There are many of us who want to make a bit of extra money on the side, so why not turn to your family dog to do so? Admittedly, this might sound like a rather strange proposition but it isn’t as unusual as you might think. Instead, the idea to make money with your dog can actually work.
And, the concept even has some merit. After all, we do live in a fairly pet-obsessed world and the internet is the perfect place to show off your beloved companion. Plus, there are offline ways to use your dog to make money too. So, how do you actually turn your dog into a money making venture?
Social Media Is The Place To Start
Our national obsession with pets majorly plays out on social media. A lot of people love looking at images of pets, especially ones that are cute or are unusual in some way. In fact, it’s fairly common for people to follow social media accounts dedicated entirely to pets. One example of this is the Instagram account for the dog Tuna.
The appeal here seems to be the way the dog looks. Specifically, Tuna has an overbite. Personally, I don’t see the appeal whatsoever. But, it’s clear that many people do, given that the page has around 1.8 million followers.
Here’s another example:
This time, the Instagram page has fewer followers, around 48,000. Compared to Tuna, that might not be a lot, but getting that 48,000 followers on Instagram is impressive. Besides, in this case, the author of the page has only made 54 posts. So, that’s a lot of popularity for relatively little content.
Now, you don’t typically earn money from Tumblr on its own, or from Facebook or other social media options. However, social media can help to create popularity. If a pet gets popular enough, then a range of money making techniques open up.
For example, in the case of Boo, the owner set up a website, which sells stuffed animal versions of the dog, while also offering more pictures and information.
A similar pattern has happened with Tuna, where the owner has created a range of merchandise. In both cases, the popularity has resulted in other opportunities to make money, including sponsorship options and even job opportunities. This is particularly evident in the case of Boo, who is the ‘Pet Liaison’ for Virgin Airlines.
You can also do sponsored posts on Instagram or Twitter. These might be paid a flat fee just for a posting, or paid per sale, tracked by means of a discount code or special landing page on the website.
So, there are a surprising amount of opportunities for making money from your dog. But, what does this mean in practice? After all, Instagram is filled with pictures of dogs, along with cats and every other pet that you can imagine. Some of those pets are fairly typical, while others may be exceptional in some way.
To a degree, being successful in this area is about luck. However, a lot has to do with consistency. My girlfriend has a Boston Terrier that is pretty normal other than she does funny things sometimes (whose dog doesn't?). In about 3 months she was able to gain 1,000 followers on Instagram, and it's growing every day. She doesn't do anything special other than take photos and videos when the dog does something silly or cute. It's pretty easy!
Keep in mind though, you can’t force a social media account to go viral. And my girlfriend hasn't made any money yet, but she's taken hundreds of photos. So this is not going to be an overnight strategy for making big bucks!
#1 Focus on Image Quality
There are a lot of social media accounts for pets, with more being added daily. Regardless of what your dog looks like, it isn’t going to stand out on its own. Likewise, there are thousands (if not millions) of accounts out there with candid shots of dogs. In contrast, these are some of the photos on the account for Boo:
The quality here is considerably better than most pet Instagram accounts. That’s even true for the images that do appear to be candid, rather than post.
Remember, if your dog does start to get a following on social media, then people are likely to trawl through older images. So, those images need to be just as good as the recent ones. Beyond instagram, you can sell photos from your smartphone on Foap! You need much less strategy here, but the pay is much smaller, and definitely not consistent.
#2 Be Unusual In Some Way
One of the best ways to get your dog noticed is to be unique. Realistically, you’re never going to get popular simply because your dog is cute – as there is no shortage of cute dogs out there.
Now, if you have a dog that truly is unique (like Tuna with the overbite), then you may have an advantage. But, at the same time, dogs like that won’t naturally appeal to many people, so you may have to do more work to convince people that your dog is worthy of interest.
Some people focus on developing gimmicks. For example, with Boo, the owner focuses on the idea that he is the cutest dog, period. Obviously, that claim isn’t realistic and the owner is certainly biased. Still, the claim works well as a gimmick and is extremely brandable.
Other options include having an unusual angle, such as a rescue dog or a dog who is best friends with a cat. Honestly, you can do just about anything but the idea is to stand out from all of the other accounts other there.
#3 Actively Market Your Brand
In rare cases, people do find that their pet becomes popular with no work of their own but this doesn’t happen all that often. Instead, you typically need to actively market your pet. The simplest example of this is actively maintaining the social media account for your pet.
However, this isn’t likely to be enough on its own.
As such, you want to be regularly sharing pictures of your pet, while highlighting whatever unique angle or angles that you have. Additionally, you may want to connect with people with social media power. This means you need to like, share, and comment on similar pet accounts or other types of accounts that may be interested in following you and sharing your content.
Marketing is also going to be an ongoing task and something you need to plan. This means that actually making money from your dog’s social media does end up being a considerable amount of work. For many, that work is enjoyable but you do still need to be aware of the workload before you get started.
#4 Expand Step By Step (Keep An Eye On The Pros)
If you do get to the point where your pet is successful on social media, you still have to turn that popularity into an income opportunity. In both the examples that I talked about, one aspect of doing so was developing a website and selling merchandise.
This makes a lot of sense, as there tends to be demand for products and images whenever something or someone is popular. The important thing to note is that the pet owners had to do this themselves.
So, they decided to create websites and sourced out places to make products. The needed a concept, a supplier, and capital to make the initial product. Likewise, they actively maintain those websites, along with the social media accounts of their pets.
If your dog gets popular enough, you may also want to seek out other opportunities, such as sponsorship deals. In some cases, you may have companies come to you but waiting to be noticed is never a particularly good strategy for business.
One great strategy for this is to just watch what the pros are doing. If they are selling T-Shirts, or plushies, you can do the same. If they are making viral comedy videos week after week, try your hand at those. If someone keeps doing something, they're (probably) making money at it.
Other Ways To Make Money With Your Dog
I spent a lot of time talking about social media and Instagram simply because this strategy is extremely popular, and it's simple & free to start. In some cases, the concept really does work and people can even find that their pets become celebrities. But, the field is extremely hit and miss.
Your success relies almost entirely on people actually sharing your content and being passionate about your dog. You can’t control whether or not this actually happens. The steps that I mentioned above can certainly help matters but they don’t guarantee your success.
So, if you don’t want to rely on social media, there are some other options out there.
One is dog walking. This job doesn’t really rely on your dog per se and you can be a dog walker even if you don’t own a dog yourself. However, walking your own dog can help you to advertise and including your pet in the mix may make other dogs easy to control.
A related job is pet sitting. You typically wouldn’t bring your own pet along if you were pet sitting. Nevertheless, the skills you learn with your own dog would help you to care for other people’s pets. You can also pet sit in your own home. Advertising on Craigslist is an option! In fact, some dog owners may prefer you sitting at your own place so you don't have to live in theirs and won't need a key while they're away.
Now, you can find advertised positions in both these roles but the real potential comes from being proactive. For example, you might advertise your service in local newspapers or put up flyers.
Both of these roles can be a good way to earn money. But, they are hard work both physically and mentally. At the same time, it’s hard to earn a lot of income this way. These are typically side income jobs for teenagers, can I wouldn't quit your day job before you had some solid clients lined up.
For one thing, these jobs typically don’t pay a large amount of money. You can set your own rates, of course, but if you set them too high you simply won’t get the business.
Additionally, it’s pretty hard to scale up work like this. So, the main way to make more money is to walk more dogs or care for more pets. Either way, there is only so much you can do physically and you may also suffer from low demand.
As such, these roles work well for pocket money or income on the side but they aren’t ever going to be a career.
Use Your Love Of Animals To Build A Profitable Website
Social media can be fickle, and not everyone was made for it. Maybe photos are hard for you, or you're just not that creative. Maybe you love your dog, but it's not ready to be an e-celeb. You can still make money from your love of animals through a website. How?
Every single website you read online was created by a person. That person writes things, then publishes it to the web. People like you search the web, and that information turns up. Are you following me so far?
All that web traffic can be monetized with ads. You can do general advertising, like the banner ads you see on all the websites, or you can do targeted advertising, promoting specific products through links. The former pays a couple cents per click, and the latter pays a couple dollars per sale. People are making full time incomes doing this!
You can talk about things like dog health, puppy training, your favorite breed, or homemade dog treats. It's pretty easy to do. It does take some time for your website to rank in Google (usually a couple months), but as long as you're writing interesting stuff, you'll eventually start to see rankings and earnings.
How do I know all this stuff? I learned how to build affiliate websites here back in 2010, and it's been a wild ride ever since. Now I work from home and write about things like computer software, gardening, and homebrewing beer!