PetSittingOlogy was created in 2009 by Joshua Cary, out of seeing a great need to help pet sitters enhance their websites by learning how to rank better in the search engines while understanding how to convert more visitors into leads. Quickly realizing that Goal One for a service provider such as pet care is to instill a sense of trust and security in the minds of the pet owners, Joshua was able to use that knowledge and implement those tactics into his own pet sitting business website, http://www.alitiasanimals.com – before reaching six figures in pet sitting services during year one of operation. Today, PetSittingOlogy has become a popular business destination for pet sitters at all levels of success, including those looking to start their own business and those ready to expand.
MO: How did you evolve PetSittingOlogy from starting as a blog into a thriving business?
Joshua: The blog portion of PetSittingOlogy was first created simply from my passion, to teach other pet sitters how to make small, simple, relevant changes to their websites that would increase the chances that they would land in Google. The other side of that coin that I began focusing on was teaching what elements were needed on your website to instill a sense of trust in your visitor to increase the likelihood that she will make contact with you.
I quickly discovered through my own pet sitting business that while we are a service provider selling pet care, even before that’s allowed to happen, we must sell ourselves as trustworthy, capable and experienced pet sitters.
Without a visitor ever making contact (or making a purchase), your website remains an online brochure. If your website is an extension of your business then it needs to work along those lines and be able to influence, entice and excite as many of your visitors as possible to take the action you want them to take.
So, through simply blogging on those topics, I started receiving emails from pet sitters who would ask follow up questions, including asking if I could help make these changes for them. It was in these early emails that I understood I was on to something valuable and slowly started expanding my business to include additional products and services.
MO: How did your background and experience contribute to the success and development of PetSittingOlogy?
Joshua: I began creating websites for small businesses in 2000 when I was living in New York City. I quickly found that I had a passion for building sites, so I consumed myself in learning and reading everything I possibly could on the subject. For the record, it is still vitally important today to read, learn and educate yourself on everything your industry (or client’s industry) has to offer.
In 2008, my girlfriend at the time and I decided to open up a pet sitting business. She would handle the phones, while I handled the website. It was a perfect match.
I was able to use all my web building skills to create a solid web presence for our business and she was perfect on the phones selling our service.
Slowly but surely, I found the sweet spot for our website between ranking well in the search engines and converting the majority of our visitors into leads. Basically, I was able to quickly demonstrate through our website that we are a professional business that could be trusted with the care of someone’s pet.
We hit close to six figures in pet sitting services during our first year in business. Once I realized what I had accomplished through our pet sitting website, I began PetSittingOlogy to teach other pet sitters how to achieve the same success with their website. It helped tremendously that I had the success in my own business to say to other pet sitters, “This is what I accomplished in my own pet sitting business, this is how I did it, and here’s how you can too.”
MO: What are some tips for someone interested in setting up their own pet sitting business?
Joshua: The big, perhaps unfortunate, trap when deciding to become a pet sitter is the false assumption that anyone can do this. Too many people attempt to become a pet sitter because it looks or sounds easy. While walking someone’s dog may not take a Rocket Scientist to do correctly, it does take a trained, educated and knowledgeable person to recognize animal behavior, pick up on warning signs, and take the appropriate action in a number of situations. Not to mention the skills needed to land the clients in the first place.
So for one thing, it’s important to receive proper training and education so each potential client will feel comfortable leaving their most precious pet in your care. More and more pet owners today see and treat their pet as a member of the family, so reliable, humane care becomes increasingly important to the owner.
Also, learn small business skills and techniques. You are not just becoming a pet sitter, you are becoming a pet sitting business owner. While you need the proper skills in place to care for each animal, you also need the marketing and sales skills in place to sell yourself first and to properly run a thriving business.
Next, see the big picture and set goals. Because this is a business, all business rules do apply. I know many pet sitters who make full time careers out of this line of work, but that can only be achieved by setting goals for yourself.
Finally, invest money in the proper places. Since there are no tests to pass or forms to fill out, announcing yourself as a pet sitter can appear to occur with very little out of pocket start up cost. While you can technically get up and running for under $1000, you will want to allocate funds every step of the way for things like website development and marketing, insurance and bonding, ongoing training, education and association fees, and the continual cost of day-to-day operations.
MO: Do you have any amusing or surprising pet sitting stories that you’d be willing to share?
MO: Can you talk about how your reputation in the pet sitting industry gave you the ability to co-found a pet sitting association?
Joshua: Sure. Back in late 2009 while I was expanding my reach with PetSittingOlogy, I was contacted by Danielle Chonody, a pet sitting business blogger and coach that I was acquainted with. She asked to set up a time to speak and a few days later we were on the phone together.
Early in the conversation she said, “I want to start a pet sitting association.” Without missing a beat I said, “I’m in.”
I loved the idea even though at that point the real work had just begun. We spent the next several months determining what the pet sitting industry was missing, what we could bring to the table, and what it desperately needed.
We spoke with many pet sitters to get some input, and we both brought our individual strengths to the mix.
A positive reputation is built overtime through your word, your actions and your expertise. Having successfully displayed that trust and knowledge of the industry to my audience, I was able to not only get the attention of my co-founding partner, but also of the community that I was already a part of.
While one’s reputation is continually being evaluated by others, it’s certainly something that builds on itself and gains momentum.
MO: What is the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
Joshua: PetSittingOlogy was created a few short years ago as a way for me to simply share my insight and experience with other pet sitters. Since then it has slowly grown into a destination for pet sitters who are at all levels of their careers – including those looking to start a pet sitting business to those looking to expand by hiring staff.
Creating a powerful marketing tool in the form of your website designed to bring in plenty of pet sitter leads has always been my passion. I’ve written hundreds of articles on the topic, along with many videos, reports and other material.
Our most recent development on the horizon is the launch of our complete WordPress-powered pet sitting website system.
Simply put, we gathered all the elements in place from my own pet sitting business website and hand pet sitters a completely “done for you” fully functioning website – they just add their own content and it’s ready to go.
It is not only designed to rank well in Google and developed to convert more visitors into leads, but just as important, it puts the control back into the site owner’s hands without them having to pay or rely on a designer for every single update.
This project is most exciting because it has been in development for close to a year and truly empowers the pet sitter in an area that is typically the cause of much of their frustration.
And as any good business owner knows, create a product, service or tool that reduces a common frustration, you will be in business for a long while.
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