An Interview With We Rate Dog’s Matt Nelson, The Internet's Original Dog Rater
You've no doubt heard of We Rate Dogs by now. Either you follow the account on Twitter or Instagram, or you've read about the "They're good dogs Brent" story, which took the Internet by storm in 2016. We Rate Dogs now has over a million Twitter followers — a huge accomplishment for an account that's been around for less than a year and a half.
I spoke to Matt Nelson, the creator of We Rate Dogs, about his quick ascent to Internet stardom and the power of good dogs.
When did you start the We Rate Dogs Twitter account, and what inspired you to do it?
I started WeRateDogs on November 15, 2015. Before that, I was making very mediocre jokes to an audience of less than 10,000. I used this as my sole creative outlet while in high school. I quickly realized the overwhelming popularity of dogs on the internet. Every joke I made involving a dog would get more likes than it probably should. Then, as a bored college freshman, WeRateDogs was born... in an Applebee's.
Was it a hit immediately, or did it take some time to catch on?
I think it's safe to say it was a hit immediately. Using only my personal account to promote it, I passed my personal account in followers in a week. The account gained over 100,000 followers in the first full month after its creation.
Who was the first dog you ever rated?
The first dog I ever posted was of a classmate's Australian shepherd on the way home from that Applebee's. If you adjust for inflation, the 8/10 the dog received would be a 12/10 today.
Did you have a goal when you first started We Rate Dogs, or was it just for fun?
The only goal I had when I started the account was to make people laugh. Obviously, I love dogs, but comedy is my passion and dogs happen to be largest medium to communicate that comedy. There's nothing more universally loved. Other goals were formed later on, but the primary one continues to be making people happy.
Did you grow up with dogs? What were their names?
I've had four golden retrievers throughout my life: Holly, Daisy, Topaz, and now Zoey. They were all awesome in their own way and definitely contribute to the golden bias long time fans of the account have probably noticed by now.
What are your non-dog-related hobbies?
My non dog related hobbies include golf and Netflix. Although the dog rating business is a 24/7 ordeal. I attribute most of my success to engaging with my audience and correctly gauging follower feedback. If I wasn't scrolling through mentions nonstop, I wouldn't have the dedicated following I do. Unfortunately, that doesn't leave lots of room for hobbies.
How many dogs have you rated?
We have 3,485 tweets as of right now. I'd say 3,000 of those are actual dog posts.
What's the best thing that's come out of We Rate Dogs?
The best intangible thing that has come out of the account has been the connections. I've met so many incredible people online that I hope to one day be fortunate enough to meet them in person. The best thing we've physically created has to be our newly released app for IOS and Android. It's called "Good Dogs" and that, along with our upcoming book, are going to be the focus of my attention for the next few months.