So you've read about what this housesitting gig is all about and it sounds like something you'd like to get into?
It's time to sign up and start looking for your first assignment!
In this post, we'll look at getting started and tips on how to improve your chances of landing that first assignment. If you have further questions, feel free to ask in the comments section.
How do you find housesitting assignments?
We use a site called TrustedHousesitters.com and we have found it to be the best for us so far. However, you may also like to check out HouseCarers.com and MindMyHouse.com. Some avid sitters have memberships to a number of sites to increase their chances of getting assignments that suit them. This post will pertain to using the TrustedHousesitters site as that is the one we use, but while some of the details may differ across sites, we feel that most of the general advice here is useful for getting any housesitting assignment wherever you are applying.
To apply for assignments on the TrustedHousesitters site, you need a membership which costs $79 per year. However, we have found this investment to be more than worth it. Get just one assignment in that year and it will have already paid itself off. If you'd like to trial it for a shorter period you can opt for the 3 or 6 month memberships options (for $49 and $64 respectively). However, as it can take a little time to get your first assignment and the fact that the annual membership is so reasonable, we'd recommend going with the 12 months from the get-go.
How does it work?
Once you have paid and created an account, you need to fill out your profile. On the TrustedHousesitters.com site (aside from the basics), you need to include an introduction, information on why you want to housesit and any relevant experience you can bring. Be sure to spend some time on this in order to put your best foot forward.
Once your housesitter profile is complete, you can then take a look at the assignment listings and contact the homeowners for the ones that interest you. There is a simple button on the assignment page to be able to send them a private message.
If you are successful, upon completion of an assignment, the homeowner writes a reference which then appears on your profile and contributes to your star rating. These reviews build trust for future homeowners you may apply to and therefore are a very important part of your housesitting profile.
Your profile is what homeowners will be looking at when you apply for an assignment or searching the directory for housesitters available in their area. As I said, spend some time on this and share enough information. Don't make it too brief that it doesn't tell homeowners anything about you. Having to ask too many follow up questions to decide if you might be a potential candidate, is likely to be a turn-off. Be yourself and allow your personality to shine through. After all, you are most likely to find success with a homeowner who can relate to you.
At the same time, don't go into excessive amounts of detail that they don't read it. Make it clear, well-written and succinct. The homeowner will likely have received many applications, make yours easy to read and personable with all the key information the homeowner would likely want to know.
Be sure to include good quality photos too (you can include up to four) that show you and, if possible, you interacting with your own or other people's pets. This not only allows homeowners to put a face to your profile but also to imagine you interacting with their own pets. Once you have housesitting experience, changing these photos to ones of you on assignment is a great idea.
TrustedHousesitters now also have the option of adding a short video to your profile as a means of introducing yourself. Put effort into this and it can be a great advantage to your application.
Getting your first assignment
Don't be discouraged if it takes a while to get your first assignment. These websites work on a review system and without a homeowner reference through the site, it can be a bit tough at first. It took us a number of applications to secure our first one. Just keep going at it and you will get there.
Improving your chances
While competition may be tough, there are a number of things you can do to stand out from the crowd and improve your chances of getting assignments.
To improve your chances of being considered, write a personal email. Don't just send the same blanket message to everyone. Or at least modify a basic template to meet the assignment. If the homeowner mentioned specific pieces of information or needs in their listing, refer to them in your email. Basically, show that you have read their assignment listing well and how you are a good fit. Imagine you are the homeowner, what kind of information would you like to know? It takes longer, but you will likely get a better response rate.
Be responsive. Be quick to reply to responses from homeowners and be willing to provide any additional information the homeowner may like to know. They will likely want to secure a housesitter in as timely manner as possible so they can go forth with their holiday plans without worry. Some homeowners like to have a Skype chat with you before making a decision or prior to the assignment. If they don't mention it, you may like to offer this option to make them feel confident they have made the right choice in you. Remember, the homeowner is trusting you with their house, all their possessions and members of their family. So it is understandable that they feel apprehensive about who to select and even about using the service at all for those using it for the first time.
If you don't use Skype already, I suggest opening an account. It doesn't cost anything to do so and calling Skype to Skype is also a free service. If you arrange a Skype call, be reliable and be online at the arranged time. Just by doing this, you are demonstrating reliability and professionalism.
You may not be able to get a homeowner review until you have completed your first assignment, but you can get character references. If you have ever house or pet sat unofficially for someone else before, getting them to write a house/pet sitting reference for you would be advantageous. If not, someone who can vouch for your character is definitely a great place to start and will help give the homeowner confidence in trusting you with your first assignment.
Build up a portfolio before travel. Without experience, it can be difficult to secure assignments, especially long-term ones or those in popular destinations. If you don't have pets or don't have much experience looking after them, why not ask friends with pets if you can walk their dog once a week or take over pet sitting responsibilities for a weekend away? This not only gives you confidence with the responsibilities that come with housesitting but they can also write you a house/pet sitting or character reference in which they can vouch for your trustworthiness and how you interacted with their pets.
Furthermore, why not consider backyard housesitting? That is, housesitting in your own city. Even though you already have accommodation, staying at someone else's place won't cost you anything extra and you'll gain valuable experience and reviews that will build up trust for future applications. Sometimes homeowners need housesitters at short notice and if you are ready and available, and you also happen to be a local, this may work to your advantage.
Remember, you're unlikely to get your dream housesit right out of the gates. Preparing by building up experience when when you're not travelling, will make it all the more easier to secure those assignments you really want abroad when the time comes.
Be on the ball
Check assignments daily. Just sign up to get the daily email alerts for the countries you are interested in sitting for and look at them regularly. Being a member of the site (needed to have a profile and apply for assignments) means that you see assignment listings 24 hours before they are shown publicly on the TrustedHousesitters website. The really great assignments get picked up super quickly so you need to act within the first 24-48 hours (and sometimes much sooner) in our experience before the homeowner just stops reading new applications because they already have so many, and amongst those it's likely they will have already found someone they think could do the job for them. Furthermore, homeowners with lots of suitable applicants, may just opt for a first come first served philosophy in order to come to a decision. Basically, if you want an assignment, act sooner rather than later.
That said, it never hurts to try some that have been up longer, you never know what response they have gotten and sometimes housesitters pull out and leave them without anyone to cover the assignment. So you can get lucky. Also, perhaps your more personal application stands out from the others and they feel a better connection with you than any of the other applications they have read. You just never know.
Do you have a housesitting profile? Perhaps you have already applied for or completed some assignments? Do you have any additional tips for landing that first assignment?
Next housesitting post –> Things to do/ask on assignment.
We've ended up referring so many people to TrustedHousesitters that we decided to join their affiliate program. Using the affiliate link in this post will not cost you any extra, but will simply tell them we referred you so we can earn a small commission to pay for the coffee that fuels this website.