I started my own pet sitting business about 7 months ago. It went from nothing to about $1500 a month since then. I'm not a marketing genius or anything like that. But I do have a solid work ethic, I love animals, and I try to make every pet sitting job go as well for my human clients as for my animal ones. 🙂 Here are the 3 main ways that you can market your small business:
Craigslist and Other Sites
I went to Craigslist first. A professional posting that is well written and contains all of the major info is the best way to make a first impression on anybody searching your niche that has to decide between you and someone else that offers the same service. My Craigslist posting contain my experience, services offered, general pricing, and the link to my pet sitting website and all of my other contact info. I make sure to post in every category that may be searched for pet sitters. I also repost at least once a week. Altogether, about 95% of my jobs come from my Craigslist posts.
I also listed myself on Care.com (although they are not very respected overall) and Sittercity.com. I splurged and spent $10-$15 on both sites to have them run their official background check too. I've gotten a grand total of 3 jobs through those two sites.
Word of Mouth
As with all businesses, word of mouth is huge. Happy customers spread the word and you get a better reputation and more calls. I have personally received several jobs just because happy customers and family have told others about me. The best way to get people to talk about you is to exceed their expectations. I treat all of my pet sitting animals like my own or even better, lol. I'll also do little but thoughtful things around the house if I have any free time. I just washed one person's dishes since they had to leave hurriedly because her grandma was sick. People appreciate thoughtfulness.
I have business cards via Vista Print, magnetic car door signs, and I'm looking into leaflet design tips. Overall, people may not call you because of your printed items, but they do shout professionalism. My future clients seem to request my card sometimes just to see if I was taking it seriously enough to have cards printed. It also helps that my cards have a memorable photo with me and a parrot on my head…
What other tips do you have for us?