Do you dream of traveling the world as a proofreader?

Or maybe globe-trotting isn’t your thing, but you’d like to take longer vacations, stay in beautiful venues, and visit places that have been on your bucket list for years.

And all without breaking the bank.

It’s possible!

Loni Nelson is a full-time freelancer who has figured out how to travel the world and live in beautiful homes for free as a pet sitter/house sitter. She doesn’t have a mortgage, doesn’t pay rent…and doesn’t even pay for utilities! 

In this episode, she joins me to share how she packs up her laptop to travel and work whenever and wherever she wants. Listen in to hear how you can bring your proofreading business along and do the same!

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Thank you for taking the time to invest in YOU by listening to this episode! Please hit subscribe so you catch every episode — and share with anyone needing encouragement or curious about starting their proofreading side hustle too.

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Intro: This is The Proofreading Business Podcast with Elizabeth Wiegner. For more, visit TheProofreadingBusinessCoach.com.

Elizabeth Wiegner: One of the many awesome things about proofreading is it’s so flexible that if you want to do other things on the side, you absolutely can. And once you start your proofreading business and you get bit by the entrepreneurial bug where you realize that you have a skill or something you’re excited about and you can make money off of it, start your own business, and make money while having fun, the sky really is the limit.

And today’s guest is here to talk about one of those businesses that you can easily add on to your proofreading business. I’m so excited for you to get to listen to this.

Today on The Proofreading Business Podcast, I have a really special guest who does something so fun and unique that as soon as I met Loni, I was like, what do you do? This is so awesome. This is a thing? And it is.

So Loni is -- she lives in the UK. She is a full-time house sitter/pet sitter. So she has a life where she gets to travel around other people’s awesome houses and pet sit their amazing animals.

So if you love to travel and/or you love pets and you’re looking for a freelance lifestyle, and Loni has something really awesome. She doesn’t pay rent. It’s on your social media account. You haven’t paid rent for two years. I mean, in today’s economy, I think everybody is like, okay, I need to know more.

So without further ado, I’m going to welcome Loni on to talk about her very awesome career as a house sitter.

Loni Nelson: Amazing. I’m so, so happy to be here. I cannot wait to get started.

Elizabeth Wiegner: This is going to be good, y’all. It’s so funny. We were having -- y’all, we were talking before this podcast started, and I was like, I just need to hit record because this is all so good. So we have -- she has so much good stuff to share with you.

So before we dive into all the details, tell me what a house sitter does, what a pet sitter does, kind of the responsibilities, all that good stuff.

Loni Nelson: 100%. So a pet sitter fundamentally is in charge of looking after the pets and animals and the home that they are staying in for free. So for me, I use Trusted House Sitters. It’s a platform. That is where I find every single house sit. Trusted House Sitters itself is a website that pairs pet-loving sitters like myself with homeowners who require a fair trade. So we look after their pets and get a free place to live, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last two years.

Elizabeth Wiegner: So how did you get into that? Because I mean, I’ve heard of pet -- I have all these chickens, dogs, and cats, and so I’ve heard of people who come pet sit or who will come by and stop. But I’ve never heard of that as a career.

Loni Nelson: 100%. I think -- and even for me when I started, I had little dabbles in things. There’s this website called Borrow My Doggy, which -- it’s wild, but it’s a wonderful thing. It started up during COVID when a few people needed to still go into their 9-to-5s but they had a pet at home. So my partner and I two years ago, we were living in basically like what we would call our dream first place. It had a wonderful garden. It was right next to a nature preserve. It was so lush, and I worked from home. I had my office room. I just felt like such a true, successful adult at that point.

So two years ago, we were living in our dream first house, and I ended up getting really lonely because we couldn’t have any pets around. I grew up with pets. I always had that companionship. So my first sort of stop was this Borrow My Doggy website, and people would drop their dog off at my house, and I would just look after their dog all day and hang out and take them on walks. And it was wonderful. It was just such a nice way for me to have that relationship with a pet but then not necessarily the responsibility or the vet bills or all of the extra stuff that does come with those sorts of things.

So we started doing that. I really enjoyed it. And then when lockdowns were starting to ease off, I think everyone can kind of relate to when that started happening and we were all stir crazy.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes.

Loni Nelson: We all got to this point of, oh my gosh, we have been in the same four walls for over a year. That was really heavy. And so I basically ended up doing a very big doom scroll on my phone, and I have to give it to Instagram. They really targeted me properly.

I got an ad from Trusted House Sitters and went down into a Google spree. What is this? What does this mean? How can I do it? Is it legit? I figured all that out. I basically signed up for a profile that same night. I set it up. I started looking for houses. I was like, oh my gosh. Wow. There’s tons all around us. I thought we were in sort of a countryside location in the UK. I didn’t think that there would be any house sits outside of London. I was like, oh well. We’re in the middle of nowhere. There’s not going to be places for us to go. There were dozens. I was like, oh great. Okay, interesting.

So by this time, I thought I should probably inform my partner who I lived with that this is what I’m doing.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Minor detail.

Loni Nelson: It is slightly important, that discussion. So ultimately I brought it up to my partner. I said, listen, our lease on this flat is coming up in a couple months. I love it. I love having this home with you, but we are getting in the rat race. Every month at the end of the month, we have no money. It all just goes. What’s happening? He was a really successful engineer for a defense company.

I had been running my freelancing company for four years at that point. So we were both pretty consistent with income. That wasn’t the issue, but it was just even then the cost of living was extortionate. I was like, we’re not going to be able to put our dreams right in front of us if we just have to constantly worry about paying for our rent.

So I kind of got all up in my field. I basically had a presentation prepared and said, listen. I think we have to do this. You’re probably going to hate me. Can we just try? So as a team, we agreed we would try out pet sitting for six months, what we thought, see what it was like, what happened in those six months. And now we’re two years down the line.

Elizabeth Wiegner: You must have loved it too. You must have been like, okay, this is not a bad idea.

Loni Nelson: You know, at the beginning, I definitely had to hold the vision for both of us. He was a bit apprehensive. He was a bit like, okay, all right, Loni. You’ve had some wild ideas in the past, but okay, sure. Let’s try it out. So bless him. I think I’ve always been fairly confident with taking risks, and this one for sure has paid off and been well worth it.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That’s awesome you did. You approached it as -- it was something you really wanted to do because that’s one thing I hear a bit is like, I have this -- like you said, this vision, but my spouse isn’t on board with it. And it is part of like meeting halfway. I mean, part of being in a relationship is compromise.

Compromise doesn’t have to be bad, but it can also mean okay -- I love that you said you did all the research. You brought the presentation. That was perfect. And then let’s just try it for a little bit. If it doesn’t work, at least we tried it.

Loni Nelson: 100%. And ultimately for us, I think at that point, we were really lucky in a sense of, okay, listen. We can put all our belongings, the small amount of belongings that we already accumulated in that year into a little storage unit, and we’ll just try it out. Let’s see how it works. And for us, it really did provide us that opportunity to leverage our 20s in a way that I don’t think most people know is an option for them.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yeah, because traveling is not cheap, and especially traveling and then having just always -- like you still have your house behind that you’re paying on while you’re traveling. So getting to travel the world or the section -- like the UK or the US where you’re at is not always a very reasonable option or to travel it comfortably is -- that’s one thing.

Loni NelsoN: Yes, big time. And I think I’m not sure how many people would agree with this, but I’m definitely a comfort traveler. I have never been, give me a hostel or -- no, I would not like that at all. But I also, at the time, even now, it’s not like we have a massive budget to go off and do a ton of really big five-star, month-long trips. That was never the goal.

I wanted just to be able to give ourselves a little bit of relief for at least a period of time to see if it worked, to see if we did save money, to see if we could put the money towards anything else or any other dreams. And I think that was the fun part of it too because we did get to travel, and we’ve -- for our first year, my partner was working remotely like I was, so we actually traveled a lot more across the UK and went to different parts of it and explored national parks here. And we were able to have those adventures but still have a home base.

And then this year, my partner needed to commute into the office, so we kind of have a slightly new challenge of finding places that were within half an hour of where he needed to go to work. I was like, will we find enough to live for a whole year? How is that going to work? And so far so good. We already have one all the way up to Christmas and going into January. So I’m like, we’re good.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That’s amazing. So when you started, I caught that you said you house sit for free, so tell me how that works. Usually when I think of having a side hustle, or this isn’t a side hustle. This is your full-time thing. You live full time in other people’s houses and have their pets as yours, which I just love that. Tell me how that works for you, how staying somewhere free works for you financially.

Loni Nelson: Yeah, 100%. So I think it’s a really big mindset shift because, for me, I’ve always been, for the majority of my working life, I’ve been self-employed. So I’ve always gone out. I’ve found these clients. I’ve brought them in. I’ve retained them all back and stuff. So I’ve always wanted to find a way to prioritize that freelancing lifestyle, that flexibility, the ability to work when I wanted, where I wanted, the whole thing, the whole tin.

And when we started pet sitting and I knew that it was for free, I actually felt a lot more relief because I thought, okay, well, it’s more like I’m doing them a favor. And homeowners have actually said to me multiple times, different homeowners, they’ve mentioned we actually just feel so good that someone is coming in, and they’re truly doing this because they love pets. They’re not just doing it because they’re going to get paid, or they’re not just doing it for whatever other reason. They’re truly coming in here because we can trust them, and they want to look after our family members in that sense.

So I think you build really strong connections with the homeowners that you meet, with the animals that you look after as well. And you just -- you still have all that flexibility. You can still make as much income as you want, work as much as you want, go out for coffee with your friends or go out overnight.

We’ve had -- homeowners have been so lovely. They’ve got us a hotel the night before so we could just hang out and relax. We’ve had homeowners that have -- I’ve mentioned to the homeowner, oh, I have a friend that might be coming up. Do you have a hotel that I could recommend to her? And they said, no, just let her stay with you. So I’ve had friends that have been able to spend weeks with us, and we can go hang out in their pool or on their acreage, just beautiful experiences.

And I think it is because they’re not getting paid for this. The homeowners are a bit more happy to make it an exchange, make it a really fair trade. So I’m actually really happy I don’t get paid for this because I have a lot less pressure to be at a certain place at a certain time or check in at a certain time. I can really just get a lot more [indiscernible] and friendly.

Elizabeth Wiegner: So how do you -- so do you feel like you’re at a disadvantage not bringing income in every month because of that?

Loni Nelson: No, I wouldn’t say so. I’d say for me, when I think about it, the last year with my partner and I not paying rent, it’s genuinely meant that that money doesn’t go anywhere. The money that I would have spent on rent, on heat, electricity, on water, on council tax, on whatever that doesn’t go out of my bank account anymore. So in that sense, it feels like I’ve actually -- I am making money every month because I’d have to say goodbye to that money.

Granted, I’m still trying to save that amount of money where I set it aside for other things. But I’m not setting it aside for another person’s wallet or just to live. I’m setting it aside for my own goals and my own dreams, and that’s way more exciting. I’m actually so happy that I’m like, oh, I love that my money is going to go towards my things, not anybody else’s.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes. I mean, if you -- for those listening, when you pay rent or you paid mortgage, I mean -- I was talking to Loni before it started about here in the US, mortgage rates are -- just keep going higher and higher, and the cost of living, whether you rent or you have a house, is just out of -- I mean, it’s just getting harder and harder. And Loni said it’s the same thing in the UK. And so if you imagine not having to pay a rent or a mortgage, what would your life look like, the things that you could save or do with that extra money that you have?

Loni Nelson: 100%. I was doing some research about this. In the UK for instance, in September, renters on average spent 30% of their monthly income just on rent, not on anything else, just on rent. And in the States right now, the average rent in New York or Florida would probably cost renters $21,000 a year. And when you think the average income in some of those states may be 62 grand, that’s such a big proportion of your money just basically being carded out into a gold mill chest somewhere else. I think it’s -- it is wild when you think about it.

And for some people, it’s important that they have that space, that they need that space. But ultimately, for the people who don’t necessarily need it and they have this sort of option, it will actually start to help the economy shift and move and circulate into a place that it does make it more affordable for everyone to buy a house or to rent.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Because then you’re saving. Like even if this was something you just did for a couple years, the money that you’ve saved and built up, if you decided, oh, I did -- I found a place in all these house sits that I’ve done where I love the location, which is really I’m called to stay here, then I mean now you have that flexibility, whereas trying to save for something while you’re still paying rent or paying mortgage is not easy. Sometimes it’s not even doable.

Loni Nelson: Yeah. And I think for a lot of people as well, it can get -- they can feel maybe a bit defeated about it because there’s not a lot of resources or a lot of information out there that’s talking about feasible ways, safe ways to do that, to still save your money, to still travel because I think often with the person or the dichotomy that people are in is, oh, well, I want to travel, but I also need to save money. And what we’re doing now is marrying them both. Like, great, okay, well, I’m going to travel even more and also save money. And for most people, that’s not allowed. What do you mean?

Elizabeth Wiegner: For the longest time, my husband and I -- I was actually just working on an email to send about that. But my husband and I for the longest time didn’t vacation, one, because I was working so much that -- I mean, that’s part of the problem. And the other is it’s just -- when you can -- before I got into transcript proofreading, when we could barely pay our rent and utilities, planning a vacation was -- it was like -- we would have loved to have that, but we’re either going to go in debt or go without really badly for a while to be able to afford even something basic like a couple states over in a five-night stay. But here, you get to do both. You can see beautiful places. And I imagine the houses you’re staying in are really nice too.

Loni Nelson: Yes. I have to say even that is really lucky. I think there’s -- talking about ROI on this I guess or a little bit of a kickback is probably some of the people that I’ve just been able to meet. These homeowners that we’re talking to, they’re not -- I don’t want to say normal, but I want to say they’re -- they’ve been doing things in their lives that have created a different lifestyle.

Quite a few of them are well off, or even if they’re middle class, they’re -- they think differently. So many of them are entrepreneurs. So many of them are self-employed. Many of them have lots of income streams. So when you are able to actually speak with these people and build rapport and they know your name and they ask you questions because you’re living in their house, they want to know about who you are and what you do.

These people -- I think they really build you up a little bit. And for me, I think I’ve gotten so much more confident in how I portray myself, how I interact with people because the sort of people that I know can call on my phone are just out of this world. And actually, their homes are equally just as amazing, and therefore I’ve been able to stay in some wild places that, even if they were on an Airbnb site, that would be thousands of dollars a night. That would not be happening. So it’s pretty wild I have to say.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I love -- I was thinking just of the fact that -- I follow you on Instagram and just see your amazing -- some of the pictures that you -- and videos you take. I’m like, wow, that is amazing. But I didn’t think about the other side of, yeah, if you are in a position in life where you can have a lovely home and property like that, it’s because you -- most people don’t have inherited wealth.

A lot of people, it’s they’ve made connections. They’ve worked their butts off. They’re in a place where -- and now they can bless you by letting you -- having you stay there and the connections that you make. But when you get to be around those people, absolutely. It elevates your conversation. It shows you what’s possible. It gives you connections, which are -- I mean, connections in the freelancing world is priceless. I mean, that’s a whole other part of that -- that I hadn’t thought about. That is really neat.

Loni Nelson: Yeah. I think I’ve been really, really lucky in the sense of my partner and I, we started this in 2021 and in September of 2021 actually. We just kind of recently had our anniversary, and it took me I think three weeks for me to find us five months of accommodation.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Wow.

Loni Nelson: Three weeks, had phone calls with the homeowners. We met them in person, confirmed in my Google calendar. And from that first year of doing that, of kind of like that hustle at the beginning, figuring out what to say and how to say it and how to organize a profile, all of that, the hustle of that for those first few weeks, now all those people, they come back to me. They send me a message. They say, hey, are you free for next year, same time? Yep. All right.

So I’ve built up now, and just like as a freelancer, your network is so important. The referrals that happen are so important, and it’s now just happening for my house and pet sitting where the homeowner will say, oh, I have a friend. I didn’t want to give you her number, but I did. She’s going to give you a ring. And now I don’t -- I barely have to go and use the app anymore if I don’t want to because I have all these numbers that are calling me, which is wonderful.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Oh, I love what you said, and it’s the same way with proofreading where it takes time at the beginning. It’s not something where you just, oh, I’m going to do this and suddenly you had two years worth of rent paid for because you’re living -- I mean, it takes, and it’s not just a, oh, you say you want it and you get it. It takes time developing the skills and the personality and the work ethic and the responsibility. But if you’re willing to learn that and then do it and then do a good job so that people want to keep hiring you, it’s like you hardly have to -- I mean, it is work in the sense that you have responsibilities. But it’s not like work because you’re loving it so much.

Loni Nelson: 100%. And I think it’s -- I think when you have a drive to be self-employed or a freelancer or to have that flexibility in your life, you already inherently have the qualities that would also make you a great house and pet sitter, for instance. Having that empathy, having the ability to time manage, wanting to prioritize something else to stir something in that degree, that’s basically the qualities and the characteristics that you have to bring to it. You have to be -- and you have to be prepared that, yeah, in a sense you’re now responsible for the home you’re living in, so treat it like it is your home. You look after it. You do your dishes, all this stuff.

But I think as well, I spoke earlier about that sense of loneliness at the beginning. I think when you are a freelancer and you do work from home being remote, sometimes the only person you’re talking to is on your screen. And I can’t tell you how nice it is, and I’m sure you get this, Elizabeth, of just being able to go outside and you’re hanging out with an animal.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes.

Loni Nelson: I think they give you that deeper sense of comfort, and you can chat with them all day long, and they’re not going to judge you. You really can have, I think, happier mental health with pets. For my partner and I, it’s actually been really nice because we can -- now we’re going to go out for a really long walk with the dog or whatever. And we purposefully go out.

We experience our area that we wouldn’t have done if it was just the two of us probably, however that sounds. But you are encouraged to explore your area or where you’re living at that time and sink into that feeling of, okay, well, I’m looking after someone’s family member in that sense. Everyone cares about their pets. And it also -- I think it just gives us that peace of mind I think.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I love that you said that it helps your mental health too because part of -- I mean just how crazy the world is right now, it’s a little stressful.

Loni Nelson: Just a tad.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Just enough.

Loni Nelson: If you’re watching this in the future and it’s not as stressful, let us know.

Elizabeth Wiegner: It does get better. It will, right?

Loni Nelson: Yes.

Elizabeth Wiegner: But it’s so true. One of my favorite stress relievers is -- and I know it sounds silly, but pet people will get it. I love going outside and letting my chickens out of their run and just feeding them treats and having them walk around. I mean it’s just like a total -- being outside, being with these fluffy creatures that are -- I was going to say innocent, but chickens are not innocent. You’ve got these cute little stinkers. I mean it really -- and it does -- having more pets makes me have to be -- show up in ways that I wouldn’t if I just didn’t have any and sat on the couch and kind of melted into it. It does -- a sense of responsibility does help your mental health just equally too.

Loni Nelson: 100%.

Elizabeth Wiegner: So tell me what kind of responsibilities would go into house sitting and pet sitting.

Loni Nelson: Great question. So I would say on an average house sit, I’ll walk you through my routine. So normally whenever I apply for a house sit, the homeowner and I, we have an initial phone call to video call. I have some questions, and I ask them all of that.

Most times, I also do a home visit where the sit starts, and that normally takes an hour or so out of my day. I come. I visit. They walk me through any routines. And then on the actual sit, like once I arrive, some homeowners are still here. They’re getting ready or they’re packing up. But sometimes homeowners leave a spare key, and off I come and I enter and great. I would say just like if you were checking into a hotel for an Airbnb, everyone’s first instinct is to walk around.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes.

Loni Nelson: So even if I’ve been in the home before, I kind of drop the bags, and I just have a little look around. What’s going on? And then for an average sit I would say, right now we’re looking after a cat on our current sit, so a little less responsibilities in that sense. Cats are very self-sufficient, but I always make sure his bowls are full and cleaned, and litter box is sorted, and let him out when he meows at us enough. And cuddles are always at the top of the list of responsibilities as it should be.

If we’re looking after dogs, it’s probably a walk. I would say for me, I’ve gotten really happy getting up in the mornings and taking the dogs for a walk at least for half an hour. You come back, maybe have another afternoon walk [indiscernible]. But most of the time it’s really like you do just end up acting as you would if it was your house and it was your pet. You really sink into, and even the pets sink into a bit of a routine and rhythm with you. It doesn’t feel unusual.

If you are a good, decent person, you’re going to clean up after yourself. You’re going to make sure that things stay tidy and that the animal that you are looking after is healthy and happy. And that’s really it. After that, then it’s just my schedule. Then I sit down at whatever desk I’ve got. I type away on my laptop, and I make money, and that’s the routine.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I love you mentioned that about you sit down and make money because I was -- when I first met Loni, I was thinking this was so perfect because you can just bring your proofreading. Like if you decide you want to proofread or I mean, Loni, with whatever you do for your work or your boyfriend, whatever he does for his, you just take it. And like with proofreading, you can take it anywhere.

You don’t even have to go check into an office, and you could be traveling rent free and making money as a proofreader or whatever other freelance jobs you want to do. And you get animals to hang out with and these gorgeous houses to stay in and new places to be at. I mean, that is a dream come true.

Loni Nelson: I think it’s one of those things I -- and there’s such a demand for it as well. Every time I log into the website, there’s just dozens and hundreds of sits that just pop up. And the really cool thing, my partner and I last year, we completed one of our first international sits. We spent 10 days down in Greece.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Wow.

Loni Nelson: And that was -- it was a dream come true, Elizabeth, I have to tell you. I was basically humming ABBA the entire time. But it was just -- it was so wonderful. The homeowner was so welcoming, and she took us out for dinner and walked us around where to go, where to eat, all of that wonderful stuff.

We could drive into Athens. We spent days just cruising around going through the acropolis and stuff that just wouldn’t -- I wouldn’t have prioritized on top of if I had to pay for things in that sense. Our flights down were like $120, and then we paid for the experiences that we wanted to go for.

There was no Airbnb. There was no hotel. There was none of that. We could just enjoy it and go out to eat and not worry what the bill was going to be. It was so freeing. It was really that relief of like, oh wow. This is awesome. We are on a holiday. But we’re able to really invest in the kind of memories and experiences that we’re always going to remember. That’s wicked.

Elizabeth Wiegner: I mean the memories that you’re building while you’re saving rent and working when and where you want, I mean that’s just -- and hands down, the most expensive part is the hotel when you go places. I mean that is --

Loni Nelson: That’s right.

Elizabeth Wiegner: -- a huge chunk, especially if you stay somewhere nice, and you are staying nice places with -- and you get pets on top of it. I mean…

Loni Nelson: Well, and you know it’s your own space; kitchen, shower, bedroom. The normal things you would look for if you wanted to be comfortable somewhere and to enjoy the local area. I think -- and I’m not sure how many solo women are listening to this, but I will say there’s been quite a few sits that I’ve done solo where my partner has just stayed at his parents, and I’ve just traveled a bit further afield and done one all by myself.

And for a lot of these, you’re kind of in the middle of nowhere at least in the UK. If you’re over in North America, you’re probably never too far from a local store. But over here, you can get pitch black, middle of nowhere sort of house sits, and for me, I’ve never felt unsafe doing it by myself because I think one thing about when you’re house sitting, the homeowner always introduces you to the neighbor.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Ah, yes.

Loni Nelson: More for the fact of, hey, my neighbor is here. If you need anything or if they need anything, they’re going to pop by, and you always have an emergency contact of a real person who is down the road. So for me, if I am on a sit all by myself, if I’m walking the dog at night, I never feel like help is too far away.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That’s nice.

Loni Nelson: I’ve always felt actually at ease. I’m like, ah, and I never got that staying at an Airbnb or going to a hotel. If anything, I’m a bit more like, oh, I’ve got to use an Uber, and I have no idea what that is and oh, what was the area I’m going again, all those things that go through your mind. You’re like, oh no, I’m just going home. It’s such a different feeling.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That’s a really good point you bring up, especially if you do want to travel on your own, especially as a female and you want to feel safe. I mean that is one of our biggest things we think about traveling, and you have a home base to come home to instead of a crowded hotel or an Airbnb that you have no idea. Maybe you Googled it, but otherwise, you’re just like, I don’t know.

Loni Nelson: Yeah, 100%. So I think there’s a lot of beautiful things about what we’ve been doing the last year is that, like, I just get so excited to talk about, so passionate to talk about because I think enough people know that it’s out there, but I want everyone to know that it’s an option.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yeah, because I mean, especially if you already freelance and can just pick up and go, I mean -- so how would you feel it would work -- like let’s say you wanted to just do it part time, like you wanted to travel, like maybe do a sit like every other month or something like that. Is that something -- can you be flexible with it? I know you’ve taken it to a whole other level of amazingness. But how is the flexibility with it?

Loni Nelson: 100%. So even for Will and I -- so we’ve had it happen. We’ve had a sit cancel last minute and very rare -- it’s probably happened once in the last two years. And that was actually due to COVID.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Understand.

Loni Nelson: So we were like, okay, fine. But in those instances, we were -- I would recommend this anyway. We have a safe place at my partner’s in-laws. So for anything that doesn’t necessarily fit in our cars, it’s in his parents’ spare room. So if there is any time in between sits or if we both just need a little break and actually spend more time with his parents or visit his grandparents, we stay at his parents’ house.

And maybe some people will be like, oh, I don’t want to go back to living with my parents. Oh no, that’s not an option. What I would say is, ultimately, with house sitting, you can be as back to back as you want, as flexible as you can be and as back to back as you can get it.

But equally, I think I’ve always enjoyed knowing that if something happens for whatever reason, you truly have a safe place to go back. So that -- and that’s also helped us in the times where we wanted to be more flexible and say, oh, you know, we need a couple extra days at home. We need to go take our car into the garage or something or go fix that, whatever.

Everyone has those little life [indiscernible] moments, so it’s really nice when you do have that safe space. But I would say even if we had to pay for a hotel for the two or three days out of a month that we don’t have a sit, fine. It will be much, much cheaper than our rent ever was, so I don’t mind that -- don’t mind that give and take.

Elizabeth Wiegner: So do you find that it’s exhausting going from sit to sit to sit, or do you feel like it’s -- because it is home, like each place becomes your home, that it’s not bad? How do you feel about that?

Loni Nelson: You know, that’s actually a really good question. I think at the beginning, I was super gung ho, so I think I booked us a ton of sits always back to back, like a barely a day break and be like, oh. And I think after a year of doing quite high-intensity sits, both my partner and I agreed. We’re like, okay, it is okay. Let’s go a little bit slower. Let’s try and find sits that are a little bit longer and can sprinkle in shorter ones.

So I think now I can probably say the travel was never exhausting or tiring, but now I just know that I’ve paced myself out with those bits. We’re probably at home on a stay for longer than two weeks, so I can really just integrate and settle and be like, okay, good. We’re at home. And then maybe we have four or five days’ break, and then we’re in a new home. So I think that’s definitely something I was looking for at the beginning. I was like, let’s go.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes.

Loni Nelson: I think most people. We all have that hustle period.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes.

Loni Nelson: And I definitely hustled at the beginning. But now I think our second year in, especially now that we have to find sits where my partner can commute and do that full time, we have found the sits where it’s like, we’re actually in one place for a month.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Wow.

Loni Nelson: 40 days. So it’s the flexibility where some of our sits are 10 days. Right now, we’re on one for a week, but right after this one, I have two days, and then we’re off to another one for three weeks. So it’s a really beautiful kind of cycle where being a freelancer, working from home, I can say, cool if I’ve got nothing else on. I’ll house sit. Let’s go over here. Let’s go over there.

Elizabeth Wiegner: And even if somebody was like, well, you know what? I need my home base. I like my home base for lots of different reasons that you could want your home base, but if you wanted to go somewhere nice and have an extended vacation, you don’t have to worry about paying for a hotel for four weeks. You have somewhere to be nice for four weeks.

Loni Nelson: Oh, 100%. And, Elizabeth, I have to tell you there is this house sit that’s almost [indiscernible] to me. Well, we have this sit that keeps popping up, and it’s in Panama, and it’s in this beautiful on the mountainside. You can look out and you see the mountainside, and then right at the bottom of one of their little pictures, you see the ocean. And I’m just like, ah. And they have new dates that popped up from, I think, like the 14th of December to the 18th of February.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Um, yes, please.

Loni Nelson: But we already have sits booked out. I can’t go, but every time I see that thing pop up on my app, I’m like…

Elizabeth Wiegner: Next time.

Loni Nelson: Next time. I’m like, I’m saving you. The next time there’s dates, I’m applying. I think it’s so -- it’s wild. I think it’s amazing the kind of -- and the kind of places you can experience like a local thing, you wouldn’t do if you were going to an all-inclusive or staying at an Airbnb [indiscernible] you wouldn’t see that. You wouldn’t interact in such a cultural way.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That’s true because usually like when we go vacation, like last time we went to vacation in Florida, we stayed in a touristy spot. It was during October, so it was like low tour -- because I don’t like touristy spots at peak time, but even then it was still -- you could tell it was a touristy place, which was fine. We completely enjoyed ourselves, and especially if you’re the type of person who likes to immerse yourself in culture, it’s -- you are -- I mean you’re literally staying at somebody who -- that’s their house and this is where they live, and they can give you all the good places to go, the best restaurants to eat at, places to see.

Loni Nelson: Oh, 100%. I think when you do -- when you live in someone’s home, it is like that true Pinterest list of where to visit in X city. You’re truly getting the local itinerary, which is quite beautiful, and I’ve really enjoyed that actually. It’s made me much more comfortable if people come and visit me or they come hang out. I’m like, I know exactly where we’re going. I can just get us in the car, and we’ll go down this really random road and be like the pet [indiscernible] and a beautiful little spot or a beautiful pub in the middle of nowhere, and I wouldn’t have known about it if we couldn’t have those conversations.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That -- I mean it’s not just a place to stay. It’s so much more than -- I mean, it truly is a lifestyle that’s changed your life.

Loni Nelson: Oh, 100%, hands down, and I think for Will and I, the big goal over the last two years, the whole purpose was to save money. I will be brutally honest. Our first year, all of a sudden, we had more money in our bank account, so we splurged a little bit.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Yes.

Loni Nelson: There’s no shame. I think the best people would. But going into this year, we were like, hey, wait. We need to be a bit more intentional, and we set a goal. We said, okay, let’s try and save 30 grand this year. And together, I think we’re at 27 now.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That’s amazing.

Loni Nelson: So close, we’re so close. We were like, okay, we’ve got until January. Let’s see what we can do.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Oh, you could absolutely do that.

Loni Nelson: Right?

Elizabeth Wiegner: Amazing.

Loni Nelson: It’s one of those -- tangibly being able to even just say to myself because this is a whole other conversation, Elizabeth. This is part two. But there’s so much money mindset and abundance work when you can look at your investments and your retirement bucket and all of this, and you’re like, wow, yeah. I actually have money going into that. I didn’t prioritize it before because I couldn’t. I just thought that I just couldn’t otherwise. Then I had nothing. So the absolute abundance and the relief that kind of comes when I look at my bank account now is just a whole other level.

Elizabeth Wiegner: And who can -- I mean how many people can say that now when inflation and mortgage rates and interest rates are just through the roof? And you actually feel at peace while you’re enjoying yourself.

Loni Nelson: And it doesn’t -- like it doesn’t go over my head. I know how lucky we are to do this, but I also know, like I said, I think if you’re just -- if you already have the entrepreneurial mindset, this sort of lifestyle, you would be fine. You would excel because I think it’s one of those things. If you have enough empathy and you know how to time manage, you’re good.

Elizabeth Wiegner: And you love pets, and you like to go visit places and try new restaurants. I mean…

Loni Nelson: Amazing, amazing. And I think it is -- I think it’s that option as well for -- I know we talked about this before, Elizabeth, for you and your partner, just having the ability to go on holidays that give you that extra sense or the extra wiggle room if you wanted to get tickets to an extra show, go hop skip over here or rent a nicer car. Any of those options as well, they just give you that little space where you’re like, we can do that. Amazing.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That’s -- I mean yeah, because if we go on vacation for a couple weeks, I mean the hotel is easily, what -- I mean it all depends on your level of hotel, but if you want to stay in a nicer hotel, $5-$6,000. I mean imagine what you could be doing with that 5-6,000, saving it or, hey, the nicer restaurants or, yeah, tickets to somewhere. Yes, I mean all your options. It depends if you want to go the luxury route or you want to go the savings route. You have that flexibility.

Loni Nelson: You can have both.

Elizabeth Wiegner: And you -- yeah, that’s true, absolutely. There’s a balance. What -- does this work for people with kids? Let’s say you wanted to house sit. Are homeowners okay with you bringing your kids along, or do they prefer more singles or couples?

Loni Nelson: Actually, I would say the website that I use, Trusted House Sitters, it’s actually fairly family friendly in the sense of when you’re actually looking and searching for sits, you can select a certain option that says family friendly.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Nice.

Loni Nelson: Then all of the sits that pop up I already kind of know could it be happy if I brought my kid around or etc. I would say in your profile anyway, I always recommend if there is anything that you want to bring up, bring it up. If you have kids, if you even have your own pets, there is actually a lot of homeowners where if you have your own pets, as long as their pet is complementary and there is no issues, most of the time they’re pretty flexible. They’re pretty open to that.

So I think there’s also that whole aspect of, if you have kids and you want to take them on holidays or just experience other local areas, Will and I are using this as kind of an experiment of what area of the UK would we want to live in? So going to all these different little local spots, we’re like, do we like this area? Do we like this?

So I would say for a family that’s maybe wanting to see where do they want to buy their first home, [indiscernible] areas, bring your kid with you to parks nearby. All of that beautiful stuff that you wouldn’t just get if you’re visiting for the weekend or just running through, driving through or something for an afternoon. So definitely family friendly. Like I said, if you have a pet, most of the time I would say there’s maybe more questions or more just clarification involved with that. But for sure, there are sits that are available for you, and you can have a lot of fun with it.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That’s really -- that is awesome, that I love that you said that you can test to it -- use it to test out places to live because it’s true. Like if you’re moving out of state or to a different city, it’s hard to get a feel when you’re staying at a hotel or you’re just trying to drive through the neighborhoods a couple times. You can’t.

Loni Nelson: 100%. And we love real estate agents, but they also don’t know. They don’t have that deeper knowledge of every single area that you might be interested in. And even having said that actually, speaking of having your own home and things, a friend of mine, she started house sitting last year after her and I spoke and organized her profile. And she sent me a message.

We had a quick call a few weeks ago, and she said, oh, Loni, it’s been amazing. I went over a couple states over because her daughter is in university, so we went over there, and we had our own house where we could go visit. We went out to lunch, just a beautiful week spending it together. And their apartment back in their original state, they just Airbnb’d it out. And they’re like yeah…

Elizabeth Wiegner: So you can make money on that too.

Loni Nelson: I was like, oh, oh, you have cracked the code. So I think there’s so many really cool layers to this where every time I’m talking to someone or every time I am able to have that work, okay, tell me what’s going on. What’s your situation like? It makes me really excited to just come up with ways where people really can flip the script on how they live and how they make money and where they travel and how they do it because I think this is such a cool way to do it.

Elizabeth Wiegner: There’s so many -- if you wanted to keep your home base to come back to, like if you didn’t want to travel a ton, then just Airbnb it while you’re gone or whatever. Genius.

Loni Nelson: Well, and I’m trying to recommend to my parents or to some other people that are like -- I know that are close to retirement age. I’m like, you know, actually, wouldn’t you want to rent your house out and go travel around a little bit? You have that option. Rent a room out in the basement, and then that tenant will probably love that you’re out of the house for four weeks out of the month. They’ll be like, amazing. My music is going to be a bit louder.

But there’s that balance. There’s that really cool ROI that even for my partner and I. Who knows? I would keep doing this for as long as we can to really see how far we can take it, even when in the future we want to build our dream home and have our own land and all this beautiful stuff. Well, while my home is being built, I’m going to go live in someone else’s and still have a shower and still be able to do laundry. That’s the goal.

Elizabeth Wiegner: That -- and I love that you said about retirement too because I actually have a grad who retired and got into transcript proofreading because she wanted the flexibility.

I mean after you’re retired, you don’t want to be tied down anywhere, but it’s still nice to have extra income on top of your retirement. But could you imagine? A lot of people want to travel in retirement. Here, you can travel for free. I mean there are some -- the travel expenses but the staying there for free and then get to transcript proofread on the side while you do it. Now I know what I’m doing for retirement.

Loni Nelson: Right. Listen…

Elizabeth Wiegner: That is -- okay, so, Loni, tell me -- I know you actually recently put together a guide to help people know how to do it because you said you spent a lot of time researching it, figuring it out, and then your first year was like, I made some -- not like mistakes but I decided I didn’t want to do that next time. So tell me about your guide that people can get to learn how to do these amazing house and pet sits that you do.

Loni Nelson: Yes, yes. So I put together a complete how-to guide to help people book their first three sits using Trusted House Sitters. So whether you book these sits with the goal of doing it full time like me, or if you want to find a gorgeous French chateau to stay in for a two-week holiday or hang out in Panama in the mountains for a month, it’s all in my guide to get started. And equally, my DMs are open.

As I’m sure you have now found out. I am a Chatty Cathy, so if you have questions and want to know more about if your situation will work for something like house and pet sitting, send me a message. I want to hear from you, and I want to know about your story.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Oh, y’all, Loni is so good. We get on Instagram on messenger, and two seconds later, Loni has an answer for me or we’re talking about something. She’s so good at -- and you have that flexibility because you’re house sitting. But she is so good about talking through -- like sometimes I’ll be like, this -- I don’t think this would work for me because of this. And she’s like, well, what about this?

It helps to have somebody with the experience, with an outside pair of eyes to look at the whole big picture and help you realize. Because sometimes when we’re so -- when we haven’t tried something before like transcript proofreading or house sitting, it’s hard -- it’s easy to see all the negatives, like why we wouldn’t do it or why it would be hard or why maybe we’re not the best fits.

But to have somebody in your corner looking from the outside in and encouraging you and showing you how you can do it and motivating you to do it just makes -- suddenly it’s like, I can do this. And then a whole other life opens up that you never had before, and it’s amazing.

Loni Nelson: 100%. I think you hit the nail on the head. I think it’s look at everything. What if it did work? What if it was as amazing as I hope it would be? I think you can apply that to proofreading. You can apply it to any freelancing business. You can apply it to house and pet sitting. Look at it like it’s glass half full. You have every opportunity and doorway open, so take it.

Elizabeth Wiegner: And you know what? If for some bizarre reason you don’t like traveling and seeing other people’s pets and staying at other people’s houses, which I can’t understand why you wouldn’t, but if for some reason you didn’t, and to each their own, then at least you tried it, and that’s -- so many people go through life not trying something because what if I don’t like it. But just like you said, what if you do, and what if it’s better than you could ever imagine it? I mean it’s amazing.

Well, y’all, if you like -- I will link in the podcast show notes the link to Loni’s guide and her Instagram because on her Instagram she shares -- she has such fun stories about out with the dogs and the cats. And I think -- wasn’t there sheep at a recent -- you stayed at some gorgeous countryside place with sheep.

Loni Nelson: Yes. You know it’s wild. There’s been -- I’m slightly afraid of sheep, but that’s a whole other story.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Oh my gosh. Well, it looked pretty from the pictures.

Loni Nelson: Yes, and they are.

Elizabeth Wiegner: But they’re a whole different animal, literally.

Loni Nelson: Yes.

Elizabeth Wiegner: So, y’all, if you want to see what -- Loni lives her life in her stories. She shows what it’s like, and you can get a peek. And like we both said, her Instagram messages are open, her guide totally worth it. If you’re -- if you want to skip all the research and the mistakes that you can make when you first get started on your own, then Loni has it all expertly outlined for you. So I’ll link to those in the show notes for y’all. And Loni -- oh, real quick. This would work anywhere in the world, right? I know I keep saying you’re in the UK. But this…

Loni Nelson: Yeah. Absolutely international. We’ve -- and I would be jealous if someone can tell me that they’re going over to Mexico, Australia, or Japan, I’m jealous. Please send me those sits and those pictures. I want to know about it.

Elizabeth Wiegner: See, y’all, if you have a place you’ve been wanting to go, and yeah, even if you just wanted to stay local in the US, or if you’re in the UK, I know a lot -- I have a lot of listeners in the UK or Australia. I mean the options are -- the only limit is yourself if you choose to limit yourself. Otherwise, the whole world literally is right there for you.

Loni Nelson: Right there.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Well, Loni, thank you so, so, so much. This was so fun. I loved this.

Loni Nelson: No, thank you so much, any time. It was an absolute pleasure.

Elizabeth Wiegner: Thanks so much for joining me today. Make sure that you’re subscribed so that you get the next episode that comes out. And if you know somebody who is interested in proofreading or starting their own side hustle, make sure to share this podcast with them. And I will see you next time here on The Proofreading Business Podcast.

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Meet Elizabeth

Elizabeth Wiegner is a work-from-home proofreader and business coach who teaches other readers and typo fixers how to build a life of freedom as a proofreader. Her energy, love, and personalized support are second to none in the proofreading world.