How We Made $2k Pet Sitting Last Month: Grow Your Clientele

Here again, talking about pet sitting ad nauseum. But I must share, we made over $2k last month taking care of pets! This was after consistently hitting $1k since May 2022. Our dog-sitting venture first started with Rover in 2019 but did not become this successful until I started my own business called RMV Tail & Paws. Today, I wanted to share with you how to grow a clientele for your business so that you, too, could make money doing what you love to do!

But first, if you haven’t yet, make sure to check out my top 5 tools for growing a small business. This is a round-up of my favorites and includes everything from website, social media, email marketing, and accounting.

How to Grow Clientele for Small Businesses

I have one golden rule when it comes to growing your clientele: Be genuinely invested in their best interest. Care about your clients like you do about your friends and family. Trust me, wanting to help others is the best way to earn their trust, and their business. This is first and foremost my mission when it comes to gaining new clients. Money, referrals, and reviews come after taking care of the person’s needs.

Beyond that tid-bit of advice, here is a more step-wise actionable guideline to growing a clientele.

  • Communicate clearly. Have a website with a list of services, products and pricing. In this day and age, transparency is key. Be clear about what you have to offer, and what it costs. Make it easily accessible via a website. I use WordPress for all my website needs.
  • Honesty is the best policy, and I am very honest with my clients. I communicate with them from the get-go what I can offer them and what I can’t. Sometimes, clients have special requests that are outside of what I can provide. Or they ask for more than I can give. I am direct and honest when what they ask for does not align with my values or my business. Most of the time, they are grateful for my honesty, and if they have to look elsewhere, it’s in the best interest of both parties.
  • Use social media. It’s free marketing. I received some of my first clients through social media. I posted on a Facebook group for our neighborhood my services. I also use Tailwind to manage Instagram posts. On top of that, our neighborhood has an online bulletin on which I shared my website.
  • Promote your business in person. Be an open book. I constantly talk to others about the things I am doing. Not as a form of bragging, but as a way of saying, “Hey, how can I help you?” It all goes back to genuinely wanting to take care of others. Trust me, people can FEEL your intentions. I got into the habit of mentioning that I dog sit to my patients, my co-workers, my workout buddies, the farmers I volunteer with, and our friends. When I learn that someone has a dog, I always offer to watch them when they are away. And I carry my business cards while I dog-walk. I have run into multiple people who learn that I am a dog-walker/dog-sitter and book appointments on the spot!
  • Place business cards in other businesses. I have my business cards at a local coffee shop in our neighborhood. I also have them ever ready at the dental office. It’s a great way to grow! Simply ask neighboring businesses if they would promote you.
  • Actively ask for reviews. This is a biggie. After ensuring that my clients have a STELLAR experience, I go out on a limb and ask them for a review. I go so far as to send my clients the link to my review page. Every single one has been more than happy to do it for me, which is also validation that I am doing good work! YAY!
  • Take lots of photos. A picture says a thousand words. At least, for visual people like myself. I take photos of happy pups, pet cuddles, dog walks, and adventures. I post them on both social media and the website. If others can see how happy the pets are, they are more likely to choose my business over a pet spa or a pet hotel, where the pets don’t get individualized care, love, or attention.

If you want to start a pet-sitting business, you can check out this how-to guide I created. It goes through the 5 steps to creating a pet-sitting business.

I Made Over $1K Last Month Taking Care of Pets

Dog sitting is one of my favorite side hustles. There are many positive aspects to dog sitting that make it a great side gig. (I share my favorite pros, as well as cons, in this post below.) The best thing about dog sitting is that I get to hang out with cool canines and make decent additional income for it. Essentially, I get paid to do something I already love to do! In May of 2022, I made over $1k taking care of pets. I foresee the same revenue in June, which is already mostly booked. In this post, I share why I chose dog-sitting as a side-hustle and the pros and cons of dog-sitting. I also included a simple start-up guide at the end of this post which will walk you through how I created a profitable side-hustle from my love of animals with zero capital and zero experience.

Why I Chose Dog Sitting As a Side Hustle

Taking care of people and things has always been my strong suit, and pets are no different! I have always loved animals. In particular, I love how affectionate and loyal dogs are. Plus, I like to get to know their personalities. My parents currently have a 14-year old female yellow Labrador. As the child who always lived close by, the responsibility for taking care of her when my parents went on vacation usually fell on me. She was my inspiration for creating a business out of dog-sitting.

My First Dog Sitting Experience

It was the summer after graduating from dental school when I got my first booking. I had a three month gap between passing the national boards and getting my state license to practice dentistry, and I was hurting for money. I had moved back home for a month and was watching my parent’s dog while they went away for a week long vacation. One of my friends saw on Instagram that I was taking care of a dog and asked about his own. I offered to watch his dog for a week while he was away.

The dog’s name was Bixby. Bixby is an adopted dog who is cautious and defensive around humans. His owner was nervous to leave him alone for the first time, but he did really well with me and my dog. In fact, he was very loyal and loved to sit by my feet. Whenever I moved to a different chair, he would follow. I enjoyed watching him roll his back in the grass, although I always had to stop him from eating it.

I thought to myself, I could get used to walking dogs and watching over them while their families are away, especially dogs with special needs or who have difficulty socializing. There are many dogs who would not do well in a day care facility because of trauma or anxiety. There are also many dog owners who do not want to kennel their dogs for weeks at a time. I could provide love, attention and care, adopting these dogs as my own while their parents were away.

However, I did not start my dog sitting journey then. After a month, Mike and I moved in together, renting a live/work loft. We did not want to bother the landlord for permission to have pets. We did not buy our own place until two and a half years later. My dog sitting business began three years after I watched Bixby. A year into dog sitting, the world shut down. I didn’t take care of dogs for a year-and-a-half.

Flash forward to today. I rebuilt my dog sitting business, RMV Tail & Paws, after moving to a new neighborhood (our second home) six months ago. Last month, I made over $1k taking care of canines within our community. I care for each one as if they were mine and Mikey’s. Plus, I got to meet a lot of great, kind families along the way. It was an awesome way for me to integrate into our new neighborhood!

Side note: I believe in turning hobbies and passions into income-producing side hustles. I think that we all have certain talents and strengths that we can share with the world, and those talents and strengths show up in our hobbies and passions. Side-hustles built around things I love make it feel like I am not working at all, but also, end up being the most successful businesses. I have done many side-hustles, mostly in the early mornings when I am most creative and have the most energy. Check out these early morning side hustle ideas for inspiration!

Pros of Dog Sitting

There are many positive aspects to dog sitting. Here are a few of the reasons why I enjoy taking care of dogs!

  • I get the benefits of a dog’s company, love and affection. Mike and I view each pet as one of our own. We end up forming really great bonds with the dogs we watch, who in return gives us a sense of purpose and meaning in life. So many of our pets rush to the front door and get excited when they know they will stay with us. I really love that.
  • We get to meet our neighbors and make friends with people in our community. The pawrents of these pups have been really nice. They care about their dogs a lot, and we build relationships with them. It really helped us settle down in our new space.
  • I get to spend more time with my husband. Mike and I enjoy creating ‘vacation plans’ for the pets. It forces us to have a ‘stay-cation’ too. We try to plan a fun event every few days for the dog. Whether that’s a hike, a beach trip, or a dog park play date – it ends up being a great time for Mike and I to connect with the dog and each other. There are no phones on these outdoor activities and long walks.
  • The dogs get me outside. I have to walk them a few times a day, which is beneficial for me. I get some sun, listen to the birds, breathe fresh air, observe plants and wild life… pretty much absorb all the good things nature has to offer.
  • Dog sitting gets me up very early. It is one of the many early morning jobs I have taken up. I feed the cat and the dog at the same time at 5:30am. Then as the cat finishes up his food, I take the dog out on a walk. I love having a productive morning and this ensures that before I even make a cup of coffee, I do something that gives to others and to myself too. Walking is rejuvenating for the soul and one of my favorite things to do when I walk or meditate and observe my surroundings. I used to listen to podcasts when I walk dogs because it made me productive, but I have found productivity in the walk itself, too. This part of dog sitting had really improved my mental health.
  • I set my own schedule. I book my dog sitting days and dog walking days when I can, but not every time I am asked. I can always say no to a booking for whatever reason. It could be because I am too busy with my other jobs, I want some relaxation time for myself, or even because I don’t think the dog is a good fit with my lifestyle, home, family, or cat.
  • I set my own prices. I am able to call the shots when it comes to fees. I do charge extra for dogs who have special needs, or for additional services. I also charge extra for holidays and for inconveniences.
  • I get to go through my regular day without too much extra work. The thing with dog-sitting is that, aside from feeding them and walking them, it’s pretty much a regular day for us. I can work on my blog or bake in the kitchen. I can also do billing and accounting for the bakery, or enjoy a good book. Dog-sitting isn’t active work all the time.

Cons of Dog Sitting

As with anything, there are a few things to note about dog sitting. For example, I have to be more flexible with dogs around. Here are a few cons.

  • I have to be okay with messes in the house. I am a pretty neat and tidy person, and for the most part, most dogs have been okay. If a dog is especially messy or tends to break things, I offer to watch them at their house instead. Or I offer drop-in visits where I simple check-in on them, walk them, and feed them in their home.
  • Sometimes, there are accidents. Dogs can pee when they get excited or scared. Which means we have to roll up our Nordic rugs every time we have a dog over – just in case. It’s not too much of a hassle, but it is an inconvenience.
  • After every doggy stay, I have to clean the home. Kind of like AirBNB visitors, doggy visitors can leave a bit of a mess. The cleaning time if part of the job.
  • We have to be home more often. We don’t like to leave the dogs at home alone especially because their parents are already away. I am sure they miss them dearly, so we try to spend every moment with the dogs. With Mr. Debtist working from home, there is always someone here during the weekday. On weekends, we limit the errands we have to do.
  • We can’t schedule impromptu date nights or socializing events. This works out okay with me since I am a heavy planner. Planning ahead is actually how I am able to juggle all my side-hustles! (If planning is habit you want to take up, check out my top 5 favorite planners for productivity). However, there have been occasions where we were invited to something last minute and were not able to attend. One has to be okay with missing opportunities like that.

How I Built A Dog Sitting Business

I built a dog sitting business for FREE and built up my clientele on my own. It was quick, easy, and simple. Dog sitting was something I was able to get off the ground right away. I made profit with the first booking, and built up from there. I created this guide to walk people through how I built my dog sitting business from scratch with zero capital and zero experience. If you want to start making additional income taking care of pets, this download will definitely be useful for you. It contains tips and tricks I wish I had when I started on my journey! Within six months, I was successful and earning over $1k per month. I believe you can, too.

The Secret to Success

I think what made my dog sitting business successful is my dedication to the pets, as well as my excitement whenever I meet someone new. I care deeply about each one. Being genuinely passionate about your work show others that they can entrust you with their pets, which are like family members. As with all types of work, love what you do and it won’t feel like a means to earn money. It will legitimately make you feel happy and accomplished. Convince people of your own happiness and you will be successful at what you do.