Rachael Johnson knows two things: dogs and traveling. She actually knows a whole lot more, but she’s built her dog blog and social media empire on a pure passion for pooches and putting miles on her RV. If turning a love of dogs into a business sounds like your cup of tea, Rachael, her hubby, and two famous dogs are role models from which to learn.
We spent some time getting to know Rachael and her pack in a recent phone interview. The Johnson family hunkered down for a temporary stop in their have dog will travel road trip. From how to grow a social media account to the importance of dog rescues and even a few recipe tips, our conversation covered it all.
Fidose of Reality (FOR): For those unfamiliar with 2 Traveling Dogs, tell us what it is all about and how long you’ve been doing it.
Rachael Johnson (RJ): 2 Traveling Dogs is a daily dog blog dedicated to the fun side of animal rescue. In May 2016, we embarked on a trip with our two rescue dogs to travel to the 48 contiguous states in an RV. We are showing the fun things you can do with your dog and showcasing a deserving animal rescue or shelter in each state. We’ve been at this for seven years. Our tagline is Make Rescues The Breed of Choice.©
FOR: Did you always dream of traveling the country in an RV; how did this idea get started?
RJ: We first started Your Dog’s Diner and made treat mixes. It was me and my husband doing it, and he even quit his stable job in the insurance industry. My background is in finance. People started coming to our then-apartment to try our mixes. We packed all the dry ingredients into a bag and they just need to make them. Things were getting really busy and growing. We knew we had to do something more with it. I was laid off from my job, so…
FOR: What was that next step?
RJ: We invested in a booth at Global Pet Expo in Florida. The folks at BarkBox were just getting underway at the time and a rep from the company stopped by our booth. She wanted us to make thousands of units in a short period of time. Four times we were a part of BarkBox. As this was happening, so was the growth of our 2 Traveling Dogs Facebook page.
FOR: What exactly happened?
RJ: Well, our Facebook page literally went from 70,000 followers to 300,000 followers in one day. I posted a photo and it ended up getting shared over and over. By the end of 2015, we had over one million fans. My husband, Nate, and I knew we had to do something. The platform was too big too continue in this way.
So we put our house up for sale in Florida, bought an RV, and traveled to 48 states and 48 rescue groups in one year’s time. We wanted to thank the people who took our two dogs to the shelter by helping smaller shelters succeed. We went to the smaller ones to help give them a presence through social media. My husband drives the 37-foot RV and we tow our Jeep along. We are living in the RV and love it.
FOR: These are the things so many of us dog lovers dream of doing. How were you able to finance this?
RJ: As we traveled, I developed a small consulting business. I help companies grow their Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages. Having a consulting business afforded us a way to spending all of my waking moments with my dogs, which is my goal. We are very picky about who we work with because the company has to fit our brand. It must have a purpose and a reason.
FOR: Speaking of dogs, what furry friends share your life?
RJ: Peanut Butter Brickle was born in 2009. Transferred from a kill shelter in Alabama to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, Florida, Brickle had a ruff beginning. He is incredibly smart and is my heart and soul dog. He behaves like a person and loves the beach. Digby Pancake came into our lives about six months after we adopted Brickle. Digby came from Fernandina Beach, Florida and was also born in 2009. He was most likely a hunting dog, afraid of gunshots and loud noises. He is the polar opposite of Brickle and loves the mountains.
FOR: You keep it real with your dogs and their adventures, quirks, and misgivings. How do your fans react?
RJ: I want people to know that dogs are not perfect and we shouldn’t be embarrassed to show their quirks and misbehaviors. I learned a very valuable lesson from a veterinarian in Wisconsin during our tour. She shared that animals are individuals, just like people. I truly believe there would be less animals in shelters if people understood this.
FOR: As a fellow pet blogger, we understand the passion is important. How can others who love dogs learn to blog and make money doing so?
RJ: First, you must have something to offer. That ‘something’ comes from having an authentic voice. Write from your heart or people will see right through it. You may need to keep writing for years to grow a following. Don’t spread yourself too thin. I tell people try not to be everything to everybody. I focus on Facebook and Instagram. Try to be good at one thing.
RJ: Groups are getting a ton of engagement. Facebook is favoring this. People love to talk about themselves, their dogs, and make new friends. Remember this when starting a new group. I respond to my fans and ask them questions. I’ve been writing every day on the blog since 2011 with very few misses. I asked our fans if they want me to continue that or to blog perhaps weekly. The fans wanted every day. They make the choices. You must be hands on and transparent.
FOR: Finally, how can folks get in touch with you, follow you on social media, and learn to cook for their own dogs?
Your Dog’s Diner is a lifestyle website for dog parents who want to cook for their dogs. Here’s a video where we were featured on Daytime ABC:
With over one million followers, 2 Traveling Dogs is dedicated to making rescues the breed of choice. Follow the Facebook page here.
The 2 Traveling Dogs Facebook fan page is also active.
Happy tails and trails!