How I landed a radio gig as a pet sitter without any radio experience
"And we're on in 3 - 2 - 1 - On Air! Welcome to Heidi's Pet show!"
A pet sitting business provides a variety of life experiences for pet sitters and being on the radio was one of the most interesting experiences of my career - and I had absolutely no experience in the field of radio. No DJ license (is that even a thing? See I still don't know!). No Broadcasting school training. No working behind the scenes in a radio station. No designs to even be on the radio. Zilch. Nada. Zero.
What I did have was a love of talking and a love of pets and pet sitting, but even THAT wasn't the main thing that landed me the radio gig in the first place!
I am going to share with my readers how I ended up being a regular radio guest for about two years in hopes that my story will motivate and inspire other pet sitters out there (and all of you actually) to be open to a little serendipity in your life and to always be curious and as innovative as you can in your pet sitting business (or whatever business you find yourself in).
It all started with a letter to the editor in my local paper about mulch. That's right - I said mulch. The woman who wrote the article wanted to warn the community that a certain kind of garden mulch had some dangerous ingredients that were attractive to the smell and taste of dogs. She warned that if a dog consumed this mulch, they would most likely become ill.
As a pet sitter, this was a message I wanted to get out to my clients as well. I was already writing a monthly newsletter for my clients called "The Precious Pets Gazette" and I thought I might photocopy this editorial and send it to my clients with my next newsletter. Because I am also a writer, I didn't want to just mass-produce a copy of this article without permission. We writers respect one another's written words and hard work.
I called the newspaper and asked if they'd mind if I would photocopy this editorial and send it out to my clients. They informed me that I'd need permission directly from the author, not them. So they gave the author my phone number and she called me. I explained what I wanted to do and she was very thrilled that I would pass along this info to pet owners so she readily gave me permission.
We started chatting about pets and pet sitting, and as it turned out she was the woman who headed up a weekly pet radio show at a local radio station. By the end of the conversation, she asked me if I'd like to be a guest on her show! What do you think I said? I said YES YES YES YES! ( I tried to act calmer than that on the outside, but inside I was jumping up and down.)
I love to talk and I have quite a bit of public speaking experience so I was excited to be on the show. Nerves weren't an issue and neither was what to talk about because there is always something to talk about in the field of pet sitting. The show was one hour and the hosts (there were two) asked me some interesting questions about me, and about my business.
I had one free hour of promoting my business and the wonderful field of pet sitting to anyone in my entire community who was listening. There was a slot of time for people to call in about halfway through the show. I made sure to mention this event to my pet sitting clients in case they wanted to listen or call in and tell of their experience with my pet sitting business. Two clients called and said some really great things about my pet sitting business. I was so touched by this!
Being on the radio was a wonderful experience. However, that wasn't the end of it.
A few months later I was asked back on the show and another time that year as well. I was grateful for any business exposure I was getting and the people at the radio station were awesome. I was pleased as punch each time I was a guest and my business name became a little more well-known throughout the town. In turn, my personal and business reputation increased. It wasn't like I was a fly-by-night pet sitter, but someone with experience and a great reputation.
I don't remember the time in between the last appearance and a more permanent invitation, but I was eventually asked if I would be a regular monthly guess on the show and so of course I said yes to that as well. I ended up being on the show for about two years total.
I could never have orchestrated this sequence of events any better than it happened. I'm sharing all of this to encourage you to look for opportunities to promote your business all the time. This huge promotion of my business was totally free. I didn't have to pay anything for an hour of free advertising once a month on the radio. These things DO happen, so please don't say to yourself "It will never happen to me" (whatever "it" is).
Being on the radio was not even on my radar. I just wanted to pass along some good info about dangerous mulch to my pet sitting clients and my concern and curiosity ended up morphing into a radio gig. I received further exposure when I wrote an article about it for the NAPPS Network, which was NAPPS' trade magazine at the time.*
Never underestimate the power of curiosity. Once in a while, take the road less traveled. Look under the rocks and up high into the trees. Reach for the sky. Be open.
Prior to being a professional pet sitter, I did full-time youth ministry and I used to tell the teens "JBO" which meant "just be open" because you never know how God is going to work in your life. I say that to all of you, my wonderful readers too - just be open.
Each day is a new day. Enter it with a sense of openness and see what it will bring.
* NAPPS = National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (See resources page).
Question for Pet Sitters:
What opportunities might you be overlooking in your community for some free advertising/promotion?
Questions for Pet Owners:
How did you initially hear about your pet sitter?
How can you help promote your pet sitters' business? Putting up their flyer at your place of employment, your local church, library? Mentioning them to your friends?