How Pet Influencers Make Money and Deal with Grief
Sat, April 10, 2021

How Pet Influencers Make Money and Deal with Grief


Unconditional love, cuddles, and companionship are some of the main perks of owning a pet, explained Chavie Lieber of Vox, an American news and opinion website. At this age, owners use technology to post pictures of their pet or communicate with them using Skype or FaceTime.

But are you aware of the term “pet influencer?” Pet influencers rake in thousands of dollars just from creating content for various brands, said Lieber. To earn the title “pet influencer,” your pet should gain enough followers on its social media account. Loni Edwards, an entrepreneur who runs her talent management firm called the Dog Agency, shared her insights about being a pet influencer in an interview with Lieber.

A More “Human” Pet: Interesting Surveys On Pets and Social Media  

Research from Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance, a website that allows owners to get insurance for their pets, said 59% of respondents owned dogs while 41% owned cats. All in all, 49% of dog and cat owners said they prefer animals to people. When asked why, 60% of respondents said they are like a faithful friend, 58% said they are more reliable than people and don’t let you down, and 54% reported they just make them feel more cheerful.

17% of the UK’s canines and felines have their own social media profiles, according to Sainsbury’s. 12% of pets were on Facebook, 5% were on Instagram and Twitter, and 3% were on Snapchat. About 35% of cat and dog owners said their pets were featured heavily in their own social media accounts. In fact, 42% reported taking more photos of their pets than they do of their significant others while 26% take more photos of their furry friends than their own children.

In another study done by BarkBox, a monthly subscription service, American dog parents post a picture or talk about their pooch on social media six times a week, cited PRNewswire, a press release distribution website. The research also found that on average, they watched dog videos or look at pictures of dogs three times a week. 11% of US dog parents created a social media profile for their pup.

Polling dog people about taking pictures of their pet canines, 20% of the photos they took on their phone were of their dog compared with photos of their trips/vacations (15%), themselves (11%), or food (6%). Interestingly, 42% of dog people made a photo of their pet the feature photo on their phone or computer desktop.

The BarkBox study also found that dog people might go into withdrawal when they are away from their furry companion. Hence, the rely on technology for “quick fixes.” 17% admitted they have watched their dog on a webcam and 14% said they Skyped or FaceTimed with their pets while they were away. Millennials (24%) were more likely than non-Millennials (13%) to watch their dog on a webcam. 23% of Millennials were also more likely than non-Millennials (8%) to Skype or FaceTime their dog.

How Pets Become Instagram-Famous As Told by Loni Edwards

Edwards, a former lawyer, owned a dog to keep her company, starting her own account so she would not bombard people with her selfies five times a day. She amassed thousands of followers, with pet brands like PetSmart and Purina reaching out to send staff and invite Edwards for parties. As a celebrity pet manager, Edwards helps clients connect to the right companies and people, as well as deciding whether her clients should write a book or branch out.

From Edwards’ experience, pets become famous because they are unique enough to develop a following. If the copy is witty or if there’s something that prompts viewers to comment “Oh my god” and tag their friends the pet may become Instagram-famous, Edwards said. For example, Bruno went viral because he is fat.

Edwards said prices are tied to your follower count. For example, she worked with clients who have a few million followers and are earning $15,000 per post. Prices will also depend on the content. To illustrate, an influencer with one million followers would get a couple of thousand dollars for a story post compared with their $15,000- in-feed posts. Pet influencers also profit from book deals and merchandise.

What Happens When An Influencer’s Pet Dies? 

1. Crafting A Carefully-Worded Message and Grieving With Fans

Owners play a more prominent role when they have to write a message to their followers informing their pet’s death, explained Paige Leskin of Business Insider, an American financial and business news website. Owners craft engaging content about their pets, but grieving in public is daunting for many owners.

Jennifer McFarling, who owned the famed golden retriever Parker Pup, said, "It's one thing to deal with a loss privately, but to have people watching you was something I was afraid of.” There’s also the pressure of “finding a new normal” while answering questions like “what’s next,” she added. Most owners who spoke with Business Insider said they shared about their pet’s deaths within a day or two after they happened. However, due to media pressure and fan concern, there are some who were forced to expedite the news of their pet’s passing.

Pet owners also felt they were mandated to comfort their fans whether it made the grieving process easier or harder. Brant Pinvidic, who was known for his gregarious pet turkey Albert, stated, “Having him so popular made it worse on some days, but made it way better on most days." However, Dorie Herman noted that the fanbase made the grieving process bearable after the passing of the owner’s dog, “Chloe Kardoggian.” Herman added, “The community really rallied around me. It made it much less of an isolating experience."

2. Honoring the Pet’s Legacy 

Some owners preserve their deceased pet’s legacy to maintain their accounts and large following. Joanne George had a dog named Smiley, who was born without eyes. George used Smiley’s fame to advocate for special needs dogs, launch anti-bullying campaigns in schools, and highlight the importance of “seeing with your heart.”

After Smiley died, George got Sunny, a dog with visual impairments. She said, “But we still had things to teach people and to share ... what I created was a legacy, and I wanted to carry it on for the people of my community."  Introducing a new but similar pet to an owner’s account helps generate a steady stream of income from their pets. Some managed to salvage sponsorships and brand deals just by keeping their accounts active even after the death of a pet.

We treat our pets like our own children. Pets give us free cuddles, unconditional love, and even income. Pet influencers earn money because their pets are unique enough to amass followers.  But when a pet dies, influencers introduce another one to honor the deceased pet’s legacy. It’s not easy to move on but being surrounded by a supportive fanbase aids in the grieving process.