Monday, September 26, 2011

Side Hustle: How to Make Money Pet Sitting

Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In need of some extra cash? Love animals? Why don't you consider becoming a pet sitter? More specifically, a pet sitter who house-sits at the same time. As a dog owner, making sure Duke is well taken care of while I am out of town is a high priority. At one point, I had a dog sitter who would come over three times a day to walk him and feed him, but I stopped using her when Duke ended up with a $1,500 ear surgery after we got home. A second dog sitter I know is pretty good but she is so busy that I can't even consider her unless I know months in advance when I'll be gone. Plus although she is great, she also only visits three times a day and leaves Duke home alone at night. Our top choice in dog sitters is actually the front desk woman at my company who dog sits on the side to pay for her vacations. Joanne is awesome - she stays at our house while we're away and is one of those people who truly loves animals. Plus she only charges $25 a day which is ridiculously low for the level of service she provides (compare that to $60 a day for the two previous sitters mentioned who only visit three times a day). But she is also reaching the too busy point - last time I saw her she told me she hadn't slept at home in 6 weeks.

The ideal and least stressful situation for a pet and its owner (in my opinion) is to have someone stay at your house with your furry friend. That likely means a pet sitter is super flexible and has no family relying on them to take care of them every day. A pet sitter also needs to establish a level of trust with a person to be let into their home. How do you get to this level?

  • When you first start out, offer to take care of Fido at a reduced rate in exchange for a recommendation in the future.
  • Once you start building a rapport with people, referrals will start to trickle in. Encourage word of mouth to spread faster by offering referral bonuses (discounts on future sittings, commission, etc)
  • Don't forget the little things: text or email pictures to Spot's owner while they are away; keep a written schedule of what your dog did while they were away; send a thank you note.
  • Offer to take care of the plants and bring in the mail as "free extras"
How Much Should I Charge?
The best way to figure out an answer to this question is to first see what your competitors charge. In San Diego, I have a difficult time paying $60 a day for someone to come over three times a day to see Duke. I would be more willing to pay $60 if I knew this person was willing to come over after work and stay overnight - even if they still needed to work from 8 to 5 during the day. But $25 is way too low (are you reading Joanne?) Other areas of the country may have a much higher or lower price point. See what other dog walkers/sitters and doggie day cares charge in your area and, depending on your service offerings, choose an amount that feels right.

What's My Earning Potential?
If you provided pet sitting services 15 days a month at $50 per day, that is an extra $9,000 in your pocket during the year. That amount could put a severe dent in your debt!!  Raise your rate to $60 a day and you will be bringing almost $11,000 a year.

Am I The Right Person for the Job?
Do you like dogs and cats? Do you have allergy attacks just thinking about a slobbery Bulldog waddling up next to you? Do you have too many commitments outside of work that would interfere? Would your family be upset that you deserted them? There is no question that this type of side hustle is a significant commitment and would require giving up some of your personal freedoms. But you can also make your own hours and say 'no' if there is a commitment you just can't miss.

From what I can tell, there is still some room in the pet sitting market for new business. As I mentioned before, the two sitters I rely on the most are becoming so busy that I am having a difficult time booking them. So what are you waiting for?

Stay tuned,




Have any of you tried pet sitting to make extra money on the side? Share your experiences here - the good AND the bad.


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