Here is part two...
As a director of TrustedHousesitters.com, Rachel Martin has a bird’s eye view of the world of house sitting and so is able to share some really great pointers on how to secure those dream housesits.
1. Sell yourself! Just as you would if you were writing a CV. The most successful applicants are those who put in some effort into their listing. Inserting a few photo’s of yourself [and with pets] certainly gives you more weight - lots of homeowner’s search will only respond if you include this. Look at the profiles of other pet sitters on TrustedHousesitters.com. What do they have that you don’t?
Talk about your relevancy - i.e. being a homeowner yourself, owning a pet previously, volunteering at a local pet charity - this all helps. Also talk about WHY you want to house and pet sit - and inject your own personality into it too - most homeowners seem to gravitate to one person over another due to having a connection with that person. 75% of registered house sitters secured a house sit via Trustedhousesitters.com just by ensuring they had a great profile which included all the aspects James talks about.
We did a four month house sit in Kingston, Ontario, Canada in the fall and winter of 2009-2010.
2. Local Vs International. James is right - getting the first golden sit under your belt is a huge boost to helping secure even more. If you find you are being looked over when applying, for example, that beach house in Hawaii, then help yourself by looking closer to where you are based, so you can meet the homeowner. That said, most sitters [60%] enjoy international house sits, and use it as a way to travel or vacation in a very different and unique way and have not met with the owner previously - those are usually the ones who are good at promoting themselves in their profiles.
And a three week house and dog sit in Ewyas Harold, Herefordshire, England in September 2012.
3. Make it easy for the homeowner. For some homeowners this may be their first time using Trustedhousesitters.com to find a sitter. Even if this is your first time - help them to feel comfortable and assured. Invite them to chat on Skype so you can virtually ‘meet’ and have a list of questions so you can ensure the sit it right for you and the owner feels confident they can enjoy peace of mind having you care for their home and pets.
4. Flexibility is key. Work with the homeowner - offer to travel to their home the day before they leave so they can show you around the property, introduce you to their pets and get to know one another a little over dinner. We’ve found this to be one of THE most important factors - and have made some great friends around the world. Remember most homeowners will pick you if they feel some sort of connection with you.
5. A little goes a long way. At the end of a house sit I always cook dinner for the homeowner, ready for their return and leave fresh flowers - to give their home a lovely welcome back feel. I also get in the essentials such as milk, bread, eggs etc. These little touches which take no time at all ensures I always get great feedback on my references. And it helps the homeowner decide to use the service again - enabling another registered sitter to enjoy this sit too. In fact we all seem to be something right as 98% of homeowners surveyed said they would both use the website to find a sitter again and recommend it to a friend - more sits for all of us!
6. Be prepared. Don’t wait until you see your ideal house sit appear on the site, act now to create a profile and build it up, so you are prepared to apply as soon as it goes live, otherwise you will be too late. You’ll also be the first to hear about the latest house sits with the email alerts we send. My top tip? Apply as soon as a house sit appears, don’t wait because it won’t!
7. House sitting is really accessible. You don’t need previous experience or golden credentials - just be yourself and show openly how you are a caring and trustworthy person. We were thrilled to hear that 75% of house sitters who had created their profiles as we recommend, had secured 1-5 house sits in their first 3-6 months of being registered with Trustedhousesitters.com.
Rachel Martin is a director at TrustedHousesitters.com and has used the site to travel extensively and secure housesits around the world.