Saturday, April 17, 2010

Can a pet sitter make a living?

A doggie daycare owner complained on one of the discussion lists this week that he only has two clients so far and he has been open an entire month. People on a pet sitting discussion group got into a conversation the other day about what other jobs they have to help make ends meet.

Does this mean you can’t make a living as a pet sitter? Or as a dog daycare owner? Of course not. But the hard truth is you aren’t going to have a long list of clients the day you start. It took me three or four years before I felt like I had enough clients to keep me busy. And I still panic sometimes when I have a slow week.

As the years go by, I realize that the peaks and valleys are predictable, and I take advantage of the slow times to build my business or take a much-needed break. Starting your business in January or February is setting yourself up for a slow start, because it is a slow time of year for pet sitting. At the same time, you’d like to have a few months of experience once the summer rush starts. 

Side jobs
So what do pet sitters do while they are waiting to make a living? My first career was as a graphic designer and now, in addition to pet sitting, I am a pet portrait artist, writer and web site designer. I started boarding dogs in my home and that has gradually gotten bigger than the pet sitting part of my business, and provides the bulk of my income now. Any one of these various jobs is not enough to pay the bills.

Pet sitters wrote about how they sell Avon, candles, groceries and other products on the side to supplement their income. Several pet sitters work as Mystery Shoppers, where they go to stores and report back to the company about the service they received. Maritz Research and Consumer Impressions are two companies that provide this service. One fellow pet sitter works as a bartender part time, and another cleans houses.

A number of pet sitters have other pet-related businesses, like making and selling gift products for cat lovers, dog trainer, selling homemade food and treats, pet taxi service, grooming or poop scooping (yes there really are businesses that do only that!).

Don’t give up on your career as a pet sitter. Do what you have to do to pay the bills, and patiently build your business. If you want to make a full-time salary, you have to work at it full-time. If you are not actually doing visits, work on marketing, networking, and building customer relations.  

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved. The paintings above are examples of my pet portraits. Contact me for more information on a portrait of your pet!

1 comment:

Lucy Welle said...

The first thing you will need to do is establish TRUST! People do not want someone they do not know and trust in their homes and around there pets. Get some testimonials from your friends, neighbors, vets, anyone who knows your ability to care for pets and your moral and values. Use a computer and design a flyer with testimonials and what you offer.
There is a brand new web site out there which can help you establish trust and "get your business rolling". I bet if you go online and look at it- they may be able to help you also- just look at the phone number and give them a call. Go to: Good Luck and hang in there- start-ups in this economy are a challenge!