How to create a successful housesitting profile
Creating a housesitter profile that stands out is important when you want to land your dream housesit, especially if you’re up against a number of other applicants. You need to let homeowners know why they should choose you as their sitter, and showcase all your skills and experience to make you the clear choice!
As the majority of our housesits have been secured through Trusted Housesitters, we’ll mainly use their website as the template for the purposes of this page, though our tips apply to any housesitting website.
On this page we’ll go through:
- The importance of good quality, relevant photographs
- Crafting a punchy title for your profile
- Getting references
- Information to include about yourself
- Updating your availability
- Gaining reviews
As well as some more general points at the end. So let’s dive in!
1. The importance of good quality, relevant photographs
Our top tip for creating a fantastic profile is using high quality photographs. Your photos are a way for you to visually back up all the great things you’ll write about yourself, and gives homeowners a chance to see you in action, so the quality is important! We don’t mean you need to have a fancy camera or set up a professional photoshoot, but simply considering how the photos will look in your gallery goes a long way. The higher the resolution, the better – one of our ultimate pet peeves (excuse the pun) is seeing screenshots from Facebook or iPhone on a profile, with all the messy text, battery level, clock etc. on top. Download images to your computer and upload the photo files to your housesitting profile. This ensures the photos can be viewed full screen at their highest quality, and the size will fit the parameters of the image gallery on your profile.
In the run up to housesitting, it’s worth taking lots of nice pictures when you do look after other people’s pets. If you’ve spent your time actively building up your pet care skills before getting started, you’ll have lots of different animals or at least dog breeds to showcase on your profile. Any time we used Borrow My Doggy or looked after pets for our friends before we began housesitting, we took tonnes of cute photos together which we eventually used on our Trusted Housesitters profile. Homeowners could see that not only do we have pet care experience, but that we truly enjoy looking after animals too.
We update our profile periodically to make sure our photos are recent, and right now it’s a mixture of snaps of us with dogs, cats, and chickens, as well as selfies from our favourite hikes and a photo of us at the finish line of a charity trek – all of these things show homeowners a well-rounded overview of us when they come to look at our profile. It also gives the homeowner an idea of what we’re likely to spend our time doing when housesitting for them. We’d recommend alternating different elements of yourself, instead of bunching all the animal photos together at the start and all your hobby photos together at the end. Mix things up and make it interesting!
For pet photos, if you’re only interested in / comfortable with looking after dogs then you don’t need to have a load of cat photos just to show that you’re experienced – you’ll only attract cat owners who you won’t be interested in sitting for. At one time we included a photo of us with a horse, but right now we’re not looking to take care of horses – it’s definitely worth considering these things and looking objectively at the vibe you’re giving out on your profile.
2. Crafting a punchy title for your profile
Most housesitting websites give you a section to write a short, one sentence title for your profile. 80 characters or so isn’t much, so you need to put across what makes you unique and qualified in as few words as possible. Spend some time brainstorming what you want to say about yourself; writing key words about why you housesit, what makes you a good housesitter, and words that describe you to inject some personality into your title.
Make your title as relevant and accurate as possible. Buzzwords like ‘world traveller’ might not describe you best if you’ll only apply to local sits in your area. Equally if you’re looking to take care of a wide range of pets, putting ‘dog lover’ in your title might limit you. Or this could be your clincher if you consider it to be your USP – the dog whisperer! The best friend for your four-legged friends! Be creative to be memorable and think about what you’d want in a housesitter if you were a homeowner reading your profile, as well as what words would put you off.
3. Getting references
We first began caring for pets by using Borrow My Doggy: a website that connects dog owners with dog lovers! We walked and cared for many dogs for free in our spare time to build up our confidence with dog care, and our experience with different breeds. We then broadened our search for new pets by engaging in local Facebook groups, pet sitting for friends and neighbours, and talking to everyone we met about it – word of mouth is a powerful thing!
Through actively seeking out opportunities to build our pet care skills, being consistent, available and flexible, we forged many great relationships with pet owners. When the time came to ask for references for our Trusted Housesitters profile, we felt comfortable to do so and received a glowing reference to start us off on our adventure. After two years of housesitting through Trusted Housesitters we set up profiles on other sites such as Rover and GuDog, and naturally had a bigger pool of pet owners to ask for references as we’d become firm friends and regular sitters for many homeowners.
4. Information to include about yourself
Trusted Housesitters breaks up your profile information into three easy categories, which we’d recommend sticking to: About, Why we/I want to housesit, and Our/My experience.
This part of building your profile is probably the most time consuming as you need to detail your experience, and give homeowners some personal and interesting info about you to make your profile memorable.
In the ‘About’ section, straight off the bat we write that we’re full-time petsitters with no fixed location. Already this is an intriguing fact, and the majority of owners we housesit for are keen to know more about how our lifestyle works. We also use this section to go through a few of our hobbies; talking about Suze’s online sewing shop, Chris’ love of photography, and our joint passion for cooking from scratch. This is also a good chance to slip in facts like Suze being vegetarian – on occasion we’ll join homeowners for a home cooked meal before they leave for their trip, so it’s nice give them a heads up! We also hope it discourages owners of gun dogs or working farms to invite us to sit for them. We round off the ‘About’ section by mentioning our love of long walks and hikes, which lets homeowners know that we’re comfortable and happy to walk dogs as frequently as required.
The ‘Why we/I want to housesit’ section will be completely unique to you so it’s tricky to come up with a template. It’s a good time to sit down and brainstorm: What does housesitting really mean for you? Is it the world travel possibilities? The chance to care for unusual animals? A way to see more of your country? If you’re only looking for long term housesits to enjoy living like a local wherever you travel, it’s worth making that clear in your profile to avoid receiving invitations for weekend sits. If you’ll be working remotely full time but want to explore the world one cat sit at a time, explain that in this section. We use this section to talk about our desire to leave the 9-5 grind and how doing so, paired with our love of animals, lead us to embark on a full time housesitting adventure with lots of furry friends! Homeowners can tell that we’re fully committed to this lifestyle and they understand our passion for animal care and travel.
The length of the ‘Our/My experience’ section will depend on how much you’ve prepared for full time housesitting, whether actively or over the course of your life. We continually update this section as time goes on, mentioning the number of years we’ve been housesitting, the unique pets we’ve cared for, and the kind of places we’ve visited. At the end we include our Instagram handle @ChrisAndSuzeGoWalkies for homeowners to see more! If you have a ‘travelgram’ that you update consistently, it’s always good to include it as a way for homeowners to see more.
5. Updating your availability
Most housesitting websites will do this automatically when you book a housesit through their site. However, for events you want to block out on your availability calendar (e.g. birthdays, weddings, housesits booked through other sites) you’ll need to input your available / unavailable dates yourself.
The layout of the Trusted Housesitters availability calendar is frustrating as you have to manually input all your available dates, instead of inputting the days you need to block out. We end up choosing enormous date ranges, i.e. from now until the end of 2021, just to show we’re available apart from our confirmed sits. Thankfully on other sites it’s the other way round which is much easier to manage.
Sites like Rover will tell you how long it’s been since you last confirmed your availability as a reminder to check it frequently. They also reward you for doing so by featuring users with recently updated calendars higher in search, with a sticker to let owners know the calendar is up to date.
However it works on the website you’re using, keeping your calendar up to date will show that you’re organised and ensure you confirm more sits in the long run. To help you stay on top of your plans, you can download a template of our housesit planner.
6. Gaining reviews
Unlike references which are external and can be added at any time, you can only gain reviews on a housesitting website by securing and completing a housesit through that site. 90% of the time we receive a review within a week of the sit ending, though on a handful of occasions we have contacted the homeowner to ask for a review once we’ve done the same for them.
We wait around two weeks for owners to leave us a review before we request one, and when we do we’re always polite and friendly. We write something along the lines of:
‘Hi (owner’s name)! We hope you’re settling in well back at home – we miss (pet’s name) already! We’d love it if you could leave us a review, as it’s really helpful when we’re applying for other housesits! Thanks again, Suze and Chris’
As long as you’re polite and thoughtful when speaking to homeowners, they will be more than happy to leave a review for you.
Food for thought:
One of our most frequently asked questions is, “Is it difficult to secure housesits in the beginning?”. While we did receive a couple of rejections in the first couple of months, we also secured the majority of housesits we applied for. If you’re honest, enthusiastic and willing to learn on the job at each housesit you do, you’ll find it easier than you’d think to secure those initial housesits. It also helps if you’ve spent time caring for pets or other people’s homes in the lead up to housesitting, to gain even a tiny bit of experience to help your applications, and give you more amazing things to write about on your profile!
At some stage you may reach a point where your profile is SO polished that you receive multiple invitations to housesit each week. As with any housesit, ultimately it’s up to you to decide whether you want to book it or not – just because a homeowner loves your profile doesn’t mean you’ll love their housesit! We take a homeowner’s invitation into account but it’s mainly about the listing and whether the responsibilities sound good to us. Sometimes we accept invitations happily, and other times we politely decline. In these instances we write a friendly message explaining honestly why we’ve chosen not to book in. Firstly, this helps the homeowner on their search (for example, one homeowner who invited us to sit had no idea about availability calendars and hadn’t checked to see if we were free for the dates. Going forward, she knew to check). Secondly, if you don’t like the look of the sit but tell a homeowner you’d LOVE to book in but you’re just not free for those dates, chances are you’ll get an invite next time and you’ll have to find a new excuse to decline! Just be honest and you’ll save so much time for everyone.
Creating an informative, honest and thoughtful profile is key to giving homeowners a great first impression before they invite you to housesit for them. For more information on how we got started with housesitting, and extra advice and tips, check out more of our Pawsome Guide to Housesitting!