In my first few years after college, I got swept up in the “real world.” Jobs, happy hours, new friends and moving every 12 months kept my mind (and wallet) busy enough. But in the past year, I finally found a job where I can see a long-term career, my partner and I signed a lease to stay in our apartment for 3+ years, and my friends prefer staying in over going out. So, I started wondering how I could get ahead, and even explore a new passion, when everything else felt really secure. I started thinking about taking up a side hustle.
Now, the biggest problem? I don’t really have an obvious talent or passion that people are willing to pay for, and I didn’t want to sink a bunch of money into something merely hoping it would pay off. So that knocked off some of the more obvious things, like photography and yoga or fitness teacher. I also didn’t really want to work on nights or weekends, but I couldn’t commit to a fixed schedule during the weekdays because of my full-time job.
You’re seeing the issue here, right?
I’ve heard so much about the gig economy, I figured there had to something out there that was super flexible and let me work as much or as little as my schedule allowed. I started doing some research on writing gigs and other odd jobs when the perfect side hustle came up on my Google search: dog walking.
Traditionally, dog walkers have built their own businesses. They put up flyers or go door-to-door talking to their neighbors with dogs and setting up weekly walks with fixed rates. But there are a few new tech start-up apps, like Rover, that have revolutionized dog walking, making it more accessible for both dog owners and walkers. Think of it as the Uber for dog walking. Owners can go on the app, set up a walk same-day (even same-hour) and all the instructions for the dog including home access, dog triggers, and walking tips populate right there in the app. Walkers just request the walks that work best for them based on time and location. Seemed simple enough, so I immediately signed up.
For onboarding, I had to do a short phone interview and take a 2-hour, $30 training class to learn how to put on several different types of dog leashes and harnesses, which took place in a park near my apartment. After that, I was ready to walk.
I’ve been walking for over a month now, and it’s easily been the best addition to my day. Not only do I get to hang out with dogs and puppies every day, but there are also tons of other added bonuses. I’ve been walking upwards of 7 miles a day and I’ve already seen some positive changes in my body. I’m even sleeping better because I’ve been moving so much. And I love getting to see the inside of apartments and condos in my neighborhood that I’ve walked past for years.
But the best part is definitely the money. On my good days, I walk 3-4 dogs — one in the morning, one over lunch, and one or two in the late afternoon/evenings when my workday is slowing down. The dog walks range from $12-$22 and most owners tip you, so I make somewhere between $36-$60 a day. If I get three days of good walks in, which is my goal, I make around $150 a week!
Of course, there are days where my work schedule is crazy, I’m traveling, or none of the walks line up with my plans. But that’s why I love dog walking through an app so much — it’s completely flexible to me and my schedule. The only talent you need is the ability to hold a leash, and voila: you’re one step closer to flushing out your emergency fund (or buying that designer bag — I’m not judging!).
Joanie is a writer for accountants and a longtime reader of TFD. She considers herself the unofficial seventh member of the Friends cast, a hydrangea aficionado, and an aspiring Chopped champion.
Image via Unpslash