Know as You Go: Turning Your Passion for Pets into a Profitable Side Gig
Photo credit: Pixabay
For some people, loving pets isn’t just something they feel occasionally-it’s a way of life. You might even prefer pets over people! Have you ever thought of what could happen when you combine your experience caring for animals with your entrepreneurial spirit? Turning your pet passion into a pet profession is a great side job for earning some pocket change or the first step in starting your own business. Consider these tips to help get you started.
Creating your niche
From dog walking to pet sitting, there are many self-employment options for pet lovers. You can try your hand at:
- Pet photography: Do you love taking pictures? With a high quality digital SLR, lights, backdrops and a few accessories you can start a business as a full- or part-time pet photographer. Start by taking a class or two so that your hobby becomes more polished and professional. Then, clear out a room in your house for a studio, or go mobile by networking with local pet stores, dog daycares and groomers to offer services to their clients or within their spaces.
- Dog walker: In today’s business world grind there is a great need for people to help care for animals when a pet owner can’t escape the office on an unusually long day. Or maybe long, erratic hours are the norm, like with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Offer your services as an experienced dog walker to help these exceptionally busy pet owners feel less guilty about leaving their dogs trapped inside for many long, lonely hours.
- Pet sitter: While all pet owners wish they could travel everywhere with their dogs and cats, there are just some vacations that must remain pet-free. Nothing gives a family peace of mind on their trip like knowing that their pet is well-cared for while they travel overseas, visit a theme park or explore a big metropolis. Pet sitting is another excellent part-time or full-time venture for an animal lover looking to earn extra money on the side.
Once you’ve decided the service you’ll provide, you need to get your name out there. Building your clientele involves more than just satisfied customers – it’s about building trust.
Creating your brand
Getting your name out there isn’t going to work on flyers and business cards alone. From social media to websites, from written reviews to video testimonials, the best way to reach your target audience is to create conversation around your credentials and credibility. Building a list of satisfied customers starts with:
- Offering free or discounted rates to friends, coworkers and acquaintances in exchange for positive reviews on pet service websites, like Rover or Dogtopia, and business review sites, like Yelp and Google.
- Taking out advertising on social media. By targeting a Facebook ad to people in your city who love dogs and who also have jobs that could be time-consuming, you can make sure your name as a first-rate dog walker is reaching those most likely to use your service. With the right targeting, you’d be surprised how far even as little as $10 can go.
- Offering discounts to people who recommend your service to their friends and neighbors. Getting multiple clients in the same neighborhood will make it easier for you to get more opportunities in a smaller radius, shortening the distance between jobs and maximizing your time.
Even for a side gig designed to supplement your income, it pays to focus on building a strong reputation as a trustworthy and reliable pet business.
Creating your business
Once you’ve signed on a few clients, it’s time to get your business feet underneath you. Start by learning the ins and outs of business management like:
- Forming a limited liability company (LLC) to take advantage of tax flexibility and protect your personal assets.
- Opening a business credit card to manage finances and help keep tabs on business expenses. Many cards offer a range of perks that could help your specific business, from cash back to 0% APR. Don’t have much credit and need to build? There are cards that can help small business owners in those situations, too. Selecting a business credit card can be very overwhelming. Research online reviews to help you find the one that’s right for you.
- Build a website that tells clients all about you and showcases both your passion for pets and your professional business side. People will want to feel like you love their pet as much as they do, so including a picture of you with your own animals, as well as a bio focused on why you love this work will really help. Don’t forget the business side, too. Clients can use your website to pay for services or schedule your time.
With the right attitude and the right plan, you can get your small business of the ground in no time. And when you iron out the wrinkles, you’ll quickly be able to see if this is just a side gig or a full-time venture. Don’t forget to find a balance between protecting your business venture and enjoying the work you do. That balance can make all the difference. Feeling passionate about your work is a truly wonderful place to be. Here’s to making it happen on your terms.
Bernie is a seven-year-old boxer who created BernieBoxer.com so he’d have something to keep his paws occupied while his pet parents are at work.