Summertime and the living in LA is not so easy. Especially when the cost of living is through the roof.
I found this out the hard way last summer when I moved from my quiet, comfortable, and reasonably affordable townhome on a golf course in the suburbs of LA to the concrete jungle in the heart of the city. I made the decision to move to be closer to my sales territory for work, which I thought was a good idea... Until six months later when the company downsized their salesforce, leaving me jobless and with just enough savings to make it for four months before I realized I had bitten off more rent than I could chew.
Now ladies, I have had my back against the wall before, so I knew I had to think fast. I didn't want to break my lease because I had plans of purchasing a home later and didn't want a broken lease to have an adverse effect on my rental history. I only had six months left in my lease and thought to myself, What if I listed my apartment on Airbnb?
It made perfect sense. I always kept a clean, neat home and I'm obsessed with home decor. I lived really close to major freeways, Universal Studios, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and other major LA attractions. So I figured, why not? I took about a week to get my apartment in tip-top condition, moved most of my personal belongings in storage, found a housekeeper for a reasonable price, whipped out my iPhone to take pictures of all the rooms, used my savvy writing skills to come up with a cute description of the listing, and within a week of going live on Airbnb, I had my first booking! I couldn't believe how easy it was to set up the account and to communicate with guests.
My first month as a host, I made just enough to cover my rent, which was the original goal. However, as the summer months approached, I not only generated enough revenue to cover rent, but I also made a pretty nice profit. Some 3 months later, and I had made $15,000! My guests loved my place and always left stellar reviews and within six months, I was even promoted to Superhost, which apparently is a big deal on Airbnb.
I would be remiss if I did not share my personal experience and tips on how to be a successful Airbnb host and how to provide an exceptional experience for your guests. So without further ado, here are my tips on being a successful AND profitable Airbnb host.
Create a Catchy Listing Title
What's in a name? Everything! Beautiful Buckhead Bungalow, Luxurious Midtown Loft, Romantic Cabin on the River. These are all cute and catchy titles that will set your listing above the rest. Remember, your listing will be placed among hundreds of other homes that match your criteria, so you need a title that stands out. What makes your house unique? Where is it located? Are you listing it around a special event like Super Bowl, Art Basel, or Yacht Week? Use all of those to your advantage in the title.
Take Beautiful Pictures
Image is everything! I started my listing by taking photos of my place on my iPhone. As I began to generate more revenue, I eventually hired a photographer. But I wanted my initial pictures to look like my house was the layout of a Z Gallerie mailer. I took pictures in natural lighting, with the blinds open and facing up so the rooms wouldn't be flooded with light. I took close-ups of details like the coffee bar, welcome sign, guest book, and small decor for an added touch.
Trust me, most listings will have basic photos of the rooms and a few amenities. You can set your listing above the rest by taking the extra step to have stellar photos of your home. The three most important rooms you want to focus on when taking pictures are the bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen.
Create Pre-Typed Messages
This will save you a lot of time in the future when your guests book. I have a standard welcome message that outlines the directions to the home, passwords and security codes, Wifi information, check-in and check-out instructions, and emergency contact information. You can save these in your message profile and choose the right template, depending on the guests' question or concern. This makes communication simple and will really help your rating. Remember, five stars is the goal!
Stock Up On Extra EVERYTHING!
Extra towels, extra napkins, extra toilet paper, extra shampoo, extra tampons, extra EVERYTHING! If hosting is a long-term goal for you, places like Sam's Club and Costco will be your best friend. You'll keep your guests happy by having a plethora of necessities already stocked at your place.
Keep It Clean
Sparkling clean and super pristine! That is the goal. Guests love a super clean home. Not only will they remember it when they rate you, but they typically tend to leave the house in tip-top condition because you set the bar when they arrived. Make sure you clean and disinfect door knobs and handles, counter tops, walls, railings and pretty much anything people touch. Cleanliness is one of the categories in your review, so make sure your house is so fresh and so clean with every stay.
With so many events happening around the country year-round, there are endless opportunities to host travelers when they come to your city. There are so many more tips and pointers I could give on hosting and if you want to find out more, take a peek at my hosting video.
Good luck! I can't wait to hear your success stories.
*Originally published on Mignon Cyrelle
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Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
If you haven’t scrolled upon Olivia McDowell's TikTok famous dinner parties, you may need to reconfigure your "For You Page."
What began as a passion for hosting aesthetically themed meals for her closest friends has quickly become a viral sensation. With an astonishing 12 million viewers, women describe Olivia’s picturesque dinner parties as the “dream girls' night,” complete with classy cocktails, beautiful table settings, elegant outfits, and, most importantly, food plated to perfection.
Seemingly reigniting the feminine urge to host fancy dinner parties, Olivia has perfected the finer details. Overlooking the skyline in her beautiful NYC apartment, she never fails to make her signature handmade pasta dishes while simultaneously looking effortlessly chic in the wardrobe of dreams while doing so.
Replying to @nara0630 what should the theme of my next dinner party be? #minivlog #nycliving #dinnerpartyideas #caviarinnewyork
What I love most about hosting intimate dinners for close friends are the connections and relationships that form over food. They don't require a caviar budget with a high-rise apartment, it just takes determination and a little creativity. Watching Olivia’s journey inspires viewers to be a part of a community of positive and uplifting women who share common interests and tastes in food, fashion, and decor. Simply stated, she’s raising the bar of friendship goals.
If you’re aspiring to host a holiday-themed dinner party this season, check out the four tips that will guide you along the way.
Choose Your Theme
Replying to @emz.life.tsv what was your fav part? 🤍 hope this gives you some inspiration to host a fancy friendsgiving too! #hostingtip #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Set the ambiance with a thoughtful theme, which will indeed be your guiding light for less stress during the planning process. Establishing a theme sets the tone for everything else to fall in place, such as menus, table design, and presentation. For example, a holiday-inspired dinner party is a perfect occasion for elegant all-white decor paired with draped table cloths, pillar candles lit atop luxe holders, floating floral arrangements, and, for a personal touch, handwritten place settings.
Utilizing free resources such as Canva for menu templates and creating a “Dinner Party” moodboard via Pinterest is perfect for gathering dinner inspiration for themes, decor, and recipes for the special occasion.
Simplify the Menu
How to host your own pasta making dinner party — part 1: pasta making from scratch 🤍 Hosting dinner parties has become my favorite thing to do this year. More goes into it than you expect, the prep, planning, guestlist, tablescape, etc. but it’s always worth it in the end. What do you guys want to see next? #hostingtips #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Don’t overcomplicate the menu. A simple dinner party formula to use as your guide to making sure your guests leave full of food and joy is appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. As a starter, assemble an aesthetic spread that your guest can nibble on while awaiting the main course with starters such as bread, cheese, jam, nuts, and fruit. A simple salad will do, complete with a light dressing right before your entree. For a main dish, pasta recipes always go a long way and also allows your guests to interact with one another, which leads to McDowell's third dinner party hosting tip.
Include an Interactive Element
Replying to @itstai.tv 🖤 #girlhood
To break the ice and encourage guests to get to know one another, introduce interactive elements to the evening. Moments of interaction allow everyone to connect, like capturing content for social media or memorializing the essence of the night through fun Polaroids. Olivia also encourages her guests to participate in the pasta-making dinner process as a group, or if hosting a brunch, her friends indulge in building their own coffee bar as an opportunity for forming connections and conversation starters. Group board or card games are also great for laughs and healthy competition to help get the vibes flowing.
Don’t Forget the Dress code
Replying to @samantha_mendiz when all of your friends are the main character 🖤🥂 #dinnerparty #nycfashion
Tis’ the season for glamour and sparkles, so why not go all out with a super chic dress code? You can’t have a picture-perfect holiday dinner party without the coordinating attire to match. When planning, make sure to make the required attire specific yet broad enough for a range of personalities and preferences to comfortably partake while looking stunning doing so.
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Featured image by Justin Lambert/Getty Images