Sometimes you get on the internet and shake your head. How can it be that someone’s dog has more friends than you? And more importantly, how can that pet be making millions while you’re still stuck in a dead-end job despite having a degree and opposable digits?
The bad news is you can’t compete with a dog in sunglasses. The good news is your own ticket to internet fame and fortune may be sleeping on the couch right now.
That’s right. You could have the next Grumpy Cat, Boo or Tuna — if you play your cards right. Keep reading to find out how to make your pet a social media star.
1. Decide your pet’s shtick
First, you need to decide why anyone would want to follow your pet on social media. Pet influencers — as these pet stars are often called — fall into a couple of different categories.
There are pets with unusual facial expressions, like the ubiquitous Grumpy Cat. Others have unusual attributes, like Venus, a cat whose face is exactly half black and half gold, or unusual habits, like Maru — a feline captured on video doing all sorts of awkward and charming maneuvers. Then some, like Boo, are just ridiculously cute. Of course, if your pet doesn’t have anything obviously special about him or her, you could just make something up, like the owner of Menswear Dog — a Shiba Inu that is equally dapper in either a well-cut suit or foul-weather gear. He’s billed as the “most stylish dog in the world.”
See more about these and other money makers in the animal world here: “High-Earning Pets of 2017.”
2. Be consistent in posting
Once you know how you want to highlight your pet, it’s time to set up social media sites. Instagram seems to be king for pet influencers, but Facebook is also important. Don’t bother with Twitter right now since it doesn’t seem be a prime spot for people to follow pets.
After you get the sites set up, post consistently. That may not be every day at first, but your followers should know that they can expect to regularly show up on your pet’s profile and see new adorable photos. A dormant page is the kiss of death.
3. Stick to your brand
For the love of all that is good, don’t pepper your pet’s social media pages with pictures of your kids, the lasagna you made last night or the beautiful sunset you saw. Unless your pet is also in those photos, they don’t belong on the page. Everything you post should back up your message that Rover is adorable, quirky, fun or whatever other branding message you are trying to convey.
4. Use hashtags to help build a following
So, you are posting consistently and your photos are perfect, but no one is seeing them. What to do now?
Well, now you need to learn the power of hashtags. Hashtags are what let people find new content. Then, when someone has a hankering to see dapper cat photos, they can simply search for #catsinbowties. Hashtags aren’t as effective on Facebook but crucial on Instagram. Look at what other people are using for their pet photos and add those hashtags in a comment under your photo. There are lots of resources online to help you navigate the world of hashtags, and it’s worthwhile to spend some time learning effective strategies for their use.
5. Interact with followers
Once people start showing up and commenting, keep them coming back by responding and “liking” what they had to say. People are more likely to feel invested in your pet if their contributions to the page have been noticed and appreciated.
6. Start a website
Social media is free, but site policy changes can make it unpredictable. At a certain point, you’ll want to create a website for your pet. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. You just want a landing spot where companies can figure out how to contact you about sponsorship opportunities and where you can hawk other wares related to your pet.
7. Look for sponsorship opportunities
Money doesn’t magically pour in once your pet hits a certain number of followers. I mean, I’m sure Instagram is thrilled that you’re using their site, but they aren’t going to pay you for it.
Instead, the money is to be made through sponsored posts. These are posts for which a company pays you so that your pet will appear in a photo with a product or otherwise promote their brand. Once you have accumulated a following, you’ll probably have companies offering to send you free products in exchange for a sponsored post. Free stuff is nice, but you’ll want to eventually hit the point where you are paid in dollars, not merchandise.
You can always reach out directly to companies to suggest a partnership too. There are even agencies that represent pet influencers and can help you find sponsors if you are willing to spend money to make money. However, be savvy about which brands you agree to promote. You want them to match your pet’s personality so they blend seamlessly with other photos. The tax prep company may be willing to pay a fortune, but it could off-putting for followers to see your skateboarding chiweenie suddenly pushing their product. Now, on the other hand, check out the photo of Menswear Dog, promoting the Casper Wave mattress on Tumblr.
8. Branch out
The heavy-hitters of the pet influencer world do more to make money than just post sponsored social media photos. They have all sorts of products associated with their brand. They may publish calendars, have stuffed toys made in their likeness or even ink book deals. Once you’ve mastered the art of acquiring sponsored posts, take your earnings to the next level by branching out with your pet’s brand.
9. Quit your day job
Ah, the time has come. Your pet is earning the big bucks, and you can quit your day job. But don’t expect to stop working. Maintaining your pet’s social media status is a full-time job in and of itself.
It’s also a job that could end at any time. While no one likes to think of losing a beloved pet, the chances are good you’ll outlive your star and be back at square one. So when your pet starts raking in the cash, don’t forget to set some aside for that rainy day.
There you have it. Turn your pet into a social media star and live off the earnings in nine simple steps. Then, the hardest part of your day will be figuring out whether to pose Fluffy by the window or in a box. Decisions, decisions!
Do you see potential profits from your pet? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.