The Business of Going Viral

On February 9th a group of the photos landed on Reddit, Facebook, Google+, becoming one of the hottest trends among viewers on five continents. More than 1,000 people across the globe have subsequently asked Seth Casteel to shoot their pets – through a lens. Casteel’s has publishing houses fighting for the rights to his forthcoming book of underwater dog photos, and he’s appeared on, or in, most major US news publications.

While many viral stars flounder under the attention, Casteel says he is well positioned to deal with it. His website crashed a couple times because of the huge number of hits he continues to receive, but so far that appears to be the worst of it.

Casteel credits his licensing and PR firm, Tandem Stills + Motion, with successfully converting his new audience. Where many internet stars fade away after a few days of intense popularity, they were able to capitalize on the traffic.

“The business side is so important because you can have something go viral and be silly about it and you won’t make a dollar off it,” Casteel says. “Without [Tandem Stills + Motion] it would have been a fail.”

The most exciting part of the success for him, however, is how the attention has helped his non-profit Second Chance Photos, which aims to increase the quality of animal adoption photos at shelters across the country by providing photo equipment and technical training for shelter staff. Casteel’s recent success has lead to an increase in donations. It’s also led to invitations from animal shelters outside the U.S. who are interested in the workshops.

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