So you’ve signed up for a house sitting website and found a sit you’re interested in. Now it’s time to write that winning first house sitting message that will get your house sitting application noticed by home and pet owners!
And if you somehow ended up here without prior knowledge of house sitting, let us guide you to some of our introductory articles about house sitting:
- Common Misconceptions About House Sitting
- How to Start House Sitting
- TrustedHousesitters Review
- How to Create the Perfect House Sitting Profile
We’ve also secured a special discount for our readers, so if you have not yet signed up for a house sitting website, click here to sign up with 10% off!
While this is written from the perspective of house sitters, homeowners take note: your sitter’s first message should incorporate these aspects. For more tips on choosing a sitter, head to our article: 5 Steps to Using a House Sitter for the First Time.
We want to dispel the myth that house sitting is a free vacation for sitters. If you really want to housesit, you should take it seriously, much like a job.
With that in mind, what are practical steps you can take in your first house sitting message to homeowners?
1. Carefully Read the Pet/Home Owner’s Post
Whether you’re reading about this opportunity on Facebook or a house sitting website, it is essential to carefully read (and read again) the listing. This is your chance to glean details, to show that you’re paying attention and that you have the homeowner’s needs in mind.
Do they mention that they’re concerned about a sitter being able to properly administer the pet’s medication? Is the pet still young and jumping around with boundless energy? Do they need three walks a day or just a minimum total amount of time?
There’s an endless amount of things that homeowners could care about. Most homeowners will say exactly what matters to them in their post. If they don’t, ask!
Once we pointed out that we had experience with hounds and their incessant need to sniff everything. Ultimately, this got us a sit in Manhattan, a very competitive area for house sitting. When we asked why she had chosen us over the many applicants they got, she immediately said, “Well, you’re the only one that mentioned knowing my dog’s breed personality, and that means a lot to me.”
Read more: NYC House Sitting 101 for House Sitters and Pet Owners
You don’t have to address everything that the homeowner mentions, but throwing in a few details shows that you’re on the ball. If they mention that their pet needs medication, talk about your experience with administering pet medication or your willingness to learn. If they seem concerned about their dog getting enough exercise, talk about how much you like to take walks, runs, hikes, whatever (and if you don’t like these things, consider whether you want to house sit for an energetic dog).
2. Focus on the Pet Owner’s Needs in Your House Sitting Application
Sam and I are avid fans of all things Japanese. We love Japanese food and we watch anime regularly. I particularly love manga and films about feudal Japan. While we do talk about challenging travel norms, and prefer to travel alternatively, we will totally admit we have certain dream destinations, like Japan.
While it’s nice that we feel that way, the day we find a sit in Japan, the message to the homeowner will not be “omg we loooove Japan and that’s why you should choose us.” Loving Japan does not make us good house sitters.
We’re amazed at how often we hear that homeowners received responses that only talked about the sitter and how well the sit would work for them. When house sitting for a couple in popular tourist destination Asheville, North Carolina, she mentioned that she has to wade through the many people who apply simply gushing over how much they want to visit Asheville.
This isn’t to say that you can’t talk about how excited you’d be to visit the place where the homeowner lives. People love when you’re interested in their town or city. But leave it towards the end as an add-on, or save it for a Skype or phone conversation. Focus on what you have to offer the homeowner first. We’ve done this many times and find it’s nice to sign off by including a bit about why we want to visit their region in particular.
Finally, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t have your needs met as well. We say it in all our house sitting articles: house sitting should be about a fair exchange. We’re assuming that if you’re applying to a house sit, you’ve already decided that this is a situation you’re interested in learning more about.
If you get to the “interview” or video chat stage, be sure to ask questions about your needs as well. If you learn things when talking with the homeowner that make you reconsider if you want to do it, don’t be afraid to politely decline.
Read more: How to Avoid Bad House Sits
Mainly, our point here is this – you don’t want to come off as a high-maintenance house sitter.
Check out this blog post from the perspective of a homeowner about the applications she receives from house sitters for more insight.
3. Structuring Your First House Sitting Message
Over the years, we’ve developed our own style of house sitting application message that works quite well. Usually, we start off with a line or two introducing ourselves. We say that we’re interested in house sitting for them and share a quick tidbit about us, such as our current location (since we are nomadic at the moment).
Then we get into the nitty-gritty of our experiences house sitting. This is we really tailor each message based on what we’ve read in the pet owner’s post, as discussed above. We mention a line or two about our experience with the type of pet (we have dog, cat, bird, small pet experience) as well as address any specific concerns that the pet owner has talked about in their posting. This will really help you stand out from the crowd, because believe it or not, most people don’t do this.
Finally, we end with a suggestion for a video chat for further discussion.
We strongly feel that video chats are essential for getting both parties needs discussed and establishing a relationship. You can tell way more in a face-to-face conversation than in messaging.
We personally would not house sit for someone who did not want to have a direct conversation to discuss things.
4. The Perfect Length for a House Sitting Application Message
Incorporate all of these tips in a message that is short and sweet. We find that a 3 paragraph message works well (4 if there is more to say, like if there is a particular connection). You don’t want to make it too short that there’s nothing to interest them. But you also don’t want to overwhelm them with an essay detailing all your experience – that’s what your profile is for.
Read more: How to Create the Best House Sitting Profile
If all you say is, “I’m interested in house sitting for you, please see my profile,” they very well might pass on to someone who has taken the time to send out a well-thought-out message. A tailored, thoughtful house sitting application message shows that you’re willing to go the extra mile, which will translate into how you will care for their pets.
5. It’s a Job – Treat It Like One.
We have always approached house sitting with this mindset. Our society values work ethic and professionalism. People won’t take you seriously unless you know how to conduct yourself in a professional manner within a workspace.
We are well aware that house sitting is quite an unconventional scene, and tends to attract people of alternative lifestyles. (Have you seen us?!)
Yet, that doesn’t mean you can slack on your applications and obligations. Whether we are currently rebelling against the norms or not, we will all judge someone’s merit on how well they can present and pitch themselves for the job.
Also, consider: how often are you the only one applying for a job? Pretty much never.
Depending on where you want to house sit, there likely will be at least several or even dozens of people messaging the homeowner for the same sit. All it takes is one lazy message, or lack of detail, or just plain old boredom, for the house owner to stop reading and never look back again.
Think of your first message like a short house sitter cover letter, where you want to grab their attention and get them to look at your profile, which is like your résumé.
Writing an application message might seem intimidating and like a lot of work at first, but if you really want to house sit, having a winning message is key.
And practice makes perfect.
And don’t forget! If you want to start applying to house sits today, we highly recommend joining a house sitting website. Read our TrustedHousesitters Review to learn more. Click here to sign up for TrustedHousesitters with our special discount code!
Looking for even more detailed tips and secrets on house sitting? Check out our new book, The House Sitting Handbook: How To Live Your Dream Life Through House Sitting. In it, we share all our tips, strategies, and secrets that we’ve learned over our many years of house sitting. You’ll also get a free workbook with templates, checklists, and worksheets to help you with essential parts of the house sitting process, such as writing an application message. Click here to learn more about The House Sitting Handbook.