Big Changes Always Start Out Small
Let’s go back about 7 years.
At the time you could say I fell into hosting by accident. It was a kind of interest more than it was a necessity. I had owned my home but found that it was more than I needed just for myself so I split it into two units. The main house and an in-law suite. I didn't need to live in the whole house by myself and I also didn't really want roommates, so I thought, hey, I’d rather have tenants than roommates, people who'd help me cover the cost of living there. At that time I owned a restaurant and was also heavily involved in a video production company in New York City.
Working two jobs meant I was spending most of my time away from home. The majority of my weeks were divided. Five days of the week I was at the office in New York City or on the road shooting and producing. And then on weekends I was at the restaurant. I was finding that I was spending more time away from home than I was at it. Home-sharing was just growing in popularity and I had some experience in traveling through Airbnb.
It started with an initial interest in sharing this space that I had created with potentially like-minded people who might be looking for a getaway. I live on a small lake about an hour outside of New York City. I’ve personally always found it to be a great spot to retreat from the busy world and relax for a bit and thought maybe other people might find it to be the same.
So I said, "you know what the house will be empty anyway so let me give this a try!" At the very least, I'm going to see how it works. I had an interest, that's all; just an interest in knowing how this new platform happened to work. So I put myself out there. I went online to Airbnb and I created a profile. I took some pretty mediocre pictures and I did my best to explain who I am and paint a picture of my home. And almost immediately, Bang - I got my first booking. It was a weekend that I was already away for work so it lined up with my schedule perfectly. I found out pretty quickly that people were interested in what I had. One booking turned to two, two turned to four. And before you know it, my entire summer that first year was booked solid with people who are interested in coming to stay in my home.
What started as a small curiosity really became a passion. I found out that not only did people like coming to my home and feeling a connection to it. But I really grew to love hosting people and seeing them connect to a space, which I poured my heart and soul into as well. What turned from interest into passion was never meant to become a business but in the end that year I was able to cover the costs of my taxes on my home. A welcome benefit for something I had just fallen into.
Now fast forward three years of doing this mostly part time. When I was on the road shooting, if I was away for family vacation, or if I happen to be on holiday myself, I would list my home and always seemed to find people looking for what I was offering. And it became a means for me to not only to help support myself, but to create this life which was a bit more along the lines of what I always pictured for myself. A little out of the ordinary, not your typical way of living, but something that I connected to deeply. But my greater joy was getting to see people experience my home in new ways. And get to connect with people from all over the world. People who get to make memories in my space and who grow to love the place that I love.
Now while all of this was happening I found myself in some difficult personal situations, parting ways with the business in New York and facing the potential closure of my restaurant. I was having long sleepless nights, kept up with the worry of floating a failing business. At that point I had owned it myself for about six years. What was at one point in time a source of joy, was my income, my livelihood, and an opportunity to bring value to people as well as to myself, Started becoming a source of anxiety and concern. I was experiencing a lot of fear and worry about what will happen if my business goes under. And if it does go under, or I choose to close it because I can't continue to operate it. Then what am I going to do with my home? How am I going to continue to pay for this? But something triggered in me. And it was this reminder that there are people out there that love my home in the same way that I love it. That this place that I had created, which is a sanctuary for myself, and has become that for other people.
And that little reminder was in one way the hope that I needed to have peace about moving on from the restaurant. To say that if I have to close my business, at least I won't have to sell my home. At the very least through operating my home as a small business and hosting to guests for short-term rentals that I can at least cover the costs of my home. And that was the solution that I needed to give me the hope and the peace of mind to move on from the struggles that I experienced in the restaurant and step into the next phase of my life. And that was the beauty of what hosting gave me, that not only did I experience a connection in serving people but that it gave us a mutual value. They experienced a wonderful place to vacation too. And I was compensated for welcoming them into my home and into my life. But it also triggered this passion, a realization that I love doing this. I love sharing my home with people and seeing that brightness light up in their eyes. Seeing the smile stretch across their face as they sit next to that fire and watch the sunset over the lake.
And I thought to myself, if only a brief notion - why don’t other people feel this? Why do I feel like I'm the only one who's experiencing this? And I know that's not the case because over the past 10 years, countless people, literally millions across the world have started doing this. To hosting strangers turned new friends in their home, by opening up their doors and sharing their space with them. So if they're doing that - Are they experiencing the same joy that I am? Are they experiencing the same success that I am?
As I began to ask these questions I was stepping into the unknown of my own life. I started casting it out there and saying you know what, if I'm good at this, maybe I can share this with others. And if this is something that people want, I have to believe that there is more that I can offer to people. So what began with my home, grew to me hosting another home. And then anOTHer home. And then after that next year and a half, I found that I had a small portfolio, six homes that I was renting for short-term stays. Guests coming from all over the world for a variety of different reasons and building memories in a space that I have helped to make for them.
And I was creating not just a living for myself but I was creating value for other people. I realized I was creating not just value but peace of mind for people. That these homeowners don't have to worry about their home. That they don't have to fear or go to bed anxious about whether they're going to be able to pay their tax bill at the end of the year. Or at the very least thinking, I'm grateful to have this house that I can enjoy. But I also don’t feel guilty knowing it's sitting vacant. So what I have been able to bring is not only that peace of mind but also share in that joy that I experienced hosting with other people. When they can see the positive reviews and memories made of people experiencing their home the same way. To maybe connecting with those people who say, we love your place, thank you for having us.
Year after year, I have people who now come back because they have shared a connection with that space. They've shared a connection with me and the experience that I have offered them. This is why I do this. I do this because it brings me joy. And I know it brings joy to other people. I share this with you because maybe you have the opportunity to do the same thing. That although you might not have the experience, the expertise, the training, the information, whatever knowledge you think that you need for this, you might not have it yet, but you probably have the passion. You probably have the heart and the will to be able to succeed in a way that is going to not only give you financial success, but bring value to the people who need it the most. By opening up your home and sharing it with others.
When I reflect on my 8 years of experience in this business I am so grateful that I get to do this. I’m grateful for those early moments of inspiration that forced me to take the uncomfortable action to open up my home to strangers. I don’t know what would have happened or where I’d be if I didn’t take those initial steps. In losing my business would I have kept my home? Without this would I have been able to afford to stay in the house I had grown to love? I don’t really know, but I am so grateful that I don’t have to.
For all thousands of reasons that I could have in sharing, this is the main one:
That I can share what I’ve learned so that maybe someone out there can feel inspired to take the step that I did 7 years ago.
It was messy but out of that mess came a message that I love telling. That people can know the joy in sharing the blessing of their home with other people. And ultimately with some of the things that I’ve learned through trial and error that they can succeed even more than I ever did.
If that is you and you’re looking to rent your home, I’d love for TUCKED AWAY to be a resource of help on your journey . If you are a host or are looking to get into it, In the comments below let me know what excites you the most about hosting.
And if you have yet to start doing it, use THIS LINK to get a discount by signing up as a host through Airbnb. I’d hope use that when registering for your account.