Before you read this please know that I am not a Pinterest or online marketing expert! I have, however, leveraged Pinterest to drive traffic to my website and gained loyal followers and wonderful clients in the process. Here I will show you how I have set up my profile and pinning strategy, but it’s by no means the only way to go about this. Think of it more as a case study with advice on how you might be able to use what I’ve learnt yourself. Enjoy!
Back in February of 2018 I felt like I’d finally begun to get a bit of traction with my business. I'd passed the one year mark and felt like people were starting to take notice, I’d been using Instagram consistently to share my work and interact with potential clients, I’d gained a few lovely clients through the platform and I felt like I’d mastered my formula to a degree. Although it still took time to create graphics and take photos to share, I was confident that what I was doing was working so it became a little bit less like hard-work.
Why am I telling you this? I’m telling you because once I felt like I’d mastered my formula for instagram, I then moved my attention and creative energy onto another platform - Pinterest.
I had been using Pinterest for my business already of course, but I hadn’t really put a huge amount of thought into how I could leverage it and start to drive traffic to my website and to the work that I wanted people to see. I’m all about working smarter instead of harder, and I knew that focussing on one thing at once would help me to master it well enough for it to then become easier.
I had heard about the amazing results other people had had using Pinterest, and I decided to do tonnes of research and try some different things to see what worked for me. I became a little obsessed I’ll admit, but that’s the way I like to learn, to totally immerse myself in a subject so that I can understand it as fully as possible. My nerd tendencies are super helpful for you though, as you’ll find out!
With that said, let’s dive into the good stuff…
Thinking differently about Pinterest
What do you yourself use Pinterest for? Let’s think about the personal aspect first, do you go there to catch up with what friends and family are doing? Do you use it to be social? The chances are you don’t, so why do we lump Pinterest into the ‘social media’ category?
Pinterest can be such a valuable tool for your business, but it’s not a social media platform. It’s a whole different, unique, wonderful, amazing thing all of it’s own. We could call it a visual search engine, and it is partly that, but it’s also so much more.
Think of it as a window into your brand; it’s a tool you can use to show off exactly what your brand is all about, what you value, and the amazing work you do. It’s also a powerful way to direct people to the exact places you want them to go, whether that’s your ‘services’ page, your newsletter sign-up page, your online shop, or all of the above.
Used correctly, Pinterest can drive tonnes of traffic to your website, and you can absolutely gain clients through this platform. The amazing thing about Pinterest is that, as I understand it, your number of followers is much less important than on social media platforms, and that supports the fact that it’s not really a social media platform at all.
You can see a screenshot of my ‘reach’ on Pinterest below, note that February is when I started really diving into Pinterest and by May my ‘reach’ and monthly viewers had grown to 466k.
That means that my pins were appearing in the feed and/or search results of 466 thousand people a month. It was mind-blowing when I had very few followers at the time. My current follower count is 730 which isn't a huge amount, and it's one reason that Pinterest is such an amazing tool, you don't need followers in order for people to see your content.
Of course, that reach doesn't directly translate to website views, but around April is when I started to hear from clients finding me through Pinterest, and it helped me to book out much of the rest of 2018 with design projects. Below is a snippet from my Google Analytics on my website, you can see that April is where it really starts to trend upwards here, and on average, users on my website went up by over 300%!
As you can see from my Pinterest analytics image, my reach has tailed off a little now and I’ll explain why afterwards, but for now, let’s dive into all those things I did to get to this point. There’s quite a few steps involved but I’ll guide you through as best I can!
Where to begin - let’s start with the setup of your profile.
Create your Pinterest business account if you don’t already have one. If you’ve been using a personal account, change it over to a business one, you’ll need those analytics metrics, you’re basically flying blind without them! You need to be able to measure the effectiveness of what you’re doing, and simply can’t do that without analytics.
Profile image - Make your Pinterest profile looks as personable as possible, let’s make sure people can see the person behind the brand. There are a lot of generic and spam accounts on Pinterest, make sure your profile stands out as being high quality, and an actual real life person. If you can, use a picture of your as your profile image, failing that use your logo, either way it needs to be a high quality image
Business name - This is self explanatory and whether you use your own name or a business name make sure it’s the same as you use elsewhere. There used to be lots more characters to play with here, but now you only have 30. I couldn't fit in my ‘thoughtful brand styling’ tagline so I went with just ‘brand styling’. Bonus points if you manage to fit any keywords in here. Note that if you already have a business Pinterest account and used more than 30 characters in your business name slot you won't be able to save any updates to your profile until you lower the number of characters in your business name, so do think before updating things in that case.
Username - let’s just make it easy for people who know you to find you on here, use a similar username to any social media accounts you have.
About you - If you didn’t include your name in the business name slot, use it here first, so people know who you are. Use keywords in here that your audience will be searching for but try and also include a full sentence so you’re not just stuffing it with single words. Use a similar bio to what you would use on your instagram account. It’s good to include a call to action here, the link won’t be clickable, but you can make it short and snappy (so it’s easy to copy and paste) and trackable using bitly or google url shortener.
The not-so-basic but important basics
Claiming your website - Under your profile settings click on ‘claim’ in the left menu. You’ll need to claim your website and any other accounts you want be connected. This means that when anyone pins an image or article directly from your website or linked accounts those pins will be attributed to you and show up in the ‘Activity’ tab on your profile. Pinterest loves it when pins are coming directly from your website rather than everything being a repin of something you originally uploaded yourself. Get help on this here as it involves adding a meta tag to your website.
Rich Pins - Rich pins are supposed to add more content to your pins and increase engagement, click throughs, and repins. It took me a while to master this, I gave up more than once. Full disclosure, I built me website on Wix, and it was not the easiest thing to do on that platform, I know it is much easier on others. I’m still not 100% sure I got it right because my rich pins don’t look the same as other rich pins, however they do all have a little ‘R’ by them in my analytics. I won't comment on how to do this too much but I do think it’s important. There are plenty of articles out there to help you including this from Pinterest itself.
When I started overhauling my Pinterest account I got clear on my brand and my aesthetic, and I would urge you to do the same. You need to think of your account from your audiences point of view rather than your own. You don’t necessarily need to only share and pin imagery that has the correct colour palette, but it is important to try and limit the ‘feel’ of your pins and make sure they are all high quality and well designed. Your Pinterest account will need to be curated, much the same as you would curate your instagram account. Once you're pinning regularly you'll begin to get a feel for what pins suit your brand and which pins don't.
Think about what themes and subjects it makes sense for your business to be pinning, and think about what elements of ‘you’ it makes sense to pin. What are your values and how do you want to make your audience/clients feel?
Brainstorm board subject ideas, here are some examples of my own boards below:
1. Botanical and floral themed branding
2. Whimsical branding
3. Timeless logo and branding design
4. Typography Inspiration
5. Colour palette and mood
6. Product packaging
7. Building your brand
8. Business advice for girl bosses
9. Social media tips
10. Magical places
11. Garden layout and design
13. Food & Drink
Note that 1-7 are directly related to my business and what I do. The next few boards are helpful to my audience but not related to my services as such, and the final few boards on the list are there to provide more context about me, what I value, and the things I love.
I believe those last few boards are important whether you’re a product based or service based business. People are buying directly from you, or working directly with you, they want to know who you are and connect with you on a personal level. You're showing people the things that you love and what you value so they can connect with you on a personal level.
Make sure the boards that are directly related to your service have titles that will show up in search results, and add a description to each board containing keywords.
What to pin?
In terms of what to pin, think about what your aim for your Pinterest account is, or a few different objectives over and above brand recognition.
You’ll need to be pinning some of your own content as well as other peoples pins. Let’s think about your own pins first.
Do you want to book more clients? Do you want to drive people to your online shop and make more sales? Do you simply want to bounce people over to your instagram account to help build your following on there? Do you want people to sign up to your mailing list? Do you want to be a source of inspiration for others?
Once you know what places you want to send people, you will have more of an idea of what you should be pinning, or what content you need to create to start seeing results. Reverse engineer it rather than pinning blindly and seeing what happens.
You might need to start a blog if you don’t already have one and create graphics that have the title of the blog post on them that you can then pin to your boards. People are much more likely to click through when they can see they’ll gain something, for example by reading an article. Either use an image, or a coloured background with the title of your blog post over the top. I'll write a separate post about creating your own beautiful graphics, but you can use Canva.com to create them online, or try using Keynote or Powerpoint on your computer. The optimal size for pins is 600x900 px or pts.
I think any type of business can have a blog, and you don’t necessarily need to be an expert in a subject.
If you're a jewellery designer and your aim is to drive traffic to your online shop, you could blog about your process of designing and making a particular piece and then provide a link to purchase the item at the end of the blog post. You can pin various images from that blog post along with a graphic that has the title of the blog post over the top of an image. You could also create gift guides at relevant times of the year, or write quick blogs about people who've bought your products, how they styled their outfit with your jewellery.
If you're a wedding photographer who wants to gain more clients, you could write content that people would be interested in in the run up to their wedding, like '5 gorgeous photo backdrops for your wedding reception', or ' How to pose naturally in your wedding photos'.
Hopefully you get the idea - you need to be a little bit creative!
Understanding repins vs. click-throughs.
It's important to understand that eyes on pins and repins are not the same as click though's and eyes on your website. Be sure to go back and analyse your pins and check if people are just repinning them rather than repinning and clicking through. It's not much use if people are seeing your pins and saving them but not clicking through to your content or your work.
My biggest objective is to gain branding clients through Pinterest, but I made the mistake at first of pinning lots of other peoples images, and also pinning images of my work that just led through to my homepage.
Pinning other peoples content is important, it fills up your Pinterest account with beautiful and relevant stuff, but it doesn't get any one to your website. Similarly, pinning images of your work that just lead through to your homepage is great, but it's even more valuable if it leads your audience onto somewhere that they can find out more information about a product or service, learn more about you, or where they get something like a freebie download. Always think about what you can offer your audience.
Once I began writing blog posts about the branding I'd created, and pinning images from those blog posts to Pinterest I saw an increase in enquiries. My audience learnt a little bit more about my process when they clicked through and were able to see more images from that branding project. I've also been writing blog posts like this about social media, business, and branding that are super helpful to my audience and get them hanging out on my website for longer. The hope is that once they've read my blog, they'll want to learn a bit more about me and what I do. I can include links for them at the end of the posts so it's even easier for them to find out more about my work.
Think about the journey your audience might take once they've finished reading your blog post. How can you make it easy for them to read more about your work, how can you keep them interested, or direct them to something else they might like. The longer people are on your website, the more they get to know you, and the more you will stick in their mind.
Let's get pinning
Pinterest will love you if…
you are an active user and pin often, throughout the day and week
you have boards that are pinned to often, not left dormant with no new pins for weeks on end
you pin quality content over quantity
you pin new content from your website often
other people are pinning content from your website
you are using relevant keywords and sentences in your pin descriptions
To simplify it even more... Consistency and quality is key.
THINK about every single pin you save. Is it beautiful? Do I love it? does it tell my audience more about me and my values? Does it lead to my website? Does it lead through to quality content? Will my audience be interested? If you don't answer yes to at least one of these questions, then you probably don't need to pin it.
I know if might feel like overkill to care that much about every single pin, but if you're trying to build a profitable business, these are the types of things you need to care about. Please, care deeply about what you're showing to your audience, no matter how small you believe that audience is. When you care deeply and share authentically and consistently people can tell and they will take notice. Your audience will grow.
The easiest way to stay consistent with your pinning is to use a scheduling tool like Tailwind. I don't currently pay for Tailwind (which I suspect is partly why my reach has gone down), but it did help me to pass the 400k monthly views mark. I believe that a combination of consistently pinning throughout the week, finding clarity around my boards and what I was pinning, and having good quality design work and content helped me to get to where I am. Pinning consistently was the most difficult part of that so I loved using Tailwind as a helping hand.
It created a schedule for me with the best times of the day to pin, and I was able to add pins to this schedule to be automatically shared at the right times. I would load up my queue once or twice a week and not need to worry about pinning for the rest of the week.
Another thing you can do to keep your pinning frequency up is to set your instagram or visual facebook posts to be pinned automatically to your Pinterest account using Zapier. This is useful if you tend to post every day on Instagram, create a board dedicated to your instagram posts and set Zapier to pin them automatically. Magic!
If you want to have a play around with Tailwind (spoiler alert: you should!) you can use my link below to get a $15 credit/a free month.
*I don't currently pay for Tailwind scheduling but I will get credit on my account if you sign up via my link.
One feature of Tailwind that I cannot recommend enough is Tribes. They're groups of like-minded people that are all interested in the same types of content and pins. For example, all the tribes I am a member of have an entrepreneurial, or design focus, but there are Tribes for every niche you can think of. Tailwind makes it easy for you to find tribes to join, and you can be a member of up to 5 with a free account, meaning you don't have to pay to take advantage of this amazing tool.
You can add a certain number of your pins to your tribes each month and the other tribe members will go and schedule your pins to their queues to share via their own Pinterest accounts. You usually need to share someone else's pin for every pin you add which keeps things fair and makes sure everyone is helping each other out.
Tribes makes it easy to find and schedule quality content that is highly relevant to your audience, the other tribe members will have a similar audience focus and collectively you can help each other reach much larger audiences. Below are the results from just one of my tribes, this tribe has helped me reach 34k people with only 7 of my pins.
The really helpful thing about re-shares received through Tribes is that they're classed as new pins rather then re-pins. I guess that's why the statistic is named 're-shares received' rather than 're-pins received', because they're technically new pins. This is great news for your domain authority, Pinterest will love the fact that new pins are being added that are linked to your domain. All pins re-shared through Tribes will show up under the 'Activity' tab on your profile - re-pins do not show here, so shares through Tribes are even more valuable than normal re-pins.
Things to remember about Tribes...
Only share your own content and pins to your Tribes
Submit your best quality pins
For every pin you submit, share one from another tribe member
A little tip for when your free trial runs out on Tailwind, when using tribes you need to be sharing pins as well as adding your own pins. How do you do that when you're not paying for scheduling? You can still add pins to your queue, they just won't automatically be published. Go to your 'Publisher' and 'scheduled pins' and just click 'pin now' next to each pin you've added to your queue! That way you can still be using tribes while you're not paying for Tailwind. Sneaky, kinda. Savvy, definitely ;)
So there was my pretty comprehensive post about the way I've used Pinterest, well done if you made it to the end! I truly believe that everyone can use Pinterest to their advantage, and I hope I've given you some things to think about and an idea of how you can get started here.
My reach went down over the summer because I went away on holiday a few times and actually decided to cancel my Tailwind subscription while I was away. I had client bookings for the rest of the year and didn't want to be paying for things I wouldn't be able to use while I was away. I've been able to keep my reach at around the 300k mark with pinning regularly myself and using the free account for Tribes, and still have enquiries coming through Pinterest. I think it's all about trying these different things, seeing what works for you, and not being afraid to try something a bit different.
As long as you're understanding why you're doing what you're doing and keep referring back to your analytics to see what works and doesn't work you're sure to be be able to make Pinterest work for you.
I'd love to hear how you get on with using all the tips I've provided, send me a message to let me know how it's going! firstname.lastname@example.org
And last thing... follow me on Pinterest here! :)