Picking a niche, creating a consistent brand and sticking to a schedule are just a few smart tips

Sure, social media influencers with millions of followers are impressive. But most of them are only human. Nowadays, Insta-famous pets are where it’s at: Animal celebs like Doug the Pug and Grumpy Cat can also make bank on their every post for a leading brand.

With the explosion of furry superstars in the past decade, many pet owners with fair to middling social followings (but very cute and special pets!) are wondering how they, too, can get in on the action.

That’s where special marketing agencies like #paid can help. Bryan Gold, the influencer platform’s CEO and co-founder, shared some hot tips with PEOPLE about how ordinary people with extraordinary pets can match up their animal family members with brands for authentic, money-making collaborations. #paid has a network of 15,000 influencers in more than 100 countries — including some very successful pets like @tibbythecorgi (232,000 followers) and @toby_littledude (156,000 followers) — and partnerships with top brands including Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Ikea and Visa.

Credit: Tibby the Corgi; Toby LittleDude

Read on to learn how to tweak your pet’s social media presence for maximum added value.

Do cute pets, exotic pets or weird/unusual pets make the best influencers in terms of reach and paycheck?

In terms of which pets make the best accounts, it mirrors quite similar to human creators — having a unique look or being cute/good-looking can help — [but] what matters most is dedication toward creating content, building a community and engaging with other related content creators.

Are cats or dogs most popular with brands?

We’re seeing brands work with all sorts of different type of pets/animal friends — cats, dogs and other more exotic pets included.

Are looks or an interesting background story more important?

Backgrounds and personality shine over everything! While a cute pet may get an initial glance, compelling stories and a personality capture people’s hearts and make them come back for more.

How do you know if your pet has what it takes to become an influencer?

If you are debating about sharing the love you have for your pet, you need to think about whether both you and your pet are ready to make that commitment together. Are you able to have your pet pose and be camera-ready for that perfect shot? Can you commit to producing enough content on a regular basis that you can post at least once a day? Are you ready to engage, follow, and comment with your followers, as well as other related pet accounts so new people can discover your account too?

What are some best practices for getting your pet who has a small or moderate following to the 5,000-plus follower mark that #paid requires?

One of #paid’s editorial team members wrote an article about how to start becoming a blogger, Instagrammer or YouTuber, sharing these five tips:

  • Pick a niche: There are a lot of pet accounts, why do people want to follow yours? Differentiation is key.
  • Brand yourself: Ensure your usernames, profile photos and color schemes are consistent across all of your social media and creative channels for maximum recognition.
  • Get the necessary equipment: You can started with a phone, but eventually, you’ll want to invest in the right type of camera, website and editing software.
  • Practice photography and editing: Creating high-quality content takes a lot of work, and honing skills like photography and video editing requires lots of practice.
  • Be consistent by setting a schedule: Posting on a regular schedule can help to maintain your viewer base, as people will know when to expect new content from you.

Why are some brands using animals instead of people, and how can they tell if it’s helping with purchases of products or the brand’s popularity?

Marketers need to rely on each pet account’s team to figure out the best way to bring the brand to life. Generally pets talk about their owners or find dynamic ways to integrate the products. People often underestimate the creativity and the power of pet influencer accounts. In many ways, pets can embed products into their feed without being deemed a sellout — their cuteness shines through.

Which brands and animal influencers has #paid matched?

Some of our most recent animal influencer accounts include: @tibbythecorgi, @toby_littledude, and @iggyjoey. They’ve worked with clients ranging from the consumer goods space to music and entertainment, including Universal Music.

How much do your top pet influencers earn?

These influencer accounts have the potential to earn from hundreds to thousands of dollars per post — Tibby the Corgi, for example, earns well over $2,000 per post. One of the ways in how #paid helps creators is helping them learn how to price themselves accordingly. One of our general rules is pricing based on a Cost Per Engagement basis; you can learn how to price yourself at our creator page: hashtagpaid.com/creators. We’re continuing to bring creators and brands together and make it easier for them to collaborate, especially as we announced our latest financing round of $9 million, which will accelerate our growth and make influencer marketing even more accessible.

What responsibility do owners have toward their influencer pets and what are the ethics involved?

If people are adopting or breeding pets for the sole purpose of monetizing them through Instagram, it’s important to remember that audiences will see through that. Treat your pets with respect and on the right side of the law. The creator ecosystem is tight-knit and people talk — karma has a funny way of working out.