I get a ton of questions from people about how I built up my Instagram account to 40,000 followers and what it’s like to be an “influencer”. I did my first sponsored post back in January 2017, and just this past February I officially went full time with Wear Wag Repeat! Now that this is my full-time gig I want to share with you what it’s like to be an Instagram dog influencer.
What’s It Like to Be an Instagram Dog Influencer
I asked my followers what they wanted to know, and I got some really great questions! In this post, I’ll give you an honest behind the scenes look at how I grew my account, how I handle the attention (both good and bad) and my best advice for you to grow your own following on Instagram. I wanted to be as honest and authentic as I could in this post, so it ended up being a little long! If there are any points that you’re curious about and want to know more, just comment below.
Oh, and if you love anything the dogs and I are wearing in these photos, head over to the Wear Wag Repeat Shop!
How did you grow such a large Instagram following?
This question comes from @Zoey_May_The_Dane. And boy is it a doozy! Growing an Instagram account is a lot of work whether you’re trying to hit 1,000 or 50,000. As I grew my account over the past few years I relied on personal relationships that I built with other accounts. You may have heard the term “comment pods” thrown around. A pod is basically a group DM on Instagram where everyone in the group likes and comments on everyone else’s posts.
This can be done so right and so wrong! Luckily, in the early days of growing my account, I found a really great pod! They were all dog accounts run by women and we were just so in sync (and still are). Our group has been much more than just commenting and liking, we’ve become real friends. We spellcheck each other’s posts, link to each other’s blogs and even do Google Hangouts together from time to time.
It’s through the support of these other dog moms that I owe most of my success. We created a safe space to discuss our goals and the latest hashtag tricks. But we also offer advice about our dogs and comfort each other when a dog crosses the rainbow bridge. It’s all about community and finding your pack!
How to do you handle posting about two dogs on 1 account?
This question comes from @jonathan_hodgson. He actually asked, “What’s the benefit of having 2 dogs over 1?” Well… for starters, it’s twice the fun, twice the love, and twice the dog hair!
I’ve almost always had two dogs. You can meet my sweet girl Lola in some of my older posts like this one. I know that some people struggle with how to represent two (or more) dogs on one Instagram account. Personally, I think it’s more fun to have everyone on one account rather than having separate ones. I try to balance out how many solo posts Burt and Lucy get. I don’t want anyone to think I prefer one over the other!
Burt and Lucy are also different dogs and will put up with various amounts of dog momaging from me. Lucy is definitely better trained, so if I need a photo with a difficult “stay” then I’ll use her. It’s pretty challenging to get the exact poses I want with both of them together. So the key is to be flexible and super patient and see what kinds of poses the dogs will give me on their own.
Is it hard having your life out there for people to pass judgment on?
This excellent question comes from @settermariephoto. Being an influencer is definitely an acquired skillset! If you’re an extremely private person I think it will limit what you’re able to do with your platform. I’ve found that the key to building such a devoted following is to be as authentic as I can be. That often means sharing when I’m having a bad day, being silly or taking my followers behind the scenes of my real life.
However, there’s a limit to what I share. I do my best to keep my account really focused on “dog momming” because that’s what my followers love. Placing that limit on what types of things I’ll share enables me to have some part of my life that’s private.
I know you might be curious if I’ve had to deal with any “haters” and thankfully they have been few and far between! I think having a dog-focused account makes it harder to criticize or bully me. The only negative comments I can remember getting were about a mainstream treat I gave the dogs that one commenter felt was garbage and practically poisonous!
Another commenter had a lot to say when I first adopted Burt and he was wearing a prong collar. I’m very upfront about the fact that I do my best as a dog mom. I’m happy that I’m able to share my “imperfect” moments because maybe it can help teach another person.
At the end of the day, I try not to take any negative comments personally. As they say… hurt people hurt people. I just hope the haters can find some peace by venting at me.
What is your number one tip to grow your pet Instagram?
Another great question from @nicole_thebarksquad! Boiled down, my number one tip is to authentically engage with new accounts as much as you can! If you really want to get more followers, you need to get your account in front of new faces. The best way to do that is to leave really friendly, honest and curious comments on accounts that aren’t following you yet.
I recommend spending 20 minutes a few times a week and working your way through the Discover feed or some of your favorite hashtags and going deep on a handful of accounts that you find. Like a few of their posts, leave a couple of comments that spark discussion and even tap into their stories or highlights and see if there’s anything there that you can react to.
By showing a real, honest interest in other accounts that energy will come back to you 10-fold!
What’s the best way to increase followers without looking like a schmuck?
Ha! I love this question from @oh_henry_the_lab. Definitely take the advice that I shared right above this. But I’m also sensing a little bit of an inferiority complex in this question. You should never feel like a schmuck as long as you’re being honest and authentic on Instagram (which I’m sure you are!). I recommend avoiding posts that ask people to follow you.
Instead, use a little reverse psychology! Try doing a “Follow Friday” or “Woman Crush Wednesday” series on your stories where you share other accounts that you love and admire. By shining a light on them and what they’re doing it will bring those positive vibes right back to you and your account.
Do you want to grow your dog’s Instagram account?
I hope you enjoyed this post and got some great advice out of it! I did my best to tell it like it is!
If you’d like to learn even more about Instagram and how your pet could become an influencer too, I have the perfect online course for you. Instagram Strategy for the Pet Obsessed (InSPO) is a course I created specifically for you – dog momagers, pet brands and fur baby mamas!
I’m currently offering an exclusive Introductory Offer just for my insiders who read the blog and follow me on Instagram. To check it out, just head over to this page and you can get all the details!
Photos: Victoria Miller Photography