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How Profitable Is a Popular Pet Instagram?

Advice from dog influencer owners, a marketing agent, a talent agent and more

Parenting a pet, no matter what kind, can be a frustrating and bewildering experience. Animals can’t tell you what they want and need (directly, at least), so we’re here to help you answer any questions you have about your favorite companion — whether they be furry, slimy, feathered, scaly or anything in between — with insight from the experts. This is “Basic Bitch,” an advice column for pet parents who just want the best for their best friend.

The Very Basic Concern

I was scrolling through Instagram the other day and stumbled upon Manny the Frenchie, a cute bulldog with more than one million Instagram followers. Just so happens, I also have a cute bulldog named Richard. So I did what any reasonable — and perhaps extremely competitive — pet owner would: I created an Instagram for Richard and started posting photos of his adorable face.

This was maybe an hour ago, and while we only have 18 (…19!) followers so far, we already have a solid business plan, and I expect some brand offers soon. I read online that doggie influencers like Manny can make upwards of $10,000 for each sponsored post, which would certainly cover Richard’s monthly kibble bill. I’m still not sure what kind of cash to expect from this booming account, though.

Basically: How much money can I make if my pet becomes an influencer?

The Expert Advice

Lori Sirois, owner of Pugdashians: Pugdashians are making money on Instagram — agencies license the rights to many of our videos and photos. I get requests every day from companies wanting to send us their products, but I rarely do that, because I don’t want to promote products if I don’t already use the product. It’s a matter of not wanting to turn our followers away. 

Truthfully, Pugdashians social media is a lot of work — I’m a one-person show with no help. There are so many more opportunities for Pugdashians, but I just don’t have the time to do them, because I work full-time.  

Ronney Lau, co-owner of Daisy Meets World: From what I can see, most pet influencer accounts are generally geared toward making a supplemental income. Basically, it’s very hard for those accounts to be run as a sole provider of liveable income. I think a major part of it is, pet accounts are very limited in what they can advertise and who they can advertise to. For example, you don’t want to be promoting a video game or something unrelated to your dog or pet account. We want to be responsible in what’s being advertised as well.

Joe Gagliese, CEO of the Viral Nation influencer agency: Naturally, influencer deals depend on several factors, such as the size of the audience, the engagement level of the audience and the type of deal — duration, task, number of posts, etc. But a popular pet influencer can easily make several thousand dollars per Instagram or Facebook post. Many of today’s pet influencers have started brands of their own and are earning six figures annually. It’s definitely a growing industry, as brands are very pleased with the return on investment and are finding increasingly creative ways to engage with influencer audiences.

Chris Lukas, Direct of Talent at Obviously influencer agency: Generally speaking, more real followers does equal more money per post, but we also factor in engagement, aesthetic and target audience. One of the most important things is having a point-of-view and an authentic message — this is what really creates “influence.”

As a rule of thumb, as followers go up, so do payments, though it does vary. For small influencers, it can be effective to partner with brands you love to create an image for yourself and a personal brand identity. Creators with between 10,000 and 75,000 followers can reasonably charge a significant dollar amount, though keep in mind that any exclusivity or usage on the brand’s behalf will further increase the price. For example, spirits brands typically require influencers not work with competitor brands for a set time, like 30 or 60 days, which can significantly increase how much an influencer needs to charge.

Income depends on a lot of variables, like audience size, engagement, the quality of content, and of course, alignment with a brand. The group of pet influencers that have a few hundred thousand followers is fairly small — at that level, however, you can expect to earn at least a few thousand dollars a month.

Morgan Kaye, influencer marketing director: Influencer payment is kind of tricky, since it’s really dependent upon a multitude of things: Which platform, the type of post, the timing and availability, exclusivity, usage rights, their reach, engagement and their views. Basically, there’s no exact science to influencer pricing. However, I can say there are plenty of pet influencers out there making more than myself, and there are “pet influencer agencies” popping up left and right — even traditional influencer agencies are taking on pets now.

Although the bulk of pet influencers are probably just doing it for fun and maybe some free product, there is an upper tier of pets that make more than their owners. It’s really sad that I know this.

Marcus Lundqvist, Instagram influencer: That’s really individual, I think. I’ve seen a lot of statistics online where they show how much you could charge, depending on your number of followers and whatnot. It also depends on what kinds of companies get in touch with you. For example, you can’t ask as much from small brands. But if Red Bull contacts you, you can probably get away with saying whatever number you want.