How to turn your pet into an Instagram star

| Jessica Roy 11 Sep 2017

there are all kinds of jobs today that wouldn't be possible without social media. One surprisingly lucrative gig: posting pet photos on Instagram.

A sponsored post - one in which your pet is photographed with a product - can fetch from a couple hundred dollars to tens of thousands.

If your pet can perform on video, that's worth even more, especially if you make the leap to booking TV commercials.

It takes more than just a cute pet and an iPhone. To find out how to make your pet Insta-famous, we consulted the experts:

Varisiri Methachittiphan, who owns a cat named Nala. @Nala-cat has 3.4 million Instagram followers. Running that account for Nala and her two other cats (@white-coffee-cat, who has 1.5 million followers, and @hello- luna-rose, who has more than 295,000) is Methachittiphan's full-time job.

Aiden Lee, an art director at an ad agency who owns Geordi La Corgi. @LAcorgi has more than 238,000 followers.

Loni Edwards, founder of the Dog Agency, a talent agency that represents Insta-famous animals. Edwards' dog Chloe ( @chloetheminifrenchie) has more than 172,000 followers.

Colleen Wilson, the chief executive of Pets on Q, a talent management company that manages animals that star in commercials, do book deals and, yes, have massive Instagram followings.

Here's what they had to say:

o Know your brand. When you start your account, choose a few descriptive words and phrases for your pet's "brand." Is your pet a troublemaker? Curious and friendly? Silly? Make sure all your photos have a similar theme so your followers know what to expect when they see your pet in their newsfeed. For instance, if your pet's brand is "free-spirited and loves nature," don't post photos of it perched in a first- class seat with a pet dish full of champagne. If it's "upscale city dog," don't post photos of it sitting artfully on a log in a forest.

o Don't trade free products for posts. You can start to make money from your pet's account once you have about 20,000 followers. Before then, many smaller accounts will be approached by brands that want to give a free product in exchange for you posting a photo of your pet with it on your Instagram. It's tempting but a bad idea. If a multinational pet chain sees you'll work for free, it will expect you to work for free for it too. If you're serious about making a pet Instagram your full-time gig, hold out for a paycheck.

o Post photos regularly and use hashtags. Plan to post, if not every day, then at least five days a week. Methachittiphan posts two to three times every day. Lee sets aside some time each month and takes several photos and videos, then spreads them over the next few days or weeks. Add a few hashtags so people using Instagram's "Discover" feature can find your account easily.

o Have fun or don't do it. This can be a full-time job that makes full-time money. But if you aren't having a good time, it's not worth it. You have to love taking photos of your pet. Edwards said people tell her often how much seeing Chloe in their Instagram feed brightens their day: "It really is an incredibly rewarding experience."

LOS ANGELES TIMES (TNS)

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