Taking on a side hustle to help pay your student loans back faster is a great idea! There are so many side hustles to choose from, and I’ve got my experience in several. I’m reviewing each side hustle in a separate post so that I can really examine the pros and cons.
How we were introduced to Rover.com
A few years ago, when we first got Ranger we weren’t lucky enough to have the pet sitting arrangement we now have with my sister. We had planned a trip to Florida but realized much to our dismay that all family and friends were either too busy or had no desire to sit our dog while we were away.
S. turned to the internet for a solution and we found Rover.com! Rover.com is a website that facilitates dog sitting and makes it easy. Normal, everyday people in your neighborhood signup to become pet sitters, and people with pets can find them all in one place, read their bios, and book a sitting. It’s kind of like Uber for pet sitting.
As new dog owners, we were extremely uptight about the prospect of strangers watching our dog. Luckily, we found a young couple a few streets over from us that had glowing reviews and a great bio, they also had a bulldog mix named Daisy. We contacted them through the site, and did a trial meet up at a park nearby. We loved the couple right away, and Daisy and Ranger seemed to hit it off.
A few days later we went on our trip and left Ranger with them. We paid our “bill” through Rover.com, who took their cut and sent the rest to the couple. We had such a great experience, and the couple who sat Ranger suggested that we sign up for Rover.com, explaining that they made a good amount of money doing it. Say no more!
A few weeks later I had registered as a dog-sitter, created a bio, and I was in business!
The registration process is super easy
I filled out an application online, elected to have a background check (this is optional), and was ready to start almost immediately. I crafted a bio, and uploaded a few wholesome images of me, Steve, and Ranger. I also read some helpful tips they provided on pet-sitting, and took an online course they offered on the website, but that was it.
I got business right away
One really nice thing Rover.com does for new pet sitters is to display their bio on the front page for a few days to generate traffic to that person’s page. I thought I’d have a really hard time competing against sitters that had hundreds of reviews and jobs under their belt, but I got job offers within days of signing up.
You have three options on the site: Dog sitting at the owner’s house, watching their dog at your house, or being hired to just stop in periodically for dog walking. You can sign on for all three, or just one of these options. I signed on for everything but watching the dog at the owner’s house.
You set your own pay rate
You can set your own price point. This is great because as a new person you can set a rate that is really competitive. That might be a reason I got business right away. I set my daily rate a few dollars below what people with more experience were offering. Once you have more experience and five star reviews you can raise your rate and make even more money.
They generate business you could never get on your own
Rover.com is so well known at this point that they can generate traffic for you as a pet-sitter that you could just never achieve on your own. Their marketing and network is far-reaching, so if you’ve always wanted to make cash watching other people’s pets, this is definitely the way to go.
The money is good
The money, for a side hustle, is what I consider to be really good. I took on a job where I went to an owner’s house and let their dog out three times a day for a little over a week and I made over $600.00. The pay is comparable to what most people pay to board their dogs at a facility.
Rover.com takes a large cut
Back when I did this several years ago, Rover.com was taking 15% of your earnings. I’ll let you decide for yourself if that’s too little or too much.
Once I had one job under my belt with a five-star review, things started blowing up. I was receiving notifications almost hourly from people inquiring about pet-siting.
Each job has several exchanges before the actual date when you sit the dog. First, there are several back and forth messages on Rover.com about availability, dog information, etc… Then there is usually a phone conversation for lengthier matters. Then it is recommended that you set up a trial run where all parties meet to see if it’s a good match and everyone’s comfortable.
On any given day I was receiving dozens of messages from different people. It would have been alright if I could have set a few hours aside in the evening to address all these notifications, but Rover.com prefers you to answer messages right away, and they continue to pressure you by sending you notifications until you do so. With my regular 9-5 it became a lot to juggle.
Other people’s dogs can be a problem
This point brings me to why we ultimately resigned from being sitters on Rover.com. We signed on to watch a Jack Russell at our home while the owner went on a short weekend trip. As Rover.Com recommends, we did a trial meet where both the Jack Russell and our dog seemed to get a long fine. The owner told us her dog could be skittish, but we didn’t think much of it. So far we had only had really great experiences with sitting.
A few days after the trial the owner dropped her dog off and it didn’t take long at all for things to go very south very quickly. While hanging out in our family room, the two dogs got into a very nasty fight. It happened so quickly, and was so shocking that S. and I really had no idea who the instigator was. Ranger had never been in a fight, so we were pretty shaken by the whole event.
We were able to separate them, but they both had at least one cut that was bleeding. Ranger had a bite on his leg (not deep), and the Jack Russell and been scratched on his ear. We called the owner right away and she came to pick him up. Both parties felt pretty bad about the whole incident. Needless to say, that one exchange soured us on the experience. We had invited a dog that was largely a stranger to us into our home, and he had gotten in a fight with our dog. We decided we couldn’t put Ranger in that position ever again.
Rover.com helpline and Insurance was disappointing
While we waited for the above mentioned owner to pick up her dog, I called the Rover.com helpline to see if the insurance package we had purchased would cover veterinarian expenses for the bite wound on Ranger, and the ear scratch on the Jack Russell.
When you sign up to be a sitter, you are encouraged to buy an insurance package which I thought would protect us in these such incidences. Having insurance is also meant to benefit you because you can display it on your profile, and then owners might feel more comfortable if you have a safety net in place.
This phone call took place years ago, but I remember very clearly that the insurance I had purchased covered absolutely nothing in the way of vet bills, and the helpline was not very helpful about the current situation. Not only was I peeved that I was paying for insurance for nothing, but it would have been nice if I could at least have offered the Jack Russell’s owner the insurance coverage for her dog. Instead, we called our family friend who is also our veterinarian, and he was much more helpful and told us, if cleaned well, the Jack’s ear would heal on its own, and for the owner to keep an eye on it. We took Ranger in the next day to have his leg looked at and paid out of pocket.
Overall, being a pet-sitter on Rover.com was an interesting experience. My thoughts are that you can definitely make decent money doing it, just be prepared for it to keep you busy, and ensure you have the correct lifestyle in place to take it on. Watching someone else’s pet is a huge responsibility, and I learned that when something went very wrong it wasn’t a responsibility I wanted on my hands.