A Hygge-lism How To; Applied
Previously I wrote about how to establish a side hustle, which you can read by clicking on THIS LINK.
Since then, we have established a lucrative, opportunistic side hustle. I am going to spell out how we did it, using the step by step guide that I wrote about previously.
*Disclaimer – I say “we” throughout this article, but really I mean “she, Katie and my wife”*
The first step was to take an honest look at how much money we were looking to earn.
We were lucky enough to be able to live off of just my income, but we would like to try and save/invest as much as possible, so any extra income at all would be a bonus. Any income from the side hustle would go towards groceries, any money in excess of groceries would go into a vacation fund. So our goal was anything above nothing per month.
What are the needs in our area?
We took a good look at our area, my wife joined Facebook groups that covered our town and the nearby communities. We paid attention to the common discussions and requests that popped up on there. We started to put together common conversation threads between people that we met and talked to regularly and we started to see a need.
We live in a military-centric community, lots of families moving in and out regularly with their pets. With lots of travel opportunities and both parents commonly having full time jobs, there was a great need for dog walkers and pet sitters that was largely untapped.
How much time did we have to invest?
Both of our little ones are in school now, which leaves my wife’s weekday mornings free. Most people didn’t need a dog walker for weekends because they were home. We didn’t plan on traveling too often on weekends during the winter, so if pet sitting was required we could jump on that as well. So during the school year we have plenty of time, during the summer months could be a different story though.
What do we want to do?
My wife previously worked in customer service and she made it very clear that she would like to avoid dealing with people if at all possible, so dog walking…check. My wife and I both love animals…another check. We like to stay active and get outdoors…yet another check.
So, dog walking and pet sitting checked all of the boxes, it was time to pursue it.
Put ourselves out there.
My wife started to respond to the dog walking and sitting requests on Facebook. This was a little nerve racking, we didn’t know any of these people and they didn’t know us. Quite often as expected they would request a meet up first, we would get to meet their pet and have an impromptu interview of sorts. This was expected.
What we didn’t expect was the immediate acceptance of us as hired and the nonchalance of them sending us their home address and giving us a copy of their front door key, but it happened, and quite a bit.
Gauge the going rate.
We have a couple friends that have a dog and have hired a dog sitter/walker before. We tapped them for a common rate. We also left the door open during conversations to let the customer suggest a rate. As we talked to potential clients we were able to establish an average cost that was being asked for this service in the area.
Once we became confident that we could request a certain fee, we locked it in and we were able to state our fees with confidence.
Schedule, schedule, schedule.
We were very surprised to find how fast we were able to establish a large client base. Scheduling became of the utmost importance. My wife started to fill in our dry erase monthly calendar with the dog walking schedule; color coded of course.
Each family that was requesting a dog walker, would be allotted roughly an hour per day, which would include a little bit of travel time between houses, we would have to limit ourselves to 4 to 5 families per day.
I cannot stress enough the importance of a solid schedule, the last thing that you want is to forget somebody. Which leads right into the next step.
Build a reputation.
We were lucky enough to be able to get clients right off the bat without previous experience or references to fall back on. So because we got those first clients we had to make them count. A solid, reliable schedule kept us in the right place at the right time. Walking and exercise apps enabled us to track how far and how long each walk was and we were even able to add a picture of the dog that took part in the walk to it.
The combination of these two things did wonders to build a solid reputation. So by the time that someone did ask for a reference, we had them.
Check out some awesome pics of our paw walking friends on my wife’s Instagram by clicking this link —> @paw_walking
Side hustle established! So far this has turned out to be incredibly lucrative for us, and even has an opportunity for growth if we were to pursue it. We have more than covered all of our food shopping expenses and even took our first overnight/weekend vacation solely off of our dog walking and pet sitting funds.
By removing these expenses from my income, we have in turn been able to increase our savings significantly. The additional savings has begun to be invested, and will have the opportunity to grow exponentially!