Sometimes dreams come true… and completely by accident.
When Matthew Nelson started the Twitter handle @dog_rates to rate dogs online, he was only doing it for fun.
He had no intention of making money off of it.
But he did. And a lot of it.
He started rating dogs when he was a college freshman in 2015.
Now he makes a six-figure salary running WeRateDogs and selling merchandise full time.
When he started, his only goal was to make people smile.
“Cute animal accounts have existed on the internet forever, but no one was really taking advantage of the character space above those cute photos,” Nelson told Yahoo Finance.
His quest to create smiles got him more than 100,000 followers within a few months.
“I was trying to make a few more people smile,” he said. “And then it just turned into a lot more.”
Now Nelson has more than 7.2 million followers and gets about 800 submissions a day.
He is known as the “Dogfather” by Dog Rates’ loyal fans.
WeRateDogs uses crowdsourced photos to rate the awesomeness of dogs.
Dog lovers who are fans of sites like WeRateDogs and Dogspotting have even come up with their own dog language which NPR coined as “DoggoLingo.”
“Some dogs are doggos, some are puppers, and others may even be pupperinos. There are corgos and clouds, fluffers and floofs, woofers and boofers. The chunky ones are thicc, and the thin ones are long bois,” NPR explained, according to Yahoo.
Once WeRateDogs started growing in popularity, Nelson decided to drop out of Campbell University in North Carolina so that he could focus on his creation.
It wasn’t long before he started getting partnership deals with brands like Cottonelle and Disney.
This allowed him to open his store with WeRateDogs merchandise.
His following includes people like J.K Rowling, Colé Sprouse, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Nelson says that when he first created his Twitter account at an Applebee’s table he saw it as a challenge.
“I saw other people doing extraordinary things in 140 characters — making me laugh and making me feel things in that limited character space,” the 21-year-old Nelson says.
“I got addicted to that challenge as well. I realized dogs were a very hot topic on the internet. If I wanted my writing to reach more people, I wanted to utilize dogs.”
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Now Nelson brings in “a low five figures” every month off the site and its partnerships. According to Time, he’s making more than $100,000 a year.
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