Ever since we first started house sitting in 2013 we’ve actively encouraged every traveller we’ve talked with to start ‘living like a local‘ too. Not just because it’s a highly cost-efficient (and pretty much free!) way to travel, it’s because it offers the chance to live in the high comfort of home, yet without the cost or any strings attached.
Several of our friends have already signed up, yet almost all of them are left wondering why they’re not being chosen for the house sitting assignments they contact.
"It’s so hard to get noticed. What’s the catch?"
Two years ago we were asking ourselves the same question. We’d subscribed to a few house sitting websites and for all the requests we were sending we’d be lucky if we ever heard a reply that wasn’t, "We’re looking through all the profiles and will let you know".
With frustration building we reached out to the same popular house sitters who’d put us onto the process originally and asked them for their thoughts.
Could they explain where we were going wrong?
The summary they sent us is the same we’ve been passing onto our friends ever since.
"You’re profile needs work."
Our profile was okay, but it clearly wasn’t the best it could be. House owners get so many offers from sitters that they rarely spend more than 60 seconds on a profile before they move onto the next one.
We needed to create a profile that has that WOW Factor that’s both informative and concise, and ever since we made the first changes to our profile our success at securing sitting assignments has increased.
And now we’d like to pass that success onto you.
In this post we hope to pass on all the advice we’ve gathered from successful house sitters, plus a number of our own tips we’ve figured out along the way.
As most of our success has come through the website Trusted Housesitters, we’ll be using their template to explain how you can improve your profile, but the same advice applies to any house sitting website you may be using.
So let’s begin…
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How To Write and Improve Your Profile
Headline | Make An Immediate Impression
The impression you make in the first few seconds someone is on your house sitting profile is key and optimising it from top to bottom is essential, beginning with your headline.
Your headline needs to summarise who you are and why you’re the prime candidate for the assignment you’re trying to secure.
Much like a Tweet you only have a few words to work with, yet this can work in your favour. Instead of filling your headline with too many words and superlatives, write something that showcases your professionalism and who it is the home owner could be inviting into their home.
You can insert a little of your personality if you wish, but the general consensus between most house sitters is to mention the key parts of your profile.
- Are you a solo house sitter or couple?
- Do you have past experience?
- Do you smoke?
Our tip would be to grab a pen and notepad and write a quick list of the key features you feel make you the best candidate. Once you have your small list challenge yourself to write ten different headlines that include everything from it, whilst trying to keep your headline as short as possible.
Here are a few that we drafted before settling on our current headline:
- Professional Non-Smoking Couple. Early 30’s. Animal Loving. References On Request
- Professional Couple. Willing To Travel. Experienced and Reliable
- Animal Loving Vegan Couple. Work Online. Free To Travel
- Trustworthy Couple. 2 Years of Housesitting Experience
Here’s what our current profile headline looks like:
Photos | Show How Suitable You Are
Once you’ve drawn someone further into your profile with your headline it’s time to let people get to know you further. You want people to see that you’re a fun, yet trustworthy person with a personality that a pet or home owner would invite into their home.
One of the most effective ways you can connect with the home owner is with photos and for Trusted Housesitters you have the ability to upload four pictures to your profile, one of which you can set as your profile picture (which we’ll come onto in a second).
If photos say a thousand words then with your profile you have 4,000 words immediately at your disposal to make a good impression. Of the four photos we recommend that you choose to include:
- Profile picture
- You and a pet
- You working/at home
- Your personality
Picture 1 – Profile Picture
When home owners first sign up to Trusted Housesitters they’re able to search for house sitters who are available for assignments in their country. When the profiles are displayed it will be your first photo that will be displayed as your profile picture. For this reason alone you must choose a picture that communicates who you are, that you look trustworthy, and also friendly.
Choosing a close up photo is great.
Picking a photo that shows you being responsible is even better.
Pick a picture of you being responsible with someone else’s pet and you’re onto a winner.
Since replacing the picture of the both of us together with one of Franca and a dog we were sitting, we’ve had more responses and better success.
Picture 2 – You and a pet
For the three remaining pictures you should choose photos that further represent who you are and why you’re a prime candidate for any house or pet sitting assignment. Seeing as most assignments include the care of pets it’s wisest to show pictures of you and a pet you’ve sat for before.
Our second picture is one of Franca cuddling with another pet we’ve sat for this year, which works best for us as the main point of our house sitting profile is that we’re animal lovers at heart, which should help house sitters relax in the thought that we’ll offer as much love for their pets as they would.
Picture 3 – You working/at home
One of the largest reasons people choose to use house sitters is because they want someone in their house as much as possible for the sake of security. Sometimes the pets are more used to someone working from home or spending most of their time in the house, so by using a house sitter they will still be someone around.
For people like ourselves this is a great opportunity to show yourself working from home.
This picture is further proof of who you are and what you’ll be doing whilst you watch over their home.
If you don’t have a picture of yourself working from home feel free to add another picture that shows playing or walking with a pet.
Picture 4 – Your personality
People like other people they can identify with. With this fourth picture you can show that you’re not just trustworthy, but a nice, kind, and potentially fun person to be with.
Imagine yourself in their shoes with the roles reversed and picture the kind of person you’d like in your house. You want someone mature, responsible, yet good humoured. You need to show that you’re an open minded individual who it would be a pleasure to spend time with, even if just for the day before the home owner goes away.
Alternatively, if for any of these pictures you don’t have the right photograph at hand, pick another photo of you and some pets you’ve watch over before, or ask a good pet-owning friend if they’d be interested in going for a walk sometime with their pet and a camera for a small photo shoot.
Videos | Summarise With Speed
What better way to summarize your profile is there than in a video?
Within a short 60-90 second video you can explain exactly who you are, what experience you have, and – importantly – show your personality in full.
We’re just about to record and replace our current video with a better optimised replacement that features everything a home owner would like to know.
It should include:
- Who we are
- Where you’re from
- Why you love house sitting
- What experience you have
- Clips of previous house or pet sits you’ve done
If you’ve not enough footage of you with pets at the end you can instead include a few photos of you and your own pets with some background music. Alternatively, grab your camera and ask a friend to spend the day with them and their pet. Play catch, have fun, and capture it all on camera.
You may like to read: How We Spent Less Than £600 on Accommodation This Year
Introduction | Start With Your Elevator Pitch
If the photos or video haven’t caught the attention of the reader already, your introduction is the crucial first point from where the home owner can get to know who you are and why they should keep reading.
After this first section the home owner will either choose to continue reading, or they’ll be unimpressed and opt to close the window and move onto the next profile.
Capturing their attention is key.
Within this introduction of your house sitting profile you need to write both plainly and concisely who you are, where you’re from, what experience you have, and why you’re the prime candidate for any house sitting assignment.
Inside of ours we like to mention which countries we’ve house and pet sat in to show how flexible we are in travelling to new assignments. We also like to mention how old we are and that we’re non-smokers, as many home owners state that it’s a trait that they’d prefer.
One great way of immediately grabbing a home owners attention is to start your profile off with a reference, as you’ll see in our own introduction.
With this ‘proof‘ you can immediately show how trustworthy you are simply by copying one of your references from the bottom of your profile, an important section that – as mentioned above – some readers may not scroll down to.
Also, on Trusted Housesitters the optimal count for paragraphs and words is two paragraphs and 700 words. Anything more than that and some of your text may be hidden behind a ‘More info‘ link which you can’t rely on people to click. For the sake of ease, speed, and ensuring everything you write is read; aim to write something less than the above counts.
No matter where you’re writing your house sitting profile, make it concise and quick to read.
Reason | Why You Want to House Sit
Why did you sign up to be a house sitter?
The answer to this question must not be ‘to stay in cool places for free‘ or anything similar.
Home owners aren’t looking for someone to stay in their house for free. What they are looking for is someone like them who’ll look after their home and pets as if they were their own.
This is the most important section of your house sitting profile (after your references) and writing a killer paragraph or two can be all it takes to help you win the house sitting assignment of your dreams.
Mentioning what you’ll be doing during the house sit is also worthwhile, which can be anything from freelance writing online to starting your own business. Being upfront about how you’ll be spending your time in the house can really help.
Experience | What You Bring to an Assignment
How you write this section of your house sitting profile is just as important as the other sections.
Within it you need to not just show any experience you have from other house sitting assignments, you also need to write about what qualities you bring too. These can be skills and an expertise you’ve acquired through your work life, or abilities and knowledge you’ve learned from volunteering previously.
It’s also worth mentioning here any other abilities or qualifications you have which may be useful to the home owner. These can be anything from gardening skills to carpentry. You’d be surprised how many home owners would be happy to know their house sitter is crafty with their hands.
Security | Provide a Police Check
Although not 100% required, of the Top 20 Featured Sitters for the United Kingdom every single sitter had a police check available.
Police checks are a simple and effective way of showing a home owner that they can have full confidence in their trusting you with the keys to their home.
Purchasing a police check is becoming increasingly easier to acquire and you’ll find more information about them via the following links.
- UK’s Police Check Process
- Ireland’s Police Check Process
- USA’s Police Check Process
- Canada’s Police Check Process
- Australia’s Police Check Process
- New Zealand’s Police Check Process
References | The Key To Successful House Sitting
As mentioned above, this is the most important section of your house sitting profile.
The reviews and references in this section are the deal breaker between having your fingers crossed when you send a request and becoming a successful house sitter.
Much like with Couchsurfing, the more references you have the more likely it is you’ll be considered; and as your profile displays your star rating and number of references in your profile description at the top, it’s important that you start collecting them as soon as possible.
The best references to have are those from past house sitting assignments you’ve completed, so as soon as you’ve signed up for an account with Trusted Housesitters, reach out via email or by phone to the house and pet owners you’ve sat for before.
Once they’ve agreed to provide you with a reference you need to return to the ‘My Account‘ page and select the ‘References‘ page. From here you’ll be able to request an external reference which will send a short form to the referrer you’ve selected. It takes only a minute or two for the home/pet owner to complete and will help you out a great deal.
There are three other references you can request externally too and they are:
- Landlord Reference
- Employment Reference
- Character Reference
Landlord references are the most valuable as they’re a great indicator of how you treat other people’s property. Employment references are great for showing how professional you are, and character references are also very useful, especially if the person giving them is respected in the community (priests / police officers / etc).
Above all the most valuable references are those from home owners on Trusted Housesitters as these will be displayed above all the others in the references section of your profile. Because of this consider applying for the shortest house assignments near you, even if you’re still living at home. The value of the reference it gives outweighs the duration of the sit.
The more references you have, the more likely it is your profile will be successful.
What If I Don’t Have References?
For those of you without many references the easiest pathway to success is to start by asking your friends and family if you can watch over their homes and pets whilst they are away, even if just overnight or for the weekend. Update your Facebook page offering to house sit or take pets for a walk for free in your area. Each experience counts.
Apply for every house sit in your area. You’re more likely to win it than someone who has to travel, plus you have the added advantage of being able to meet with the owner way in advance of their going away which will ease their mind further.
Fresh | Keep It Up To Date
Once you’ve rewritten your profile the next step is to keep it up to date. We often will see house sitting profiles that we know to be months – if not more than a year – out of date. We’ve seen the house sitting profiles of friends who we know have so much more to include than they already have.
Don’t be one of them.
An update profile is a successful profile. Record every experience you earn and every lesson you learn.
Did you do a month long house sit with an ill dog? Include it.
Have you house sat for long durations of six months or more? Mention it.
Every experience shows that you’re capable and eager to help out.
Following every house sit be sure to maintain a good line of communication with the home owner and make sure they leave a reference. Doing really well on a house sit for a month is fantastic but not having a five star reference to back it up is certainly not going to help.
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Now Start Applying For Assignments!
You’re almost there. You’ve made your notes, taken new pictures, and written the best introduction of your house sitting skills – but you’re not quite there yet!
From today start showing your new killer house sitting profile to as many people as you can by sending as many requests to new house sits as you feasibly can.
We can’t wait to read of your increased success!
Have you had success with house sitting?