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You want to rent to help defray expenses. Heather Bayer suggests you draw up a marketing strategy and stick to it. "Otherwise you can spend a lot of money advertising here, there and everywhere," says Ms. Bayer, a blogger for cottage owners at cottageblogger.com, and owner of Ontario-based CottageLink Rental Management.

"And make sure you monitor where the inquiries are coming from," she adds. "Then you have your statistics to decide what the best form of advertising is for the following year."

AGENCIES

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There are two types: rental and full-service. Rental agencies like Ms. Bayer's will list and market your cottage, handle inquiries, screen renters, book the cottage, manage rental agreements and arrange financial transactions. Full-service agencies also manage the property – maintenance and taking care of rental changeovers.

What you pay

Rental agencies usually charge about 20 per cent of rental income, but can range up to 30 per cent. A full-service agency might charge as much as 40 per cent, Ms. Bayer says.

DIY: COTTAGE WEBSITES

List your cottage on a website. Two of the largest national sites are CottagesinCanada.com and cottagelink.com, but there are hundreds of local and provincial alternatives.

Set up your own website as well; you can provide more pictures and details, and describe what's going on in the area.

What you pay

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For websites listings: prices range from $55 to $200 per year. For your own website, Ms. Bayer says expect to pay under $200 a year for a site and hosting through wordpress.org.

FREE!

Put up posters in area supermarkets; let friends and neighbours know; deploy company intranets.

Ms. Bayer says she knows owners "who get a lot of success" from kijiji.ca, a free-listings site. Just be prepared to spend some time; with kijiji, you need to keep updating and have to do careful screening.

But you can't beat the price.

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