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You’ve done your qualifications, sorted out a website, and you’re ready for the clients to roll in. But how do you let them know about you?

Marketing is one the most important things you can do as a dog trainer. Read on for ten easy tips on how to market yourself easily and effectively.

1. Put your qualifications on your website – and keep it updated

Those courses you did over the weeks and months are not just great at handling dogs – they’re an effective marketing tool. Make sure customers know about them by listing them on your website, along with your referrals from happy clients.

Keep your SEO (search engine optimisation) up to date, and check it every couple of months. SEO requirements change on a regular basis – make sure you aren’t left behind.

Websites are now ranked by Google depending on how mobile phone friendly they are, because more and more people are accessing information through their phones rather than on a computer or laptop.

Most websites will give you the option to view what appears on the mobile phone screen while you’re working on them, and always try and view it independently on your phone once you’re live.

Make sure you remove and update any broken links, and keep the site easily readable with clear headings for each section.

2. Add a regular blog to your website

One of the best and easiest ways to get website hits by potential customers is to blog.

At a minimum you should be adding to your blog monthly, but preferably every couple of weeks.

Blogs are a great way to get your personality across, and you can cover anything from standard training tips to funny stories. Adding a Vlog – a video blog – on the odd occasion will also push your numbers up.

A blog lets your readers get to know and like you – always something you want. Nobody wants their dogs trained by someone they don’t like.

Keep the tone friendly, light, and stay away from anything potentially divisive like political or religious views.

Make sure to have links to the rest of your site imbedded as text links when talking about different training issues, and have links to your business social media on the page where it’s easy to find.

3. Make your insurance a feature on your website

A good insurance policy is something to let your potential clients know about up front. As a dog trainer, insurance is a must have – you’re dealing with a variety of dogs in public and their owners.

A good policy gives you peace of mind if anything goes wrong, and it reassures clients that you take your responsibilities seriously.

It doesn’t need to be a big section, but make sure it’s easy to find, along with your qualifications.

4. Grow your following on social media

A blog is a one way channel. Social media is all about two-way communication.

To grow your following on social media, make sure you answer questions, interact with people in a friendly way, and give tips and hints on dealing with dogs.

Don’t try to sell yourself on social media, which people hate. It’s all about selling without selling – letting your followers know who you are, growing visibility, and earning a good reputation.

At least once a week, post a link to one of your video channels.

5. Have a regular video channel on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok

Working with dogs gives you one of the most powerful marketing tools on the internet: videos.

Everybody loves animal videos. Posting short clips showing the funny side of the dog training life mixed in with some more serious training tips is likely to push your follower base through the roof.

You can film small clips on your smart phone, or get a friend to do it if you’re doing a training tips series where you’ll be featured. Set up a diary schedule for posting and stick to it; regular viewers will click into your feed on those days and if you start missing too many, you’ll lose followers.

Make sure you post links to those videos on your social media; but don’t overwhelm your feed. Think of it like a drip feed; you want to have interactions with people in between those links.

6. Guest post on other blogs and free sites like Medium

Try to either guest post on someone else’s blog every six weeks, or start posting to a free site like Medium.

Make sure to include details like your website and social media in your bio, and if you can, hyperlink to parts of your website that are relevant to your article.

Once again, the point here is to earn a reputation as an expert in your field. Name recognition is everything in marketing.

7. Word of mouth is massive- ask for referrals

Don’t forget about asking happy customers for referrals and reviews. Word of mouth is still a highly effective marketing tool, and people tend to trust their friends opinions.

Ask customers if they’re happy for you to post a part or all of their reviews on your website, with any identifying details removed.

If you’re starting to get a decent customer base, you can open a page on the site where customers can post their own reviews.

8. Talk to people when you’re out and about

When people ask what you do, tell them – and hand out a business card with your website and contact details.

You can get almost anything branded with your company name and website, from dog collars and jackets to dog bowls. Hand these out to customers at the end of your course; it’s a small business expense, but adds to your visibility.

9. Work with your local vets

Build a relationship with your local vet clinics and try to get referrals from them. This will take time – a vet will want to make sure you’re a good, reliable trainer before they promote you – but it’s worth the effort.

Some vets will want to audit your classes, and most will ask about your qualifications. It’s also a great idea to pick the vet’s brains if you have any concerns about the dogs you are training; vets are primarily concerned about the welfare of the animals. When they see that this is one of your goals, it will help build trust.

A referral from a trusted vet to a customer with a new dog or puppy is a brilliant way to get new customers.

10. Offer your time to local shelters and rescues

Shelters and rescues are often overwhelmed and struggling to cope with the volume of animals. Rehoming a dog means that they need to be checked for things like food aggression and socialisation, and many of these organisations don’t have the resources to train the dogs out of troubling behaviour.

Volunteering to help gives you the ability to change a dogs future and a huge amount of potential blogging and video material.

Once you start volunteering, posting a weekly diary talking about the dogs, their problems and what you’ve done to help them, will be captivating reading for a large audience.

People struggling with certain behaviours in their own dogs tend to search online for possible solutions. You’ll likely end up with someone contacting you to tell you about a similar story they’ve been dealing with. If you can help them with your posts, you’ll make a fan for life.

Bonus: Be yourself

Marketing yourself as a trainer is going to be a large part of your new career. It can sound overwhelming, but the easiest way to handle all of this is to set up a diary for yourself.

Similar to your training diary, you’ll want to block off time for you to do the work. Space it out so that you don’t burn out in the first three months; remember in between your marketing you still need to get out and train the animals.

If you have a full day of training set up, schedule a marketing task for a quieter day. Once you get into the routine it will go faster, but to begin with you can expect to spend a few hours on each task, especially if you haven’t used a lot of social media before this.

Being a dog trainer is a rewarding career, and nowadays you have the potential to reach people across the world, not just locally.

Used wisely, your job is the best marketing tool you have. Your smart phone is going to be used a lot, from posting and chatting to followers to taking videos and photographs, so make sure it’s always charged and ready to go.

Most importantly, be yourself on social media. A fake persona is hard to keep track of and keep consistent, and most people will figure it out pretty fast.

Finally, remember that being your own boss and working with dogs is the dream life for a lot of people. It’s hard work, but you wouldn’t be doing it if you didn’t love it. That love of what you’re doing will show in your posts, videos and when you’re training and working with the dogs and their humans.

Enthusiasm always shows – and it makes people want to interact with you and see more of what you do.