I mentioned yesterday that I would be investing in pet sitting insurance soon to protect me from general crud that could happen with my new side hustle – Crystal’s Cozy Care Pet Sitting. Making extra money wouldn’t mean much if I ever get sued and lose based on something my pet sitting fur-clients did while under my care.
Insured and Ready to Go!
I ended up choosing a policy through Pet Sitters Associates, LLC. Here’s a quick breakdown of the coverage:
- $1,000,000 per occurrence, up to $2,000,000 annually for bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, advertising injury, products, and completed operations
- $100,000 annually for fire damage
- $15,000 per occurrence, up to $30,000 annually for pets lost, stolen, injured, or killed in your care
- $1,000 per occurrence, up to $5,000 annually for vet expenses regardless of negligence
- $2,000 annually for lost keys and re-keying of customers homes
- $5,000 annually for medical expenses
- $10,000 per occurrence, up to $25,000 annually, for the theft, breakage, and mysterious disappearance of the personal property of the pet owner while under the care of you, your employees, your independent contractors, or your incidental helpers.
No deductible for claims, EXCEPT $500 per incident if you purposely took an unleashed animal to a dog park or outdoors unless it’s in the pet owner’s or pet sitter’s yard with an above ground fence that will keep pets inside and people/animals outside.
Does the pet insurance cover your liability if the dog bites someone or runs in the street and causes a car accident or does it cover death and illness of a pet? If the pet has to go to the vet, you might have to pay if the owner refuses to reimburse you. If the pet dies the owner may want compensation from you.
In short – yes, all of that is covered. :-)
Here was the breakdown of the costs for coverage from April 3, 2014 for one year:
- Basic Insurance – $185
- Special Property Coverage (that $10,000 property coverage was extra but I’m clutzy sometimes) – $100
- Processing Fee – $10
- Listing Fee to be in their search database of pet sitters – $10
- Total = $305
Totally worth the peace of mind for me and my clients! And it looks good to be able to show and state that I’m insured. :-)
It’s 2:30am on April 3rd, 2014 and this will be posting in 2.5 hours…THEN:
- 6am – waking up to take care of two cats
- 10am – walking and feeding two dogs
- 11am – drive to my grandparent’s for lunch with my cousins
- 2pm - the two cats are being picked up thanks to my awesome roommates
- 9pm – meeting with a client to schedule her Easter weekend pet sitting
- 10pm – walk the same two dogs again as I did at 10am
I should be asleep, but I just got in bed 20 minutes ago since I had to walk some dogs at 11pm, take a shower, then answer some urgent emails for my online business, update my records for pet sitting for 2014′s taxes, and finally, I wanted to write this post while I was still buzzing with adrenaline.
Today’s schedule is one of the busiest of the last month or so, but every day has had something. I’ve been physically exhausted, but mentally, I’m pumped! I forgot how much I love making new business ideas work! I’m getting more done online even though I have way less time than for the last year or so. I’m like that - I’m at my best when I am extremely busy. Woot!!!
Proof that Hobby Jobs Can Make Money
For the disbelievers out there, side hustles can make you good money fast (check out my top 10 tips here). I started Crystal’s Cozy Care Pet Sitting by posting on Craigslist and getting my first job on February 27. I made $1125 by March 27. Now, a week later, the total is around $1320!
So far, it has cost:
- $60 in gas so far thanks to making 30mpg and having close gigs
- $44 in advertising ($20 for business cards and $24 for car magnet signs) – Thanks to my friend, J, for the free, super awesome design below!!!
- $8 in extras like a poop bag dispenser with bags and a small bag of treats
That brings the NET TOTAL to $1208 in about 5 weeks!!! And I have $120 lined up for the next week.
Right now, I am using a pet sitting release-of-liability contract to cover my butt (along with a healthy dose of common sense), but my pet sitting insurance is going to take a $300 bite out of my earnings next week. It’ll be worth it to be able to advertise that I’m bonded and insured.
Taxes will also take their bite in April 2015, which is why I am on the ball with recording my mileage, costs, income, etc. BUT, I’m just really happy that my chosen side hustle is taking off, forces me to exercise, and is helping animals have a less stressful time when their owners are away. In-their-home pet sitting seems better for everyone involved.
As you may have noticed with my online business, I have turned a side hustle into real money before. I just wasn’t 100% sure that it wasn’t a one-time thing. I’m unexplainably exuberant about my successful entrepreneurial spirit…I feel like it’s a family heirloom that has been passed down the generations and I’m just happy it’s in me too. :-) My great-grandparents – the bakers, the butchers, and the pelt sellers before them – would all be proud…well, at least that is what I’m feeling right now.
Please share all of your side hustle stories below! Anybody else find a fun way of making $1000+ a month on the side? Please share!
A few people, including myself and my husband, are honestly surprised that my pet sitting business is taking off the way it is. 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
- Choose a service that you enjoy doing. For me, it was pet sitting.
- 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”
- Create a bio that clearly states what you will be doing and why you are a good choice to do it. Consider having a site to post the bio and other info on since it does seem more professional. I wrote out my intentions, experience, and general rates at http://www.dogslifeforme.com/crystals-cozy-care/. Then I bought the domain and forwarded that page to http://www.crystalscozycare.com/. I edit that site any time I come up with more info, or when I get to know myself better as I pet sit more.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Highlight your 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.
- Update your advertising when things change. When I decided to mainly concentrate on pet sitting at their home, I stopped making a big deal about the rates to pet sit 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. If I am simply doing one 30-60 minute visit a day, that is worth $15-$20 depending on their location.
- 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. :-D 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.
- 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?
I’m writing this on a couch 45 minutes from my house. I’m pet sitting the most mellow dog ever this week and it’s been awesome! Meet Buster, the Bernese Mountain Dog / Australian Shepherd mix:
If they ever need to find him a new home, they can call me.
Buster the Dog
He’s the coolest dog. Really. He eats, sleeps, lets you know when he wants to go out, gets excited about walks but sits perfectly still while I put on his leash, and he doesn’t drag my butt everywhere. Which he could if he wanted to since he weighs 107 pounds!
At night, he’ll either sleep on the floor near my bed or right outside of the door (I close it when he snores, lol). In the morning, he waits patiently for my lazy butt to get out of bed and feed him. AND, he doesn’t bark. He’s the quietest dog ever. He’ll give these grumbly barks under his breath if he hears something near the house, like a grumbly warning, but that’s it so far. I’m in doggy love.
His Awesome Humans
Buster isn’t the only amazing part of my week. His main human and girlfriend are super sweet too. When Buster’s owner emailed me, I offered to pet sit at his house for $35 a day, so $175 for the 5 days I’d be at his place. I am trying to get my new side hustle to take off, and I made the false assumption that he lived nearby. A couple of chats later, I realized that he lived 45 minutes away, but I wasn’t going to back out of my quote, so I didn’t even mention it. So I learned everything I could from his owner and his owner’s girlfriend and prepared for a week of driving.
Buster’s owner and girlfriend actually brought up the distance. His owner told me that he would be paying me $250 or more since it was such a drive. He said $175 wouldn’t be fair. Then when I came to pick up the keys the day before, he raised that to $300 and told me to keep my gas and food receipts so he could cover those too! Holy moly! Who is that fair nowadays?!
I hugged him. I admit it. It deserved a hug.
Pet Sitting Success So Far
I am pet sitting a sweet, huge dog and getting paid really fairly to do it! That’s a happy week in my opinion! I truly hope this family needs me again.
Since I started pet sitting officially a few weeks ago, I’ve taken care of two cool Boxers and Buster the Awesome. I also have two longer jobs starting next week (one for 12 days straight about 3 times a day, and one for one-per-day weekday check-ins for 2 weeks). Altogether, that’ll mean that I will be earning around $1000 in about a month. Glad I am keeping up with my mileage and any other costs…I’ll need it for our taxes next year…
My goal is for this side hustle to completely cover my trip to London in June or July to visit my uncle. It may only take a couple of months of work – fingers crossed! :-D Once that goal is checked off, I’ll continue pet sitting to start saving for more travel – I owe a visit to my aunt in Tampa, Florida and my cousin in Alabama. I might be able to do all of this without hurting our overall cash goals this year, woot!
Do you use hobby jobs or side hustles to cover fun expenses like travel?
A few weeks ago, I mentioned speaking at an upcoming career day at a middle school. Well, that happened last Friday and it went REALLY well!!! Yay!!!
Just a quick review – I was asked to cover these main points:
- My title.
- Length of time in my position.
- Training, education, or background needed for my job.
- Three important duties of my job.
- Whether or not I wear a uniform.
- Talk about equipment or tools needed for my job.
- What do I like most about what I do.
- What kind of benefits I get (like insurance, traveling, etc.).
- What’s one thing that I would like to change.
- A funny or unusual story about my job.
- What other job I could get with my training/experience.
I did cover everything that they asked for, but I ended up concentrating on a few main points that I think matter the most:
- Find your passion. You can make money with anything with some imagination and if you put in the work to be good at it.
- Your reputation matters! If you’re a slacker, that rep will follow you and mess up your future options.
- Care! “I don’t know” will get you no where.
I also made them this handout:
You Can Be Your Own Success Story!!!
Success Stories at Under 18
- Ashley Qualls – Created whateverlife.com when she was 14 years old. Made enough to buy her own house before she was 17 and turned down a $1.5 million offer to buy her site.
- Farrah Gray – Created his own specialty food company, Farr-Out Foods, when he was 13. Was a millionaire by 14. Started the Farrah Gray Foundation at age 15 and uses his own money to fund literacy programs and scholarships.
- Abbey Fleck – Invented the Makin’ Bacon Dish when she was just 8 years old! Sold 100,000 by the time she was 11.
- Richie Stachowski – Invented the under-water megaphone at age 11 and made more than $500,000 in the first year.
- Kelly Reinhart – Invented the Thigh Pack, a device that helps kids tote around their hand-held video games and electronics, at age 9. Had over $1 million in orders in her first year and even met with President George W. Bush since it was being considered for military use.
- Elise and Evan MacMillan – Started their farm-themed chocolate company when she was 10 and he was 13. Ended up selling their company just a couple of years later for an undisclosed, but large, amount.
- Leanna Archer – Started her own line of natural hair care products at age 9. Within 3 years, she had 3 employees and was making 6 figures per year (that is between $100,000 and $999,999 per year).
- John Magennis – Started his web design business at age 14. Was a millionaire by age 17 and he says it’s because of his passion for the business.
- Sarah Buckel – Invented magnetic locker decorations in 8th grade and netted $1 million her first year.
- Tyler Dikman – Had a lemonade stand at age 5. Was a magic performer for birthday parties at age 10. Then created cooltronics.com, a computer supply business, at age 15. Was a millionaire by age 17.
- Lemonade stand
- Pet sitting
- Baby sitting
- Dog walking
- Yard work
- Paper route
- Car Wash
- Selling crafts (jewelry, key chains, covers for electronics, book covers, art, etc.)
Feel free to email me, Crystal Stemberger, any time to ask questions about blogging or self-employment. Ask for permission first. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source for young entrepreneur list – http://www.businessmba.org/10-entrepreneurs-who-made-a-fortune-before-they-were-18
I ended up speaking to about 100 kids in 3 different classes. The majority seemed to at least enjoy the half hour, and then there were about a dozen that really got into it and a dozen that pretty much ignored me. I call that a success!
I made eye contact with as many kids as possible, got them involved with personal questions, and surprised them a few times with my general craziness. I had fun with them. I hope they felt the same.
Meeting Other Cool People
Other than speaking to the kids, I also got to hang out with the other speakers for their hosted breakfast and lunch. Before breakfast, I had a great time swapping stories with a couple of members of the local SWAT team, a cool cop, and then I started chatting with two engineers. One of them ended up being my friend’s dad! That was fun. He was really nice.
At lunch I started chatting more with my friend’s dad again, a sweet lady who had been growing a business with detection dogs for 35 years, and seemed to really get along with a very cool woman from NASA. I had a lot of fun hearing her take on the not-realistic parts of “Gravity”, the recent Sandra Bullock movie. She also seemed honestly intrigued by the world of blogs and blog advertising. I have her card and hope we get to chat again.
Overall, I had a ton of fun and will totally return next year if they ask me back.
Hope all of your Fridays were as fun! What have you been up to lately?
For three days this week, I watched over two young Boxers.
Other than learning that I don’t have the energy to own a puppy for longer than 3 days, I also figured out that I should have a pet sitting checklist for any future clients just to avoid some issues.
My Recent Pet Sitting Experience
These two pups didn’t have many of the issues on the list below, but I decided I should be thorough for the future. The male only had one main issue. He did not like being kenneled and would whine constantly. Some of my night was spent sleeping on a couch next to the Boxers’ kennel to keep the male quiet.
This little baby boy hated my Pug. Not too surprising since Mr. Pug was being grumpy too.
His little girl is the most laid back lap dog ever…she’s a cool chick. :-)
This little lady was adorable. She also wanted to be in everyone’s lap at all times. :-)
Overall, it was a very successful 3 days, but I am exhausted thanks to the weird sleeping arrangements. I hope their owner wants to use me again in the future over at his home. Anyway, onto my new official checklist of questions…
Pet Sitting Checklist
- Does your pet get along with small dogs?
- Is he/she aggressive towards anything?
- Is your pet up to date with all of their vaccinations?
- How active is your pet?
- Is your pet kennel trained? Specifically, is he/she okay in their kennel or does he/she fight it or whine while in it?
- Is he/she allowed on the furniture?
- Is your pet on any medication?
- Is your pet potty trained?
- What is your pet’s favorite toy or chew?
- Is your pet a grazer or do they get fed at certain times of the day?
What other questions do you think I’m missing? Help me out – this will be the list I ask all future clients before accepting a job. :-) I got lucky this time and was able to manage the cute puppies despite not knowing much about them in advance. Next time, I want to know as much as possible.
I’ve started to feel stagnant in the last few months. Usually that means that I need to tackle something new (as you’ll see below). Right now, I think that means growing my pet sitting side hustle/hobby job!
Past and Current Side Hustles / Hobby Jobs / Careers
I’ve mentioned these before, but I thought you would appreciate the list again if you missed it. I’ve been working in one way or another since middle school.
- Library volunteer in 6th grade ($0)
- Nursing home volunteer in 7th grade ($0)
- Historical museum volunteer in 8th grade ($0)
- Babysitting in middle school and high school ($5 an hour)
- English Tutor in Argentina during late high school ($0 – volunteer)
- Pawn reseller during late high school ($15-$60 per ring) – I would buy rings from the “new and crazy” arena of online auctions in 1998 (like Bidz) and resell those rings to the local pawn shops.
- Dorm 24-hour help desk ($6 an hour) – I actually met Mr. BFS at this job one late night when I pulled him over to keep me company. Found out later that he kept walking by since he was trying to think of something to say, lol. He’s lucky I am social and get bored easily, hahaha.
- Dorm tour guide ($6 an hour) – This was boring and required a lot of walking. Parents also always seemed surprised that dorm rooms are small. Note to all parents – dorm rooms are small and most teenagers don’t care. You can eat, sleep, and hang out…don’t need much space for that.
- University of Houston donation center caller ($6.50 an hour and it sucked for 2.5 months before I quit) – I don’t know how many people hung up on me while saying that they worked for Enron and couldn’t afford anything, much less donations.
- University of Houston Games Room Attendant ($6.25 an hour and I did it for 3 years) – This was AWESOME. Made some great friends and am just super lucky to have ever gotten this position so I could leave the donation center.
- University of Houston Admin Office Assistant ($6.25 an hour for 2.5 years at the same time I worked the Games Room) – This was a great filler position, especially during the summers.
- Black Jack Dealer for Company Parties ($11 an hour but travel time didn’t count..overlapped with my last year of college) – I worked a bunch of company and private parties throughout Houston. It wasn’t as fun as real gambling, like at www.888casino.com/casino-games, but it was a great Friday and Saturday night job throughout my last year of school and first couple of years after graduation.
- Tax Office Receptionist ($7 an hour) - This one overlapped with the Games Room and the Black Jack Dealing for my last semester of college…had 12 hours of classes and 60+ hours of part-time jobs, lol.
- Forms programmer ($26,500-$35,500 a year over 6 years) – That job was pointless but I met a handful of amazing people, and the free time there did lead me to find out about blogging. So yay!
- Pet Sitting on and off for years ($20 per dog per night) – My favorite puppy to watch was Asia the Shar-Pei.
- Baby Sitting on and off ($10 an hour for two kids) – This lasted for about 6 days in one month. Then the kids started acting out since their mom left so often to be with her boyfriend.
- Baby Sitting ($20 an hour for three kids) – This was for a full weekend. I’m looking forward to continuing.
- Blogging and Blog Advertising Management ($100,000+ per year now) – This is by far the best job that I’ve ever had. It fits with my leap frog brain activity and lets me have the flexibility to actually live. The money is nice but the real benefits aren’t monetary. It’s nice to have a job that just finally fits me and not the other way around.
Pet Sitting Again
As you saw, I’ve been a pet sitter and baby sitter on and off for more than 15 years. I posted a classified ad on our home owner’s association (HOA) website last August. It’s been so long that I nearly forgot. But I received a call last Thursday to check in once a day with two new, super cute dogs in the neighborhood for a couple of months. Woot!
That gave me the inspiration I needed to tackle pet sitting all out. I updated my HOA website ad, added a cool picture of me and my mom’s parrot (Penny), and then listed myself on Craigslist too. That’s where I found pet sitting jobs a few years ago.
My Pet Sitting Post
Crystal’s Cozy Care Pet Sitting – Petsitter / Pet Sitter Available
Welcome to Crystal’s Cozy Care Pet Sitting! I’m self-employed and available during the day or night for pet-sitting in Northwest Houston, Spring, the Woodlands, etc.
As for experience:
- I’ve taken care of dozens of dogs through volunteer work and pet sitting.
- We have our own dog, an 11 year old Pug.
- We were just forced to say goodbye to our 15 year old Dachshund that we had for nearly 9 years.
- I’ve volunteered for 2 years with the Houston SPCA (worked the big dog section and worked with puppies and cats if anyone was ill)
- We fostered Pugs for 1.5 years before we adopted ours.
- I regularly pet sit two other Dachshunds and one cat.
- I’m adding two Shiba Inu pups to my upcoming schedule.
- In the past, I’ve watched over a variety of birds, dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, and guinea pigs. The largest has been a 140 pound Mastiff. The smallest was a finch.
I can visit your home 1-3 times a day as needed. If you would prefer to drop off your pet at my home instead, we can work out those details too on a case by case basis. I cannot accept cats in my own home thanks to allergies.
My rates would depend on the circumstances of the job for which you need me. In general, it would be $15-$20 per visit depending on how many animals are in the home.
Please call between 10am-10pm or email me anytime with questions or to schedule a meeting. Thanks!
I posted that ad Friday night and received my first call Sunday morning. I’ll be taking care of two boxers this Tuesday-Thursday, whoo-hoo!!! I love it when my ideas start working quickly. But, I want to make sure that I am communicating well to as many people who see the ad as possible.
If you were just browsing Craigslist for pet sitting ideas, what else would you need to see before you’d contact me? What would you suggest adding or taking out? What do you think about my new site – http://www.crystalscozycare.com/? All suggestions are greatly appreciated!