If you hadn’t seen it, I posted an “Ask Crystal Anything” article yesterday that received some great questions. One of them was from Debs at http://debtdebs.com/:
Q: How did you get your clients when you first started dog sitting? We’re thinking of doing this but don’t know how to get started.
I answered pretty quickly with:
I sold myself hard on Craigslist. I also posted 2-3 ads on Craigslist for about 7 days straight (one each in several categories like pet services, community, etc.) and set my phone alarm to remind me to renew them every 3-5 days.
In those placements, I listed out my experience from personal pet sitting, my volunteer work with animal groups, and put emphasis on my dependability and professionalism. I also priced myself slightly lower than my competition in the beginning month to grab my first jobs and earn my awesome references. Now I charge more than most of my competition but am busier than ever because I’ve built a reputation for amazing customer service for my human and animal clients.
I still create a new Craigslist post once or twice a week and renew my old ones or repost when they expire.
Other Ways I Reached Out
It skipped my mind that I did other stuff to market myself too:
- Magnetic signs on my car door
- Printed business cards and hand them out frequently (I also leave little stacks at local restaurants when they have a spot for it)
- Created a profile at Care.com
- Created a profile at Sittercity.com
- Posted about my new service on my home owner’s association website
- Posted my services on Nextdoor.com
- Let all of my friends and family know about it and they help spread the word
- Leave summaries of my longer visits and all of my contact info is only every page
- My contact info is automatically added to every email and I make sure to make it obvious on all Craigslist posts.
I am also considering other types of small business marketing like placing my business cards in every neighbor’s door possible, taping them to the group mailboxes like the lawn guys do, and maybe even making small leaflets. Craigslist has just been my biggest draw so far – I know because my pre-care checklist has a question about how they found me. 🙂
There you go for anybody looking to start a service-oriented side hustle! Good luck!
Can you think of any other great personal marketing methods for small businesses and hobby jobs?
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 $80,000-$100,000 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!). I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!