to use their image in your work as something for your portfolio.
Okay, I just did a quick search and I already found a place in Vegas where the cover photo for his listing is of a bed with a tiger bedspread. Now, here's the kicker. Apparently, everyone loves to stay in this guys place EVEN THOUGH the entire place looks like it was furnished from a drunken night of shopping at Pic'N'Save.
Besides the fact that this guy must be motherfucking personality plus, the people who stay there like that it is really clean. But I'd bet that they'd love it even more if it didn't look like a 70s porn star's mancave and I'd bet you that he could up his nightly fee from its super low rate of $19.
So I'd ask him if we could scratch each other's backs, make sense?
6. Craft Your Design Services Menu
Think about the different clients you'll likely encounter as an Airbnb interior designer... some may want to DIY it with guidance and some may want to up their game (and their ratings). With each type of client, dig deep into what they would want to accomplish and sell them that.
Be specific in the features AND the benefits because none of these Hosts are going to hire you unless you can prove that they need you. (p.s. you'll probably want to offer a flat fee for your services because like I already explained they already think you're out to screw them.)
Lastly, think about each package you'll offer in terms of the result they will have after their work with you is complete like Booked Out or the 5-Star Rental. I'd definitely rather buy the "5-Star Rental" package than the "Rental Makeover" package because as a Host I want to get that 5-Star rating, not just a makeover that doesn't hold real tangible value.
7. Commit to Being The Expert Airbnb Interior Designer
Don't just decide today to become some Airbnb interior design consultant for a hot minute or add it to your existing services along with your nursery design or your bachelor pad design services. Please, niche your design business and become the Go-To Airbnb interior design consultant.
Now, how will you attract these people who need to decorate their vacation rental so it doesn't look like a shitty hostel with feces smeared on the wall, but rather a beautiful getaway? You're going to decide to become the expert about everything Airbnb or any other vacation rental dealio.
If you wanna take it to the next level for your Airbnb Hosts, help them to create an experience that can't be found anywhere else on earth. Some of the most successful Airbnb properties have a name, a logo and even their very own website. While you aren't in the branding and website business, you do know (or should find) people who can offer this service to your Airbnb hosts that are all in on making their rental the best it can be.
*Update: 8: Finding Clients
I’ve had some emails come in about where to find clients to offer this service. Just like any other business in the world, you need to go to where your people are hanging out and strike up some conversations. Don’t make the mistake that a few designers have by going into a forum under the pretense that they are doing market research so they can become the Airbnb designer… the hosts on the Forums do not like this one bit - even if you’re sincere.
Start conversations, be curious and most of all be of service. If you see someone who has a question, do some research and help them find the answer. The key here is to not think about landing the client, but of being of service, genuinely.
Take your interior design business from hot mess to hotness.
Alycia Wicker is an business consultant focused on helping holistic interior designers get clarity in their business so they can leverage their gifts in a way that support their life's purpose.