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MindMyHouse News 22 March 2006

by Susan Holtham, 25th March 2006

Check out this ninth edition of MindMyHouse News for all of the following: our latest sitter wanted adverts from Northern Ireland to France to Florida; do you have any knowledge of translating English into French or German (and some spare time)?; is your version of our e-newsletter too ugly to read?; why do some of our sitter wanted adverts look as though they have expired?; and finally, the whys and hows of creating your very own web page to advertise your house sitting services (apart from your page on MindMyHouse of course).

Posted in: MindMyHouse News2006

Dear MindMyHousies,
Welcome to edition nine of our busy little e-newsletter. Spring has sprung here in London and we are overjoyed to have ‘broken the back’ of winter. Not much to report from our little Hobbit-hole here in West London except to ask how do the two people in the flat above manage to sound like a herd of baby elephants when they are just (presumably) going about their daily lives?

The site is getting busier by the day with more adventurous home owners willing to advertise their assignments so that you can come to them (rather than owners contacting sitters directly, which is what they seem to prefer to do). Now that early spring has come to the northern hemisphere, convoy-loads of snowbirders will be preparing to de-gas and flock north again to re-take their ‘real’ homes from their house sitters’ loving custodianship. A shame – but let’s do it all again next year!

I’ve noticed that sunbirders (those people who want to escape the heat of their locale for the long hot summer to come) are already advertising for house sitters willing to endure the heat and mind their houses during their absence. And why not? Some people only start to relax when the thermostat hits 30 degrees C (86 degrees F). Isn’t the internet wonderful in the way that everyone’s personal house sitting (and climate) preferences can be accommodated!

Check out this ninth edition of MindMyHouse News for all of the following: our latest sitter wanted adverts from Northern Ireland to France to Florida; do you have any knowledge of translating English into French or German (and some spare time)?; is your version of our e-newsletter too ugly to read?; why do some of our sitter wanted adverts look as though they have expired?; and finally, the whys and hows of creating your very own web page to advertise your house sitting services (apart from your page on MindMyHouse of course).

Attention house sitters – your services are required here!

(To contact these home owners you need to login to your account area first.)

Farmhouse with large garden on the borders in Northern Ireland

Cat lover(s) required for more than six months of tranquillity on the borders with the republic of Ireland. Golfing, fishing and hiking opportunities nearby – nice!

http://www.mindmyhouse.com/sitters/owner_search/view_owner_ad.php?id=43

Two weeks (could become nine months) in rural France

Dog lovers required to gaze out over the Pyrenees from west-facing veranda before taking a dip in the pool. This could become a nine-month assignment later in the year. Oui oui!

http://www.mindmyhouse.com/sitters/owner_search/view_owner_ad.php?id=45

Sunbirders near Tallahassee, Florida need you this summer!

A canoe is available to help while away the time on this three-month assignment on a tributary to the Wacissa River, Florida.

http://www.mindmyhouse.com/sitters/owner_search/view_owner_ad.php?id=46

Translating MindMyHouse into two European languages

We are very keen to get MindMyHouse translated into both French and German. Having a multi-lingual site is crucial to the success of our planned ‘big push’ into Europe. We know that you adore those house sitting assignments on the Continent so we need to get European home owners using our site in droves! Thing is, without a budget of any kind to fund site improvements that are beyond our expertise we are a bit stuck. If you can help us by either translating a page (or 10) into French or German for us, or even just proof reading our meagre efforts at translation please get in touch with us here. Would a free life-time membership with MindMyHouse and our endless thanks be enough compensation for your time? Seriously, if you are interested in trading skills, we may be able to offer your company, website or business some advertising space on MindMyHouse as a recompense for your time.

Is your version of this newsletter too ugly to read?

When we sent out our birthday edition of MindMyHouse news a month ago on 22 February we weren’t prepared for one member’s response: ‘Ouch’, she wrote, ‘your newsletter has appeared as an email containing a single paragraph and is too ugly to read!’. I immediately told her to delete that email version and read the lovely designed version in the Community area on our website; the latest version of which can always be found at the following URL:

http://www.mindmyhouse.com/community/blog

There is a way to avoid receiving an unformatted version of our newsletter ever again by changing your preferences in your account area by doing the following:

  • login to your account area on our site with your usual email address and password
  • choose ‘update contact details’ from the left-hand menu
  • find the heading ‘personal preferences’
  • tick the box ‘HTML email’
  • click on ‘save’ at the bottom of the page

Once you have chosen to receive your copy of our monthly newsletter in the HTML format, it should look like the version on the website! So no more ugly e-newsletters!

Why do some of our sitter wanted adverts look as though they have expired?

The short answer to this vexing question is that while the advertised start date of the house sitting assignment may have come and gone, we are happy to continue hosting our home owners’ sitter wanted adverts until the final day of the advertised assignment. Without evidence to the contrary, we have to assume that the owner may still welcome your inquiries no matter what the advertised start date of their assignment is.

For much more on this topic see the following FAQ:

http://www.mindmyhouse.com/faqs/index.php?12932219119=4&keyword=#7

How (and why) to create your own personal sitter website to advertise your services

A number of our members have taken the time to create their own personal website to advertise their house sitting services and to link to from their advert on MindMyHouse. These sites tend to be cheap and cheerful, spread over one or two pages and obviously created by ‘hobbyists’. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

So what makes a good and effective personal website? It’s a really good idea to create and purchase your own domain name. This is cheap to do but will instantly lift your site above all of the rest. There are a number of domain hosting service providers which will host your website for free so the whole enterprise can be surprisingly inexpensive. If you can, it’s a good idea to have your site professionally built and designed. If you are serious about house sitting, a professionally built website will pay itself off in extra offers of house sitting assignments in no time at all.

Your site will be indexed by the main search engines quite quickly and should be returned at the top of the list of search engine return pages for a search by your personal domain name within months. However, home owners don’t know what your domain name is and thus will have a hard time finding you by chance. The biggest advantage of having your own website is that when you link to your site from your sitter wanted advert on an established house sitting site, you will have demonstrated to interested home owners that you are serious about house sitting. Good luck with it! (Don’t forget that your sitter available advert on MindMyHouse IS your own personal web page on our site. Your page has a unique URL that you can use anywhere you like – on business cards for example – to advertise your services.)

The following are some of our members’ personal websites for your perusal:

Chuck and Kimi’s very professional website
http://www.wehousesit.com

The Riccis are ready to house sit for you
http://www3.sympatico.ca/vjricci

Dove’s life and philosophy
http://www.doves.homestead.com

German artist-couple showcase their artmaking
http://www.STEPHANundVERENA.de

Couchsurfer Jim Stone – on the road in the US
http://www.fliptophead.com

This retired couple are not MindMyHouse members but I thought their request for ‘luxury properties only’ was interesting
http://www.housesittersinternational.com

Family looking to house sit in NSW, Australia (note: no www.)
http://aaron34530.tripod.com

Alys and Majella are Aussie nomads who travel from assignment to assignment
http://www.geocities.com/amhousesit

Yasmin’s Wanderings world tour blog
http://www.batangabee.com

Dave and Denise Peters are possibly Canada’s keenest house sitters
http://www.housesitter.ca

This farming couple are not MindMyHouse members but they would like to invite you to stay on their farm in sunny NSW, Australia, anyway
http://users.tpg.com.au/lhancock/housesit.html

The Kemp-Taylor family are Francophiles with every school holiday covered
http://freespace.virgin.net/crtvak.3232

For much more on this topic see the following FAQ:
http://mindmyhouse.com/faqs/index.php?12932219119=4&keyword=#9

Happy house sitting (or best of luck with your sitters!)

Susan Holtham
aka the team at MindMyHouse

About the author: Susan Holtham

Susan Holtham

The editor at MindMyHouse is a fun gal, intrepid traveller (in a former life), holder of three passports and enthusiastic house sitter. A book editor by trade, she did a three-year stint with Lonely Planet Publications at the start of her career. During her time at LP she shepherded many titles through the production process. Baaaa-aaaa-aaaaaa! Now that two gorgeous little girls call her mummy she's a very busy woman tending to their needs and to the occasional cries for help from among our 5000+ membership. No really, she's always keen to help!