Do you lie in bed at night dreaming of getting a link from some high-profile blog like ProBlogger that would send you thousands of visitors and give your blog the exposure you need to take it to the next level?
I’d rather have Pinterest.
Don’t get me wrong: I’d love to have Darren share a link with his audience to one of my photography marketing posts. However, the reality is that you’ll get far more traffic, exposure, and income from Pinterest, regardless of your niche.
I believe that blogs in any niche, not just DIY crafty blogs, are missing out on huge amounts of traffic and exposure if they are ignoring Pinterest. If you want to see your blog grow in leaps and bounds in 2013, you’ve got to pay attention to Pinterest.
Pinterest has been a huge part of the reason that my 22-month old blog that shares business and marketing tips for photographers has grown large enough and profitable enough to have replaced our entire household income.
One post alone, which was intentionally optimized for Pinterest, has been shared over 11,500 times and made over five figures of income in the last 6 months alone. I’ll tell you more about it and why it was so successful in a moment, so keep reading.
Because I want to make sure that you fully understand the power of Pinterest, I’m going to start with the very basics before digging into the good stuff that will get you the blog success you’re looking for.
Honestly, if you’re short on time and don’t want to join another social network, you don’t have to have a profile and can simply read about how to make your blog more likely to be pinned. However, at least read through the basics and info about using Pinterest accounts so that you have a better understanding of what’s going on and how to apply that to your blog.
Here’s what I’m going to cover:
- What is Pinterest?
- Why care about Pinterest?
- Basics of using Pinterest
- Strategies for using your Pinterest account
- Get your pins maximum exposure
- Get more traffic to your blog using Pinterest
- Pinterest tools for bloggers
So let’s dive right in.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a visual bookmarking site with a strong sharing structure.
People “pin” photos or videos with links back to their original sources onto “boards” and a “description” that shows under neat the photo or video. These pins are then shown on the main Pinterest page, from newest to oldest, to all of the followers of that person.
If someone sees a pin that they think is interesting, they can hover over the image and choose to “repin” it directly to one of their boards, or they can “like” it or “comment” on it.
When videos are pinned, they can be viewed from right within Pinterest. It’s a great way to grow your YouTube presence and get more viewers.
Who uses Pinterest and what do they use it for?
Pinterest users are mostly women, who trust it more than Facebook or Twitter, although there are a growing number of men on the site.
Pinterest is a place where people dwell on the life they’ve always longed for and where they collect inspiring or useful morsels of information that make their life better. They plan their weddings, imagine their dream homes, long for their ideal wardrobe and collect snippets of inspiration that encourage them to be a better person. A person’s Pinterest boards are a collection of what they they wish they were, so it can be a very powerful place to market your business.
Why care about Pinterest?
Pinterest can bring a lot of traffic to your blog, which you can then convert into subscribers and buyers. It drives more traffic than Google+, Linkedin, and YouTube combined, more traffic than Twitter, and Pinterest drives more sales than Facebook.
The thing that seems to set Pinterest apart from Facebook or Twitter is that there’s less conversation going on to get in the way of sharing links. Yes, you can leave comments and tag people on pins, but the focus is much greater on sharing, making this the perfect platform for your posts to go viral.
Grow your business
Pinterest is a great place to strengthen your brand, and can be used for an “about me” board or if you have several staff or bloggers, you can pin a photo of each person with a description and a link to learn more about them on an About us page on your blog. Create boards that would appeal to your ideal readers and they’ll feel a stronger affinity towards your blog.
It’s easy to promote your products, do market research, and provide resources to your current community. It’s even a great place to find ideas of things to blog about, particularly if you’re in the craft, DIY, food, or fashion niches (although any niche could find ideas on Pinterest).
Basics of using Pinterest
Now that you’ve heard about all the benefits of Pinterest, let’s dive into the mechanics of how to use it.
Business profile or personal profile?
You’ll start by setting up your profile. Add an image and description of yourself or your blog and link to your various sites. You can put a URL in the description, but it will display as text and not as an actual link unless you verify your website through Pinterest.
You’ll also be selecting a username that will be part of your Pinterest URL, so you may choose to use specific keywords here for better SEO if you’re setting it up for your business instead of as your name.
Right under your visible profile, you’ll see a menu with your stats and where you can choose to view your boards, pins, or likes or view the information behind the stats. By clicking on “Followers” you can see the people who are following you and decide if you’d like to follow them back or not. You can also edit your profile or change the order of your boards using the middle button.
This displays your various boards. This is the default view that people see when they visit your profile, so it’s important that you put the boards you most want them to see first. As most of my readers are photographers, I put some of the boards I’ve created as resources for them first and foremost. You can also hover over the board cover and edit it to be a different pin as the large image, otherwise it defaults to the most recently pinned image for that board. You can also reposition the image if you so desire.
There’s also the option to create collaborative boards, where you can invite other people to pin on that board as well. You’ll see this option when you’re setting up individual boards.
In addition, you can create three private boards that you share with people. These boards will not show up for other people when they view your profile, and the pins will not show up in your feed. You can share this with other people who will be able to add to the board. You can change a private board to a public board, but once a board has become public it can no longer be made private. Public boards cannot be made private.
This menu is where you can manually add pins and learn more about Pinterest and the tools they offer. If you select the menu with your name, you have links to your boards, pins, and likes and you also can find and invite friends to join Pinterest. There’s also a link to goodies here that lets you install a Pin it button on your browser’s bookmark bar that lets you pin any image and YouTube videos that you see online while browsing.
The Pinterest homepage
By clicking on the Pinterest logo, you’ll be taken to the main page, which is much like the newsfeed on Facebook.
This is where you’ll see pins from the people you are following. Pins are shown from newest (top) to oldest (bottom), and there’s no algorithm for how pins are ranked. They simply appear based on time.
From here, you can repin the pins you see onto your boards, or you can like the pins or comment on them.
You can also use the links at the top under the Pinterest logo to show everything being pinned at the moment (or everything in a certain category), only videos, popular pins, and gifts by price.
Other useful things to know
To add a price tag to your pins, simply put the price in the description.
You can tag people in your posts by adding the “@” before their name. You must be following at least one of their boards to tag them, however.
Finally, there’s much discussion online about how using the hashtag before words will help you show up better in the search rankings when people search on Pinterest. However, this is not true in most of the searches I have done.
Using the # before a word only creates a link to a search for that word or for other pins also tagged with that specific hashtag. So if you use “#food” in your description, it takes you to the search results for “food” or “#food” and doesn’t rank you better in general.
16 Strategies for using your Pinterest account
The best way to use your Pinterest account is to share lots of content that complements your own content. Yes, you can share your own stuff, but make sure there’s lots of helpful things from other people there as well. It’s one of the best ways to get loyal followers who love your pins.
So, what kinds of things should you pin? How do you make the most of your Pinterest account?
1. Pin resources for your commmunity
My audience is mainly photographers, so I have several posing boards and boards with business advice (both from my blog and from others’ blogs).
For my wedding photography clients, I pin lots of wedding inspiration ideas: decorations, venue ideas, DIY wedding projects, cakes, rings, you name it. The possibilities are endless.
A great way to find good content for your boards is to use the search from within Pinterest to find popular pins of a certain topic and simply repin them to your own boards. Super simple and fast.
2. Customize boards for individual clients
If you’re a graphic designer, create a collaborative board where both you and your client can pin inspiration. If you sell real estate, create boards with home listings for specific clients that fit what they’re looking for in a home.
3. Sell stuff
Post images of things you sell and link back to your sales page. Add the price to the description using currency symbols to have it show up in the corner.
4. Offer coupons and promotions using Pinterest
Create a coupon or sales board where you list current promotions for your audience to see.
5. Create round-up boards on a certain topic
Go through your blog archives and create pins of your favorite content within a certain category. Then promote this board on your blog. Not only will you get extra traffic, you’ll get people digging into your archives and reading some of your best content.
6. Do a Pinterest contest or scavenger hunt
Have people search your blog for specific posts and images and pin them to a board. Then, leave a link to that board somewhere in order for the pinners to be entered into a contest. Or, have them search through your own boards and repin your own pins.
7. Network with other pinners in your niche or field
Since I’m a photographer, Pinterest is a great way for me to showcase other wedding vendors and tag them in the pins so that they can see the images of the products they provide.
Promoting other vendors or bloggers in your field is a great way to get their attention and start building relationships.
8. Create a community or collaborative board
Ask your readers to volunteer to create a board on a specific topic with pins from around the web. It will build loyalty to your brand and help readers identify more strongly with your business.
9. Find inspiration for your business
Have writer’s block? Search Pinterest to see what popular things in your niche are being pinned. If you’re a designer, check out popular designs in your field. Note what other pinners in your field are doing, and see what kinds of boards get them the most followers.
10. Create a review board
Have a board of reviews of various products that your audience would find helpful. If you sell your own product, collect reviews about it on a board as well.
11. Testimonial board
Much like the review board, except that you can put an image of the product up with the testimonial in the description. Bonus points for tagging the testimonial writer in your description. This is also a great place to put client success stories.
12. Grow your email list by pinning your free resource
If you offer a free resource in exchange for signing up to your list, Pinterest can be a great way to get more exposure. People love free things and tend to repin them like crazy if they’re really great resources.
13. Behind the scenes
Create a board showing the behind-the-scenes workings of your business and give people the feeling that they’re an insider if they follow your board.
14. Cover an event “Live” via Pinterest
Pin images from a live event to encourage people to follow you and bring more exposure to your event.
15. Create supplemental material boards
If you teach workshops or do online webinars, create a board with supplemental content and resources on it for your attendees to explore.
16. Learn more about your community
Follow several of your readers to learn more about their interests and what appeals to them. It’s a great way to see what they really dream of and long for in life and business.
Get your pins maximum exposure
Now that you’ve got all these awesome ideas to implement, here’s a few extra tips to make sure that your pins get maximum exposure.
The best time to post on Pinterest
According to Pinerly, the best times to post on Pinterest are between 2pm-4pm EST and again from 8pm-1am EST.
Optimize your pins and boards
Always write good descriptions. Use words that people might search for in the search bar to make your pin or board more likely to be found.
Use calls to action in descriptions to help encourage people to do what you want them to do. Want them to repin or comment? Want them to click through to the post? Ask them to. One call to action per pin is best.
To encourage engagement on your pins and increase the chance of them becoming popular, ask questions and tag people using the @ symbol to help get more comments.
You can put links inside the descriptions, but remember that these links are no-follow links.
Unlike Facebook, people are more likely to repin than to comment on a pin. Leaving comments on pins is a great way to stick out, gain exposure, and gain followers. Thoughtful comments on other peoples’ pins can go a long way, especially if you also tag someone else in it and get them engaged as well.
Getting lots of comments, repins, and likes quickly is the best way to get a pin to show up on the Popular tab of the main page and show up higher in the Pinterest search results, so you want to do everything you can to encourage interaction with your pins.
Make sure that all your pins go back to the original source of the image and not to a Google images page or to a blog homepage that will be updated and no longer relevant once the image falls below the most recent content.
When you create your boards, give them good descriptions and categorize them for the highest chance of getting extra exposure to them.
Share your pins on Facebook and Twitter
Pinterest automatically integrates with Facebook and Twitter, so get more exposure for your pins by also sharing them on Facebook and Twitter.
Getting more traffic to your blog using Pinterest
So how do you get people to start pinning your content so that you can get a piece of this traffic that you’ve heard so much about? Here are several things you can do to encourage people to pin your stuff.
Put an image in every single post you write
Pinterest is all about images. No image = no one pins your stuff. I know that it’s annoying to have to take the extra time to add images, but if you want Pinterest traffic, you have to do it.
I have found that Dreamstime has a decent selection of free commercial-use stock images that you can use, and you can always scour Flickr and other sites for images that have a Creative Commons usage license attached to them. I’ve found that these sites take a lot longer to sort through and often throw up low-quality images.
So what kind of images work best?
Beautiful, eye-catching images that are bright and appeal to emotions tend to do better than other images. Many of the popular pins are simply cute animals, particularly puppies.
Adding text to your images can increase engagement several times over. I personally like to add the name of my blog title to my image to encourage people to click through and see what it’s about. This both increases engagement and helps you to attract people who will click through to read the content. I suggest using Adobe Photoshop Elements or Gimp (which is a free download) to put text on your images.
Simple text-only quotes also work extremely well. Short words with few syllables and simple and understandable quotes do best.
This mini-tutorial image that summarizes a longer more-detailed post about how to shoot Christmas tree lights has been pinned over 35,000 times in less than two months and incorporates images, text, and valuable content that gets shared like crazy on Pinterest. This is an example of why I believe Pinterest is more valuable than a single link share from a big blog.
Still want more ideas about how to make sharable images for Pinterest? See this three-step guide to creating Pinterest-friendly graphics for your blog.
Put Pin it links in your captions
If you’ve updated to WordPress 3.4 or higher, you can now put links in your captions. Use the Pin it button creator to get the link you need to insert a Pin it button into your captions.
There are also Pinterest plugins that will do this for you automatically. I’ll list some of them in the tools section below.
Pin your landing pages
By sending people to your landing pages, you’ll help retain some of the traffic you get from Pinterest—and you can guide them through your sales or content funnel. This tends to help retain readers more effectively than through traffic to random pages that may not convert readers to followers as easily.
If you’ve got statistics to share, infographics are very popular on Pinterest. Infogr.am is a great free tool for making your own infographics that look amazing.
Protect your copyrighted images and graphics
If you are a photographer or graphic designer, add a watermark to any images you post on your site. This way, people will know the source of the image even if a pinner doesn’t link directly to the place you’ve posted it on your website.
If you do not want people to pin content from your website at all, you can add the following code to the header section of your site. It prevents people from pinning images from your site:
<meta name="pinterest" content="nopin">
You can put this on specific pages or posts or apply it to your entire site. While this will protect your images, you’ll lose out on huge potential for traffic and exposure if you do, so I do not recommend it.
Add Pin it buttons to your posts
Adding Pin it buttons to your posts makes it easy for readers to pin your content. You can use the free Pin it button creator to make each button individually, or use one of the plugins listed below to add it automatically—and make things easier on yourself.
Make it easy for people to follow you on Pinterest
Get your own “Follow me on Pinterest” button in the Goodies section of Pinterest. Put this in your sidebar, on your about page, and anywhere else you’d like to invite people to follow you. Here’s what one of them looks like:
You can also grab the URLs from your boards and link to them directly so that people can follow the boards that are most relevant to them.
Here’s a list of various Pinterest tools that you may find helpful.
- Pin Count: See the pin count for a specific page or post on your blog. Just enter your URL.
- See recent pins from your site: Want to see what people are pinning from your site in general? Go to www.Pinterest.com/source/yourdomain.com/ to see. For example, to see what people are pinning on ProBlogger you’d type in http://pinterest.com/source/problogger.net It doesn’t show you everything, but it will show you several recent pins if they exist.
- Pinerly: Track your pins to see which perform the best and which of your boards and pins are most popular. The Pinerly Blog is also one of my favorite places to get information about what works best on Pinterest.
- PinReach: This service gives you a Pinterest influence score similar to an Alexa ranking for your blog, as well as showing you most popular pins, your most influential followers, and other interesting information such as currently trending pins and users.
- DIY Pinterest Analytics: If you’re super-geeky (like me) or want a very detailed way of tracking the ROI of your Pinterest campaigns, this three-part series will give you a great method for tracking the effectiveness of your pins. It’s not for the faint of heart when it comes to statistics! Most useful to people in corporate social media managing roles where you have to justify the usefulness of Pinterest to your business.
- Pinterest “Pin It” Button Plugin: This is a free WordPress plugin that lets you select the default image and description to be displayed or let people select their own image. Lots of options that make this a great choice for bloggers. This is the plugin that I found works best on my marketing blog for photographers.
- Pinterest WordPress Plugin by Tofurious: This Premium WordPress plugin automatically adds a Pin it button under every image in your posts and gives you the option to exclude specific images. It allows you to create a custom Pin it button (good for matching your current branding and creating direct calls to action) and allows you to insert a button at the top or bottom of posts as desired. It’s recommended for photographers, designers, food bloggers, DIY bloggers, and anyone with image-heavy content. Current price: $25.
- Pretty Pinterest Pins Plugin: This one’s a free WordPress plugin that allows you to display your most recent pins in your sidebar as large pins. Can be filtered to only show pins from a certain category, and gives you the option to add a Follow Me button as well.
- Pinterest RSS Widget Plugin: This free WordPress plugin allows you to display your most recent pins in your sidebar as small icons arranged in a grid. They can be filtered to show only pins from a certain category.
- Wisestamp: Add a Follow me on Pinterest link, and links to other social media accounts at the end of your emails with this free tool.
- Infogr.am: This service lets you create really great-looking infographics with ease, and is free.
- Share as Image: Pin any quote as an image using this tool. There’s a simple free version, or a premium version for $6.99. It’s not necessary if you have photoshop or any other program that lets you create an image from text, but it’s handy and easy to use if you don’t have that capability.
- Pinterest RSS Feed Direct Links: You can follow any Pinterest user using the following link: http://pinterest.com/jamiemswanson/feed.rss where you’d substitute jamiemswanson for the username you’d want to follow. You can also follow specific boards using the following URL (where you’d replace jamiemswanson with the username and blogging-resources for the board name you want to follow): http://pinterest.com/jamiemswanson/blogging-resources.rss
If you’re nerdy enough (and I say that in a loving way!) you could get creative with how you display pins on your site using the RSS feeds, but it’s easier to use one of the plugins above to do that for you if you’re not too picky.
So … does it work?
Yes. Yes it does.
Remember the post I mentioned earlier that has been pinned over 11,500 times and has made me over five figures of income alone on my young blog? Here’s exactly what happened.
The pinned post explains why I switched from delivering images to clients on DVDs to Flash Drives. That’s not super exciting, but it’s a solid post that explains my decision and addresses several hesitations that I know people have about switching over. It also contains an affiliate link to the company where I purchase my flash drives.
One of the hesitations I knew photographers would have was how to package them before sending them to their clients. So I took a few photos of my packaging to use as images in the post.
I used a few images in the post, but created a separate image that was tall, contained them all, and had the name of my post at the bottom of it. Tall images get more space in the Pinterest page, and the text told people that this was more than just images of packaging for flash drives.
I used the Pinterest “Pin It” Button plugin setting that let me select a custom default image (the tall Pinterest-optimized image I’d created) that people would pin when they clicked the Pin it button, instead of using the single images that were found in the post. While not everyone used those buttons to pin, many people did.
The image spread like wildfire on Pinterest. I got my highest day of traffic ever the day that post went live, and it came primarily from Pinterest.
Not only that, but the network continues to get me an average of over 300 pageviews per day—months later without any extra promotion from me. It’s almost entirely because of Pinterest pins. This results in constant income month after month simply from the extended exposure.
A link from a high-profile blog might get you a huge spike in traffic for a week or so, but I’ve never seen a link bring the long-term traffic that Pinterest can bring.
Have you tried Pinterest?
I want to hear your stories. Have you tried Pinterest, or are you still hesitating? If you’ve taken the plunge, which posts on your blog have received the most exposure from Pinterest? Why do you think they’ve been so successful? What hasn’t worked for you at all? Tell me about it below in the comments and let’s really dig in and share with each other.
But first, take a few seconds to pin this post and give ProBlogger a bit of a Pinterest boost. Let’s make 2013 the year of Pinterest for bloggers!
Contributing author Jamie M Swanson writes meaty posts about online marketing for photographers with easy-to-understand steps for totally rocking your business over at The Modern Tog. She is a Wisconsin Wedding Photographer who dreams of owning lots of land where her family can run and play and she can garden to her heart’s content.