The best side hustles combine income potential, something you love or are very good at, and a fair amount of flexibility. For many people, including yours truly, that made pet sitting with the Rover app a near perfect fit.
Like Uber, TaskRabbit and Instacart, Rover connects independent contractors with folks who require their particular services, in this case, vetted pet sitters with needy pet owners. First on the scene in 2011, Rover screens their sitters and charges a nominal fee from every service rendered.
In exchange 20% of the booked amount – half what the next leading dog walking app charges – Rover gives their self-employed contractors a platform for their business, as well as providing insurance and assurance for pet owners. As entrepreneurial ventures go, the startup costs make this a big winner.
Matching Rover to Your Schedule
Flexibility is key to a great side hustle. As a Rover sitter you’ll have complete control over what pet jobs you book and when. Customizable options within the Rover app allow you endless ways to adapt pet sitting to your existing lifestyle.
You choose what services to provide and advertise, in any combination – walking dogs, home drop-ins, boarding pets and even house sit at clients’ homes – and adjust rates you will charge easily.
Once a client requests a service, you coordinate dates and details on the app and get their location once booked. You are free to deny requests, although doing so affects your sitter score.
Set preferences like the size of dogs you’d like to work with, if you accept cat care requests, what times you are available, and how far you are willing to travel from your home. You can even set future dates as unavailable or pause all services indefinitely. You can also opt out of requests for puppy care, which generally require more attention.
If you have a 9-5 job you might consider opting to walk dogs on weekends. If you work from home and have the freedom to attend to a dog of moderate needs, boarding dogs might be right for you. Consider bringing your computer and working remotely from a client’s home.
Around the holidays, request rates go up, and Rover allows you to set a special Holiday Rate. If you have no plans for Spring Break, house sitting is usually in high demand. House-sitting often feels like passive income because the responsibilities are often minor.
I became a Rover sitter in late 2021 and found the process to be easy and straightforward. Click Become a Sitter on the Rover homepage and the site will prompt you to create an account, add your personal information and experience with animals, and customize your preferences for potential jobs and select which services you’re looking to offer.
After profile completion you’ll consent to a background check which takes about 5-10 days. Use this time to tune up your profile for future clients.
Consider your photos as a first impression for potential clients. Select professional photos that convey a trustworthy and friendly nature. Your profile photo should be a clear representation of your face. Other photos should focus on your experience and relationship with animals, with regard to what services you might offer.
If you want to showcase your willingness to work with both dogs and cats, then be sure to include selfies with both species. If you want to walk dogs then be sure to include a photo of you doing so. Mine your camera roll for your best pet-selfies.
If you plan to offer at-home boarding, provide photos of your secure yard and living area. Pet owners want to visualize their pets’ boarding experience with you, so photos of a disheveled yard or cluttered living room can be a red flag.
If you need to get some recent photos taken or borrow a cat, ask your friends. Don’t be ashamed to do some house-cleaning just for a photo-op. Consider the quality of these photos as an investment in your future side-business.
Your “about me” gives you depth and color. I began mine by summarizing my long history with pets and the special relationship I have with my puppy. Here is my first paragraph as an example:
“Since I was born I’ve had dogs and cats in my household. My life functions upon my relationship with animals. I am currently the owner of a very well trained and smart puppy, and I pride myself on being a great dog dad to her! I have researched and taken courses on dog training to become the best owner possible. I hope to share my love, attention, and knowledge with your pets!”
This is your chance to brag about your own pets. Talk about the lengths you’ve gone to train them, the relevant books you have read, and how they have changed your life forever. Skip the story about accidentally let your grandma’s Lhasa Apso loose in the 5th grade. Instead share a personal account of how your dog gets you to exercise more, or how your cat provides an endless source of cuddles.
It can be difficult to land a pet-job without references, so Rover requires that you request testimonials from at least three friends. The app allows you to send them a request via email, so be sure to mention it to them before plugging in their information.
These do not have to be people that actually hired you to care for their pet. Choose people that can speak to your integrity and your love for animals. Maybe you have college roommates that saw how attentive you were to their cat, or dog-park friends that can speak to how well your pup is trained.
The more solid your credibility, the faster you can expect to see some job requests. And it doesn’t hurt to stack up additional solid testimonials before the background check is complete.
What to Expect
Most people find pet sitting and care through Rover a consistently pleasant experience. Clients are subject to poor review scores just as sitters are, so people are generally friendly and communicative.
Expect most new clients to desire a meet and greet. Whether you are walking their dog or staying at their house for several days, they want to get a sense of how you are with their pet(s) and go over specifics. Ask plenty of questions about caring for their pet, record medication instructions and the contact information of their veterinarian.
Most pet owners love to see photos and videos of their pets having fun. This is how the most successful pet sitters on Rover stand out.
Most of my earnings have come from house sitting requests, while I have also done drop-in’s and some walks. I find my house sitting jobs to be quite contemplative for me. Something about being alone in a new environment helps me look at my life from a different vantage point.
Some clients need more communication and help while away than others. Remember that Rover gives them the option to tip at the end of your visit, so little favors go a long way. It’s standard for me to get the mail and take out the trash while house sitting, but I’ve gone as far as to mail clients forgotten items or do small garden upkeep. Even if these graces don’t land you a huge tip, you’re more likely to gain repeat business or referrals to their friends.
It shouldn’t have to be said, but when house sitting, do not help yourself to the client’s food and amenities without the owners offering first.
If you want to supplement your income on your own terms and love animals, Rover is the app is for you.
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