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10 Tips to Starting a Service Business Side Hustle

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A few people, including myself and my husband, are honestly surprised that my pet sitting business is taking off the way it is.  I went from no pet sitting business to making $1000+ a month in less than 2 months.  I figured I could list out what I did to start my service business so that we can all remember, lol.  I search this site all of the time for the recipes I posted and to refresh my own memory about dates that we did stuff…so here this is for posterity.  🙂

10 Tips to Starting a Successful Service Business Side Hustle

  1. Choose a service that you enjoy doing.  For me, it was pet sitting.
  2. Think of a good name.  It may help to include the general service in the title too.  I like alliteration, so I chose “Crystal’s Cozy Care Pet Sitting”
  3. Create a website for your business.  Include a bio that clearly states what you will be doing and why you are a good choice to do it.  Add the most requested info on that site since it does seem more professional.  I wrote out my intentions, experience, and general rates at  Then I bought the domain and forwarded that page to  I edit that site any time I come up with more info, update my Happy Campers page, and update my travel/black out dates.
  4. Choose an image that you will associate with your services.  People like pictures.  They enjoy being able to see a picture and associate it with a place or person that they know.  I chose a picture that my sister sent me of me at their home with their parrot on my head.Crystal's Cozy Care Pet Sitting
  5. Advertise that you are available – clearly state where you are willing to work and any other details that should be known up front.  I posted my services on Craigslist and clearly state the area I will work in, what my services include, my experience profile, and my very general rates.
  6. When you use Craigslist, remember to post in ALL of the categories that your competitor’s are posting in.  For me, I made sure to have at least one post under “Pet Services”, “Community – Pets”, and even “Sales – Animals” because that is where everyone else was listing too.  I also chose my prices based on the going rates too – I wasn’t the cheapest or the most expensive.
  7. Highlight how you are special.  For me, I need to highlight that I prefer to pet sit in the owner’s home since that is what I am getting the most interested calls about.  Pet parents know that they are happier at home and are willing to pay me more to come to them.
  8. Update your advertising when things change.  When I decided to mainly concentrate on pet sitting at their home, I stopped advertising that I offered pet sitting in my own home.  I also have raised my rates since a pet sitting client pointed out that they were too low and simply paid me more.  Now I know that staying the night with someone’s pet is worth at least $60 $75-$85 in my area.  If I am simply doing one 30-60 minute visit a day, that is worth $20-$25 depending on their location.
  9. Under promise and over deliver.  I let my clients know what I will be doing at a bare minimum and then I do more.  With pet sitting, I take care of the pets as we agreed, then I step it up.  With the Boxers, I played with them outside way more times than I promised.  In my current job, I am playing with Buster even more than I promised, AND I also cleaned the whole kitchen including the stove and microwave.  Just a happy surprise for them when they get back.  😀  I also have a “Pet Sitting Summary” for all of my clients where I record everything we did, when they ate, and any additional notes.
  10. The final tip is to DO IT NOW!!!  No one ever made a penny with just an idea.  They either had to put the idea in motion or sell it to someone who would.  Good luck!!!

Am I missing any obvious tips?  What do you think about the ones above?

This is a VERY helpful post on how to start a service business as a side hustle. Crystal's Cozy Care is a pet sitting business that she set up and it's all about how you actually get started and get going. I keep meaning to try something but really all I need to do is put myself out there and create a good ad. I can't wait to start earning more money.

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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10 thoughts on “10 Tips to Starting a Service Business Side Hustle

  1. Great tips! That is a great point about listing in multiple categories on Craigslist. If your competition is listing in other categories, then you need to be doing it as well! You’ll get more exposure that way as well!

  2. I tried to launch a small pet sitting business a few years ago when I was a student. I figured what is a better job than to watch animals all day, and it would give me the opportunity to study and do my homework too. I only got one job out of it, and it paid quite well but nothing came out of it after that. I didn’t take the steps that you did though.

    That’s a great photo!

  3. As an extra service, you could send pictures of the pets to the owners while they are away. I’ve got a friend that get their dogs walked during the day and they receive videos and pictures of the pets playing with other dogs. She loves getting the messages and shares them around like a proud mama. It’d be a great way to stand out from other pet sitters (and get your name shared at the same time).

  4. This is such a great idea. My wife stays at home with the kids but will be looking to start working again in a couple years. She doesn’t want to go back into the corporate world so this is the best of both worlds in my opinion.

  5. Great tips.

    I agree with Nell above. I have done fee-for-service dog sitting and sent daily pics/video of our outings to the proud owners. They LOVED it, especially since this was their first time leaving their precious girl with us. It also provided proof that: 1. we cared about what they would like to know 2. their pet was doing fun stuff and was adapting well.

    I also agree with under promise & over deliver. When the owners came back after 10 days, their pooch had even had her nails done.

    I might look into doing more of this type of side hustle…it really is fun.

  6. @Dee, thanks – it’s been working for me!

    @Mortgage Free Mike, awesome – that’s what I’m going for!

    @J Money, LOL, I like my main photo the best, but this is my 2nd favorite. 🙂

    @Daisy, I didn’t think I’d hear from anybody after the first job, but I kept renewing my listings and adding more. That seemed to do it.

    @Nell, I didn’t know that was an “extra”. 🙂 I sent selfies with Buster and cute shots all week, lol. I’ll make sure to continue to do that. 🙂

    @Marvin, pet sitting, dog walking, baby sitting – all great ways to stay out of the “classic” corporate stuff. 🙂

    @Free to Pursue, I sent pics of the pets with both of jobs so far and will continue to do so…I didn’t think of it being an extra – just thought their dogs were being cute. 😉

  7. you know, when we lived inside the loop, there were people making some serious money iwth a pet sitter, kennel, dog/animal walking service. So much so that they bought older homes and renovated them to become a business just for such. River Oaks people travel a bit, and/or just want someone to show their “favorite pet”(?) some attention, because they are too busy to do it. Pet sitting is an up and coming business … grooming, walking services are a bit more geared to those who have more means than just coming in an feeding animals …. but someones got to do it. Right? Niche market, indeed. And if no one else is nearby, or not too saturated iwth similar competing business’, well … damn the bad luck. 😉

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