We are fortunate enough to be in the position where our calendar for house and pet sitting gets 95% filled up for the year by mid January. We first began pet sitting full time in January 2018, and have spent years building on our pet care and house sitting knowledge while growing our client list. The majority of our gigs are now repeat sits, with owners who know what to expect when they book us, and they trust us to care for their home and animals to a high standard. We’re grateful to receive enquiries through word of mouth alone, and are now at the point where we rarely have availability unless dates are booked months in advance. If you’re looking to grow your pet sitting business, we have SO much advice and top tips to share about how to find and keep clients, establish your brand, and make your pet sitting business a success.

Gain experience to move forward

Starting right at the basics: It’s easy to read the introduction to this post and think it’s all been plain sailing, our pet sitting business growing exponentially without much effort. This is not the case! We worked incredibly hard in the early years, through a lot of trial and error (and countless unwelcome surprises on sits) to get to a point where we feel confident in our abilities, comfortable in our process, and our business is a well-oiled machine.

We actively used websites such as Borrow My Doggy and Trusted Housesitters to expand our pet care knowledge and our experience caring for different dog breeds. Before we left our rented flat in Brighton to begin our nomadic house sitting journey, we cared for multiple dogs in our home throughout the week, offering dog walking and dog boarding services for free through Borrow My Doggy. By the end of our year in Brighton, we had cared for 13 new dogs, from Chihuahuas and Dachshunds to Staffies and Greyhounds, giving us a range of experience with a variety of breeds as well as some insight into caring for dogs at home.

Similarly, back in late 2017 when we signed up to Trusted Housesitters to find pet sits for the following year, we actively applied for house sits with dog breeds or animals we hadn’t yet cared for. This meant we quickly expanded our experience and in turn, were able to secure more complex house sits with unusual pets or advanced situations, that we wouldn’t have been accepted for had we applied without our previous sits under our belts. We spent 2 years between 2018-2019 solely using Trusted Housesitters to find pet sitting jobs so that we could learn about more dog breeds and pets, and gain reviews and testimonials, which then allowed us to cite years of pet sitting experience when we began to book paid pet sitting jobs.

The arrangement on TH works perfectly for those looking to rack up pet sitting know-how quickly – sitters stay and give pet care for free in exchange for the experience, and you can apply for the sits that suit you. Similarly with Borrow My Doggy, you’re able to see what kind of help a dog owner is looking for before messaging them, so you can find a situation that fits around your schedule. Whether you only have time to walk dogs during your lunch break, or can only pet sit on the weekend, it’s worth making the time to gain as much experience as you can. Then you can confidently take on paid gigs going forward, with not only knowledge but owner testimonials and photos to show future clients that you know your stuff.

If you’re already at the point where you can charge for your pet sitting services, but don’t have your own website set up, we highly recommend using Rover to get your foot in the door of paid pet sitting. We’ve previously written a full review of Rover, as well as an FAQs post, but for those who don’t know it’s a website where pet owners can browse sitters, boarders and walkers in their area to find care for their pets. Pet care providers make a profile and list their services, and owners look for the one that suits them best. Most of our enquiries on Rover cite the fact that we pet sit as a couple as the reason they’ve chosen us – play to your strengths and find a unique selling point to make you stand out from other sitters. It’s worth knowing that reviews on Rover accumulate across all services, meaning you can complete dog walking jobs while you’re establishing yourself as a sitter to gain glowing reviews that will help you secure pet sitting jobs in the future. For more tips about using the site, head to our post on 3 easy ways to secure more bookings on Rover.

Do a good job!

This one’s a no-brainer – if you want to grow your pet sitting business, you have to be proficient at what you do! Nobody is going to recommend a pet sitter that didn’t meet their expectations, made them feel worried while they were away, or left them feeling like their pets weren’t happy and cared for. A little goes a long way – simply responding to messages quickly, sending photo updates on a sit, or being a tidy house guest are little positives that pet owners remember and make a good impression. As pet sitters, it’s our job to prioritise the needs of the pets and home above our own, and the fact that owners can rely on us for this is why we now have a wealth of repeat clients who trust only us to care for their pets, some even planning their holidays around our availability! Each sit is different, but at all times you need to remember the huge responsibility that comes with being a live-in pet sitter. Owners are trusting you with their home, belongings and pets, and relying on you to care for them all as if they were your own.

Check out our advice posts written specifically for pet sitters:

Create a website

All the admin work for our pet sitting business became SO much easier once we made our own website. A professional website establishes you as a serious business, and makes it easy for potential clients to book you. We spent too long reciting our Instagram handle to interested dog owners we met out on walkies, in an effort to keep in touch, as we had no other platform to direct them to.

We created an ‘About Us’ page to give owners information about who we are and why we pet sit, we made clear ‘Services’ pages so owners could know what to expect during our booking process and the sit itself, and we created a calendar for our availability along with a form for clients to send an enquiry and begin the booking process. These days most of our bookings with new clients are confirmed within just a few emails, as we’ve streamlined our process to make booking with us simple, with only a few steps.

Of course, having countless testimonials, a variety of photos of us with different pets, and years of experience with knowing what questions to ask make this process as smooth as it is – all of this will come in time as you expand your pet sitting business. Even if you can’t afford an in-depth, shiny website to wow clients, you can use a platform like WordPress to create a simple landing page for the basic information about your pet sitting business. Always include an easy way for clients to contact you and enquire about your services – this simple step will go a long way to securing new bookings.

Invest in business cards

Once we’d set up our website, we had business cards printed so we could easily give out our details to anyone interested in booking us as their pet sitters. Not only is this WAY more professional than giving someone a scrawled IG handle on a piece of paper, but the cost of buying well-designed, printed business cards will come back to you in the bookings you’ll receive by establishing a professional image for your business. If you’re not artistically inclined, or can’t afford to pay a logo designer at this stage in your business, spend some time creating a simple but effective business card – as with creating a website, a little can do a lot.

Think about what information you want to have on your card – we have our logo, a photo, our website and Instagram handle. We chose not to have a phone number as we don’t want random people calling us at any time of the day, and we have an easy form already established on our website to streamline all our bookings. We don’t have any blurb or about info on our card – not only because there’s limited space, but we like to speak for ourselves and let the fact we have a pet sitting business come up naturally in a conversation, so by the time we’re handing over a business card, the pet owner already has a little overview of the services we can provide.

Add your pet sitting business to Google

Even if your pet sitting business covers a large area, like us (we cover all of the UK!), it’s worth registering your business on Google. It requires you to have an address to link your business to, but you can do as we do and state that your business covers more than just that area. Once you’re set up on Google, you’ll show up in Google search results when pet owners are looking for a sitter in that area, and others will be able to find your business on Google Maps. As we have a ‘How did you hear about us?’ section on our enquiry form, we know that we’ve received countless booking enquiries directly as a result of Google searches. When you’re making your business page, add in a variety of good quality photos, a link to your website, and spend time writing a brief overview about your services. All of this lets owners see you as a professional and established business on Google, and will therefore lead to more bookings.

Be active on social media

This doesn’t mean posting three times a day every day! It’s possible to grow your pet sitting business from casual but consistent activity on social media platforms, as long as your posts stay on brand with your pet sitting business. Post updates about your availability, link to your website in your profile bio, share testimonials from happy clients, and show candid photos and videos from pet sits you’ve completed (just be sure there’s no distinguishable information about the owner’s home or pets, such as a house number, or their contact details on a dog’s collar). Use platforms like Facebook to join local groups, and promote your business if the group’s rules allow.

If you’re not already on social media, and you don’t want to be, that’s ok too! There’s absolutely no point creating a social media account that you’re going to give up on within a few weeks – no potential client wants to click on an Instagram account linked to your business and find it’s empty or hasn’t been used in years. It’s simply about finding ways to get your name out there, in multiple spaces, to give you the best chance of new clients finding your business. Play to your strengths and get creative – if you’re pet sitting in one area, go old school and put out flyers around town. Give business cards to friends to pass on to anyone in their circle who might need a sitter. The more ways you can get your name out there, the more chance you’ll have of your pet sitting business expanding.

Consider branded items

Over the years we’ve become increasingly confident when talking to people about our pet sitting business, but we weren’t always that way! When Dicky Bag offered to make us a custom bag with our logo on top, we jumped at the chance to have our name on an accessory as we saw it as an easy conversation starter. Now when we’re out on dog walks, people notice and ask us about our business, which usually ends up with us handing them a business card, or at least piquing their interest enough to direct them to our Instagram so they can see what we do!

Buying a plethora of branded items is not the first priority in growing your pet sitting business, nor is it the second or third! But if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to start up more conversations about your services, a branded bag or t-shirt is just one more way to put your name out there.

Ask for reviews

Unlike having a social media presence or branded merch, this one is non-negotiable if you’re looking for a reliable way to help your pet sitting business grow. In the early days of our pet sitting journey, back when we were solely using Trusted Housesitters to find sits, we’re 100% sure that having multiple positive reviews on our profile was the main reason for our success in securing the house sits we applied for. Back then, with only a handful of sits on our profile, having glowing reviews from owners meant that others could read from a verified client that we did a great job. Similarly, when we began using Rover to find paid pet sitting gigs, we made sure to get in touch with each owner after a completed sit to politely ask them to write a review on our profile, explaining to them how important it is in helping us secure further bookings.

Two of the many lovely reviews on our pet sitting website

When you’re first starting out, it’s vital to provide pet owners with a way to leave you an honest review about your pet sitting services. If you’re not using third party sites like Trusted Housesitters or Rover, where a review system is in place, there are a few ways to gain a review from a pet owner. Consider making a private review page on your website to send to owners after a sit, or send them a link to review you on your Google page – you can even combine the two and make a simple Google document for free and send the page to the owner to fill in. Make sure the form is presented in a way that makes the client feel they can give you honest feedback. Using a public space for reviews of your business, such as a Facebook page, may help prospective clients know that all reviews are genuine as the owner of the page is unable to edit reviews once they’re posted.

In a time where word of mouth and reviews are powerful persuaders for people looking to book a service, it’s important that prospective clients have a way to verify with other owners that a pet sitter is genuine, trustworthy and proficient at providing the services they advertise.

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