3 Ways Pet Influencers Can Make Money

instagram monetization Dec 07, 2020

How can I make money with my dog's Instagram account?

Running a pet Instagram account can be a fun hobby!

But it can also become a side hustle (or heck, even a full-time gig) if you do it right.

When I first started Hammy's account, I had no intentions of monetizing it. But after I realized how much time and effort it would take to continue growing his account (I joke that the account was like an "unpaid second job"), the idea of making some money to compensate for my time became really appealing. That's when I began doing research about how pet influencers get paid.


There are 3 main ways that pet influencers can monetize their accounts:

  1. Affiliate marketing
  2. Sponsored posts
  3. Creating and selling your own products (physical or digital)

In this blog post we'll discuss the pros and cons each of them.


1. Affiliate Marketing

This is the most common way to start monetizing a pet Instagram account, and it's typically the best place for an account to start.


What is affiliate marketing?

According to Neil Patel:

Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. You find a product you like, promote it to others and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.

Have you ever noticed that many pet Instagrammers have discount codes for their favorite products?

Typically someone gets a discount code by being a part of an ambassador or affiliate program. That code is linked to their name, and they might earn either a commission or store credit based on the sales they make (tracked by people using the discount code).

Affiliate marketing is a long term strategy that can really pay off. The commission earned from selling 1 product may be relatively low, but they can certainly add up over time - especially if it's a product that you use and share about frequently.

If you plan to make affiliate marketing one of your main monetization sources, I recommend setting up a blog and an email list sooner rather than later. 


How can you find affiliate programs?

So many brands have affiliate or referral programs these days! I recommend making a list of all of the brands that you love and purchase from regularly and then signing up for an affiliate program for each one. 

Brands will often have their affiliate program linked on their website (sometimes at the bottom of the page). You can also try to search on Google for "[brand name] affiliate program" or "[brand name] referral program".

For some small businesses such as shops you come across on Instagram, it could be worth a try to send them a DM asking if they are looking for affiliates or brand ambassadors.

Note: I only recommend becoming an affiliate for brands that you truly love and that you already support (both through making purchases and by at least following them on Instagram!)

Another popular affiliate program is Amazon Associates.


2. Sponsored Posts

This is what many pet influencers consider to be the holy grail of monetizing their account. 


How do influencers get paid to work with brands?

Many brands rely on influencer marketing to build awareness and sell their products. This arrangement allows the brand to get access to the influencer's audience - who are likely the brand's ideal customers.

Typically, a brand will agree to pay an influencer a set amount in exchange for the influencer posting about the product on their Instagram account. It is very common for influencers in the early stages to be offered free product in exchange for a post, and this can be a great way to start. As an account grows and a post on their feed becomes more valuable, influencers can begin to expect some compensation.

While it's exciting to get paid to work with brands, it's also crucial to give a lot of thought to every offer before saying yes. There are also some potential downsides, including:

  • creating content that doesn't feel authentic to your account
  • potentially maxing out on the amount of money you can earn per month (unless you want your entire feed to be full of sponsored posts - which isn't a good look and won't work long term)


3. Creating & Selling Your Own Products (Physical or Digital)

This option can require the most amount of work, at least upfront, but it also has the highest potential for long-term monetization.

Pet influencers have typically built a high level of trust with their audience and also have a good idea of what their audience is interested in - based on questions they get in comments, their DMs, and responses to stories.

Savvy pet influencers are able to take this information about their audience's wants and needs and turn it into their own products that they sell. Rather than making sales for another brand, they can make sales for themselves and potentially make a lot more money.

Of course, there is a lot to take into consideration when going this route, including any start-up costs that you might incur (usually higher with physical products than digital products or services).


Some ideas for creating and selling your own products:

  • Physical products:
    • Pet accessories (bandanas, bow ties, etc.)
    • Create merchandise for your account/pet (drop shipping is a preferred method for this)
  • Digital products:
    • Digital art, cartoons, etc.
    • Lightroom presets, story highlight icons, templates, etc.
    • Workshops and courses
  • Services: dog walking, dog training, photography, social media management, being a virtual assistant (VA) for business owners


Are you currently monetizing your pet account? If so, which strategies are you using? If not, which one are you most interested in pursuing?


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