In today’s economy were jobs are few and layoffs are all too common, the idea of starting a home-based business minding pets is definitely a tempting one. House and pet sitters charge base fees which range from $15 – $100 per day on average, and that’s usually just for looking after one pet or minding the house.
Obviously the range between these fees is large and you will have trouble building a large business off of this, at least in the beginning anyway. Certainly it won’t be enough to support a family, especially without a constant workflow, however for those whose careers are flexible in terms of location and time, it can be a great way to earn some extra income.
Who is house sitting for?
Career-wise, house-sitting works well with artists, writers, translators – basically anyone who isn’t tied to an office or working 9-5 hours. When you’re house sitting your schedule will be based around the needs of the pets, so if you’re planning on just sitting down and working, think again! Pets come first and that means walking them, bathing them and playing with them. Some house sitters will also have additional requirements such as house upkeep and maybe even some garden maintenance. So while house sitting is definitely very flexible in terms of doing it alongside another job, it’s important to remember that you are working two jobs and both have very important responsibilities.
Starting a business
James & Jemma (aka the House Sitting Couple) are a great example of two people who’ve built up a house sitting business from scratch. Both work freelance jobs which enables them to travel and set themselves up easily in pretty much any location, as long as there’s internet. Vital to their success are the references they’ve built up and the house sitting communities they’ve become a part of.
Who else is doing it?
Due to the low-earnings (particularly in the beginning) house and pet sitting is more common with the retired, as it provides an additional income to top up an already existing pension income. That said, it isn’t limited to just pensioners. Anyone can get involved and plenty of long-term travelers and digital nomads like James & Jemma are also making themselves available.
What do I need to get started?
First off, you need to think if this business is right for you? It can be a way to earn some additional income, but don’t expect to make a living off it, at least straight away. Remember that in today’s economy, opportunities like this are going to be in high demand, and so you’ll have to fight your way to get prospective clients interested in you.
Most importantly, you’ll need references. This can be difficult if you’ve never house sat before, but most clients are likely to ask for them so make sure you’ve got plenty of outstanding references to back up your claims.
Start off by offering pet and house sitting services to friends and family. Even if it’s just for a weekend or a few days, it’s a reference that you can add to your profile and you’ll instantly be more likely to have prospective clients get back to you.
A marketing plan of sorts is essential, even if you’re only planning on advertising locally. This could be anything from setting up a website and arranging Adwords to just getting some business cards or flyers printed and spreading them about your local area.
Finally perseverance goes a long way, especially in the beginning when you’re desperately trying to get your first pet sitting gig. Be patient and go out of your way to offer people above and beyond what other pet sitters are offering just to get your foot on the ladder, even if it’s not ideal for you.
Casey is a freelance writer, illustrator and stay-at-home mom. She has written extensively on working from home and earning money online.