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How this retiree rakes in $1,000 a month for sitting at home

Jo Walker with her doggy clients
Jo Walker with some of her clients. (Images: supplied)

A retired Melbourne woman claims she is earning $1,000 each month without leaving home.

Joanna Walker's main source of post-retirement income comes from pet-sitting or pet-minding.

Best of all, her clients come to her: animal owners who go on holidays or go on work trips will leave their pet with Walker for an hourly rate.

The 72-year-old told Yahoo Finance that learning how to use gig economy apps has opened up a new world of easy pocket money.

"I've loved it. I've made great friends and a lot of regular clients," she said.

"The dogs know me now and they're delighted to see me again and I'm delighted to see them."


Walker is matched with clients through the Mad Paws mobile app, which was created by an Australian startup.

Pet-minding is an industry that encourages customer loyalty, as the owners like to see their loved ones supervised by someone who knows their idiosyncrasies.

"When I have the regulars, I know what their habits are. I know which ones sleep on my bed, which ones like to go out more, and how good they are at walking. It works out well for all of us."

This client loyalty has allowed her to grow a reliable income stream – around $1,000 each month – while doing something that she enjoys anyway.

"I charge $35 per day per dog,” she said. “I keep my rates competitive – I don't want to charge as much as the fancy kennels. I don't want to do that, because I enjoy the dogs. I love it when they come."

Research released this month by The Sharing Hub showed about 8 per cent of gig economy earners make more than $2,500 per month. However, Walker is well above the average of about $100 to $500 a month.

The gig economy goes both ways

As well as Mad Paws, other sharing or gig economy apps created in Australia include car-borrowing platform Car Next Door and Juggle Street, a matchmaking app for nannies and babysitters.

Walker uses both of those, making money from childminding and spending money when she needs to drive somewhere.

"When I moved to Melbourne, it was fantastic because […] I found a car within a 4-minute walk from my home in Newport," she said.

"I don't pay for petrol but just pay for the kilometres. If I don't do a lot of mileage, the dog-sitting actually pays for the car."

The Sharing Hub, which is an accelerator for Australian startups that are developing gig economy systems, also found in its research that 16 per cent of earners wanted to eventually make it their full-time career.

Among the gig economy earners, 49 per cent have full-time jobs, 23 per cent have part-time jobs and 9 per cent are in retirement.

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