5 common mistakes to avoid for a successful listing

Hey THS owners! I know many of you come to this forum for support with your listing when things aren’t working out, you haven’t found your perfect sitter or you’ve had no applicants. I have helped quite a few owners with their listings, and have noticed 5 common mistakes often made that can drive sitters away. So here are 5 mistakes you can avoid to help boost success and create a winning listing today!

Mistake 1: Use of a generic, dull or vague title and unsupportive profile picture

Your title and profile picture matter - they are the first and only parts of your listing a sitter sees when scrolling through hundreds of listings. Consider what title and profile picture will act as click bait to stop a sitter from scrolling straight past your listing.

About titles:
A good title explains, excites and attracts. Use of generic titles such as “seeking a reliable pet sitter,” or “sit for my pets” render themselves unnecessary on THS, as any person viewing your listing is already a sitter and knows what they’re here for. Such titles, as well as titles that simply state your pet’s name and nothing else (e.g: “Bonnie and Max,” “Care for Bella” or “Bobby care”) keeps sitters completely in the dark about your sit and does little to attract attention and create engagement. Instead, try a striking title that clearly highlights what your sit offers and why a sitter should choose you. For example: “Enjoy sea, sun and surf in stunning Cornwall” or “Explore the remote Scottish highlands with my dogs.”

About profile pictures:
A good profile picture supports and complements your title. For example, an attractive image of a local Cornish beach, or an image of the dogs on a walk in the Scottish highlands are well supportive of the above titles. Images unrelated to your title do not help paint a clear image of what your sit offers. A selfie of you or an image of a random room in your house (especially your bathroom & toilet!) gives sitters little reason to click on your profile. Use an engaging and attractive title with a striking profile picture, and you will already have several clicks on your profile!

Mistake 2: Use of repetitive or poor image choices

Your images should aim to showcase and sell your sit by revealing what’s on offer for sitters. Well-rounded listings present 10 - 20 attractive images that clearly reveal what the owner’s home, pets and local area look like. Bad quality, blurred, shaky or unclear images will not serve your listing well. Neither will images that:

  • Show a messy, dirty or uninviting environment (e.g: clutter, mess, unmade beds, piles of laundry or dishes in the sink)
  • Are exclusively real-estate screen-shots (these photos are staged, outdated and lack authenticity, which can be an instant red-flag for sitters)
    Are continually unrelated to the sit (e.g: images of yourself and your family on holiday in the Maldives)
  • Are repetitive (e.g: 20+ images revealing every room in your house from every angle)
  • Show images including other pets that are not yours (this can be confusing and misleading for sitters, as they may think there are other pets involved in the sit that were not mentioned)
  • Are clearly outdated and incongruent with your descriptions of your pets and home (e.g: images of your pets from years ago or as a puppies/kittens, or images of your home before major changes)

Providing relevant, clear and attractive photos will go a long way to helping you gain a sitter!

Mistake 3: Introduction is an autobiography rather than an advert

When writing an introduction, THS prompts owners to “write about yourself, what you do, and why you need a sitter.” While this prompt can certainly be helpful, it’s not exactly a great marketing technique for writing an advert. It’s commonly misinterpreted as a prompt to ‘give an elaborate autobiography and essay about yourself and your life rather than simply telling sitters what you are offering, who you are looking for and why they should sit for you.’ THS will not tell you that a good introduction hooks sitters from the first sentence by describing exactly what they can gain from your sit and giving them a strong reason to continue viewing your listing. Instead, many listings begin with something similar to:

“My name is Kate, I’m a 35 year old publisher and I need a sitter for my 3 cats because I’m taking a vacation in the Bahamas for 2 weeks in June. I moved to Cornwall in 2008 and and I enjoy books and writing and…-”

Compare this opening to:

“Do you want to discover and explore the magic of Cornwall, including sunny days by the ocean, stunning nature or local Cornish art, history, culture and cuisine? Do you love cats and are traveling without pets? Then this is the sit for you! Hi, I’m Kate, I’m a 35 year old publisher living in the lovely seaside town of Cornwall, which is complete with plenty of attractions and all amenities needed for a pleasant stay. I have 3 cuddly cats that require simple care and a bit of company.”

It’s definitely helpful for sitters to know a little about you, such as your name, age and occupation, but knowing all about your life and why you need a sitter is not actually in a sitter’s best interest. Truth be told, sitters don’t often care why you need a sitter or what your personal interests are and would actually prefer to know why they should sit for you.

Mistake 4: Home and location section is either too detailed, too vague or unintentionally skewed towards the owner’s own interests

A well-rounded description of your home and location should aim to highlight the most attractive features of your sit that clearly define what a sitter may gain in return for their free services. This should include a brief and succinct outline of your home, its most attractive or unique features, and how it can benefit a sitter (e.g: perhaps they will have their own guest room, access to a home gym or entertainment systems). Remember that sitters are looking for a short and concise overview outlining key features rather than information that becomes lost in elaborate descriptions of each room. A good way to keep details succinct is by listing key bullet points.

Next, provide a brief description of where your home is in relation to amenities, public transport (if available) and nearby general attractions (e.g: beaches, nature reserves, city entertainment etc). Sometimes, owners neglect to mention anything at all about the local area, which does not serve their listing well. Sometimes, owners also unintentionally skew listed attractions towards their own interests and age demographic, which can sometimes give the wrong impression about the area or type of sitter they are seeking (for example, a retired owner listing bingo, lawn bowls and a morning tai chi club as the top attractions in the area). For the best results, list only general tourist attractions that can engage a wide range of ages and audiences rather than your own personal interests.

Mistake 5: Responsibilities section is either too detailed, too vague, or is not reflective of a fair and mutually beneficial exchange

The responsibilities section is often the biggest culprit for an unsuccessful listing. This is usually because an owner has provided too much detail in this section, which often overwhelms sitters and drives them away. A listing should be fairly evenly skewed across each section, and when there appears a large body of text in the responsibilities section that outweighs the rest of the listing, sitters may immediately believe the sit to be too demanding or complex, simply due to the sheer amount of text present.

It’s not uncommon for owners to accidentally treat this section as their welcome guide and include small details such as ‘where to find the dog waste bags’ or ‘how to open the mailbox,’ or for simple tasks to become lost in confusing and long-winded explanations and backstories. The responsibilities section exists to:

  • 1: Identify pets - their name, age, breed, general sociability and any health or behavioural concerns that a sitter should be aware of, in a few brief sentences.

  • 2: Identify any sitter requirements - who would suit your sit best? (e.g: a sitter without pets, a sitter who is happy to let pets sleep in the bed with them, a sitter who has the physical capability of walking dogs for long periods, etc.)

  • 3: Identify main house and pet care tasks (best expressed in simple dot point formation to keep tasks clear and concise, and should not include small, minute details such as “lock doors and turn off lights when leaving.”)

This section should be as simple, clear and transparent as possible, so sitters can clearly gauge whether they are a good match for your needs. Providing vague descriptions such as “responsibilities: care for my dog” will not serve your listing well and leaves sitters completely in the dark about your sit. Sometimes, owners also give rather vague or subjective instructions such as “my dog should not be left for too long,” which is not helpful. How long is ‘too long?’ Staying as clear and direct as possible is key.

Sometimes, listings also struggle because an owner’s needs and expectations are not reflective of a fair and mutually beneficial exchange, and may be too demanding or time-restrictive for most sitters on the platform. Understanding that THS is intended for travelers rather than locals, and is designed to be as much of a cultural and travel exchange as it is a pet-sitting service is key. Most sitters on the platform come from abroad or a different area of your country and offer their free pet and house sitting services in exchange for a free stay in your home and opportunity to see a new area or part of the world. Listings that expect sitters to offer round-the-clock care, barely leave the house or cannot offer sufficient free time for a sitter to see the area will not often find success. Such needs do not match the intended purpose of THS, and are often much more appropriate and better suited to local, paid sitters or services. Ensuring you have a good understanding of the platform, how it works and who it’s designed for is key.

Keeping your listing mutually beneficial, clear, concise, attractive and engaging as possible are the keys to success on THS.

Best of luck to all you owners out there!

60 Likes

This is really brilliant advice for owners and their listings. Unfortunately there will still be bad listings that put off sitters because so few members belong to the forum

4 Likes

Thanks! That’s okay - if it can help at least somebody out there, that’s all that matters :slightly_smiling_face:

7 Likes

You’re a superstar! Brilliantly written and if you’re not a copywriter then you should be. Top advice and should be well heeded @Nagy26 #nicelydone

5 Likes

Thanks very much! :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

Don’t know what your day job is @Nagy26 but please feel free to DM me. I often need great copywriters in my non THS guise :star_struck: #allaboutconnections

4 Likes

I’ve just had a thought!

@Nagy26 - Trusted Housesitters do a Forum round-up every couple of months and I was thinking we could link to this post in the next one? If you’re happy with us doing that, let me know!

Jenny

15 Likes

Absolutely, happy to! :slightly_smiling_face:

2 Likes

Smashing, leave it with me, @Nagy26 :slight_smile:

1 Like

Just to add @Nagy26 that many owners do not review their listing each time they post new dates .

As a result pets who are no longer with us are mentioned in the responsibilities section or out of date references in the title … like enjoy summer in xx when the dates are for winter or vice versa.

12 Likes

Good point, that happens a lot too!

Or even when they move to a different location. Or country!

4 Likes

I wonder if you’d be willing to do a similar top tips list for us newbie sitters. I’ve just attempted to write my profile…. trying to empathise with what impression it gives the HO.

6 Likes

Absolutely, what a great idea!

1 Like

@Nagy26 this is a brilliant article, well done! :clap: Owners do yourselves a favour and compare your sit listing to this article. There are way more sits than sitters so you need to do whatever you can to make your sit attractive to sitters! Ignore this advice at your peril!

8 Likes

If you search the forum @BonnyinBrighton you’ll find lots of information to help you, also on the website.

2 Likes

Great article. The only thing I would want to stress and add under photographs is a photo of the bed, bedroom, and bathroom the sitter will use. I will not consider a sit without seeing those things.

14 Likes

great suggestions. I would add:

  • Please list your suburb if in a major city. Don’t just say “safe neighborhood near shops and bus route”. I want more specifics, like “Lake Highlands” (for Dallas) or “Brixton” (for London).

  • Only the first few words of the headling will show on a search. Don’t leave important info to the 5th word. I just saw one sit that says “HOUSE SIT 20 MINUTES FROM PA…” I would change that to “20 mins to Paris…”

13 Likes

Hi @Nagy26 thanks for your efforts and taking the time.

4 Likes

No worries, thanks very much for your kind words! A little overwhelmed with the immense positive response I’ve received from all the comments - never expected anything! Thanks so much everyone. I look forward to being able to continue to help and support both owners and sitters on the forum in any way I can :smiling_face:

14 Likes