Didn’t you hear? Airbnb is going bust.
Or at least it was. That was back in 2009: the year the founders of the now $30-billion company made a discovery that, one could reasonably argue, simultaneously saved the sharing economy and sealed the fate of the travel market for an entire generation of consumers.
If you haven’t read the remarkable story by now, we’d certainly encourage doing so. The long and short of it, however, is simply this: photos matter. They matter when it comes to doubling your monthly apartment rental revenue (as was the case with Airbnb), and they certainly matter when it comes to renting out your bike.
How do we know? Well, we’ll show you.
Recently, Spinlister compiled a pool of our serial listers – those who have consistently received rental requests and earned over “x” amount of dollars throughout the course of their membership. We did this to discover just what makes a bike more likely to be sought out by a potential renter, and then pass that information along to you.
While it’s important to remember that there is a host of factors at work here, including location, reviews, amenities, and the frequency with which you log into your Spinlister account, there are some pretty remarkable statistics related to photos when you compare these high-frequency renters side by side. Here’s what we learned.
1.) DON’T SKIP YOUR PROFILE PHOTO
This is a particularly important point, as the temptation to pass on an optional profile photo can be a strong one. A quick look at our top 100 earners, however, shows a striking similarity: 98% of them have some sort of image file that appears next to their name.
Note that this doesn’t mean you have to share a picture of yourself (although it often helps to build trust). Whether you value your online privacy or are concerned about the possibility of peer-to-peer discrimination, your reasons for not wanting to post a personal photo are completely your own. It’s just good to be aware that, if you opt out of uploading any image whatsoever, you can be statistically assured of losing out on future rental revenues.
2.) GO FOR THE FULL-BODY GLAMOUR SHOT
When taking that all-important header bike image, many serial listers opt to rest their ride(s) against a flat background. The popular hashtag #baaw (bike against a wall) was actually created for just this purpose: finding the perfect wall against which to show off your bike. While the concept seems simple enough, there are actually a few handy go-tos to keep in mind, courtesy of Cyclingtips.com:
“Make sure the wall and the ground in front of it is clean. No one wants to see your bike sitting in a pile of broken glass, just like they don’t want to be distracted by a dirty wall with weeds growing out of the cracks between bricks. While the wall should be clean, it also shouldn’t be dull. Pick something with a bit of colour or an interesting design element.”
3.) MORE PHOTOS OF MORE BIKES LEAD TO MORE RENTALS
This point may seem self explanatory, but the numbers are worth mentioning. While the jury seems to be split on whether or not multiple photos of any single ride will affect the likelihood of a rental, there’s no question that the more bikes (and photos) a renter sees when checking out your profile page the more likely he/she is to make a request.
While there’s technically no limit to how many photos you can upload of any single ride, the sweet spot appears to be 1-3: enough to give the your renters some detail, but not so much as to overwhelm them. Noticeably, renters seem willing to overlook having only a single photo of your bike, provided you have multiple bikes to choose from.
If you want to see the concept of multiple photos and multiple rides done right, just check out Tiffany & Matheas G. in Portland.
4.) TAKE IT OUTSIDE
Photography can be as much a psychological medium as an aesthetic one. For cyclists, this means a natural tendency to be attracted to bike photos set outdoors. After all, this is where we psychologically expect a bike to be. But don’t take our word for it – here’s professional photographer Ming Thein, from his article Photography and Psychology: It’s All A Mind Game:
“A strong image has to tell a story. If you feel something on viewing an image, if it feels alive or speaks to you, it does this simply because there is some sort of conscious or subconscious association you make between the image and your mental bank of experiences, feelings and visual memories.”
Klaas H. is a perfect example of this practice in action, displaying each of his rides outdoors in quintessential Amsterdam glory. This invites potential renters to make the visual connection between his bikes and their future European cycling experience, and the results can be seen in his sheer number of rentals.
Caesar L. in Chicago kicks it up even further, with a sweet outdoor shot of his Specialized in action.
While there’s no silver bullet for guaranteeing bike rentals, these data-driven tips and examples of cycling images done right should help you engage with the Spinlister community and earn a little extra income off of your ride.