So if you’ve been reading along you know that we save A LOT of money on accommodation while traveling full-time by house sitting with Trusted House Sitters.
For those of you who don’t know what Trusted House Sitters is, It’s an AMAZING website for people who love travel and animals. Where you can house sit in exchange for FREE accommodations all over the world.
How it works.
How exactly does it work? Well you create an account and pay a small fee. (About $10 per month, here’s a link if you are interested!) From there you create a profile. Think of it as a job profile but with a bit of soul.
You add things like photos, experience, where you’re interested in house sitting and a bit about yourself. Then you search based on region or using their handy dandy map. Each home/ pet owner has their own profile similar to yours but detailing their home and their pet’s information as well as information about the area. They will even sometimes offer to lend a car or they’ll indicate if you need one at all. We have been in Europe since July 2019 and about 50% of the sits we’ve been to didn’t require a vehicle which has been super nice.
1. Add a profile picture that clearly shows your face(es).
I know it seems obvious but I’ve perused a lot of profiles and many are blurry selfies in cars with dark lighting and or are too close up, some are too far or the pictures are pixilated. Some look like mug shots, other’s are more like dating profile photos, where the individual has a “Come Hither” look on their faces (awkward, we’re not trying to seduce people… or maybe you are, I don’t know your life). There is a time and place for these types of photos.
But if you want to be approved for a house sit you want a profile picture that is compelling and clearly shows the faces of all parties who will be house sitting. If you are a family traveling just showing the photos of the adults will be sufficient. Selfies are OK just make sure they are GOOD selfies. Be sure that it accurately represents how you actually look and that your photo even when small is clear. Here’s an example using our profile photo. Notice how you can see both of our faces without obstruction, we’re both smiling and looking approachable and the background is interesting but not distracting.
2. Fill EVERYTHING OUT.
We’ve all been there, we’ve all filled out a million profiles. And often time we only fill out the parts of the profile that are relevant to you. Sometimes there are parts of the profile that we feel are repetitive and we don’t want to fill out. Or maybe it’s awkward to talk about ourselves in a positive light so we don’t say much in the sections where we discuss our stories or we skip it saying – “I’ll come back later and do this.” And then we never return. Don’t do that with THS. USE THE WHOLE PROFILE. The more filled out your profile is the more likely you are to be booked for a sit. If you can’t be bothered to fill out a simple online profile how can a homeowner trust you to follow their instructions for their pets schedule?
3. Create a compelling Bio/ About Section.
Remember, you’re asking strangers to trust you with their pets and homes. It would be unfair to not offer a bit of yourself in your bio so they know you’re a real human who will care about their pets the way they would. In a concise but compelling manner tell them your story. Tell them about your life as a pet/ animal lover. Why you’re traveling. And most importantly give them a reason to trust you! I feel it’s super important to discuss current or past pets. Let the pet owner know that you have been in their shoes, that you understand how important their pets are to them. Here is an example “about section” using our own story.
My name is Sorcha and in January of 2019, my husband and I sold everything to travel the world full time. We were proud parents to a beautiful blue merle smooth-coated collie named Zumie for 12 years when she passed away on New Year’s day 2019.
We immediately open with our travel information and information about our late dog Zumie. This lets the pet owner know we understand what it is like to be a pet parent and conveys an experience almost all pet parents have dealt with – the loss of a pet. This helps create a bond with the pet parent. They are immediately more interested in the rest of our story because they have experienced similar heartbreak.
We were heartbroken (to say the least) and in the process of selling our home in Portland Or. USA with plans to purchase a new one. A week after losing Zumie, the house we were planning to purchase fell through. (January was a rough month). We thought a lot about what to do, and ultimately decided it was time for a new start.
While this portion may seem like a belaboring of the initial point of losing our dog it’s very strategically included. As you will be going to different countries, and as many of you reading this are likely looking at THS as a modem to cut down on long term travel costs we recommend telling people “How/ why” you started full-time travel/ why you’re traveling so much. Most THS-ers are either retired couples or regular folks with 9-5 jobs. Letting them know that you were/ are a homeowner, or basically that you intend to go to many places and that they get to be a part of helping you reach your travel goals gives them a more positive view of you as a potential sitter. People like helping other people where they can. And THS members are very supportive of each other’s goals in our experience.
We also explain why we are traveling because we want them to know that there was a rhyme and reason as to why we live this alternative lifestyle. If you are using THS to take a vacation tell them why you love to travel and that you are using THS to help you travel more often, or more affordably. Also- note the “January was a rough month” It is intended to be humorous and add levity to what was clearly a rocky start to our journey. We believe telling people the “ugly” parts with some humor makes us more relatable. If I just told a story about how our dog died and how we became basically homeless (it was intentional but put yourself in someone else’s shoes as a reader) it would leave the reader feeling sorry for us, whereas adding the humorous tone leaves them feeling like we are resilient. A valuable trait in a house sitter.
Matthew is a software engineer and I am a photographer and blogger, so our work could go anywhere with us. After Zumie was gone we didn’t have anything really holding us back. So we packed ourselves and what few belongings we couldn’t sell and moved to the San Francisco Bay area. We operate out of San Francisco as our home base and travel for extended periods of time. We recently learned about Trusted Housesitters and thought it would be a perfect way to get our animal fix in, see other places and experience other cultures.
Finally, we tell them where we are from and why we are using the site as well as what we do for work. We find that we get more house sits because we work while we travel. This isn’t to say you won’t get house sits if you’re just traveling for holidays but if you’re here because you want to be a digital nomad you should know your work life status will be an asset to you as a house sitter. Hosts like to know that we spend part of our time actually watching the house and pets, knowing we will be working while there re-assures them that we will spend time with their pets and their house like they would if they were home. It also helps them to know we have flexible schedules. Something we re-iterate when we apply for the house sits individually.
I will also note that our about section doesn’t detail our current travel plans of traveling through Europe and Asia for at least through July 2020. This is intentional. We don’t want to have to alter our about section frequently. So I wrote it in such a way that we can change our long term travel goals and plans and not have to change our about section.
4. Tell Them Why You are the BEST Fit For Their Sit!
Trusted House Sitters has an “Experience” And a “Why We Want To House Sit” Section. Here’s the thing… in my opinion (and that of many of the people we have house sat for) it is too many sections and most homeowners don’t read them all. I’ve asked several. They all said they liked our profile because it was concise and they didn’t have to read a dictionary to understand we were capable. While other sitters may have had even more experience they liked that we could articulate ourselves well in a short period of time. They just wanted to know we were safe to have in their homes and with their pets and that we were capable of caring for them. I also try to write all of our profiles in the same voice I would use to talk to a friend or new acquaintance. People want to work with people they can relate to. Formal is great for essays and research papers, but informal will win you house sits. That said, we combined the two sections into the “Why we want to house sit” section and included our why with our how. Here’s what it looks like.
I (Sorcha) grew up on a farm with just about every animal under the sun, from horses to hens, cattle to sheep, the only thing I didn’t have was a cat (dad was very allergic). I actually studied to be a large animal vet for a time, before changing majors to Music, my other passion. Because of these studies, I am well versed in a wide range of animal first aid and am comfortable giving injections, dewormers, medication, and caring for wounds.
If you had a dog growing up if you had a cat if you lived on a farm or volunteered at an animal shelter… NOW is the time to mention that. If you don’t know any basic animal first aid I recommend looking into taking a class. Even if it’s basic wound dressing and signs of physical distress. Also even if your experience was from years ago, back in high school or early college and you’ve not used those brain muscles in a while still write about it. Animal first aid is a HUGE plus to pet owners. Even if they don’t typically care if their pet sitters have those skills. If they are comparing you to someone who doesn’t have (or maybe doesn’t mention) that they have pet medical experience they will 9/10 times choose you over the other party.
Matthew grew up in a town nearby and he had cats (so between the two of us we have all the animal kingdom pretty well sorted!), and when we got married our pup Zumie was our whole world. We had a tiny urban Farm in Portland OR where we raised hens and grew much of our own produce so we’re very comfortable caring for gardens and larger estates.
It’s important that if you are applying for a pet sit for a type of animal you’ve never cared for that you address your weaknesses and accompany them with strength. In our case, I had LOTS of pets except cats (of which there are many sits on THS, and frankly we love watching cats because they are typically very easy and independent.) So I am sure to mention that my partner who will be sitting with me knows about cats. You could also mention a close friend who had a cat that you cared for, past pet sitting experience with cats, etc.
ALSO, tell people about your gardening experience if you have any. We had an urban farm in Portland so I always talk about that. I am by no means a plant guru but I can keep an orchid alive and sometimes people who love gardening will choose you over people who don’t mention or don’t have plant care experience because they like that you can tend their house plants or garden for them. I will say that most pet owners don’t care as much about the plants. But especially in the UK and France where lots of house sits are available, gardening experience has helped us get many house sits.
Our hope is to travel, meet some lovely people, and care for some lovely pets. I am also willing to take professional photos of your pet as part of my care package that you can print and frame for yourself. Matthew has building/ construction experience. So if you have any odd jobs, a loose handle here, or a few photos you’d like hung up please feel free to leave a to-do list and he can complete those jobs for you while you’re away.
This section I believe is our “Clinch hitter” so to speak. Offer them value on top of just watching their pets. They’ve got loads of people with experience applying for sits. They have tons of options for pet sitters. They’re handing over their home and their pets to you! What else are you going to give them? I take pictures of all the pets we watch and send updates to their parents every other day or so (or more if requested). It takes me 10 minutes to pop those into photoshop and make them look extra special and their owners love quality pictures of their fur babies. I also add some of the photos to our profile (they have a place for pictures, I’ll get to that in a minute) so they can see I am actually a photographer. Additionally the handyman work while homeowners rarely ask us to do things gives further peace of mind that if something goes wrong, we can manage it. We have had things go wrong and Matt’s skills have come in super handy. So it’s both a win for us and the hosts.
If we sound like a good fit for your furry, fluffy and or feathery family please don’t hesitate to reach out.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Always good to end with strong communication skills. Let people know you’re accessible anytime. I also try to ALWAYS respond within 24 hours of getting a message, whenever possible right away. This lets them know they will receive great communication from me while they are away if there is an emergency and or they need to get a hold of me.
5. Add photos to back up what you claimed in your about/ why section!
Pics or it didn’t happen! Humans are visual creatures. That’s why Instagram is a thing. I try to post pictures of the pets we watch and our travels to prove we mean what we say. I also have some older photos of our late pup to show she was real too. If you have pics of you with past pets, or pets you’ve watched that’s ALWAYS a great way to go! The more animals in your photos the better! They don’t have to be photographer quality, but make sure you can see everyone clearly and that they’re not super old and pixilated.
Finally, you want to make sure you have your account verified and that you list your availability clearly.
After that, it is allllll about sending that first sit request message! (Which I will be writing about soon!)
So what do you say? Do you think being a house sitter could help you travel? Does the idea of spending time with furry friends in foreign lands appeal to you?! If so you should totally sign up for Trusted House Sitters. It’s a really low-cost commitment and you can cancel at any time. If you click here you’ll be redirected to their page. And if you have any questions you can feel free to reach out to us by signing up for our email list and connecting through our contact page!! The email list will provide you with access to loads of great digital nomad content, and sometimes exciting freebies!