Pet Sitting – An Ideal New Business Opportunity

Reasons to start a pet sitting business can be different, depending on whom you ask. Some motivation comes from those affected by the national rise in layoffs. For others, it might be the desire for a mid-life career change, or as a response to The American Pet Product Manufacturers Association estimation that Americans will spend an overall total of $43 billion on pets in 2008.

Whatever the reason, small businesses nationally have created 60-80 percent of the net new jobs over the last decade, and they are the core of how the United States is growing.

Pet sitting has been named as one of the fastest growing home-based businesses according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.’s report ‘Become a Pet-Sitter or Dog Walker’ explains that the outlook for pet sitters and dog walkers has never been better. Both pet sitting and dog walking are still in their infancy as recognized professions. But with only about 3 percent of households nationally using a pet sitter or dog walker, there is plenty of room for new pet sitting and dog walking businesses to emerge and grow. There are no statistics on the number of dog walkers, but some estimates put the number of bonded and insured pet-sitter businesses nationwide at 10,000.

Pet sitting and dog walking can be very profitable and rewarding, especially in large major metropolitan areas where pet walking in particular has become more popular. The national average is about $16 per visit, and it usually customary to charge an additional $1 to $3 for each additional animal in the household. Do the math, and at 6 visits per 7 day work week, is $672 per week or $34,944 per year. Add a few more pets per household, and you are making well over $35,000 while working for yourself, and with some of the cutest clients in town.

Professional pet sitters care for people’s pets either for the day or for longer periods of time like during vacations or business trips. Many professional pet sitters also double as dog walkers they often offer other services like cleaning up accidents, changing cat litter boxes, administering pet medications, bringing in newspapers and mail, watering plants and taking out trash.

A background in pet care work such as veterinary, pet shelter, dog training or boarding care is of course very useful and usually recommended. A well-trained and experienced pet sitter or dog walker must be able to interact effectively with all types of dogs and cats large and small and be comfortable with other pets such as birds, rabbits, ferrets, snakes, etc. It is also extremely important to be able to determine if and when a pet requires veterinary medical attention. Becoming associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services is recommended by the Humane Society of the United States. Always check with a licensed veterinarian if you are a pet sitter, and have any questions about the care of a pet including administration of medications. In addition, becoming Pet CPR certified can be a valuable asset to your business. For more information about Pet CPR courses, please contact your local American Red Cross chapter.

The Humane Society of the United States provides some very good tips for pet owners in search for a pet sitter. Do you have written proof of commercial liability insurance and bonding? What is your training and experience? Is there a backup in case of emergencies? Do you provide related services such as grooming, dog walking, dog training, and play time? Do you have a contract spelling out services and fees? Can you provide phone numbers of other clients as references? Be prepared to answer any of these questions from prospective clients.

Once you establish your business, how do you get your clients? If you have a pet, chances are likely you network with other pet owners in the neighborhood, at the dog park, and at your veterinarian’s office or training class, where the opportunity to get new clients is unlimited. Word of mouth is one of the very best ways to market your services, most importantly because it is FREE! As you get one client it will certainly multiply into more as they are sure to share their positive experiences with other pet owners in need of your services.

Your organic marketing approach, paired with an online presence will sure to make your business grow. Clients expect you to be online, so they can shop your services, and learn more about you. With approximately 90% of Americans using the Internet, a website for your pet business is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

There are also several national pet sitter and professional pet associations such as PetSitUSA, Pet Sitters International, The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, and The International Association of Canine Professionals that can get you started on the right track, and offer tips and advice about important insurance, bonding requirements, training, as well as networking opportunities.

So, for those with an entrepreneurial spirit and a love of pets, now has never been a better time to follow your dreams of starting your own successful pet sitting or dog walking business.

A Career in Wedding Planning

As a wedding planner you can have a rewarding career that lets you use your creativity to organize the happiest day of people’s lives.

In our busy society it’s no wonder so many couples turn to a professional wedding planner to ensure their wedding is as stress free as possible. With more than 2.5 million weddings taking place in the United States alone last year, there are more opportunities for wedding planners than ever before.

As long as you have the desire, you can become a wedding planner. No special education or experience is necessary to break into this career and succeed. If wedding planning sounds like the career of your dreams, here are ten steps to breaking into this fabulous job, based on the FabJob Guide to Become a Wedding Planner, published by

1. Develop your skills

Successful wedding planners have a number of traits in common. They are usually creative people with excellent interpersonal skills who love to plan events. While most of these traits come naturally to many wedding planners, an important skill that some need to develop is organizational ability. To help you stay organized, you can create timeline schedules and checklists, and use organizational tools such as a day planner or binder to keep track of all the wedding details and paperwork.

2. Learn about Weddings

There are numerous details involved in planning a wedding — from selecting the wedding date to choosing the menu for the reception. You can learn how to plan weddings by taking continuing education classes or through self-study. To teach yourself, help out with as many weddings as possible, visit bridal shows, read wedding magazines, and conduct informational interviews with clergy of various faiths, recently married brides and others connected to the wedding business such as florists and caterers.

3. Create a portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of photographs that show people your skill at planning weddings. To develop a portfolio, offer your services to friends and family who are getting married in exchange for pictures for your portfolio. (You can ask them to write reference letters for you as well.) You can also include photographs of table settings or room decorations you have created in your home, or pictures from your own wedding to show your creative side.

4. Find a job in the wedding industry

Even if you plan to start your own business, consider getting a job in the industry first. Besides employment benefits, these positions can be used as a stepping-stone to gain valuable experience and contacts. Wedding coordinators are hired by hotels, country clubs, and churches across the country.

Some of the more exciting options include working as a wedding coordinator at an attraction such as Disney World or at a resort in a location such as Hawaii, Las Vegas, Europe or the Caribbean. Many other job opportunities for “bridal consultants” are available with companies that supply products and services for weddings including bridal shops, department stores with gift registries, florists, and caterers.

5. Set up your own business

Setting up a wedding planning business is not much different than starting any other business, with a few exceptions. You should be able to work from home as long as you set aside an office space free from interruptions from children or pets. This is especially important if you plan on holding meetings with clients there.

Set up costs will be minimal but you will need a computer, fax, business phone line, cell phone, business cards, and marketing materials such as a website. Before setting up your business, take advantage of the free advice offered by agencies such as the U.S. Small Business Administration.

6. Choose a specialty

Wedding planners offer a variety of services and packages based on their specific skills and interests. For example, you might offer complete wedding planning services, wedding day co-ordination only, or consult with brides and grooms who want to plan their own weddings. Some wedding planners specialize in arranging “destination weddings” at resorts or on cruise ships. Decide which services you would like to offer.

7. Develop relationships with vendors

Vendors are suppliers of any product or service related to weddings, such as limousine companies, musicians, photographers, party supply companies, invitation printers, etc. Vendors can be a valued partner in planning a successful wedding and a great networking ally.

Conduct informational meetings to learn about their services, and what discounts they can offer you as a wedding planner. Before recommending a site for a wedding ceremony or reception, visit and inspect the premises. Take notes on the condition, size, cleanliness and capacity of each venue so you can guide your clients in making suitable choices. Always follow up with vendors after the wedding with a thank you note or to discuss any changes you want for future.

8. Get clients

One of the best ways to get clients is through your relationships with vendors. Supply business cards and brochures to the bridal shops, caterers, florists, photographers and other vendors you work with, and ask them to recommend your services to their customers who are getting married. Other ways to market your services include advertising, networking, participating in bridal shows, or even organizing your own bridal show.

9. Consult with clients

Once you start getting calls from brides and grooms, arrange a client consultation meeting. The purpose of this initial consultation is to learn as much as possible about the couple and what they want, so you can show them how hiring you will help them achieve the wedding of their dreams. Be prepared to ask questions to find out what type of wedding they want, their budget, number of guests, etc.

At this meeting you will discuss your fees, which might be an hourly rate such as $50 per hour or a flat fee. Explain how you can help them have the worry-free wedding of their dreams.

10. Be recognized as a professional

Successful wedding planners are always interested in learning new ideas they can use with their clients. Consider joining a professional association for wedding planners to keep up with new developments in the industry. Clients will be impressed with your affiliation to a professional organization, especially if it certifies you as a professional wedding planner.

The Workings of the Typical Internet Casino Explored

It is said that – going by current statistics – we have more people playing casino games over the Internet than in brick and mortar casinos. This is remarkable, because less than ten years ago, the Internet casino concept was still at its infancy – an idea whose feasibility was still a subject of debate. Few of us could foresee a day when Internet-based casinos would threaten the very existence of traditional brick and mortar casinos. But that is exactly what has happened; in a situation where many traditional brick and mortar stores are forced to downsize, or otherwise adapt to the new serious challenge, actually threat, which is the Internet casino.In order to understand how this phenomenal success of the Internet-based casino has come to be, it would be a good idea to explore the workings of such online casinos, as they are more popularly known.And as it turns out, the online casino works along the same lines as the traditional brick and mortar casino, with the only difference being that it is based on the Internet (so that the players actually play the various games on their computers, through their Internet connections).As with any other type of casino, most of the games played in the Internet casino are, more or less, betting games. These are games of chance to a certain degree, with the degree to which success depends on luck varying from game to game – so that in a game like online bingo, success is almost entirely a matter of luck; whereas in a game like online poker, success seems to be more a matter of strategy than a matter of luck. The typical Internet casino online will tend to have a number of games on offer, with what can be termed as the top Internet casino normally offering pretty much what one would expect in a top, traditional brick and mortar casino.In most of the games offered in online casinos, the participants get to play against one another. There are of course those games where one gets to bet against the ‘house’ but those where people play against one another seem to be the most popular. The greatest advantage of the Internet casino online comes up when we look at the these games where players get to play against one another where, as it turns out, people from entirely different parts of the world can get to play together in real time. Thanks to the many things the Internet has made possible, this no longer seems like a big deal. But for those of us who were there before the coming of these technologies, such things are simply amazing. This bring together of people from different parts of the world – and also makes it possible for people who would most definitely never have gotten to play together, in the traditional order of things, to do so.Starting to play in a typical Internet casino is quite easy, in fact easier, than getting to play in a traditional brick and mortar casino. The first step in this direction is usually to identify one such casino where one can play. Most people conduct Internet searches, on terms such as ‘top Internet casino,’ ‘best Internet casino’ or simply ‘Internet casino’ in their search for a nice casino at which to register and start playing. Most people, it would seem, identify the top Internet casino establishments at which to play through Internet search results, or through referrals by friends.Having identified the Internet casino at which to be playing, the next step is usually to register with it. This is usually an easy process of filling a simple form (which typically completely un-intrusive). At this stage, no money is actually required from you – just basic details, which can be useful in sending prize money should one come to earn something, which is naturally what everyone joining a casino hopes for.It is after registration that the typical online casino will require for you to load some money into your playing account in order to start playing. Some top Internet casino establishments will, however, load the first sum of money into your: to give you something that is akin to a ‘free sampling’ of their offerings, after whose exhaustion – and if you like what you got – you can proceed to add money into the account. The aforementioned strategy is usually accomplished through what are termed as a ‘no deposit casino bonus’, like where a casino offering poker and bingo gives what is termed as ‘no deposit poker bonus’ or ‘no deposit bingo bonus’.After registering and subsequently loading money into the online casino account, one can proceed to start playing the games on offer there. As previously mentioned, one could be playing against other people (some most probably worlds away) or playing against the ‘house’ that is, the casino establishment.Contrary to what many of us fear, the typical Internet casino will tend to be very liberal in its dispensation of justly won prize money. It is not likely to attempt to withhold the money – seeing that it has a reputation to protect. And there is no surer way to ruin the reputation of a casino, whether Internet-based or otherwise, than to make it come to be seen as one that plays games with justly won money. After all, the objective of joining a casino is to win (and get prize money). So if a casino withholds winnings, what would be the point of joining it? It is with this kind of thinking in mind that most Internet casino managers will actually go a long way to ensure that the winners of various games on offer actually get their rightfully won prize money.

Casino Affiliate Programs Revealed

If you’ve already had a history in affiliate marketing, this probably won’t be new to you at all. However if you’ve haven’t had experience selling anything online or you don’t know about casino affiliate programs, then maybe you need to take notice of this article.Casino affiliate programs work just like any other kind of affiliate program in the way that you get paid by referring people to an online casino by manner of a banner or text link. You then get paid by the casino if the customer you referred signs up and spend money there. Simple, right?I’ve been using casino affiliate programs for years now and in my opinion are the best way to make long-term cash by marketing an affiliate product. Where casino affiliate programs differ from your standard type of affiliate program like selling e-books and the like, is that when you’re selling an e-book, you generally only get paid once – a percentage of whetever the ticket price of the product was.With casino affiliate programs however, you can earn a percentage of all the money the player spends in his entire life at that casino, as long as you are a good enouhg marketer to get him to sign up. Most of the time the people you’ll sign up may only play for a few days and then move on to another casino which is still OK as long as they spend a few hundred dollars. Generally casinos give you between 30-60% of the revenue, meaning you could make yourself a better profit than simply selling an e-book right there.But the big money in casino affiliate programs is in signing up long-term repeat players. I have several players I signed up to online casinos that regularly spend thousands of dollars every month, meaning I will get my cut of that revenue every month, and I no longer have to do anything to get it. This is where the big money comes in when you’re talking about casino affiliate programs and it’s something that selling e-books simply cannot match.The other way to make money with casino affiliate programs is by getting paid per sign-up. Some casinos will pay you a flat rate to sign people up to their casino instead of a percentage. This varies between $50 and $150 per signup, but keep in mind that you will not get a share of the revenue the person will spend. Sure the customer may only place $50 down on a table and that might not equate to much of a percentage, but if they turn out to be one of the casino’s regulars and play a large amount of money over a long period of time, then you’ve really lost out.For this reason I never recommend that anyone selects the ‘per-signup’ way of being paid by online casino affiliate programs as in the long run you will lose out big time. If you’re just a fly-by-night affiliate marketer and want some quick cash then there’s nothing wrong with being paid in this fashion, but it’s definitely not the best way if you’re looking to build a business.So keep in mind that if you are looking for a long-haul business, especially one that can pay you while you’re sleeping, always stick with recruiting new customers on a percentage basis.These are the basics differences between casino affiliate programs, however I’ll be going over them in further detail in a future article. Keep an eye out for that!

Saying Goodbye to the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas

Luck is not always on my side when I visit Las Vegas, Nevada. This past trip it was. You see, this year I happened to be in Sin City for the last days of the Legendary Stardust Resort and Casino.When I arrived for a six-day stint at the end of October 2006, the last thing on my mind was visiting the Stardust. I was in town for the Vegoose music festival and my schedule was packed with days and nights of live music. In my down time, I planned to recover by the pool, hit the tables at the Tropicana, make time for a trip to the Stage Deli and possibly have a steak at the Palm Restaurant.However when I heard the news about this legendary casino’s demise, I knew I had to have one last drink and place one last bet before its doors closed November 1st, 2006. While I was not around or alive when the Stardust opened its doors July 2nd, 1958, it was there where I placed my first legal sports bet.When I returned for my last visit to the Race and Sports Book, memories of munching on a cheap deli hot dog, drinking draft beer from a clear plastic cup and watching March Madness on multiple screens flooded my brain. On this day however there would be no parlay cards or money-line wagering as sports and horse racing lines were replaced by neon lights that glowed with a simple message that read “Thanks.”You see that is the kind of place the Stardust Resort and Casino was. Unlike the newer, ritzier casinos that tower over Las Vegas Boulevard, this casino was like an old friend to its patrons. It did not just give players free drinks or comps on breakfast. This casino and its employees got to know its visitors and with the warmth of an old-friend’s smile always made them feel at home and genuinely appreciated their patronage.Walking around the casino for the last time, this kinship was unmistakable. A genuine sorrow hung in the air. Gamblers at blackjack tables weren’t as concerned about doubling down as they were about their dealer’s next job and paycheck. Cocktail waitresses smiled and hugged long-time patrons thanking them for years of generosity. Even the normally stone-faced pit bosses got in the act chit-chatting with folks they once watched with suspicious eyes guarding for foul play.In the end, I snapped pictures where once a camera would never be allowed. I grabbed up Stardust matchbooks to hold on to for years to come. As I walked out the door for the last time, I said my own “Thanks” to the Stardust. And I thought to myself how this place that was built for a mere ten million dollars surely paid out at least one hundred million dollars worth of memories.Read more about the Legendary Stardust Resort and Casino and see photos of its last days at