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House Sitters Wanted
23rd January 2013

Professional House Sitting Work, the housem8s take a well deserved break.

Pet Sitters for nearly a decade, non-stop house and pet sitting work leads to a well deserved rest for the housem8s!

The housem8.com house sitters domain was originally purchased from a property developer in 2003 by the current proprietors of this site, Tom Hill and Lin Worthington of Tomlin Developments Ltd.

Tom was self-taught in html based website design after downshifting to self employment and casual house sitting from a career in the photographic industry and teaching photography at Derby University since 1992.  Lin decided that the customer service desk at Tesco wasn’t a broad enough horizon.

Tom created the first version of housem8.com, a four page static website for Tom and Lin’s house sitting services, which had been, up until then, provided on a no-rent-no-fee basis, mainly for their richer friends and acquaintances.

On New Years Day 2004, whilst out walking two dogs near Saffron Walden for a friend who had gone skiing for Christmas, a well to do lady in Barbour jacket and regulation tweed skirt accosted us in a field.

“Yes, now,  I’ve heard of you two from the village grapevine. Dog sitters isn’t it? Well, how much do you charge per week. . . .?”

And that’s how we became professional, paid house and pet sitters. Within a year we were almost fully booked for the majority of the following Summer.

In November 2005, Tom and Lin commenced a four month spell snowed into the Pyrenees in an isolated closed-for-winter Gite complex. The standard 2 wheel drive Peugeot 406 got us up the mountain to the premises in November, but when the snows came, we relied on generators, a freezing well and lots of tinned food until the end of the following February.  Tom, having nothing to do except chop wood for the central heating and clear ice out of the Gite gutterings, decided to start messing with the housem8 website coding to see how its search engine rankings would be affected.

Part time house sitting work becomes a full-time profession.

By the following March, housem8.com was in position #1 on page 1 of Google for the phrase “Professional House Sitters”. Our website traffic was in the region of 80 unique visitors per day, and has remained at that level ever since. For the next 7 years, we worked solidly as full time sitters across UK, France, Spain and Ireland, even doing one or two jobs in Western Australia.  We were so busy that we rented our home out to lodgers, and for most of that time, we lived in our caravan between the jobs.

But throughout 2012, we became increasingly weary of all the travelling, the packing, the unpacking, the twelve different holdalls filling a Land Rover and a caravan, those bags, boxes and cases that for most people would be a bathroom cabinet, a wardrobe or a kitchen drawer.

When our super long-standing lodgers left our house to marry and start a family, so the opportunity to move back home was welcome.

Since 2009, we had tried several different methods of monetising our website traffic. After all, we were unable to house sit for 2500 visitors per month.  Working on the Google Analytics data, showing that around 40% of our visitors wanted to be house sitters, with the remaining 60% wanting to find house sitters, it made perfect sense to attempt a monetised communication or introduction service.

And here it is. We have poured all the last 9 years’ experience into this website to attempt to assist and educate our membership as to what might happen on any given house sit assignment.

From our first house sit for a retired United Nations diplomat in a property in Provence, to the last one, some 80 gigs later, for a truly unpleasant person with three dogs bigger than our car, in a pokey little suburban rabbit-hutch, we’ve seen a lot.

Professional Pet sitting experience makes for interesting stories, one day we'll write the book. . .

There have been difficult clients with delightful dogs, delightful clients with difficult dogs, a dying Doberman that would only eat hard boiled eggs, contrary cats, chimney fires, blown over trees, clients who returned home completely bankrupt, dogs eating parrots, freezers full of road-kill, rock star’s houses, closed up hotels, faceless suburban estates, really lovely generous tippers, deeply unpleasant tight-walleted non-payers, national press and radio interviews, abusive hate filled messages from the anonymity of the internet, the offer of a posh car and even someone’s house, requests for our adoption as legal offspring, amorous donkeys digging up golf courses, wild boar digging up bowling-greens, helping up lame horses with a Land Rover and a tow-rope, red-back spiders biting dogs, dogs killing snakes, a python in the attic, a property sold from under us, the arrival of bailiffs, free access for several months to a cellar full of fine wine even older than us, New York to San Francisco on a Harley Davidson, and Perth to Sydney in a camper van. What a decade!

And now we’re back in Burton On Trent, in our terraced 2 up 2 down, hoping to make a modest living from helping others avoid the mistakes we made, and hopefully, to replicate the successful strategies. I’m looking forward to repairing the greenhouse, and growing some tomatoes again. Lin says she might call her old boss back at Tesco’s. You see, Tesco’s is always in the same place, every morning.

Please contact us via our form for any interview requests or anything else, for that matter.

 

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