Yes it’s true, I’ve recently become a dog walker. I sold the travel business late last year and it took some time to decide the next move. Initially I hoped to make a living from web design and search engine optimisation. As readers may know, jobs where you can work from anywhere you have an internet connection really appeal to me. Whilst I don’t have a motorhome at present to tour the country, the travel bug certainly hasn’t left me. Indeed Ewelina and I have discussed getting a small campervan or a caravan one day in the future for short trips away.
The web design was not really taking off, people rarely see the true value in a website. I did not want to return to a regular office job, in part because it’s just not something that appeals to me. The main reason though was that our border collie Archie would not deal with long absences. As a result of this I decided to become a dog walker.
The process of becoming a Dog Walker
Having made the decision to become a dog walker it was full steam ahead. A quick look at the competition and what they were charging followed. My research revealed that whilst there were large numbers of local competitors, hardly any seemed to take their online presence that seriously. Confident that I could get to page 1 of Google fairly quickly for my keyphrases it was time to decide on what to call the company and search for a domain name.
Naming a company is never easy and finding a domain name that’s still available is even harder! I eventually settled on Northampton Dog Walker, simple and leaves no doubt what we do. With the domain name purchased it was time to start designing my website and think about a logo. Logo design is not really my strong point. I have designed my own logos before but it’s something I feel is better to outsource.
The website took a week to complete and was actually an enjoyable process. I felt it looked professional and would give a better first impression than my competition. At the same time I was designing the website I was arranging my insurance, obtaining a DBS certificate and applying for a home boarding license from the council. Designing the website was the easier part of the equation, getting it to page 1 in Google would be the harder part. I set myself a target of 2-3 months and began to work hard. Blogging weekly to add content and building backlinks followed. Everything I had learned about SEO over recent years was put into practice. I managed to get to page 1 of Google for most of my keyphrases within the 3 months and sure enough the phone started to ring steadily.
My future plans as a Dog Walker
Ironically since starting the dog walking I’ve started to also get enquiries about web design. For now it’s possible to combine both. Earning an income from the dog walking allows me to be more selective about which web design projects I take on. Currently I’m still building the business and not at full capacity. One of the features that sets us from the competition is the quality of our photo updates. Offering a dedicated dog photography service is something I plan to add. There are probably lots of dog owners who don’t employ a dog walker but who would be interested in a beautiful portrait of their dog.
When funds allow Ewelina and I will look into getting a campervan or caravan. We would love to get away more at weekends but finding pet friendly accommodation at good rates last minute is not easy. Archie loves the beach and the mountains and a campervan would seem the ideal solution. So keep an eye on this blog. Hopefully the travel adventures will continue!