I've earned over $1,200 dog sitting in the past 4 months. $1,200 to cuddle pups. It's a pretty good gig.
Through Rover.com I have hosted dogs at my home while their owners are out of town. It can be a little intimidating to start at first, though, so I decided to write a guide for those who are thinking about it. Not only do I love dogs, but since I am self-employed I have a very flexible schedule which really helps me gain clients.
So here is your step-by-step guide to dog sitting on Rover!
1.) Go to Rover.com to create your profile.
2.) After filling out your basic info, hit 'Continue'. Rover will then ask what services you'd like to offer. Feel free to toggle on as many services as you'd like. Personally, I only offer dog boarding in my home and drop in visits. Though I've only had 1 request for a drop in visit, and 12+ dog boarding requests.
3.) On the next screen, you will be asked what rate you'd like to charge. A few things go into this: are you watching more than one dog at the same time? How experienced are you? What are other sitters in your area charging? You can charge a higher rate if you only take one dog at a time. If you have experience administering medication, that can call for a slightly higher rate as well. For example, I charge $35/night for boarding... it used to be $33/night, but I decided to experiment to see my optimal rate. I've been consistently getting bookings at $35/night, so I decided to leave it at that for now. Start low, then as you get a few bookings and reviews under your belt, increase slowly from there. Just keep in mind that Rover takes 20% as their commission.
4.) You will then be asked about your service options and dog preferences. Keep an open mind!
5.) Next is your Sitter Profile. You will be asked to fill in details about your home and upload photos. Make sure your photos are clear, show your house and include a few photos of you smiling. It makes a difference! The background check will cost $10 but it will add a badge to your profile, which helps with your credibility. More on that later.
6.) Your profile should then be complete. Make sure you share on your social media accounts that you now offer dog sitting/boarding services! I've gotten a few requests from Facebook alone.
7.) Get your first booking! It may take a few weeks, but once you get a booking request, the best thing to do is schedule a meet and greet with the dog. Usually the owner will want this to be in your home so they have an idea of where their dog will be staying. Make sure it is clean, leave out a bowl of water for the pup, and be friendly. Most meet and greets only take 10 minutes or so.
8.) Boarding time! Take care of the dog for the length of the reservation. Make sure to adhere to the owner's rules (usually they will write you instructions). They will provide food, toys, etc. I always err on the side of caution... i.e. if they don't specifically tell me if the dog can have table scraps, I don't give them to him. Your goal here should be to make sure the dog is happy and healthy. Give them attention/play time and a walk every day (if the owner requests).
Also make sure to provide the owner with updates on how their pet is doing! Photos go a long way.
Depending on the owner's instructions, the dog may prefer to sleep in your bedroom or in another room like the living room.
9.) Pick up. After your scheduled boarding stay, the owner will pick up their pet. I usually text them a few days before to confirm the pick up time.
10.) 2 days later: get paid! If you have your Paypal account set up, Rover will then send you the money 2 days after your reservation.
Dog sitting is a great side gig, especially for those with flexible schedules. I even know some sitters who do this full time!
If you prefer to host more than one dog per night, that's great! More money for you. However since I do not do so for liability reasons, I can't speak to what that experience is like.
Anytime along the way, if you have questions about what to do, ask away! I am here as a resource for you :)
As a business owner, it's easy to feel compelled to "do all the things," both personally and professionally. While that may work in the short term, it will eventually lead to feeling overworked, overstressed, and even potentially under-serving your clients. We've all heard "quality over quantity" and that's never been more important than now.
The quality of your work is your brand. You are jeopardizing it by wasting your time on clients that drag you around or don't value what you bring to the table.
Here are 5 lead-ins to saying 'no' when you feel it's necessary. Feel free to customize to each situation based on the dynamics of that particular relationship!
"I'm sorry, I'd love to _________ but I'm swamped right now. I will let you know when I can!"
(This response puts you back in control and the ball back in your court. Emphasize that YOU will reach out when you're ready. I usually use this one to politely decline coffee/lunch invitations.)
"I appreciate you contacting me, but I'm currently not looking for ________."
(Working in sales is tough, and sales calls are even tougher. Most people would probably just hang up, but I usually don't do that unless I've said 'no' multiple times and they're still not getting the message. Often a polite response saying you're not interested is clear without being too aggressive.)
"I don't handle _______ but I'm happy to refer you to someone who does."
(Sometimes a 'no' should be treated more as a 'not me.' I have some people contact me who would be better served by someone else (for instance, a rental lead in my real estate business). What I do is introduce them to a contact of mine who does work with rental leads. It then becomes a win-win: the potential client is taken care of, and I just helped my contact land more business. That's what I call a win-win!)
"I'd love to be involved but have a ton going on right now, can you add me to your newsletter list so I can still stay up-to-date on your activities?"
(Being proactive in my community is important to me, but there's only so much bandwidth for that. This message shows you are still interested and care, but for the short term can't help - it's more of a "not now" than a flat out no. Plus, it can be an easy let down if you're not sure you want to continue but need some time to decide... you can always unsubscribe from the newsletter if you decide not to pursue it.)
(Yes, even no response is a form of response, so don't feel guilty, especially if they are asking you for something you're unwilling to give. I've had strangers wanting me to connect them to someone in my circle or even creeps try to hit me up over LinkedIn... sometime the best response is none at all.)
We've got a celebrity in our midst, folks! Michelle has been kicking ass and taking names with her personal finance site Making Sense of Cents. She originally started writing as she was paying off $38,000 in student loans. However today she has far surpassed anyone's expectations -- if you look at her latest January income report, she earned $139,233 from her blog alone. Yes, in ONE month. Talk about earning like a girl!
Imagine my delight when she agreed to be interviewed (by such small potatoes like me). It truly shows what a generous person she is. Welcome Michelle!
Let's get started...
1. What was the driving force behind Making Sense of Cents?
I never thought I'd grow up and be a full time blogger, haha. I graduated from college in 2010, and again in 2012 with a Masters with an emphasis in Finance. I started out as a financial analyst, and worked in that position for 3 years.
Almost 6 years ago, my driving force for starting Making Sense of Cents is a little different from the average blogger. I started my blog with the hopes of teaching people how to save money after reading a magazine that featured a personal finance website in one of their articles. Due to that website, I became extremely interested in personal finance blogs, and my interest in blogging just grew from there. Before August of 2011, I didn't even know that blogs existed. I didn't know what they were, and I didn't know that they could make money or anything like that.
I did not create my blog with the intention of making money blogging. It was really all just a hobby. But, I came to really love blogging (and I still do!) and eventually left my financial analyst job so that I could blog full time.
This was the best decision I've probably ever made!
On Making Sense of Cents, I talk a lot about different ways to make extra income, money saving tips, living your dream life, RVing (me and my husband RV full time), and more. I love running Making Sense of Cents and I am very happy now that this is my full-time career, my business, and pretty much my life.
2. What are some challenges you had to face along the way, and how did you overcome them?
I believe my biggest challenge has been to manage a good work-life balance.
One of my top goals for 2017 is to finally manage the best work-life balance ever. I would like to be able to take a month off from my blog without thinking about it the whole time and go on a nice backpacking trip. I hardly ever go more than an hour without working (unless I'm sleeping, of course). I really love my blog and all of the work that goes into it, so it makes it hard for me to take a break, even for a small amount of time. This is still something that I'm working on, but I have definitely gotten better with it. Lately, I've been working ahead as much as I can, and I am currently 2 months ahead in content. This has helped me to feel not as stressed to write content and it makes everything much more enjoyable.
3. Let's say you wake up tomorrow morning, it's cold and dreary outside, and you just don't feel like working. What do you do to motivate yourself?
Cold and dreary days are actually my best days for working! I feel like that's great motivation to work on those days, because I can't go outside or really do much anyway. On days when I can't motivate myself to work, I usually just stop and don't force it. I find that when I try to force myself to write, that I just sit there for hours and hours and nothing productive will happen. So instead of wasting my time, I try to do something else. Thankfully I am my own boss so I don't really have any tight deadlines -- and I only work on things that I truly want to work on.
4. Have you ever faced criticism for what you do? How do you respond to it?
I don't know if it's criticism exactly, but it's more like a lot of people don't really understand what I do. And that's perfectly fine because blogging isn't exactly a well-known career or business choice, and the same goes for businesses that can be run online anyway. I don't try to engage with negativity - I just explain what I do and move on.
5. What is something that you don't see many female entrepreneurs and/or bloggers doing, but you think they should?
My best piece of advice that I'd give bloggers or entrepreneurs is to network as much as you can. One big blogging mistake that I've noticed many other bloggers make is not making the effort to network and/or they just can't see the point in it. Networking is so important as a blogger and/or entrepreneur. You should see others in the blogging world as your colleagues and friends, not your enemies or competition.
6. If you made half of what you make now blogging, would you still do it?
Yes, for sure! It would still be a great amount of income and definitely worth it. Blogging is a lot of fun and I love the doors that it has opened for me.
Let me tell you... Michelle is on top of it! For reference, it took me a week for me to get these questions over to her, and she responded within 5 hours....
Thank you Michelle!
If you're anything like me, the Superbowl has come to mean funny ads, fattening foods, and alternating between sitting on your bum and screaming at the television for 4 hours. Yet, it always amazes me how a well-crafted 30 second commercial spot can bring out ALL. THE. FEELS.
The commercial made by Audi that aired last night did just that. So many car commercials show the product racing around tight curves with mountains looming in the background or bobbing up and down over rough terrain. Now, I'm a car girl so I can appreciate certain features that the car may offer, but really these commercials aren't saying anything meaningful. They focus on WHAT rather than WHY. It's incredible how a small shift in perspective can make a significant impact. If you want to learn more about the WHY vs. WHAT mindset, author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek has written a great book on it called "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action."
I'm sure I'm not the only one who could identify with the little girl in the go-kart racing around. I never played with dolls, preferring my model horses instead. I didn't take ballet lessons, much to my mother's chagrin. Many may argue I "missed out on the college experience" (what, getting black out drunk and barfing all over myself? No, thank you) because when I wasn't studying, I was racing to my internships and part-time jobs, or scouting out textbooks to flip at the university lost and found sales.
In releasing this commercial, Audi is commenting on one aspect of gender equality, but in my opinion the struggle is more all encompassing, more entrenched, and more latent. The struggle is blatant when picking up my Model S at the Tesla store and having the assistant speak directly to my boyfriend while barely making eye contact with me. It is attending a networking event with prominent angel investors and having one older gentleman grab my hand and ask me why I don't have a ring on. I could go on and on...
Props to Audi for taking a stand. I'm normally a pretty shy and quiet girl, but after experiencing all that I have as a young woman in business, I am outraged. Not just for myself, but for my sisters, and daughters. America, you need to do better.
This month will be the first that I am able to cover my living expenses with side income only. That is a HUGE relief, because while my main job as a real estate agent is going well right now, the real estate market in general is cyclical and there's always the chance that income source can dry up.
This $2,906.37 is made up of $950.00 in freelance writing income, $367.35 in dog sitting income, $1,448.52 in rental income from a rental property and renting out a room in my primary residence, $22.50 in investment dividends, and $118 from random credits and/or gift cards.
My largest expenses this month were housing ($935.06), groceries ($284.82), car insurance ($152.53 every other month), date nights with the boyfriend ($155.64) and eating out ($123.42).
The key to achieving this, of course, is keeping your expenses super low (though as you can tell I spend a lot on food, whoops). You may notice there are some categories missing in my expenses, such as health insurance which is $338. Since I enrolled in health care at the end of 2016, the premium was due then, so I've already pre-paid for January. Even if I didn't though, I'd still be able to cover it easily this month as you can tell by my numbers.
I wrote for two clients this month. For one, I write one post each week for $100/article. I also wrote for another blogger for $75/article - I didn't mind charging her a little less since she needed shorter articles. My goal for next month is to gain one more writing client. Eventually I'd like to be able to make $2,000 per month from my writing - that's 20 articles at $100/article, so 5 per week which I think is totally doable. It really helps that I can write anytime and from pretty much anywhere. For example, I'm writing this post from my kitchen bartop while my boyfriend and his friend cook dinner :)
So far this month I've hosted 2 dogs. I dog sit through Rover.com (affiliate link - thank you!) I charge $35/night to host a dog at my home. That is a little high compared to other sitters, but because I only prefer to watch one dog at a time for liability reasons, owners with dogs that are not good with other pets tend to flock to me and are happy to pay the $35/night. I get enough requests that I don't feel like I need to lower my prices.
Rental income is from one rental property (~$800) and renting out a room at my house ($650 all inclusive). The rental property rents for $1,800 and after expenses (mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, property management fee) I net about $800 if there have been no needed repairs that month.
So there you have it. How one girl can cover expenses with just side income. The icing on the cake is that I also have two real estate closings this month for clients. I just wanted to show that with some hustle, it can be done. I have some large upcoming expenses that I will need to use that real estate commission income for, but otherwise I'd be able to bank that money. Not too shabby ;)