Have you read my post on What in the World in House Sitting? and now ready to get started as a sitter?

In this post I’ll go over the 6 basic steps you can take to get started as a house and pet sitter. Plus, don’t forget to download your free checklist at the end of the article!

And if you decide you’d prefer more support getting started, I highly recommend joining the House Sitting Academy (see the very end for more details if interested)

6 Basic Steps to Landing Your First House Sit

  1. Join a Platform
  2. Create a Profile
  3. Search for Available Sits
  4. Apply for a sit
  5. Have a Video Chat
  6. Book sit
A bright and sunny kitchen home that could be available to you as a house sitter

1. Join a House Sitting Platform

If you are new to the world of house sitting you may be surprised about how many platforms there are to choose from. For a break down & overview of the best and worst options fellow house sitter, Jema Patterson, has a great post on this topic. It’s seriously legit.

But if you are still feeling overwhelmed or lost on where to start…..

  • Think about in what location(s) you want to house sit
  • Are you going to do it locally or go international?
  • Do you want to dip your toes in to test how it goes first or are you ready to jump all in?

Knowing the answers to those questions will really help you narrow down where to start.

For me, I knew I would start in New Zealand and expand internationally so I started out on a New Zealand specific platform & 1 international platform, which I discuss a bit more below.

Finding a Local/Regional/Country Specific Platform

House sitting locally is a great option! It will not only help you build up your experience, likes & dislikes but also your references.

There are some house sitters that don’t even leave their home city at all! Choosing to house sit in one particular city or region is completely acceptable.

To find the best platforms for your area start with a google search. For example, if I search New Zealand House Sitting then Kiwi House Sitters is the first site that appears in the list. You can do it for cities as well. For example, if I search Dallas House Sitting, Trusted House Sitters & House Sitters America are the first platforms in the list.

As of March 2019, I’ve joined 2 country specific platforms- Kiwi House Sitters for New Zealand and Happy House Sitters for Australia. I’ve had great experiences and a lot of success using both of them. There are other country/regional platforms for USA, UK, Canada, etc.

Kiwi House Sitters Top Menu as an example to search for house sitting jobs or house sitters
Top menu where you can find house sitting jobs or house sitters.

Finding an International Platform

If you are mainly interested in sitting internationally you won’t find a shortage of options. I recommend starting with 1 or 2 to begin with to see how you get along and provide a variety of location options.

You don’t want to join too many at the beginning as you might find yourself overwhelmed with the options or struggling to keep up with your messages.

Go back to the exercise we did first and think more specifically about which destinations you’d love to visit and house sit in. Then peruse the platforms you are considering and see what location options are listed.

Typically, you can view house sits that are available on the platform before committing to a membership, you just won’t be able to apply for any until you are a member.

So if you have an idea of where you want to go and see options available in that location, then you know that platform is a good fit!

One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll have to go where the house sits are. Meaning, it may be your dream to visit Tanzania, but you may not find a lot of house sit opportunities there. It’ll be important to keep an open mind at the start.

As of March 2019, my international platforms of choice are House Carers & Nomador. I like their business models, their platforms are easy to use and they both provide a variety of location options for me to select from.

A cartoon scene of a town on the homepage of the House Carers site where house sitters can search and find available sits
Home Page of the House Carers site to start your search for sits or sitters.

2. Create a Profile

Now that you’ve chosen your platform, you’ll want to set up your profile before submitting any applications for sits. Your profile should include pictures of you, a bio & references (if you have them).

Having a good profile is hands down the main reason I was able to secure so many house sits in New Zealand before I had ANY EXPERIENCE.

On more than one occasion I had homeowners gush over how much they loved my profile and say that was why they selected me. And during our video chat I would ask if they had any questions and they would respond, “No. We think your profile covered it all.” Gold.

You can view my profile as an example here: https://www.kiwihousesitters.co.nz/house-sitter-pet-sitter/sitter-tayler

Pictures

First, make sure you have a clear in focus pictures of you. You’ll want to add 5-6 good photos keeping in mind the types of a photos a homeowner would want to see. 

In my profile, you’ll see my first picture is a close up of just me and I’ve sprinkled in 2 others of just me. All of my other photos include different cats and dogs.

During this setting up stage, before I began looking after other people’s pets, I took every opportunity to take a picture with my friends and family’s pets to use on my profile. *

*Note: Always ask permission to use a photo of someone else’s pet especially if you want to use a photo of you and a homeowner’s pet in the future.

Bio

Similar to pictures, you want to include information that a homeowner would want to know about you. Share details about who you are, why you enjoy house sitting, the skills you bring to the sit, why you travel & any specific requests you might have such as non-smoking environment or wifi for work.

Don’t be afraid to show your personality in this section. Yes, it is a bit like a cover letter you would submit for a job, but house sitting is as much of a personal connection as it is professional one so let your voice shine through. 

References

If you are just starting out, you may or may not have many references. A good option in this case is to ask your friends, family, or community of people that know you and could vouch for you. If you have done any house or pet sitting for them that is even better!

I started with references from my sister who I had house/kid/pet sit for and a friend who I had done an overnight house/pet sit for. I also had a friend of mine who had previously written me an AirBnb reference that I adjusted slightly for house sitting.

Since then I’ve received positive references from all of my house sits and now share those through the individual platforms & on my website.

Pro Tip:

Include a short 1-2 minute with your profile!

It really impresses home owners and they get a better feel for who you are. I’ve had multiple home owners mention how my video pushed me to the front of their applicant pool. Homeowners get so many responses to their ads, it’s good to have something help you stand. *This is not the time to be camera shy!*

It really impresses home owners and they get a better feel for who you are. I’ve had multiple home owners mention how my video pushed me to the front of their applicant pool. Homeowners get so many responses to their ads, it’s good to have something help you stand. *This is not the time to be camera shy!*

3. Search for Available Sits

Now that your profile is set up it’s time to start applying!

From your home dashboard, find where it says “find house sitting jobs” or something of that nature and click on it.

From here, you have a couple of options. You could start scrolling through the list of options or use the provided filters to narrow your options. If you have a specific location or dates in mind, the filters will really help.

When viewing a listed sit, I typically pay attention to the location, the dates, look at the pictures, and read the details of the sit.

I need to make sure the requirements of the sit is something I’m capable of and want to commit to as a solo sitter.

For me, sits that are really remote, have animals that need a lot of attention or are really large properties, aren’t ones where I’m going to be happy, so I generally skip over those.

Additionally, listings that have no pictures or details available don’t tend to make it to the top of my list of applications.

Pro Tip:

Within the platform, be sure to set up notifications of newly available sits with your preferences. Applying early is key to securing house sits!

Many homeowners get overwhelmed if they receive a lot of responses and sometimes take a first come first served approach.

If you are interested in a sit, but you see an ad has been up for a while, I would encourage you to still apply. Just be aware you’re more likely to get a sit if you have applied within the first 24-48 hours of it being posted.

4. Apply for a Sit

Once you’ve found a sit or two or three that you are interested in, the next step is to send the homeowner(s) a message through the platform. Your message should put the focus more on them and their pets than on you.

Within you message, always reference the pets’ names if they were given within the listing. If not, referring to them as fur babies or in a way they referenced them is a good alternative. It shows your attention to detail and care for their animals.

In general, you can keep it short and sweet, expressing your interest, maybe noting something about yourself (age, solo sitter or couple, background experience, etc) and invite them to have a video call with you to chat further.

Here is an example of a message I have sent:

Subject: I would love to come and take care of your fur babies for you

Body: Hi {Home Owner Name},

I would absolutely enjoy taking care of Pebbles while you are away! I’ll be finishing up a house sit in Christchurch on 22-Jul so will have a perfect amount of time to travel to you and meet Pebbles before you leave.

A little about me: I am a 31 year old solo female traveler from the U.S. I am a Virtual Assistant so I work from home and would have plenty of time to take care of your property and spend a lot of time with your fur baby.

Thank you for your time. I really look forward to hearing from you and arranging a video chat to further discuss the details of the sit.

In the meantime, please feel free to get to know me more through my my profile page and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Tayler

Most homeowners will get back to you within 1-3 days if they are interested in you as a sitter. If you haven’t heard from them, it’s up to you if you want to reach out another time or move on to other opportunities.

5. Speak with the Homeowners (Virtually or In Person)

Your call with the homeowners can be over the phone or video, but my preference is always a video chat. You get a better feel for the homeowners & can sometimes get to meet their pets.

Some homeowners may even request an in person meeting and if you are in the area and have time to do so, this is always fun!

I’ve done a couple of in person meet ups and it’s the best way to interact with the homeowners and their pets.

In fact, I secured a sit over another couple because of the difference in our in-person meetings. The owners’ dog immediately took to me on my arrival and laid at my feet while we were chatting which they commented was very rare for him. That made them comfortable enough with me to confirm the sit before I had left.

What To Discuss

The call is a time for both you and your homeowner to discuss any details in the ad, go more in depth about responsibilities or expectations, and ask any questions you or they might have.

I’ve found these “interviews” to be pretty informal. It’s more of a way to connect with one another and make sure everyone is on the same page. Many of my sits have been confirmed by the end of the call, but it’s also normal for them to take some time to decide and get back to you within a day or two.

The main advice I can give about this part of the process is to go with your gut. If something feels off or isn’t clicking, it’s okay to tell them you don’t think you are the best sitter for them.

While you want to impress them and make them confident in your abilities, you are both equals in the process.

The other thing to accept right away is that you won’t get every sit you want. Even sitters who have been doing this for years sometimes get passed over. It’s best to not take it personal, these things have a way of working themselves out.

Tayler and Winstone chillng on the couch
Me & Winston hanging out

6. Book Sit

Yay you did it!! Even if it’s your 1st or 100th sit, celebrate!

Generally, sits are confirmed verbally and in writing. And if you haven’t already, exchanging contact details like email addresses & phone numbers should be done at this stage. Most platforms also have a system in place where each of you can “confirm the sit” within the platform.

Some platforms also recommend and provide template contracts that each of you can complete if you feel it necessary. I personally haven’t felt the need to provide a contract, but it is an available option that you or the homeowner can request.

Next Steps:

After a sit is booked, more details are typically exchanged and discussed. If you’ve booked the sit quite far in advance, you may want to check in every once in while just to stay in touch and make sure no plans have changed.

You’ll also want to inform your homeowners when you’ve booked your flight or transportation. At this stage I’m typically communicating with the home owners via email or messaging.

This phase of the process is where the House Sitting Academy became completely invaluable to me. Their profile setup tips were very helpful and their experience house sitting really calmed my anxieties around what to do pre, during and post sit.

You in no way have to join the academy to become a house sitter! But I do want to let you know that there are additional support systems and a wonderful community out there. If you are interested in finding out more I’ve included the details below.

Download your free checklist and get your first platform profile setup!

A checklist of the basic steps to getting started as a house sitter

More Details on the House Sitting Academy

First, let me explain my main reasons for promoting the house House Sitting Academy.

  1. I undoubtedly got all of my house sits at the beginning because of their help
  2. I received an abundance of confidence in my abilities to be a house sitter and that shined through with the homeowners
  3. Nat & Jodie are great teachers!
  4. Once graduated you become a member of the Inner Circle and have a solid network of other sitters
  5. There are constant referral sits being posted in our group
  6. We have a great community of sitters & we get together for weekly “huddles” to discuss topics related to house sitting or traveling

The online course will walk you through each step of the house sitting process. This includes

  • getting into the right mindset
  • setting up your profile
  • questions to ask your homeowners
  • handling situations during the sit
  • travel tips
  • securing reviews
  • many, many discounts

Their course is very thorough and full of knowledge that you only get from house sitting full-time for 7+ years.

House sitters are always learning and one of the best ways we’ve found to do that is to learn from each other. This is why they started holding weekly huddles so we could all come together, get to know each other and share our knowledge. Each huddle is recorded which means not only do you have access to all future huddles by being an academy member, but all past huddles as well.

The academy is only a one-time fee with a lifetime membership. When you think about how much you would spend on 1 week of accommodation on vacation, the fee is pretty minimal.

Ok that is my spiel. You by no means have to join the academy to learn about house sitting or in order to be a good house sitter. ANYONE CAN HOUSE SIT. This is just my recommendation based on my positive experience.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links included are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I am only an affiliate for products or services that I use regularly and wholeheartedly believe in.

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