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Influencers come in all shapes and sizes, and when it comes to pet influencers, they can also be fuzzy, furry, scaly, or slippery. Pet influencers like Doug the Pug and Nala the Cat have amassed huge followings, but let’s face it: Everyone knows they’re getting a lot of help from their humans. And if you’re looking to turn your pet into a social media celebrity, it’s a good idea to learn all you can about what it takes to be successful as a pet influencer.

While it might seem that the life of a pet influencer is all fun and games (and the occasional nap and belly rub), there’s much more to it, said Courtney Canfield, the human behind the success of Rambo the Puppy. Canfield was working on a social media team in 2012 when she brought home the Morkie puppy and wanted to share his cuteness with the world.

She started a Facebook page to share his photos with her friends and, when strangers admired him, she invited them to follow him on Facebook. Two years later, Rambo the Puppy’s audience had grown to around 300,000 followers and they began getting offers from brands that wanted partner with them. 

Since then, Rambo has been featured in local and international news stories, several ad campaigns, and even on packaging for a flooring products company. Canfield said that those who are looking to become pet influencers need to understand what it takes to make your pet stand out. Here are her five tips for transforming your furred, finned, or feathered friend into a social media mogul

How to succeed as pet influencer

Do it for the right reasons.

If your motivation is to stay home and hang out with your pet all day, you might be barking up the wrong tree. The best reason to become a pet influencer is because you love to create content — and you have a certain amount of skill in doing so. Those photos may look easy and spontaneous, but there’s a lot of work and planning behind them.

“It’s very rare to start a page for your pet and then go viral,” Canfield said. “You have to be ready to not only put in the work but be prepared to fail.”

Great content takes time to develop, and it also takes time to find your individual style and voice. But, if that’s what you want to do, don’t let the hard work and obstacles scare you off.

Treat it as a job, not a hobby.

At first, others may not take you seriously; what’s more important is that you take it seriously. When Canfield started her Rambo the Puppy page, she was often teased by her coworkers for putting so much time and energy into it. Fortunately, she ignored them and continued to find success as a pet influencer, and she also gained more clout as an expert in social media and influencer marketing along the way.  

Understand your worth.

It’s exciting to get offers to work with brands and it’s OK to accept product in return for exposure when you’re starting out, but you deserve to be compensated fairly.

“Pet creators are slow in the uptake when it comes to knowing their worth and getting paid fairly,” she said. Because she saw so many pet creators not getting compensated, she created a content series on Instagram called #PetCreatorTips. “Accepting products as payment is a fine way to start out, but it’s no way to be paid once you’re a creator with experience working with brands.” 

Keep up with trends.

Social platforms are constantly evolving, and part of your job as a pet influencer is to keep up with what’s trending — and what’s coming. Canfield spends several hours a week reading about what’s happening in the influencer and social media space.

“Too many pet creators forget that ongoing education and staying up to date with changes in the industry is imperative to their success,” she said.   

Learn what brands want.

If you’re going to be serious about partnering with brands, it’s important to learn what appeals to them and what will be a major turnoff (and possible deal breaker). Some red flags for brands include going too long between posts, purchasing likes or having fake engagements/views, and making posts that lack creativity (or simply look like an ad). Invest time in following other successful influencers to see what they’re doing — and then create your own style to build your following as a pet influencer.  

Read Rambo the Puppy’s blog to find more tips and updates.

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