As your dog breeding business grows you’ll find yourself in a weird limbo: you have enough dogs, litters whelping, and things to manage that having a full-time job would be hard to manage without sacrificing care to the dogs, BUT you aren’t exactly making enough money from breeding that you can pay the bills from your dogs alone.
When this happens you’ll probably want to find yourself a good side hustle to bridge the gap. In today’s episode I’m excited to share five side hustles that will help you bridge the financial gap between standing up your dog breeding program and the tipping point of being officially full time, where the dogs are paying the bills.
When we are looking at side hustles to complement dog breeding, the biggest thing we are looking for is flexibility in time. Just like it’s difficult to go to work at set times because dogs don’t do things at ideal set times, we need work that we can push off when the dogs need us.
Side Hustle #1
The first side hustle on the list uses your vehicle to make money. The gig economy is on the rise and so DoorDash, Uber, and Lyft are great ways to make money when you have time to make money.
My brother, Luke, is like an encyclopedia. He explained that when you are deciding to take DoorDash jobs, you need to know your numbers, how much fuel and time it’ll take you to get the food and deliver as the payment for service is a combination of a base pay, which varies, and a percentage of the meal cost, plus how desirable the delivery is. It’s this complication that can make or break your time as a Door Dasher.
The same goes with Uber and Lyft. These services also have a somewhat complex rate structure. They have a per-minute and per-mile rate. This way if you get stuck in traffic you aren’t burned in your earnings. To encourage more drivers to show up during peak traffic time there are bonuses or rate adjustments.
It seems flexible enough that you could do it regularly, enjoy it, meet some great people, and make a little money to float the bills.
Side Hustle #2
The next thing on the list is Airbnb or similar. When I first moved to Arizona, I bought a condo. It was a nice little place, simple, two bedroom, two bath, just under 1000 square feet. When I married my ex, we moved to his place and I rented my condo out. After lots of less-than-desirable renters, I decided to try Airbnb. My dad had been running a successful Airbnb for about a year when I decided to give it a try.
I was in love with the process, it made so much more money than mere renting and people weren’t moving furniture in and out of the place once a year, only suitcases, so my walls stayed a lot nicer. Booking nightly stays also really helps keep the place clean since it gets a deep clean between each guest. This means there is never hard water or soap build up on the shower, which can be murder where I live, and the fridge never gets gross because it’s cleared out regularly.
Anyways, the time investment can be a bit in the beginning, since you have to set everything up both in the place and on the website, but once it’s set up, it’s fairly easy. The app on your phone is where you do nearly all your communications and so it is really simple to work through wherever you are, even in the kennels.
You might be like, well Julie, people don’t just have extra rental properties sitting around, and yes, I know that it isn’t the highest probability. Just the same, if you do, it’s a great way to maximize the money for the space. You can also rent a room in your home, an RV, and I’ve even seen people set up a teepee for Airbnb.
Regardless, if you choose to do an Airbnb at your home with the dogs, know that not everyone is happy with dogs, so you’ll want to make that clear, if your dogs bark, like mine, who like to have karaoke contests with the local coyotes, well, that might be a miserable experience for a guest.
If you don’t have a property to rent, consider being the manager and/or cleaner for an Airbnb, most of the time someone who manages and cleans an Airbnb will earn between 20-30% of the payouts from Airbnb.
In order to make it work in conjunction with your breeding business and its demands, you just need to build flexibility between your check-out and check-in times. For example, if it takes you 2 hours to clean the place, then you’ll want to give yourself at least twice if not three times the amount of time in between guests. So in this instance, make checkout 10 or 11 in the morning, and check-in no earlier than 4 or 5 in the afternoon, and of course, always have double sets of towels and linens, so you don’t have to wait on laundry.
To make managing guests and their needs less time consuming—as in they won’t need to contact you so much—make sure you take the time in the beginning to make a nice guide book so they know how to use the TV, where the light switches are, etc. You can even use a label maker for some stuff to make it easier.
Airbnb was a great assistance when my facilities weren’t quite up to par and I didn’t have enough litters to cover the bills.
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Side Hustle #3
As a spin off from cleaning and managing an Airbnb, there’s the opportunity to be a house cleaner or an odd-jobs cleaner. For example, my mom runs a successful home-cleaning business and she says her clients always need her to do additional tasks beyond standard cleaning. Sometimes that’s something like cleaning windows (this one is popular before summer), doing a deep clean of the pantry, or the oven or fridge. These cleanings aren’t part of a standard home clean and should be scheduled separately. She is pretty busy already, so there’s an opportunity to pair up with a house cleaner to help take care of those tasks for her clients if she’s too busy to take them on herself. It helps you, helps the client, and helps her because the client is taken care of.
Another bit of odd jobs cleaning can be yard clean up. Where I live, lots of people have larger properties, like 4-5 acres and our winds are terrible, so many people have trash that has blown to the fences and just needs to be picked up. Other people have brush or other yard maintenance. If you have a truck it’s easy to haul away some trash for them. These sort of jobs give you excellent flexibility, plus they’re outside and I always prefer that when possible.
You might get into helping people clear out estates, moving things, selling them on eBay or getting them ready for auction. It’s really exhausting for loved-ones to go through their family member’s stuff after they pass and sometimes it’s easier to hand that job to someone else after they take the memories they want to keep. If they commission you to sell things for them, depending on the item, the commission can be anywhere from 10%-50% of the sale price.
Side Hustle #4
Another great option is being a Virtual Assistant, often referred to as a VA. A virtual assistant sounds a lot like commissioning Siri to do your bidding, but in reality, a VA is a person who usually works from home, on their computer, assisting another person with their tasks.
If you have a skillset that would accommodate this, it would be fairly easy to make it work as a VA. For example, if you’re great at social media, you might be able to help someone schedule their social media posts, manage comments and messages, or even help them create a social media plan. Maybe you’re great at website design, you could build websites.
If you’re a nerd like me and know your grammar, you might be able to edit people’s work. My brother edits my podcast before it goes out and he helps me remove all times I overuse the word “that.” I’m terrible with that one.
The great thing about being a VA is that you can work with anyone in the world. This allows you to find a great niche that you’re good at and enjoy. It benefits your breeding program because VAs are generally contracted workers as opposed to employees. There are a few differences between the two. An employee can be told where to be and when, but a contracted worker is given a job and it’s at the discretion of the contractor as to when it’s completed. The employer could say I need it done by this time and to this standard, but the contractor gets to choose how and when. This means that you never have to worry about calling in to work as a VA, you’ll just need to be diligent in getting things done on time.
VA pay is pretty decent. Although the work is generally designed around a set amount of time, as in you’re paid for giving four hours a week to the employer, it’s often more of a to-the-mission standard. Sorry, that’s like Army vocabulary. In the Army there was time-standard, meaning we went until a certain time was completed, or there was mission-standard, which was, we went until the mission was completed, regardless of the time. Most things in the Army were mission-standard.
As a VA you’ll design your workload with the employer around a reasonable amount of time to complete the tasks your given, but most of the time you’ll set that workload and then work as long as needed to complete it. Which will usually take more time in the beginning as you’re learning, but should level out and be faster. If you’re paid for 4 hours a week and it’s continually taking 5-6 hours despite diligence on your side, that’s when you’d want to go back to the employer and adjust the contract for either more pay and hours or for fewer tasks.
My best advice for a VA is to be really open in where you’re struggling, how the time is working, and to keep checking in with the employer on the process and if they’re getting value out of it. Nothing sucks more as an employer than being irritated they have to pay their workers and feel like they’re wasting their money on them. Keeping the lines of communication open will be really helpful here. Be willing to have them tell you where it isn’t working or can be better, employers love that. Just don’t forget to be honest if it truly is becoming more work than the money justifies.
A typical VA will look to book 20 hours of work a week, but some will do more. Sometimes that 20 hours is with one client and sometimes it’s with multiple clients. VA’s use the word “bandwidth” similar to how we discuss it with the internet. So when you’re pitching yourself as a VA in the beginning, let them know you have more bandwidth, that way they can “try you out” for fewer hours and less cost, and increase the time and pay as you get a flow and they are seeing increased profits in their business because of your work or the time you’re freeing up for them.
Side Hustle #5
Do you have a knack for teaching? Another great way to bring in some quality side hustle income is through tutoring or giving lessons. My daughter’s guitar teacher is very talented, he’s a great teacher, patient, and he has a lot of passion for what he does. He teaches guitar lessons and has a great business for himself. With people’s new comfortability with zoom and online face-to-face meetings, he can have students all over the world. Not that you need to have students all over the world, but it is nice to have the flexibility to have a lesson even if the student is out of town.
You might be great at math or English, or a special science like physics or chemistry. There are always students needing a little extra help in these areas and so you could reach out to a local high school to see if there are any students who would benefit from your tutoring services.
Maybe you have a horse and you’re guilty of not riding him like you had hoped you would. Life gets busy. If you can give lessons on your horse, then you’d hit two birds with one stone: the horse gets ridden and exercised, while you bring in a little side income.
Lastly, and this isn’t exactly a side hustle…taking extra special care of your spouse who is working full-time. If you are in that lucky spot where your significant other is covering the bills before your dogs are profitable, then here’s my gentle advice to prevent burden on your family.
For starters, be super supportive of their work. I don’t always know everything that goes into Bill’s work, but I try and take the time to ask him not just how his day went, but what he was working on. For example he told me he was plating floor trusses. I may have helped with construction down here, but we weren’t building homes that had second floors, so this wasn’t instantly understandable to me. Regardless, I asked enough questions so I could understand it enough to appreciate it. I think this little extra support and understanding goes a long way in a relationship. No one wants to feel alone, but if your significant other doesn’t understand your daily life, it can feel lonely, like there’s a whole part of your world that they don’t understand. Just the same, I don’t expect Bill to know everything about dog breeding, but he knows the names of all the dogs, he knows their personalities, and he’s very aware of the daily and weekly tasks in my breeding program, and now the podcast and Dog Breeder Society. Giving your spouse a little understanding, appreciation, and respect—especially when they are paying the bulk of the bills—goes a long way.
The next piece of advice is to take some of your free time and make their life a little easier. For instance, if your spouse has to leave early in the morning, maybe you could get up and get the coffee ready while they’re in the shower or make their lunch. These simple acts show that you care and recognize their contribution. If you’re noticing that these are acts of service out the 5 Love Languages, I’m impressed, that book is fantastic and has helped me a ton in my relationships, not just with Bill, but also with my kids. As you may have guessed, one of my stronger love languages is acts of service.
Lastly, I highly recommend that you do your best to reduce that chaos that dog breeding can bring to your life. For example, if your spouse is a light sleeper, you might not want to whelp puppies in the middle of the night in the master bedroom. This also means keeping things clean and organized as best as you can. One of the upcoming MasterClasses inside the Dog Breeder Society will discuss setting up facilities both for new breeders and for those ready to build a facility, so you can manage your dogs and they aren’t taking over your life. Or, if your spouse enjoys chilling on the couch with you at night, don’t save all your dog chores until after dinner, try and have them done before your spouse gets home, so that you can relax together. They say in order to maintain a healthy relationship, you need to spend a minimum 90 minutes per week discussing your days, your life, your struggles together. It doesn’t need to be a set time to talk, like every Thursday night we must sit for 90 minutes from 6-7:30 and discuss life, but…it would be good to provide many opportunities to have conversation. You don’t want to be stressed for these moments, so get the dog stuff done early, so you can give your attention to each other.
I hope this give you a few ideas to help get your brain working on ways to supplement your income while your breeding program picks up the pace.
The transition can be difficult, but usually that’s because you feel stuck between the time demands of your dogs and the financial demands of your life and dogs. If you can figure out a way to supplement the income in a way the works with your breeding program instead of pulling you in two directions, the transition will be a lot smoother and less stressful, not just for you, but for your dogs and family, too.
If you haven’t had a chance to enroll in Dog Breeding 101 we are coming to a close of the discounted pricing. The doors close on April 9, I’d love to have you on the inside. The course is just $99, but after April 9 it will go up to $150. Besides that, you get a free 90-day trial of the Dog Breeder Society, a $105 value.
Get the confidence to start your breeding program off on the right foot, select great breeding dogs, raise them to be healthy and happy, and send them home to amazing families.
Enroll or get more details using the link below in the show notes.
Thank you for joining me for another episode of the honest dog breeder podcast, with me, your host, Julie Swan, I’m so grateful you’ve brought me along on your breeding journey. Thank you again, and I’ll catch you in the next episode!