As some of you might know one of my goals for 2018 was to try my hand at making extra income from home. I will give practical and honest ways on how anyone could make extra money on the side. This extra income project was inspired by 2 of my friends that needed a crash test dummy (me) to take the test drive. You can reference back to the “extra income” tab of this blog for more ways I experiment with earning extra income.
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Despite all the troubles facing millennials today, an incredible tool that we currently possess is having instant access to the ever-growing gig economy within reach on our smartphones. Did you know that my backup plan, if Airbnb didn’t pend out, was to own and run a doggy daycare on the upper floor of our property?
Not a bad backup plan!
Pet sitting on Rover.com is a great way to earn extra income from the ease and comfort of home. In this article, I addressed some Rover tips I wish someone had told me when I signed up.
I’ve been a Rover sitter for almost a year. We have been on both spectrums of Rover’s services as pet sitters and pet owners. Our experience with Rover and Rover sitters have been predominately positive and much more personable compared to the overcrowded local dog boardings in our city. To book a stay with Rover use my referral link for $20 off your first Rover booking.
1) Take Advantage of the Holiday Rush
I always receive a spike of inquiries nearing any popular holidays. Rover lets you set a specific pricing for holidays and weekends. If you are available to pet sit during Christmas, it can be very lucrative. In our neck of the woods, it’s fair game to command 30% higher rates per night over national holidays. The demand is definitely higher if you want to make more money, remember to adjust the pricing accordingly. A dog sitter has the upper hand during the holiday rush.
2) Keep Your Rover Calendar Up to Date
Clients with a set date will be able to find you if your calendar is up to date. Rover will send you a quick request for popular holidays ahead in an effort to ensure enough sitters are available for the rush. Rover Support will also contact you last-minute if another sitter failed to procure and their Rover client needed a backup sitter.
3) Don’t Push Your Comfort Zone
Rover is something I do mainly for fun but I still think everyone should put comfort first before profit. I know I wouldn’t be effective against a 100 lbs Great Dane being about 100 lbs myself. A Great Dane is therefore out of my comfort zone. I pre-set my preference for my desired size/breed, limit hours and services to increase filtering and match. This saves both parties time in and decreases the chances of an ill-matched Meet & Greet.
In addition to that, handling Airbnbs (meaning always having incoming strangers) can be more difficult with multiple dogs present. Because of Airbnb, I do not offer overnight stays for non-repeat clients.
4) Prioritize Repeat Customers
A loyal customer is the goldmine of pet sitting. Every serious pet sitter should keep repeatability and reliability in mind when taking interest in a client. If you have a repeat customer base, you are minimizing a lot of hassle. You can bypass the Meet & Greet and bypass the new clients/dogs jitters.
Charlie’s parents drop him off M-F during regular school hours. Grace and I get a new little buddy to play with and a fatter PayPal balance consistently. That is why a doggy daycare makes the most sense to me. This is where you are most likely going to build a roster of repeating career focused clientele that usually brings in less risk and a more consistent stream of income.
5) Price Wisely
Note that I didn’t say price your rates cheaply! The Rover marketplace as a pet sitter is too wide for generalizations. A sitter who can take on multiple 70lb Siberian Huskies should command a higher rate than a sitter like myself who only take youthful dogs that weigh under 30 lbs.
Price fairly based on your area, experience, and amenities (backyard, pick up/drop off, etc.)
If your rates are too low, it could hurt your chances for an inquiry. I know this because when Jared and I were looking for a dog sitter the price was NOT one of our biggest concerns. I was looking for a responsible, experienced, sitter to take care of my furry angel pie.
We love our doggies. Even if the nightly rate for a much more qualified sitter was $5-$10 higher per night, I would feel more at ease going with a “premium” sitter than a “discount” sitter.
Related: 5 Frugal Dog Things We Don’t Do
So up your pet sitter game with more experience and build a client base that loves you.
6) Skip ‘Rover Go’
Rover Go is a premium program by Rover.com that I do not recommend as of January 2018. Supposedly Rover has more ideas in store to sweeten the Rover Go pot but I don’t think it’s worth it yet. It boasts benefits that are sound great but I don’t find it necessary to become a successful pet sitter in the long run.
Rover Go Benefits –
An expertly written profile.
A session with a professional photographer—a $150 dollar value.
A boost in search while you’re new—so your profile is more visible to potential clients.
A RoverGO banner and badge on your profile, proving your dedication to your dog-sitting business and indicating you’ve been met in person by a Rover representative.
A background check.
The RoverGO welcome package—a $65 dollar value.
Out of curiosity, I signed up with Rover Go and for the extra 5% fee that Rover collect for me, it’s not worth it at all. Especially if you do want to make a career out of pet sitting and want to do it for the long term. That small percentage increase in program fees for using Rover Go will put a dent in your earnings over time.
7) Best Photos Forward
This seems like obvious advice but there are still lots of profiles in Rover-land using a potato phone from 45 A.D. High-resolution photos and a professional profile photo of your face is important.
8) Write a Good Profile
Fill out your profile with good information and syntax. My Rover introductory profile currently has 480 words in total, separated into 6 paragraphs. The final draft of my Rover profile was written by an actual staff at Rover.com so I’m confident that the length is good.
I applied the same principles on my Rover profile as I did on my Airbnb listing which is to present accurate observations and address possible concerns that any guest or client should know.
Rover allows one bold black headline underneath your name with the desired catchphrase. Pet sitters use that to accent any skill they may have such as “Experienced Vet Tech” or “15 years of Fostering Animals.” The headline can also be something cute like “Thin or Tall, I Love Them All! 🐶”
9) Slow to Start is Normal
For new sitters who do not have any clientele (like I did) a slow start is imminent. The Rover ecosystem is still getting used to you, your profile should be fine-tuned. Usually, new sitters give introductory rates to keep themselves from being buried in searches. Once a Rover sitter has 3 or more reviews, they will begin to show star ratings on their profile. That is a good sign that your anchors as a pet sitter have been sewn.
The successful sitters have repeat clientele. Think about it, if a new dog required a time-consuming Meet & Greet and they’re likely just a one time customer, is it really worth it? A repeat clientele is a goldmine and my FAVORITE feature of being a dog sitter.
10) Profile Badges Facilitate Trust
Rover has a cohort of shiny badges that distinguishes sitter’s knowledge, experience and trustworthiness. The more badges a sitter has, the more in demand the sitter tends to be.
11) Meet & Greets Are An Investment
Meet & Greets serves a very important purpose: it gives a chance for the sitter to meet the client and gives pets a chance to socialize as well. The Meet & Greet should take place at a neutral location.
Personally, I hated doing Meet & Greets because it takes extra coordination, socialization and the nerve-wracking “oh, what if they don’t like me.”
Perhaps I’m super awkward but my success rate for a confirmed bookings after a Meet & Greet is only around 30 to 50%. That’s why I stress the importance of preserving your recurring clientele.
12) No Guarantee of Booking
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: even after a perfect Meet & Greet, there is no guarantee you got the job. I’ve had several Meet & Greet as both owners and pet sitters have I decided it was not a good match.
I’ve had instances where the Meet & Greet went great but the deal didn’t go through. Do not pressure your client to book. Let them make the first move after the Meet & Greet.
13) Gather Endorsements and Reviews
I take sitter endorsements seriously when we looked to board Grace overnight for a few nights. I’m not expecting 100+ glowing reviews but anything above 3+ great reviews will dampen the overprotective paranoia that comes with being a dog mom. When you sign up for Rover, you will not have reviews yet. Rover.com steps in and lets you request endorsements (via e-mail, Facebook, etc.) Those first 3 reviews are important to lure more clients in.
14) Communication is Key
There is no such thing as an “annoying sitter who spams me with too many photos of my dog.” We love our dogs. We love our dogs so much it’s downright impossible to get tired of updates and photos.
For my client, if it’s their first time, I make sure to send them several photos throughout the day. For repeat clients, I will send the very minimum one photo a day. I ask the owners for approval of treats before giving any. It’s a very small but respectful gesture that could save a lot of mess if for whatever reason the owner objected to chicken meal by-products or beet powder after the dog has consumed it.
15) Track For Taxes
Like any gig, Rover sitters are independent contractors (1099s). That means at the end of the tax year, the independent contractor is on the hook and fully responsible for paying all taxes owed from a year’s earnings. That means federal, state, local and FICA can take a huge hit if you don’t have any tax-friendly retirement accounts. All independent contractors should open a Traditional IRA or SEP IRA, or SIMPLE or Solo 401k to minimize their pre-tax income.
Rover is a stellar way to bring in more income. With a little experience, a lot of care and good communication skills, there is full-time earning potential. The sweetest candy in the store is being able to build a strong clientele and industry reputation. Rover is a springboard for young sitters. The flexibility is unmatched for independent contractors that are confined to the home or have non-traditional schedules. Not to mention, you get paid to touch soft animals!
🐾 Have you hired a pet sitter or been a Rover freelancer? What was your experience with Rover? What about DogVacay?