I’m a big “WeRateDogs” fan. Whenever I check out the Instagram or Twitter account, I always laugh. It’s a great break from 24/7 news and politics. It gives me a chance to relax and smile–and it’s an easy way to be entertained.
I read an article today on COISKI, which I’m figuring out is short for “Content Is King” about Matt Nelson, who was a college kid when he created the “WeRateDogs” brand. Not only does he have more than 6 million followers, he has published a book and other merchandise like mugs and caps. He’s releasing a calendar for 2019 and a 2020 one will be published, too. His merchandise can be found on his website or Amazon.
Here’s an excerpt from the article by John Zmikly:
How the Creator of “WeRateDogs” Built a 6+ Million Twitter Following
Matt Nelson’s love for comedy – not just doggos and puppers – motivated him to create the account and company
Three years ago in a North Carolina Applebee’s, former Campbell University student, Matt Nelson, tweeted about the “petability” of a Japanese Irish Setter who supposedly lost an eye in Vietnam.
Literally overnight – and several hilarious tweets later – Nelson’s @dog_rates Twitter account garnered about 500 followers. By the end of the month, that number grew to over 100,000. Little did Nelson know, his “WeRateDogs” Twitter account would change the direction of his life – and digital doggo culture – forever.
With over 6.9 million followers on Twitter today, @dog_rates has become one of the most successful pet-rating accounts on social media. But the brand reaches far beyond Twitter. Since his fateful Applebee’s tweet in 2015, We Rate Dogs has become a full-on brand, adding a merch line, publishing a recent Amazon best-selling calendar, and Nelson leverages speaking engagements and has even partnered with established brands, like Disney, to continue growing the brand’s powerfully loyal following.
I have sent in several pictures of my daughter’s pug Waffles and our RIP lab Angus. WeRateDogs posted the picture of Waffles above. I’d never seen so much action on my social media. Ever. When he liked my Angus pics on a Saturday when he features senior doggos, I received so many comments about our beloved Angus.
I found it interesting that Nelson dropped out of school to pursue a career based on tweeting. I wonder what I would have said if my son or daughter did that? It has worked out well for him:
From Part-Time Hobby to Full-Time Career
A freshman at Campbell University at the time, Nelson had been going to school for professional golf management. But school soon took a back seat to his greater passion – digital media.
“I soon became obsessed with social and digital media and the creative outlet they offered,” said Nelson.
Not wanting to be “that guy” who created multiple parody accounts and stole other peoples’ content, Nelson said he truly became invested in the writing and humor aspects of content development.
“There are plenty of cute animal accounts out there, but from the beginning, I went out of my way to make my posts humorous, and to try to give the account a real personality. I think that’s what made We Rate Dogs so refreshing. I can’t argue that the pictures don’t drive the audience — they do. But I have developed a style that allows the image and the caption to lean on each other in a creative way,” he said.
Nelson has now made a career out of digital content creation, sometimes spending hours writing and reading tweets before they’re posted.
“I often laugh that I’m basically telling the same joke over and over again because every post has a caption, rating, and a comment. That’s it. But every word has intent behind it, and the picture and caption have to go hand-in-hand,” he said.
Community, humor and original content are just a few reasons the @dog_rates earns roughly 8,000-12,000 new followers each day. And they’re also why Nelson’s other endeavors, like his recent Amazon Best-Selling calendar – have been so successful.
But along with hard work, Nelson attributes much of his puppo prosperity to good fortune.
“My initial success has been just pure luck. The biggest thing for me lately has been the commitment to drop out of school and make the side hustle, the real hustle. It’s definitely new territory, but going “all in” has given me the chance to chase my passion. It was the right call for me.”
Nelson highlighted the importance of following a dream, though sometimes working a regular job or going to school may be required to see it through.
“The traditional path is not the only path. College isn’t always the next stop, and it’s definitely not the only path to success anymore. There are so many different roads. The field is truly even if everyone has internet access, and a little bit of creativity goes a long way as long as you don’t ignore that passion.”
Nelson has created his own vocabulary for dogs such as “puppers” and “doggos,” and his curse word “h*ck.” After I read WeRateDogs religiously, the doggo slang slipped into my vocabulary, too.
Another amazing thing about WeRateDogs is the sense of community. When someone’s pupper is sick or needs surgery, Nelson tweets and money and love pour in.
Does WeRateDogs brighten your day, too? Are there any Twitter or Instagram accounts that you love?