I created a passive income stream of up to $28,000 a month by visiting cool Airbnbs and sharing affiliate links. Here's my advice for anyone wanting to start this lucrative side hustle.

  • Erika Martin is a travel blogger based near Milwaukee, Wisconsin who launched a Facebook page in May 2020 to share unique Airbnb stays around the US.
  • As a member of Airbnb Associates, Martin earns a commission when people make a booking through her links. 
  • In the first six months her page was live, Martin earned over $59,000, including over $28,000 in the month of September alone.
  • This is her story, as told to freelance writer Sarah Bence.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

I've always been a person who loves to travel. Traveling brings me peace, and I enjoy sharing different cultures and places around the world to visit without spending a ton of money. 

I started my first travel blog in July 2017, where I shared budget travel tips, reviews of my trips, and other adventures of "trying to live the caviar life on a sardine budget." 

In June 2020, I decided to launch a Facebook page to share my travel tips.

Inside 'The Patio House: Hill Country Casita' Airbnb in Hondo, Texas.Erika Martin

I thought that with my page Everywhere with Erika, I could share shorter form content which would be more achievable with my busy schedule.

I started sharing what I call my "Airbnb pick of the day." In my experience, Airbnbs are almost always more affordable than hotels, and they have a lot of amenities such as a kitchen, outdoor space, sometimes even a washer and dryer. It felt natural to share my own discoveries and favorite spots to stay with others.

I'd gained around 300 followers in June before I discovered Airbnb Associates.

Airbnb Associates is a relatively new affiliate program. As an associate, I can generate links to Airbnb properties with my unique affiliate ID. Joining Airbnb Associates was pretty simple because they just required applicants to have some kind of travel platform, like a blog or Facebook page. The program is currently closed to new applicants, but will likely open up again in the future.

When someone clicks my link, and books an Airbnb stay within the next 28 days, I earn a small fee. This fee comes out of the service charge. Even though I earn a commission, it doesn't cost my followers any more to book through my links.

Read more: Owners of some of the quirkiest Airbnbs in the US share how their businesses have taken off and pivoted to accommodate cautious travelers looking for an escape

By August, I'd grown to about 1,400 followers when I shared a gorgeous lake house Airbnb in Georgia.

Over 10 million people saw and nearly 70,000 people reshared my post.

The Airbnb owner even reached out to me to thank me for sharing. That post led to more people following my page, and within 24 hours my page had grown to over 27,000 followers. Now at the start of 2021 I have over 88,000 followers.

In the six months I've run Everywhere with Erika, I've earned just under $60,000 in Airbnb affiliate income. In September alone, I earned over $28,000.

More followers means more people see my posts and click on my Airbnb links, and more income. 

However, Everywhere with Erika isn't my full-time job. I have a salaried 9-to-5 during the week as a consultant for an agency. Since March, I've mostly been working from home. I have to fit in running the page  around my day job and also being a parent to my teenage son.

I spend about two to four hours a week working on Everywhere with Erika.

On Friday evenings after work, I spend about one to two hours searching for the Airbnb properties I want to feature in the coming week.

On Saturday mornings, I spend another one to two hours writing and scheduling my Facebook posts for the week.

Over the summer and fall, I shared 40 posts a week — eight a day Monday through Friday.

Martin at an Airbnb stay in 2020.Erika Martin

I recently dropped to five Airbnbs a day, or 25 posts a week, to better balance my job and family needs.

My success was all very unexpected. In some ways, it still feels like the growth of Everywhere with Erika came out of nowhere.

Still, I credit my good eye and growing expertise in the online aesthetic and travel landscape. I've found that people love anything with cabins and homes with rustic decor. During the pandemic, people are looking for serenity, social distancing, and a breath of fresh air. 

I choose Airbnbs to feature based on a few factors.

Outside a cabin Airbnb where Martin stayed in Pickens, South Carolina.Erika Martin

When I make my weekly selections, I visualize the types of Airbnbs where I'd personally want to stay. I look for properties with good reviews, but do my best to decipher any negative reviews as well. I also still post new properties without many reviews, as those new Airbnb hosts have to start somewhere. I don't count anyone out.

I keep a regular schedule of posting at the same time every day so my followers know when to expect my posts, and occasionally plan weekly themes, like Airbnbs under $100 per night, for larger groups, or in a certain state. 

This new year I plan to expand my social media coverage beyond Facebook.

Inside 'The Patio House: Hill Country Casita' in Hondo, Texas.Erika Martin

I'm currently working on a website for Everywhere with Erika that will give me more freedom to highlight Airbnbs and share my affiliate links outside of Facebook.

I do use Instagram, but not as much since you can't share links within Instagram post captions, so the conversion rate is very low. On Facebook, people can access the links to the properties much faster.

Read more: I'm a Kentucky-based Airbnb 'superhost' who's been renting to traveling nurses ever since the pandemic decimated my normal business

Starting my travel page has changed my life and my plans for the future.

I'm planning to take a career break from my consulting job next year to focus solely on Everywhere with Erika, travel throughout the world when it's safe to do so, and stay at Airbnbs along the way.

Right now, I'm working on my list of places I want to go: Poland, Madagascar, Argentina, Ireland, Bali, Nicaragua, and Mexico, to name a few. I also plan to do some stateside travel as well, hopefully to Wyoming, South Dakota, and Vermont.

My advice to other aspiring travel bloggers, affiliate marketers, or people who dream of earning passive income: Don't give up.

Remember that Rome wasn't built in one day: It took me three years of blogging before creating Everywhere with Erika this year. I've always loved Airbnb and it just so happened they created this affiliate program, and everything aligned. Don't be discouraged, especially if you're working on something you love.

Axel Springer, Insider Inc.’s parent company, is an investor in Airbnb.

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