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MindMyHouse News 23 September 2007

by Susan Holtham, 23rd September 2007

Check out the twentieth edition of our little community e-newsletter for all of the following: we find inspiration in a house-sitting themed blog post by self-empowerment guru, Aaron Potts; attention house sitters – if you are not advertising your services with us, you are potentially missing out on 70% of the action; introducing Carole Livesey and Chris Lampard, two new intrepid profilees in our ‘Meet the house sitters’ section; if you fancy the idea of a nice bit of cultural exchange while travelling the world, check out www.Helpx.net; and finally, what’s up with our competitors’ collection of covert domain names?

Posted in: MindMyHouse News2007

Dear MindMyHousies,
we are very excited to be publishing the twentieth edition of MindMyHouse News for your reading pleasure! Life here in Wellington is a whirlwind of decorating our high-priced rental on a shoestring and fund-raising for our local kindergarten. Your life may be a little more high-octane than this.

We would like to extend a hearty maple syrup-soaked welcome to the 120 Canadians who joined our online community on 18 September. We can only speculate how you all found us on the same day. Please get in touch and tell us!

I know I write this every September (groan) but we are starting to get a rash of requests for house sitters for the tricky Christmas season. I say this, as not everyone wants to spend Christmas on a farm in Canada’s Manitoba region in the dead of winter. But I do encourage home owners in London to come forth in your multitudes – our members are very interested in flying into the UK to mind your home and pets. It seems they would do anything for the chance to experience their very own white Christmas in your fascinating city! (We hear that Christmas in the sun Downunder can be very harsh – something to do with the overabundance of barbecued prawns, chilled beer and pavlova. Throw in sandy towels and jandal marks on your feet and you have a lot of hardship ; j.)

Check out the twentieth edition of our little community e-newsletter for all of the following: we find inspiration in a house-sitting themed blog post by self-empowerment guru, Aaron Potts; attention house sitters – if you are not advertising your services with us, you are potentially missing out on 70% of the action; introducing Carole Livesey and Chris Lampard, two new intrepid profilees in our ‘Meet the house sitters’ section; If you fancy the idea of a nice bit of cultural exchange while travelling the world, check out www.Helpx.net; and finally, what’s up with our competitors’ collection of covert domain names?

We find inspiration in a house-sitting themed blog post by self-empowerment guru, Aaron Potts

We were thoroughly charmed by a blogpost we recently came across written by American self-empowerment guru, Aaron Potts. Aaron is a firm believer in breaking out of his own comfort zone in order to find the means to a little introspection. A good thing! While minding a friend’s home and two cats in a familiar neighbourhood, Aaron found his personal Universe moving a few degrees, which neatly disrupted his usual routine and gave him a few subtle insights (most people are friendly if you give them a chance!) into the world around him.

We know that many of you are sold on this principle too. As when we asked you to nominate your most important reason for house sitting, the largest group of poll respondents (32% of you or close to 400 good folk worldwide) nominated ‘a change of scene’. We agree that it is delightful to see your world with fresh eyes. And if that refreshing view happens to be through someone else’s windows – so be it!

Attention house sitters – if you are not advertising your services with us, you are potentially missing out on 70% of the action!

It’s official everybody, a whopping 70% of our home owner members contact house sitters directly and don’t advertise their assignment on our site. So if you haven’t created your sitter available listing, they simply won’t find you! We don’t know who home owners are contacting or when, but we do know that home owners can only contact those house sitters with their own listing. And so, house sitter members would be CRAZY not to create their own sitter available listing!

Here’s my theory with an example: I’m a house sitter who is interested in assignments in New York city but I haven’t created my own sitter available listing. Over a year, 30 home owners from New York create sitter wanted listings which I happily apply for. Here’s the kicker: unbeknownst to me, a further 70 home owners from New York will have registered with MindMyHouse and contacted other house sitters directly. My non-advertising theoretical house sitter misses out!

Worse yet, if you haven’t created your sitter available listing, you are ineligible for inclusion in our famous Local Sitter Search database. What’s this Local Sitter Search thing? We have created a way for home owners to see the closest 26 house sitters to them on a Google map (see image below). Of course, you can opt in or out of this search depending on your preference – read this archived edition of our e-newsletter for more information about this unique facility on MindMyHouse: http://www.mindmyhouse.com/community/blog/?p=105.

Local Sitter Search

Continuing the maths theme, can it be a coincidence that home owners and house sitters are choosing to create their own listing in very similar numbers? Hmmmm what is it about human nature that 30% of MindMyHousies want to shout it from the rooftops while the other 70% prefer to lurk and respond to others’ listings?

I received an email from a home owner recently whose dilemma, I think, neatly supports my argument. He was the owner of a gorgeous villa in Tuscany who wrote to tell me in a weary, disappointed kind of way, that most of the 12 house sitters he contacted were already booked up with house sitting assignments and had rejected his offer. The moral here is that these house sitters were advertising their services with us and thus were busy house sitting! If you have ever dreamed of minding a flash villa in Tuscany, why not create your sitter available listing now?

Introducing Carole Livesey and Chris Lampard, two new intrepid profilees in our ‘Meet the house sitters’ section

Two editions ago, we introduced Tom Hill and Linda Worthington, the subjects of our very first profile in our new Meet the house sitters section of our Community Area. And only three months later, we are thrilled to introduce Carole Livesey and Chris Lampard to you all. Carole and Chris have abandoned their home-owning double-income lifestyle in Glasgow, Scotland for something altogether different. Tune in to their profile to read how this 40-years-young couple became financially independent and got their licence to roam around the South Pacific with impunity!

http://www.mindmyhouse.com/community/blog/?p=125

Here at MindMyHouse we would like to extend a challenge to all of our house sitter members (that’s 6098 of you at the time of writing) who would like a little bit of their own fame too in the form of a profile in our Community Area. Do you have a story to tell about your life that includes your house sitting adventures and personal philosophies? You may be a ‘dog whisperer’ who travels between house sitting assignments in the sidecar of a 1976 Harley Davidson. Or you may be a super-discreet house sitter who minds celebrities’ mansions for them while they are away being famous. Perhaps you accept house sitting assignments at random and use each new environment as the foundation for a novella. We won’t know what your fascinating story is unless you share it with us!

If you think we could write an interesting 1000 words about you too, please get in touch and pitch your ideas to us. We are very receptive, really! To read more about our vision of this new section in our Community Area please see the following FAQ.

http://www.mindmyhouse.com/faqs/view_faq.php?id=197

If you fancy the idea of a nice bit of cultural exchange while travelling the world, check out www.helpx.net

You may have heard of WWOOFing, (willing workers on organic farms) which is a very well established global movement bringing together hosts and workers for what often amounts to cultural exchange and other warm, fuzzy human interaction. Carole and Chris, the latest glamorous profilees in our ‘Meet the house sitters’ section use a local (that’s New Zealand to you) website www.helpx.net offering a similar service as a stop-gap when they are in between assignments. They tell me that these arrangements have been fabulous for both meeting local people and broadening and improving what seems to be their already impressive range of skills.

For a very modest fee (15 euros for a two-year membership) helpers are able to make contact with many thousands of hosts from around the world who use HelpX.net. Even a brief scan of the opportunities for helpers in my own part of the world has me excited about the possibilities! How’s this for intriguing: helper needed for 2000 hens and 15 cows on the Falkland Islands’ only dairy farm. Or this one: come and help reforest a meditation retreat in Pune, India. Or even: an organic kava farm in Fiji needs helpers in exchange for tented accommodation in a lush, remote setting. Parrot monitoring in Peru anyone?

I’m sure that a number of the home owners who currently advertise through us could really benefit from posting a ‘host’ listing on a site such as this. I’m thinking about the goat ranch in Oregon in particular, then there was the ‘decorate my gite in France’ listing, the dog breeder who wanted live-in help with her kennels…the list goes on. If you do have a slightly unusual request to make of your house sitters you may find a more receptive audience at HelpX.net. However, don’t go away! Try posting a listing with us as well and see who replies. You never know, our members can be very flexible and receptive to your ideas!

We wish Rob from HelpX.net all the best with his little site that could. This niche in Internet-based connections is very ‘early 21st century’ in our opinion and provides the means for some very transformative human interaction.

What’s up with our competitors’ collection of covert domain names?

Competition seems to be fairly cutthroat between two of our larger online competitors. To see what I mean, paste the following two URLs into the address field of your web browser:

http://www.housesitter.us
http://www.housesitters.us

Hmmm neither site actually officially uses these domain names and yet here are they trying to cast their nets wide enough to catch each other’s potential new customers. Seems a little covert to us here at plain ol’ MindMyHouse.

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!