This week we have the absolute pleasure of sharing a very special side hustle interview with you!
We have been following my cousin Taylor’s amazing Rover side hustle journey from the very start.
It’s been so exciting watching her take her passion and turn it into a super-profitable dog sitting business.
We’re talking over $20,000 in extra income in just two years as a Rover dog sitter!
So if you love dogs even half as much as Taylor and want to know exactly how she has grown her Rover business so quickly, keep reading this in-depth Rover review!
Hi Taylor! Thanks for Taking the Time to Chat Today. Tell us a Little About Yourself and When You Got Started as a Rover Dog Sitter?
My name is Taylor and I have been a Rover dog sitter for almost two years now.
Since that date, my business has been touched by 131 dogs, 4 cats, and 2 guinea pigs.
To say that my fiance, Zack, and I are dog lovers is an understatement. We adore dogs; not only do we host dogs in our home for extra income but we have two of our own and foster dogs as well.
I started my Rover journey in July 2018 just expecting it to help out a little with month-to-month expenses. After getting a little taste of extra income and realizing that I was amazing at dog sitting, I had to expand to my full potential.
After lots of learning and improvements to my business, to date, I have earned $21,884.60 in extra income doing a side hustle that feels more like fun than work!
What Exactly Is Rover Dog Sitting?
Rover is basically Tinder for dog sitting.
You create a profile for your dog on the website or Apple/Android app then search for compatible sitters!
Rover prompts you to answer questions about your dog, then leaves you a fill-in section to add additional details about your pet as needed. This is super important because a sitter wants to know as much detail about the pet as possible to make sure it is going to be a perfect match.
Here is an example of what my dog’s, Lily’s, Rover profile looks like.
Once the profile is complete you select what kind of services you are looking for:
- house sitting
- drop-ins, or
After you see which sitters are available, you then reach out to them with a simple message. Once the sitter responds with a “hello” and possibly some additional questions, then they schedule a meet and greet.
After that, the booking should be scheduled and then you’re officially a Rover user!
From the sitter’s point of view, Rover.com is just a hub for sitters to run their own business.
Rover.com has no say in what you do with your business.
You pick your availability, rules, policies. Rover.com is just a “home base” for your business.
The reason they are there is for their Rover Guarantee.
The sitter and dog owner pays 20% to Rover and then a small insurance cover is applied to the stay. It covers the sitter, the sitter’s dogs, and the Rover dog. It also helps remove a dog from your stay if there is a family emergency or if the dog is no longer a good fit for the stay.
Rover is a very good way to be an independent business owner but to still get a good number of clients since Rover.com advertises everywhere! So long as your profile looks good in the search results then the business will fly in!
I have had over 100 dog parents ask me to watch their dogs and only eighteen have been from referrals or from my business page on Facebook.
Can You Really Make Money Pet Sitting and Walking on Rover?
It surprises me every day about how much money you can actually make as a Rover Dog Sitter.
The key to success is your placement on the search results on Rover.com.
Rover filters its sitters by reviews, bookings, and how quickly you respond.
First, the quicker you respond to dog owners looking for a sitter, the quicker you’ll move to the number one spot.
Also, Rover tells owners to send more than one request out. So if you don’t get to them fast enough, another sitter may snag the stay.
The more bookings you have the more likely you’ll be to be at the top of the search list as well. Because of this, at the beginning of my business, I rarely turned away stays because I wanted to get to that number one spot!
Reviews (good ones) are key though! Always ask your clients to leave you amazing reviews! The more five-star reviews you have the higher you’ll go on the search results!
I have had countless clients tell me that they chose me over other sitters because I had so many great reviews. After you play the results game for a few months, the requests will roll in.
The next best thing is to establish good repeat clients. If someone mentioned during your meet and greet they are looking for a long term sitter, always ask on pick-up day when they will need you next, so that you’ll be able to give them a slot with you immediately!
By playing the search results game and making relationships with great dog owners, I went from making $755 on average per month in 2018 to $1,450 on average per month in 2019!
Want to sign up to become a Rover dog sitter? Click here to start your profile for free!
How Did You Get Started With Rover? How Long Did it Take You to Start Making Money?
My start with this side hustle came from a stressful situation, to be honest.
In 2018 I made a career change. I went from a very high-paying easy job to a career I have always wanted.
My day job (shocked that I don’t do Rover full time?) is a career I have wanted since I was in college so I knew that my heart wanted to be in that field as much as I knew this change could be difficult.
With this change, I took a dramatic pay cut. I struggled for many months trying to make ends meet on my end of the monthly bills. Then one day at a work luncheon, a group of coworkers and myself were talking about finances and each one talked about their side gig.
I was shocked that almost everyone that works with me has something they do on the side. So to Google, I went!
I typed into that search bar “Side gigs for dog lovers” and well I think you know what the first thing on the page was.
Starting off I told myself that I needed to set the bar low so I was happy with whatever results came my way.
I also needed my fiance’s approval because we did (and still do) live together. I remember saying to him “It should be an easy job because we are constantly letting our dogs out and feeding them. What’s one more dog added to something we are doing daily?”
(Joke’s on him that it became four dogs by November 2018.)
I spent hours the first week that my profile was approved editing my description, adding good photos, and cleaning my house.
My profile on Rover.com had boarding added to my profile on 7/19/18 and I had my first booking for 7/29/18.
It took me ten days to get my first booking and from there, it was all uphill. I constantly updated my calendar and checked the competitors’ prices and made appropriate changes.
How Can Others Get Started Dog Sitting With Rover?
Becoming a Rover sitter is super simple and free to create a profile!
I suggest using a desktop or laptop to get yourself going because the app is more limited — you really want to put the time and effort into joining.
To make yourself active, there is a $10 background check that does need to be completed before you start watching dogs or cats.
Once you get going, you’ll make that $10 back right away. And you should definitely complete the Dog Sitter 101 course to earn the additional Rover Badge on your profile. It’s nice to show off and show the owners you know your stuff.
Want to become a Rover dog sitter today? Click here and start creating your profile now!
Things You Will Need to Start Pet Sitting and Dog Walking With Rover
I am going to give you the “Taylor’s starter pack” list to successful dog sitting! Stick to these items below and you cannot go wrong as a dog sitter.
And don’t forget to keep track of your expenses so you can write them off in your taxes! #Savvy
I’d suggest buying a couple of crates off of Facebook marketplace. They’ll be way cheaper than even buying online and if a dog damages it, it doesn’t upset you so much because it was already a little loved.
Plus, clients are going to love that you have your own crate so that they don’t have to transport theirs!
When it comes to dog beds or bedding for a crate, do NOT try to get the best of the best.
These things are going to be used frequently and they’re going to get worn down or chewed or peed on.
The best bedding I have ever found were old blankets for $1 at The Salvation Army. Cheap, easy to wash, and comfy! #savvy
Buy them in bulk because it will shock you how quickly they’ll disappear!
I prefer this kind of doggy poop bag below because they always come with a free poop bag holder and the box makes it so easy and tidy to store them.
What dog doesn’t like a good treat? I have found that the dog treats from Blue Dog Bakery are not only healthy but all dogs love them! They come in a perfect size so all dog types can munch on them and the flavors are super fun too!
I have been using this exact calendar to track my side hustle for two years now.
It has a simple six lines for each date so it is easy to just write what dog will be boarded for an easy way to track your days. It also has a great note section for each week, that’s where I write down big events that occurred for the business.
I love being able to look back at all my milestones and successes!
Dog owners are going to provide their own leash, but what they may lack is a good quality one.
If you are struggling with a dog’s leash, have a back up one in your car or at your home. Especially if the one provided is retractable. Those are proven to be unsafe so try to avoid them!
With that, you never know what kind of collar or harness you are going to get so if it makes you feel safer, have your back-up leash be a slip lead!
I use Nature’s Miracle Stain and Odor cleaner not only because it is safe to use around pets but it also has a deodorizer.
So it helps prevent male dogs from leaving marks where other male dogs have left their scent behind, and keep my highly-doggy-trafficked house smelling fresh!
Once you get your feet on the ground, you need a way to show people who you are.
Business cards are a great way to do just that! I used VistaPrint but Rover.com also has a business card shop for thank you cards and business cards.
I always send three home with my new clients and ask them to share my card with their friends and family.
This may sound silly but I strongly encourage getting yourself a Rover t-shirt.
I wear mine to the dog park, on my walks, and to the pet store. It gets people’s attention and they say things like “Oh I saw that on TV” or “I use Rover sometimes!” Then start up a conversation and slip ‘em a business card.
Pros vs. Cons of Rover?
Using Rover.com allows you to always have their support during any kind of booking.
Rover covers accidents that exceed $250 in veterinary bills, maxing out at $25,000. This covers the Rover dog and your dogs. Rover also covers property damage on a case-by-case basis.
This also saves you the hassle of finding independent insurance.
The Business Is Yours:
Rover is only a hub for your own personal business.
They have no say in how many dogs you want to watch, how much you want to charge, or any policies you may want to implement.
It is freedom with a main source of clientele.
Rover Sitters have a great supportive community.
Rover has created an entire Q&A Community dashboard where sitters can ask and answer questions from other sitters on the business aspect of things.
Also, Rover created a Facebook group for their sitters to have discussions and share personal stories. I have had countless times where I have posted horror stories of something that happened during a stay and I have received great support on my actions from the Rover community!
Rover has a great display when it comes to advertising your services. The statistics are front and center so owners see what they need to know before booking.
If you are a private sitter and an owner asks for a reference, you may have to ask past clients to reach out and testify for your business, which can be time-consuming.
On Rover, all reviews and ratings are readable for everyone. Rover even calculates how many repeat clients you’ve had to show potential bookings. A Rover profile even tells the public if you have special certificates by easy to read displays.
Recently there have been some news articles about pets getting lost or losing their lives while in the care of a Rover Sitter.
Because of this a lot of people have stopped using Rover.com or have become extra paranoid. It makes a good sitter’s jobs a little harder because they have to work harder to earn the owners’ trust.
Tweaks & Glitches:
The Rover app can sometimes malfunction, like any other app. Sometimes it doesn’t allow you to send certain messages or modify things appropriately.
You just have to communicate with the client that it isn’t your fault and explain what’s happening. Sometimes this can be annoying but it is just a normal thing to overcome.
A lot of sitters suggest getting the person’s personal number in case there is an issue with the app.
Rover Tips to Increase Your Earning Potential
Make Your Profile Welcoming
The first thing you have to do is reel in the business, so make sure your profile is perfect!
Post pictures of you with dogs, your inside set up, and your outdoor potty area. Make sure that your “About Me” section is detailed and personal.
Be specific on what kind of dogs you want to pet sit. My profile was so eye-catching that I was featured in a local news segment on Rover sitters in my area!
Respond To Messages Immediately
Like I said earlier, Rover prompts dog owners to send out more than one request to sitters so the owner can book as quickly as possible.
Make sure you respond as soon as you can and start with questions. Get their attention and a reason to continue talking to you.
Schedule Meet & Greets ASAP
You will be amazed by how many people send requests and then book with someone else because you couldn’t get a meet quickly enough.
If you have open spots throughout the week that are set aside for meet and greets, you can book people fast and not lose out on a potential new client.
Know The Rover Holidays
Rover has it preprogrammed into their system the biggest weeks or weekends of the year that the most bookings occur.
During these times, Rover allows you to bump up your rates to Holiday Rates. This is where I make my most income. So for me, my rate goes from $30/night to $35/night.
Know these dates, update your calendar like crazy, and schedule meet and greets immediately for bookings.
Last year during spring break, April 14-24, I made $1,800 just in those ten days!
Bring On More Dogs
If you find yourself doing well with what you are doing and you want to up the game a little, add more spots to your services.
I started out only taking one client at a time. Eventually, I added on the second spot and now I can board up to four dogs at a time.
So I went from making $30 a night to $120 a night. You can even do this with Drop-Ins and Walks.
If you find you have the availability, add more spots.
I even heard from a Rover Sitter friend of mine that, with the owner’s permission, doubles up on walks. So she picks up one dog, drives to the second dog’s house, and walks them together. She makes double the money and saves time in her day to walk another dog later.
Do you pay taxes on Rover?
A Rover sitter does not pay taxes per booking so they owe at the end of the year during tax season.
If you withdraw by check, Rover will send you a 1099 form. If you went through PayPal, you can access your 1099 form through your PayPal account.
Do I need extra insurance?
Nope! The Rover Guarantee is good enough to keep your business safe and thriving.
The only time you would need insurance is if you decided to go off of Rover.com and only do private bookings. Again, that’s up to you as a business owner though.
The biggest thing to make sure you are following your area’s kennel laws (including any licensing as required).
How much are Rover expenses?
During each stay, Rover charges fees to the owner and sitter.
They add on or take away 20% to each party of the transaction. This is to cover the Rover Support and Rover Guarantee.
Personal expenses are hard for me to predict right now because in my first two years I made so many changes that cost money, but they were all one-time changes. None of those expenses are repeat costs.
In my first year, my expenses were 16.67% on my income and last year was 8% of my income.
This year so far I have only spent $30. I’d say that once you get the costly expenses out of the way, you’ll only be purchasing the day-to-day items necessary for inexpensive if you price shop.
What if I have my own dogs?
Then they’ll love this business as much as you will!
The extra playtime and meeting new dog friends is so good for dogs. Just make sure to follow safety precautions: feed separately, watch for toy aggression, no bones.
You do have to keep in mind though to make sure that your client’s dogs are dog-friendly when potential clients reach out.
Most likely, the owner is going to search for a sitter who has other dogs. It is great socialization and the dogs entertain themselves.
Final Thoughts on Making Money Dog Sitting With Rover
If I could tell a future pet sitter one thing it would be don’t get burnt out! Dog sitting is supposed to be a fun way to make money.
You aren’t a kennel so you don’t have to take every client that comes your way. If you and a dog aren’t compatible, make them find another sitter.
If you want to board five dogs at a time but you are getting overwhelmed bring it down to two. Either way that is extra income in your pocket.
Also, don’t be afraid to take a break from it. Last year Zack and I were getting overwhelmed between fostering dogs and Rover so we shut it down for two weeks. It was the reset we needed to keep this business going.
The more fun it is, the longer you will last meeting new fur friends and making money.
Taylor is passionate about her dog sitting side hustle and intends to grow this business even bigger in the coming years. You can view her sitter profile on Rover (and book her, if you’re local!) and get some inspiration for starting your own dog sitting side hustle. You can also check out her Facebook page to see her in action!