Social media: 73K Instagram followers; 1,631 Twitter followers; 9,593 Facebook page likes; top YouTube video has 24,527 views.
Persona: Chubby-looking, smooshed-faced old crank with a Teddy Roosevelt mustache.
Hollywood equivalent: Sam Elliott, Daniel Day Lewis.
1 Have an interesting-looking cat. “If you want your cat to look a certain way, I don’t see any harm with taking your time to find your ideal cat,” said Lone. “Keep your options open, look in shelters, and maybe even look in other states. Of course, appearances aren’t everything. There are plenty of other famous cats that are known for their quirky, box-loving personalities or amazing ability to eat from chopsticks.”
2 Have a multifaceted skill set. “I began posting photos of Pudge because I have an interest in photography and a couple of nice cameras,” Lone said. “Not only is a DSLR camera great for being fast enough to capture some really funny Pudge faces, but I think fans enjoy higher-quality photos of Pudge rather than photos just taken on my cellphone. When the demand became present to create a website where people can go to find out more information about Pudge and look at more photos of her, my background in graphic design came in very handy. Later, when people asked for calendars and other Pudge merch, it was easy for me to design them all myself.”
3 Build an online following. “Use hashtags. Look into what hashtags are the most popular, yet appropriate for your content. I know they’re silly, but they’re one of the quickest ways to expose your photos to users who don’t follow you yet. Pudge’s fame didn’t come overnight — I created an Instagram account in October 2011 and began posting all kinds of pictures along with the occasional photo of Pudge. People began following me just to see more pictures of Pudge, and it’s all just grown from there.”
4 Be friendly with other Internet-famous cat owners. “I contacted Mike [Bridavsky, Lil Bub’s owner] last year when I heard that Bub was coming to town for the 2012 Internet Cat Video Film Festival. He invited me to join in a series of interviews Vice was doing that would soon become “Lil Bub & Friendz.” Bub is really the leader of all the cross-kitty promotions. Just recently there was her online birthday party where Pudge, Colonel Meow, Hamilton the Hipster Cat, Princess Monster Truck and other celebrity cats (and dogs!) joined in celebrating Bub’s birthday.”
5 Don’t do it for the money. “I didn’t start off thinking, ‘How can I make money off my unique pet?’ I only have a store for Pudge because I literally get dozens of people asking me to make and sell Pudge stuff. I’m not in the cat business to bank off of my pet. I share photos of Pudge to make people laugh and sell posters with her face on them so some dude out there can give one to his girlfriend as a birthday present.”