This is a guest post from Jenetta Penner, who is waaaaay better at Pinterest than I am. I’m starting to use it more and asked for some help. This is her advice, and I’m sharing it with you.
In the past three years, my niche blog has received almost 7 million page views from Pinterest alone. My top post has brought 653,665 page views.
Really. It has. And I am nowhere near the biggest player out there.
So when I started up my author blog, one of my first strategic moves was to figure out how to capitalize on the potential traffic from Pinterest. To start, I will tell you that some niches are more difficult to gain traction on Pinterest. Book topics seem to be one of those more difficult/smaller niches. But it doesn’t mean it’s impossible; only that you may need to think outside the box, be more clever with your titles, and do some digging to find out where your target market is on Pinterest.
Some things to know about Pinterest
- Pinterest is predominately female. 71% of Pinterest users are female. (source)
- Pinterest is heavy on tips and recipes. Author blogs don’t often evoke thoughts of tips and recipes. But if you think outside the box you can pique the interest of the Pinterest user, and get them to your blog where they will have the opportunity to see and purchase your books. Tip: Make a cool infographic and link it back to your blog, write a guide… give something away for free.
- People are not usually on Pinterest to buy. They want you to solve their problems. This doesn’t mean you can’t use Pinterest to help sell your book, but in general… you are never going to sell your book by throwing up a picture of your cover. It’s OK to have a board of your work, but don’t expect to sell anything from it. That said, Pinterest users are heavy online shoppers. So if you can get them to your blog with useful content, they may become a customer once there.
- You can’t put affiliate links on Pinterest. They will remove the link. For this reason, you need to funnel readers to your blog and put your links there. Plus, you can get them on your email list, and that is more valuable than the odd sale here and there.
- *Best news* You don’t have to attain a huge follower base in order to get traffic. (I’ll tell you why below).
- Head to Pinterest.com
- Create a Business Account. The business account gives you upgraded features like promoted pins and allow you to set up rich pins to identify your blog name on your content.
- Start creating your boards. Remember, this is not about selling, it’s about connecting and solving problems for people.
- Upload your avatar. Pinterest likes friendly faces, real people. So my recommendation is to use your photo. Personally, I would make it a casual photo and possibly one which includes a female/your family (if you are a male). This is a bit of profiling, but 90% of the time when I receive a comment or group board request by a male it’s generally spam. Now you and I know you are not trying to be spammy, but the average Pinterest user/board owner may not.
- Write your bio. Don’t be boring here. You are not boring, so don’t make people think you are.
- Make your boards pretty. For my boards I made a stylized graphic for each and uploaded it to each board to identify them and give continuity. But that is not required. In the end, you simply need to make them look nice, and come up with a few creative titles.
- Pin useful pins. Fill your boards with pins you find useful and interesting. This can include your own posts, but you should also pin other’s content.
- Start gaining a following. Use your other social media accounts and email list to let your fans know you are on Pinterest and you would like to connect with them. You can also gain followers by following other pinners and by commenting on their pins (be careful these are REAL comments… not spammy ones.)
- And the key to getting traffic on Pinterest, join group boards.
What are group/collaborative boards?
Group boards are boards which more than one pinner can curate pins onto. In general, these boards have some sort of theme collaborators are expected to follow. On the board cover look for the “two people” icon to indicate a collaborative board.
How do I get added to a group board?
Well, the easy answer? You ask. Either leave a comment on one of the board owner’s pins (the board owner is the first avatar listed on the upper left-hand side of Pinterest), or message them (the message function is on the board owner’s main account page under the tool icon on the upper right-hand side.). Or check the text below the board’s title for instruction on how to join the board.
Is it that easy?
Honestly? No. Sorry, I wish it was, but even as an experienced pinner with over 70,000 Pinterest Followers, I don’t get added to every board I ask. But it’s still worth asking so here are a few things you can do to raise your odds.
1. Start REALLY using Pinterest. Build your boards organically, pin and repin useful information for your followers.
2. Follow the boards/account of the Owner whose boards you are requesting to join. And make sure in your request you tell them you followed their boards.
3. Read the board rules (under the title) and tell them you read and will follow the rules.
4. If they don’t add you, don’t ask a million times… it’s annoying (and you’re not an annoying person!). Bookmark the page and ask again in a few months when you have gained more followers and have more experience at pinning politely. And you maybe could ask one more time a few months later, but I would stop at that. Group board owners get a lot of requests to join their boards and don’t enjoy being hounded.
How do I find group boards and how do I know which to join?
There are some great sites out there to help you find collaborative boards. Unfortunately, as I write this, one of the best is down (maybe permanently), but in case they bring it back it’s called PinGroupie.com. I did find some alternates, though.
- Board Deck (probably your best bet since Pingroupie is no longer there.)
- Top Group Boards
- One of the best ways I have found of locating boards is to look on the Pinterest boards of brands/bloggers/authors/booksites I follow. Often they are part of collaborative boards in the niches I am looking for.
Should I join all the group boards I can?
Well, yes and no. Yes if they are awesome, engaged boards, and you have content to pin to them. But you need to be aware, simply because a board exists and even has 10,0000 or 1 million followers does not mean it’s worth your time.
To find out if it is you need to peruse the board. Scroll down and check out the likes and repins on the pins. If there are consistent repins on the pins in there… then it’s probably a good board. If the majority have 0-1, then the board is un-engaged and don’t bother joining.
Once I’m on a few collaborative boards what should I pin?
1. Pin your content.
2. Pin useful content from others. Find this content on your feed or pin straight from blogs you like.
How often and how much should I pin?
My best answer is consistently as you can. This may be a lot, and it may be a little, and either is fine. But by staying engaged you will gain followers, so make sure you are pinning only high-quality content.
There are different answers on how much of your own content you should pin and how much of others should can pins. Some say 80/20. 80% of others and 20% of yours. I have found this is probably true for your personal boards, but you can pin a much higher rate of your own to Collaborative boards as long as you are following board rules and not posting duplicate content very often (see below).
Can I pin my content more than one time?
Yes. No. Maybe. This all will depend on the board. Most boards allow you to pin your content more than one time. But check the rules to be sure.
How often can I pin the same content from my site?
It depends on the board. Click on the pins within the board to see how long ago each was pinned. Some boards have pins moving down the page in literally minutes, others it could be days, even weeks. If you are part of a fast-moving board, you may be able to repin posts 1-2 times a month without spamming the board. I personally do not like pinning the same content to the same board more than every two weeks. Slow moving boards will be less often.
Tips for getting more repins.
1. Use vertical images. Canva.com recommends 735 x1102 px. Personally, I find that a bit large to put on my blog posts and have had good success with 400×600 px. I’m not sure there is a perfect size but I do know vertical does much better than horizontal. Horizontal and square images simply show too small on Pinterest and do not stand out.
2. Images are important. Low quality photos are less likely to do well on Pinterest. Pinterest likes pretty, so use pretty or striking images. But in the end, it’s about trial and error. Sometimes you follow all the tips, and a pin will do terribly and other times they “break all the rules” and do great. Here is an infographic on optimizing your Pinterest images.
3. Use text on your image. To make your post title or tips stand out put text directly on the image. To do this use Canva.com or Picmonkey.com (both are great and free). Tip: Make the text large. You want it to stand out in the sea of other images on Pinterest.
4. Test more than one image and different titles. Sometimes an alternate image or new text will resonate with people more. I like to test at least one other image to get additional traffic.
5. Don’t leave the description blank. You need to fill in the description with something. At minimum, I would put in the post title. But for best results, write a natural description of the post thinking like a reader would. Pinterest also works like a search engine so keep in mind a few keywords Pinterest users might search for when looking for your post topic (but don’t keyword stuff… it doesn’t look natural).
6. Tell them to click on the image in the description. I don’t always remember to do this, but a call to action can be very effective.
In the below you can see two different images I am testing for the same post. I made these in Canva.com and used a stock photo which allowed social media use. So far, my findings are these two images perform roughly the same, but I have had several in the past (for my niche blog) that have been vastly different.
Tip: in this large view, the text on these images looks great, but in the feed view of Pinterest it’s actually a bit small. If I were to remake them, I would enlarge the text.
How do I keep up with pinning on Pinterest?
Well, you have a couple of options:
1. Pin manually. This is great, but time consuming. I recommend that you pin other site content manually and maybe your new blog content.
2. Schedule your pins. This is what I do, and I love it. It gives me more time for analyzing what is doing well and getting traffic to my site instead of being on Pinterest all day, every day. There are several options for scheduling your pins:
- Boardbooster– Boardbooster is my favorite, and if you go through this link you will get a free 100 pin trial. Board booster allows you to import your personal and group boards and then create another board for them to pull pins from. You can set it to loop on a schedule, and you never have to worry about over pinning to a board and you also know your content is constantly being pinned. Boardbooster will also track you stats on all your pins. It’s will show you which pins and boards are doing well. The only downside is Boardbooster does not have access to the Pinterest API. So far this has not seemed to matter, but it does not mean it will not affect pinning quality in the future.
The three others, which are on the Pinterest API, I have used are:
All three are great resources, but are not as easy (once you get past the learning curve) or convenient to use as Boardbooster.
If a pin from your site is not doing well STOP REPINNING IT. Most likely it’s not going to improve. You can try changing up the image and title but if that doesn’t work just let it go (as the song says). Some posts bomb on Pinterest and there is nothing worse for a board owner to see but your same pin over an over getting no repins and dragging down their board. Make sure you have Google Analytics installed on your site and keep track of what pins are bringing you traffic from Pinterest and focus on repinning those.
That’s a lot of guidance.
Hopefully, it will get you started on Pinterest and not feel too overwhelming. When you get it down the system is easy and truly can bring a lot of traffic to your blog. Once those readers are there, wow them with your other great content, get them on your email list and eventually… sell them some books.
Jenetta is a once professional photographer turned blogger turned YA novel author. Check out her author blog at JenettaPenner.com and grab a free set of bookmarks. And if you like follow her in Pinterest.