Hello Hello F22 crew!
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to take care of lions and tigers and bears? (Oh my!) No? Well how about a tiny shit-zu or pitbull? If so then Steffa’s side hustle of being a pet sitter may be something to consider! Transitioning from zookeeping to pet sitting made sense for this lovely blogger (wild right?!) but you definitely don’t have to have that kind of experience to get started!
Name: Steffa Mantilla
Bio: Steffa is the author at Plantsonify, a personal finance blog. She helps teach families how to save money, live a debt-free lifestyle, and build wealth. Steffa shares how her family was able to pay off debt through budgeting, living a plant based lifestyle, and earning extra income; all while still enjoying life.
Side Hustle/Freelancing Niche/Profession: Pet Sitting Side Hustle
Give us the short version of who you are, what you do and why you love it!
My name is Steffa Mantilla and I own Plantsonify, a blog that educates people on how to get out of personal debt and build wealth.
After having my son, I decided to leave my zookeeping career and stay home with him full-time. I made up our budget and figured out that I’d be $500 a month short if I stayed at home versus going back to work. Using my zookeeping experience as inspiration, I set up a pet sitting side hustle to cover the budget deficit. I love pet sitting because it gives me the flexibility to take care of my son and continue to work with animals which is my passion. You don’t have to work nights, weekends, or holidays if I don’t want to. You get to set your own schedule that works best for your family.
How did you get into your side hustle?
I got into pet sitting because I needed a flexible job that I could schedule around a new baby. Since I already took care of animals professionally, it made sense to transition into the domestic pet care side of things.
Did you have any preconceived notions about it before? If so are they true or false?
Before starting to pet sit, I had this fear of dealing with difficult clients. I think with many “animal people,” they stress about not being a people person. Fortunately, I’ve found that if I set expectations and pricing up front, it makes working with a client better in the long run. If they’re not willing to work in my terms or are looking for significant discounts, they’re not the client for me so it’s best that I don’t work with them.
How did you go about monetizing your pet sitting business?
Since I was staring my pet sitting business after having a baby, I found it worked best to become and independent contractor for Rover. I didn’t have the time nor the budget to spend on a website, design, and marketing.
By partnering with Rover, I could create a sitter profile on their optimized search platform. They do take 20% of my booking fees but I consider that cost to be less than I would’ve spent had I set up an independent business.
How long did it take for your business to build to a full time salary?
It only took a few months before I was able to get enough pet sitting clients to hit my $500/month goal. What really stabilized my income was finding two mid-day dog walking clients that rebook every week. Then I can supplement with additional clients around holidays for morning and evening visits. This is especially nice around the holidays for the extra income.
How do you market your SH/FG?
I mainly market through my Rover profile. I keep my calendar availability updated so that I’m featured in the sitter search. My profile has captivating photos from my past job which many of my clients comment on.
What do people say when you tell them in person about it?
Most people are interested in my pet sitting job. They like how I’ve been able to set it up so that my flexibility works with watching a child at home.
What did your family/friends say about the idea of you starting your side hustle at the beginning?
I didn’t really talk to anyone about it, aside from my husband. It was something I just did. I find that I keep my motivation up if I don’t invite lots of opinions. After the fact, they thought it was smart since I was able to get out of the house and some additional exercise in while being paid.
What words of wisdom do you have for anyone wanting to give your side hustle a try?
For anyone who is interested in pet sitting, I’d say to do your research and feel confident. It’s alright to tell clients “no” or say that you aren’t comfortable with a situation. Sometimes an animal’s temperament doesn’t fit with yours.
If you could have any other occupation in the world, what would it be?
I already have the occupation of stay at home mom, which I love! For a creative outlet, I’ve taken on blogging. I blog about paying off debt and building wealth. I love helping people and have an analytical mind- I guess you could say I have all my dream occupations.