For businesses and individuals who need
top-notch copy and content marketing . . .
SANDY WALKER WRITES . . . a blog
top-notch copy and content marketing . . .
SANDY WALKER WRITES . . . a blog
My husband and I listed our first short-term rental (STR) unit--a tiny studio apartment--on Airbnb almost six years ago. Two years later, we added a second unit--a 2018 Gulf Stream Vintage Cruiser. Two years after that, we added another studio apartment. All three have been well received on the Airbnb platform.
As you'd expect from the fact that we've increased our number of listings, we have enjoyed our experience as hosts. The benefits have outweighed the difficulties, and we've learned a lot. If you're considering hosting on the Airbnb platform, this fifth content challenge post gives you an idea of the pros and cons you can expect.
Note: From what I have learned, these pros and cons are similar regardless of which STR or vacation-rental platform you choose. They vary in degree but exist for hosts on VRBO, HomeAway, Booking.com, or another platform.
Good News First -- The Pros of Airbnb Hosting
Here are the most significant benefits we've reaped while hosting on Airbnb:
Bad News Next--The Cons of Airbnb Hosting
Did you just hear a gentle "THUD?" That was the other shoe dropping. Here are the cons of hosting:
Dealing with a few stinkers. Some people are DIFFICULT to host. They look for something to complain about. They don't treat your things well. They do try to take a mile if you give them an inch. Cleaning up after these folks and repairing what they damaged is time-consuming, expensive, and discouraging. Thankfully, we've had to block only a few people like this from being able to book with us again.
Constantly needing to be available (or make arrangements for someone to cover.) Hosting on Airbnb, or any other vacation-rental site, means we are in the hospitality business. As such, we need to be available. Our places must always be clean and ready when the next guest arrives.
Things get tricky when:
Responding to the changing focus of the Airbnb platform. When we started hosting, Airbnb had the reputation of supporting its hosts. When issues arose, company representatives listened and followed through on the promises of support and financial backing it made to hosts when they listed their properties. That's changed significantly, thanks largely to COVID, which sent Airbnb stock plummeting and cost the company millions just in the first few weeks of the pandemic. Variants and uncertainty continue to plague Airbnb
To attract and reassure skittish travelers, Airbnb switched its focus. Now, company reps are hard to reach, and claims that appear to fit neatly into the coverage program are sometimes denied. Additionally, Airbnb has added an onerous cleaning protocol, even for hosts with excellent reviews for cleanliness. Hosts don't have to comply; if they don't, however, they risk having their listings removed from the site.
Airbnb uses the slogan, " You have full control of when and how you host," to attract potential hosts. Lately, that hasn't rung true.
We've benefitted from being Airbnb hosts, and plan to continue. For us, the pros outweigh the cons. As long as that is true, we will stay with the platform.
YACHT CTA for a Saturday
For today's content challenge, I struggled to come up with a YACHT that applies to everyone. Here are my thoughts:
You Accept the CHallenge, Too!
How would you answer these questions?
If you already have listings on Airbnb or another vacation rental platform:
So long until tomorrow.
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines a phantom as “something apparent to sense but with no substantial existence.” That fairly accurately defines my recent freelance experience as a copywriter and content marketer. Since virtually everything is done online, it feels like I regularly work with--and for--phantoms. I’m confident that these people exist; I have some sensory connection with them. I see their texts and emails. I hear their phone messages. I receive the electronic payments they send. Practically, though, modern freelancing often feels like working with phantoms using smart devices. These are people with no substantial existence to me; nor do I exist substantially to them.
Hasn't freelancing always been a bit ethereal?
No, it hasn’t. The original freelancers were soldiers, and they were definitely not phantomlike. Author Thomas N. Brown introduced the term in his The Life and Times of Hugh Miller in the early 19th century. But it was Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe that made the term and the concept better known. Sir Walter used the term “free lances,” when referring to armed mercenary soldiers who fought without having particular allegiance to the cause. There wasn’t anything ethereal about either Brown’s or Scott’s free lances. They referred to actual people holding real weapons of war.
What caused the change of freelancing from armed mercenaries to phantoms using smartphones?
That’s a great question. A man named Jack Nilles is a big part of the answer. Technology is another. The COVID19 pandemic is a 3rd. Here are the highlights of a process that took over 200 years.
Nearly 50 years ago, Jack Nilles thought remote working would help business and the environment.
American physicist and engineer Jack Nilles believed that having employees working remotely was a great idea--for business and for the environment. Nilles--who is now known as the father of telecommuting and teleworking-- suggested that people living in rural areas should be able to work from home or at satellite offices which could be established close to their homes. Nilles argued that this approach would reduce traffic congestion into crowded cities and lower the amount of automobile exhaust expelled into the air. This, he pointed out, would benefit the environment while strengthening businesses. Nilles was a visionary. His ideas weren’t accepted immediately. Some scoffed at them. How could having employees working out of sight be a good idea? Others thought his ideas were excellent concepts, but just not feasible.
Technology made remote working possible, and paved the way for phantom freelancers.
Technology has advanced at light speed from the 1970s until now. Several of those advancements have changed virtually every aspect of our society, including the field of freelancing.
The personal computer
The Internet revolutionized remote communication. Email allowed freelancers and clients to stay in touch and gave them quick, easy access to each other if a problem or question arose.
The world-wide-web also made it much easier to research a topic. Trips to local or business libraries usually weren’t necessary. Freelancers or employees working remotely could find lots of answers with the tap of a few computer keys. The tricky part became sifting through a pile of information to find the most accurate and applicable nugget of truth.
Smart Devices and Apps
The development of smartphones and tablets made it even easier for freelancers to connect with clients. They also made freelance work even more portable.
Once companies began developing “an app for that,” the stage was set for freelancing scenarios in which businesses hired a self-employed freelancer for a specific job, often without meeting him or her before, during or after the project.
Freelancers borrowed a word from entertainers, and began calling these contracts “gigs.” Thus, the gig economy, which Merriam-Webster (again) defines as “economic activity that involves the use of temporary or freelance workers to perform jobs typically in the service sector,” was born. Companies needing someone to help file online tax returns, write their blog posts or develop a business plan, could hire an independent contractor to do a specific job for a certain amount of time. The tricky part was finding a person who could do the job well.
Apps provided a way to help companies find freelancers and freelancers locate each other. When I started freelance writing 18 months ago, I used a handful of websites (and their associated apps) to help me find writing gigs. After testing the waters a bit. I gradually narrowed to Upwork, which works best for me. However, depending upon your location, your field and your background, you may find a better fit with People Per Hour, Freelancer, Guru, Toptal, Fiver or another platform.
Now a freelancer armed with a smartphone and Wi-Fi access can use an app to send and receive messages, submit or accept a work proposal, do online research for a blog post, or write copy for a website--all while sitting in the passenger seat of a car that’s traveling 70 mph down the freeway.
A global pandemic forced us to change instantly.
If you really want an explosion of remote and freelance workers, insert a global pandemic into the equation. When offices everywhere shut down and people were asked (begged, coerced, required) to stay home, working from home became the norm for thousands of people who had ALWAYS gone (out) to work. After nearly 50 years, Jack Nilles’ idea of remote workers had come full circle.
What did we learn from the transition?
The year 2020 showed us that remote workers could dress in work attire--at least from the waist up--and then sit down in front of a computer or iPad and Zoom into a brainstorming session or GoToMeeting with their colleagues online. They faced hurdles, surely, but many were able to function well from home.
When Buffer asked people working from home to identify problems they faced, 2 answers received equal numbers of responses--communication-and-coordination issues, and loneliness. Some of the other factors workers mentioned included 1) being unable to unplug from their work, 2) dealing with distractions, 3) staying motivated, and 4) finding Wi-Fi that worked reliably.
We also learned that contract freelancers who normally work phantom-like from home were increasingly attractive to businesses. According to Upwork, the proportion of workers who freelance rose from 28% in 2019 to 36% in 2020. That upward trend is likely to continue. In June of last year Forbes predicted a coming boom for freelancers, noting that hiring freelancers gives a company flexibility. For many companies, the benefits of locating and hiring someone within a few days, and being able to direct the project by means of email, text or phone call outweigh the risks of trusting someone you often haven’t met and may recognize only from an online photo. This attitude extends to my field of content marketing and copywriting, as well as to many other disciplines.
Compared to Sir Walter Scott’s “free lances,” today’s freelancers seem to be grossly ill-equipped for the battles they face daily. Appearances are deceptive, in this case. Armed primarily with a PC and mobile devices, this phantom army of gig workers is playing an increasing role in shaping the American workforce. Although the transition of freelancing from armed mercenaries to phantoms using smart devices took a couple of centuries, the updated version seems likely to remain indefinitely.
Clarity . . .
The backwards look can be enlightening. Once you're out of the emotion or frenzy of the moment, it's easier to see how the hand of the Lord moved by orchestrating details and guiding you step by step--even if you were traveling a path you wouldn't have chosen for yourself.
The real value of reading events backwards lies in being able to correctly interpret what just happened. Without that clarity, we can misconstrue every critical event. The key to really understanding the Lord's providence in our individual lives or in the lives of our family, friends or country is to interpret things correctly.
When we look back over the year 2020, I wonder whether we will correctly interpret what the Lord was doing in our nation and in nations around the world over the past few months. Will we see the Lord working behind the scenes, showing us all how helpless we are to stop a microscopic virus in its tracks? Will we, instead, convince ourselves that "COVID-19 was a fluke accident," or that "the Wuhan virus was a well-executed but malicious plot?"
When we look back, will we realize that, as a people, we let panic rule to the point that we forfeited civil liberties that we may never be able to reclaim? Will we see that--as a nation--we blindly followed the advice of mostly godless people who assured us that we were not able to fight this disease on our own. We NEEDED the government to tell us how to live, what to think, and what we could purchase.
Concerned about Health . . . and about Liberty
I'm not trying to downplay the danger. I'm staying home. I'm wearing a mask when I do go out. I'm praying for healing of the sick, and protection for medical workers, police officers, and all workers who have to be out and about.
However, history is replete with examples of the wrong decisions people make when they interpret events incorrectly, especially when they are whipped into a frenzy by media and act quickly. The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is just one example.
I pray that when we have the opportunity to look back on the first half of 2020, we will do so with 20/20 vision. I hope we won't see the path to recovery strewn with liberties that were hastily cast aside.
I'm Sandy . . .
I write crisp, accurate, engaging copy and content marketing for B2B and B2C clients. Calling on degrees in marketing and accounting combined with over 20 years of teaching experience, I write for clients that represent industries as diverse as SaaS, woodcarving tools, private education, life transitions, accounting advisory services, and residential and commercial real estate.