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MindMyHouse News September 2016

by Susan Holtham

To summarise: you asked for it, we have provided it (!), Testimonials and References are now actually a thing with us; celebrating the loyalty of our 85 longest-joining ‘gold star’ members with a nice personal thank-you letter from us plus the next 24 months of their membership on the house (so to speak); the next time you login to your account area on our site, look into the right-hand corner of the page to check on your brand new NOTIFICATIONS; we have given you two new ways to search our database of sitter wanted listings, which brings your ways to search up to a grand total of FIVE. Just wow, people! House sitters: if you have yet to create your sitter available listing with us, what’s stopping you? Plus: the webmaster squishes virtual bugs on the site and finds this a strangely satisfying experience. Finally: photos of our wonderful Welsh springer spaniel Ellaballoo as taken by our children. Awwwwww….

Posted in: MindMyHouse News

New Testimonials and References features

We have finally implemented the new site feature most requested by you, our members: Testimonials and References! Yes, we know, we know, you want to be able to quickly and efficiently build up a range of happy notes, votes and affirmations from the people you are engaging with out there in the big world as you go about your global house sitting adventures. Cos you want to be seen to be doing good work, and you want to be doing more of the house sitting assignments you want to be doing, right? Of course…

Comments feature

You may have noticed that we are slightly different to our competitors in that we don’t force you to communicate with each other via our internal mail system; we let you quickly go offline and make your own arrangements with each other like the (well, we think so…) mature, good-natured and well-intentioned adults that you are. Hence, it’s been quite tricky to work out just how to put a system in place for you to place your own References in plain view of our members (actually this bit was easy) but also to set up a system where you could request a Testimonial from another MindMyHouse member through our site.

After many late nights spent audibly scratching away with a flint stone on his piece of flat slate, the webmaster has managed to do this. Of course, we being the generous community managers that we are, we have given all our members the facility to request a Testimonial from other MindMyHouse members – at the touch of a button! So easy, so good… Whether or not these members will oblige in the writing of a Testimonial for the requester of the Testimonial is another thing, but you know, let’s let the Karmic laws of the Universe kick in at this point and guide you on your journey (cue the sound of a gong from beyond the babbling brook water feature…)

We decided to split this new feature into two distinct parts – Testimonials and References – because these are actually two quite different things. Stay with us here while we explain…

Testimonials

Testimonials are written by our members for each other using a simple Request and Approval process we created on our site. Long story short: those home owners who do create their own sitter wanted listing with us will now receive automatic system-generated prompts to leave their house sitters a Testimonial after the advertised end-date of their assignment has passed. Hurrah! Crucially, those home owners who DON’T create a listing with us but contacted our house sitter members directly (we don’t capture this information, so don’t know who these people are!) can also respond to a request for a Testimonial from our house sitter members via our site. The onus is on you, again, to find these fellow MindMyHouse members and then make that request. Phew!

This Request and Approval process should be fairly logical and easy to manage. Just follow your new Notifications feature, which you will find at the top right corner of your account page (look for the bell icon). Here you will find a record of your Requests sent and also (here’s the fun bit) you’ll be notified when you have a Testimonial waiting for you to approve! And when (and only when) you approve that Testimonial for publication it will appear next to your very own listing. Sound good?

Testimonials are a great way for home owners to feel confident that house sitters aren’t just blowing their own horn, so to speak.

References

Adding References is a lot simpler than Testimonials as all we have really done is provide an extra field for you to display your existing References in and linked these to your sitter available listing. Because your References can come from anyone (home owners you met outside of MindMyHouse for example, or for house sitting assignments you did before you joined us) they can be seen as less trustworthy. Of course all of your References and Testimonials will come from real, contactable people, cos otherwise, they are just the equivalent of ‘window dressing’…

Please note that any PDF documents you want to upload into the new References section in your account area will need to be uploaded to a third-party site eg. Dropbox, Google drive, OneDrive, CloudMe (all of these are free to use!) first as we don’t have the space on our server to hold such ‘heavy’ documents (it’s a geeky tech thing). You can then provide a link to your References on your PDF file from your References section. Much easier than it sounds : D.

We hope you like! Feel free to visit our new FAQ on References and Testimonials (at the link following) or reach out to our dedicated support team (OK that’s just the two of us) at help@mindmyhouse.com.

https://www.mindmyhouse.com/support/faqs/11

Featuring our gold star members

We had a fairly routine email arrive through to our new Zendesk support recently from one of our house sitter members requesting advice about something – we can’t remember what! As part of our help desk bonhomie, we always look up each Requester’s details in our database – nothing unusual there. However, when we checked this particular member’s payment history we were quite surprised to see that they had been with us for a grand total of nine years!

This spurred us on to find out how many of our registered house sitter members had renewed their annual memberships with us year after year and are still with us today. This is what we found:

  • 2 house sitters have been with us for nine years!
  • 41 house sitters have been with us for eight years!
  • 42 house sitters have been with us for seven years!

For all those gold, silver and bronze members out there, we would like to give you another two free annual memberships from us on the house (so to speak) to reward you for your loyalty to our growing online community. Huzzah! And a medal, of course. Thanks for being with us since the beginning! Check your account to see your freebie from us which should look like an expiry date on your membership set well into the future – at least two years from today’s date. May you continue to enjoy being a MindMyHousie!

Is it all in the Search?

You can now sort your search of our sitter wanted listings by DATES in two different ways. That gives you a revised grand total of FIVE different ways to search our database!

The webmaster is currently resting up as he has sprinted through his own Personal Best time and implemented two brand new ways to search our database of sitter wanted listings. You will be familiar with our existing THREE methods to search our database: by LOCATION using the drop-down country menu and again by location using our global map. We also used to let you search for the most recently submitted listings by checking the ‘Most Recent Listings’ checkbox under the drop-down country menu. Well! We’ve deleted that ‘Most Recent Listings’ checkbox and have extended your ability to search our listings by dates in two different ways. Bear with me here as I explain…

Sorting by Date Submitted

Sounds kind of evident doesn’t it? Choose this search option and at the top of your search results, you will see those sitter wanted listings that have been approved most recently at the top!

Sorting by Date Available

Many of you have asked us for this feature and, well, here it is! If you choose Sort by Date Available, it will show listings starting after today, ordered by the start date. You can also select a different start date (other than today) from the drop-down calendar. Keep in mind, that all of our Variable dates listings (around 10% of all of our total sitter wanted listings) will be excluded from this particular search.

New Notifications feature

Notifications feature

With all these new features rolling in to your personal account areas, we realised that there wasn’t a central place in your account area to Notify you of all the important things going on in your account. So introducing (cue drum roll…) a new ‘Notifications’ dropdown menu thingy! So check out your Notifications menu the next time to login to your account. Look for the Bell icon which is visible on every page. We hope you feel much more in control of things in your very own personal account areas. As ever, tell us what you think…

Now is the time to create your Sitter Wanted Listing!

Statistics are a gosh darn thing aren’t they? We are pleased to report that a whole 57.43% of our house sitter members are currently making the effort and have taken the time to create their sitter available listings on our site in 2016. Happily, this is a whole lot more than the 39% who we reported had created their own sitter available listings on our site back in the early days a whole decade ago now. Here’s the link to an archive version of MindMyHouse News from February 2006 in our Community Area if ya want to see for yourselves…

https://www.mindmyhouse.com/community/blog/news/mindmyhouse-news-22-february-2006/

Our home owners often write to us here at help@mindmyhouse.com with the following concerns: ‘why has an UN-REGISTERED house sitter (my emphasis) written to me through your site? What’s the deal with that? Why can’t I see these particular house sitter’s profiles? I’ve got no idea who these people are? Are they a man or a woman? Etc etc etc…

This situation is so sad and so avoidable! What part of ‘profile sharing website’ don’t we understand, 43% of our members who don’t create their own sitter available listing with us? Gosh darn it! Get yer acts together and don’t come crying to us when you are feeling left out of all the action that our advertising members find through our service.

To encourage our house sitters to do the right thing, the webmaster has created a new yellow reminder box which will spring up at the top of your account page reminding you to CREATE YOUR LISTING now, while showing you how many days you have left of your current membership. Cool eh…

But there is hope! As your ever-loving editor, can I just say DO IT NOW! Our home owners are keen to find you in their searches of our database. That’s what they want! And that’s what you want too, right? OK am hopping down off my high horse now…

We will hopefully have good news to report in the next edition of MMH News which shows an increase in the numbers of our members who have their own listing. Let’s aim for a massive 60% of house sitter members with their lovingly crafted and informative sitter wanted listings bravely set to ‘Visible’, their ‘available to’ dates set well into the future and adorned with seven gorgeous photographs apiece. Just wow!

Latest fixes etc

Wow, we’ve been busy…

  • MMH now runs faster than ever! We introduced a very small fix (the techy details of which you probably won’t be interested in), which resulted in our pages downloading twice as fast as before. You should notice this as you next Browse through the site. Always good! Our US userbase may notice that our pages now load faster than the proverbial speed of sound as our servers are based in the southern States. Epic!
  • We’ve increased the number of photos you can upload to your listings from four to seven. This means that we needed to have chunkier and more rugged dedicated servers to host more of your images on our site. But we figure this will be worth it! We know how much you depend on each other’s photographs to make informed choices about whether to pursue more information regarding a particular assignment or house sitter. So say cheese and get cuddling with your best furry friends and upload more pictures for our home owners to enjoy. Or (!) pick the most delightful and informative seven images of your home and animals to stoke our house sitters’ enthusiasm for your assignment. Easy peasy lemon squeezey : D.
  • Less scrolling is a good thing right? We added the most popular countries in your searches to the top of all of the search menus. Phew!
  • Managing your email alerts with us from your personal account areas is actually pretty easy, but now we’ve made it even easier. With one click you can unsubscribe from your email alerts from a link you will find embedded in your alert emails – you don’t need to login to your accounts anymore. Note that your alert will be deleted in this process. Should you want to simply Pause an email alert, login to your account area as per usual.
  • We’ve doubled the text limit when you (house sitters) write an application for a house sitting assignment. Hurrah!
  • We now send out more reminders to home owners to help them mark their listings as filled (if they’ve found someone, of course).
  • Due to popular demand, our sitter wanted listings now all show the last date they were approved (or re-approved) for publication on our site. So yes, this date also represents the last time the home owner made changes to this listing. Take from that what you will…
  • The Webmaster has been busy with various niggardly and dastardly bug fixes (we won’t bore you with the details…) Suffice to say that he enjoyed squishing them!

Could EllaBalloo be the world’s best dog ever? Yes!

Here she is: Ellaballoo, our Welsh springer spaniel of three years now (although she will be five at the end of 2016) who is officially the world’s best dog! Isn’t it great that everyone is fairly certain that they have the world’s best dog?

Ella at the beach Ella at the beach

These photos of Ella enjoying herself here in New Zealand were taken by the two youngest members of our family. We’re not quite sure where Ella stores that tongue when she is not lolling it around outside of her mouth. Perhaps she has a secret storage compartment for it?

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!


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