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How to Craft the Perfect House Sitting Application Message

written by Sam and Veren March 22, 2024
How to Craft the Perfect House Sitting Application Message

So you’re all signed up and ready to go.

You’re a member of a house sitting website and now you’ve found a sit you’re interested in applying for.

The next step is crucial. You got one shot, and you better make it right.

But first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. We have some required reading. We’ll tell you how to draft a kick-ass message, but we will talk as if you already know and understand the key concepts, principles, and strategies outlined in our introductory articles. Skipping any step will likely lead to a house sitting mishap.

We must insist that you’re already signed up for a house sitting website. For our readers who haven’t, we have a 10% discount for the house sitting website we personally use.

Pet owners, your house sitting candidates should have a first message that reflects these steps. If you’re interested in some help written for pet owners, check out our article on choosing a house sitter.

This article is for newbie pet sitters who are looking for house sits online. Whether you have no experience house sitting or just a little, we’re here to help you level up your house sitting success.

Let us dispel a myth perpetuated by both house sitters and and pet owners. House sitting is not a free vacation. Influencers and blogs trying reap commissions from affiliate sales may make it seem so possible and easy to do. The truth is this: house sitting is a job that you should take very seriously. So going forward, we will speak from this mindset.

We have several years of experience as full-time house sitters with over twenty-five rave reviews. Here is what we do each and every time we find a house sit we want to apply for.

1. Carefully Read the Pet/Home Owner’s Post

You would think this goes without saying. Yet, most of us can probably recall a moment where someone’s response seemed like they just didn’t read, listen, or understand what was being communicated to them. It’s about slowing down, and being really focused on the task in front of you. If this is an online listing, it’s your key source for informing and forming your application message. We recommend initially reading it twice, and third time much later. This is your chance to sift out key details to reference and show yourself as an attentive house sitter with the pet owner’s top needs in mind.

Pay extra close attention to their explicit concerns. Will the pet need medication? Are the owners concerned about the house sitter’s ability to administer the pet’s medication correctly? Is the pet charge freshly born and bouncing about with seemingly endless energy? Is it three walks a day, or total time walking?

There are so many concerns that pet owners could have. Most will address the most dire in their post. If you have a question, don’t hesitate to ask them in your house sit first message to the pet owner.

Once we addressed a key detail that nailed us the sit. We have experience with hounds and their incessant need for olfactory stimulation. In other words, they sniff everything. Highlighting this experience ultimately landed us a high demand house sit in Manhattan.

How do we know? Because we asked.

Later when we linked up, we asked the pet owner what set us apart from the rest. “Well, you’re the only one that mentioned knowing my dog’s breed personality, and that means lot to me.”

Read more: NYC House Sitting 101 for House Sitters and Pet Owners

While there is no need to address everything that the pet owner mentions, mentioning a few details shows you’re capable, attentive, and serious. Especially if you have relevant experience. Like the medication example earlier, if you have experience, highlight it. If they seem concerned about their pet getting enough company at home, mention you work remotely and prefer to be home. If they have an energetic pet, mention how active your lifestyle and how you love tiring young pups out.

Also, just to be clear, don’t embellish. Don’t exaggerate your abilities and experience. That’s a recipe for a to ruin your house sitting future.

Cinnamon dog in snow

2. Focus on the Pet Owner’s Needs in Your House Sitting Application

It would be an understatement to say we are fans of Japanese culture. I watch anime shows on the regular. I especially enjoy manga and films about feudal Japan. While this site is a direct challenge to typical touristy travel and we do travel quite unconventionally, we won’t deny having big travel dream destinations, like Japan.

However, the day we find a house sit in Japan, we won’t start our first message with “ZOMG we looooooooove Japan you must have us”. Our enjoyment of Japanese culture does not qualify us to be capable of providing for the hypothetical house sit.

Why mention all this? You’d be amazed at how often, if not exclusively, that popular destination house sits get messages like this. While you may think it’s harmless… think again. If your goal is to land house sits, make the message less about what you want. Make it about what you’re bringing to the table.

For example, we once house sat for a couple in the popular tourist destination, Asheville, North Carolina. Regionally it’s known for its very high per capita amount of breweries and thus draws in a lot of surrounding tourism. Consequently, the pet owner couple had to wade through tons of messages that only thought to gush over how badly the prospective sitter wanted to visit.

Of course you’re entitled to feel excited about the destination. Most people enjoy hearing about your interest in where they live. Just leave it towards the end of the message, or save it for the video call. Instead, focus on what you can offer to the pet owner. Then, we intentionally sign off with a bit about why we’re interested in visiting.

And of course no one is saying your needs aren’t important either. These can be addressed eventually as well. The purpose of the first message is to connect, and then if there’s a connection, explore if you both are a good match. Getting as much information as possible while sharing what you have to offer will help both sides get their needs met more efficiently and effectively, especially if you decide on an interview. Having a well done first message (on top of a great profile) will expedite the entire process. This saves both parties precious time and energy. Ultimately, this will all help you discern if this house sit will be great match, or potentially something to pass over.

Read more: How to Avoid Bad House Sits

For a view from the pet owner, check out this blog post.

The House Sitting Handbook clickable banner

3. Structuring Your First House Sitting Message

Our many years of house sitting have led us to create a first message template and it has yet to lead us astray.

First, we start with a sentence or two to introduce ourselves. Clearly stating our interest in house sitting for them, we share a little bit about ourselves, such as where we are currently are and what we have been up to.

Second, the bulk of the body of the message is finer details about our experience that are relevant to the sit we’re applying to. Here is where we fine tune and tailor the message. This is context sensitive, and we make sure to refer to what we perceive are the key details of the pet owner’s post. Usually we elaborate on our experience with their type of pet, as we’ve cared for dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, fish, small rodents, along with specific breeds (where applicable). If there’s any explicit concerns expressed by the listing, we address them here as well.

Lastly, we end with a suggestion for a video call (or meet in person if reasonably possible) if they feel we have a potential match. We believe this initial interview is essential for establishing a relationship and discussing each other’s needs and wants. In a face-to-face live conversation, you’ll really get a sense of what you’re in for. Any unwillingness (including not making time for) to have a live conversation is a red flag and deal-breaker for us.

We really cannot emphasize this enough. The more you tailor your message, focusing on your relevant experience and addressing the pet owner’s needs, the more your message will stand above the rest. It is truly surprising that most house sitters don’t do this. Almost always this is the case from every pet owner we speak to about their house sitting experience.

Don’t be a house sitting schlub. Be a shining house sitter star.

4. The Perfect Length for a House Sitting Application Message

Make sure to transmute all of our tips into an outstanding first message. However, don’t go overboard. Short, sweet, and succinct are the goal. We suggest around three paragraphs total. If you find yourself particularly inspired by a connection (omg we both love doing that too), elaborate more but don’t exceed more than four paragraphs. We don’t want to send an essay. Your profile is where you can include much more information and detail.

Read more: How to Create the Best House Sitting Profile

On the flipside, don’t be too scanty with the details. Any message that is just a few sentences will surely be passed over. Putting together a message like this shows that you really do care. Not only that, it will make you look professional, which leads to our next and last point.

5. It’s a Job – Treat It Like One.

This is the through line of our approach to house sitting. We as a society value work ethic and professionalism. If you want to be taken seriously, act like you are.

House sitting is an unconventional scene. It tends to attract the ilk of alternative lifestyles. Like us. It is definitely not uncommon to meet full-time house sitters who live out of a van, or bounce from sit to sit like us. It’s an attractive world from the outside, but it comes with it’s own set of complications and challenges. That’s why we are intentional about the way we present ourselves while vagabonding our way around the world.

We all make value judgements. While a lackadaisical attitude may emanate the chillest of vibes, it often perceived as lazy or childish (unfortunately). When it comes to house sitting, a very important responsibility, we want to assure pet owners that we are responsible and reliable sitters. Pet owners will judge you on how you present and pitch yourself for the sit. As they should.

Keep in mind you are not the only one trying to land the house sit. Depending on where you plan to sit, there will be at least several or even dozens of applicants. When the pet owner sees twenty messages, they are looking for reasons to cull the herd. One false move, like a too short, too irrelevant, and/or too self-centered message, is all they need to immediately move on and never look back.

If there’s one last takeaway, it’s this: think of your first message as a cover letter, where you want to grab their attention and encourage them to look at your profile, which is like your resume.

This may all seem intimidating and a lot of work. House sitting was never a free lunch. Having a winning message is key. Practice makes perfect, so start writing away now.

More Resoureces

If you want to start applying this very minute, we strongly suggest you sign up for a premium house sitting matchmaking platform. Click here to learn more.

If you feel like this article was just skimming the surface, you have made an astute observation. An online article is just not the place to deep dive into the world of house sitting. To land those dream sits, you need to be a dream sitter. That’s why we wrote The House Sitting Handbook: How To Live Your Dream Life Through House Sitting. Here we share our tried-and-true strategies and secret boss moves to those looking to level up their house sitting game. And if you need some handholding (don’t be shy), we got you covered with a free workbook full of templates, checklists, and worksheets to help you distill your eager essence into house sitting spirit.

Click here to learn more about The House Sitting Handbook.

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