As self-publishing authors, bloggers are in the position of having to constantly sell ourselves and our “wares.” It’s not enough to write and post, you have to promote it, too. Any blogger succeeding out there will tell you that it’s all about utilizing social media and putting your stuff out there in front of the faces that want to consume it.
You simply cannot build a brand without it in some genres, most especially if your blog is a YMYL content blog that gets largely ignored by traditional search engines. In fact, blogging requires much more promotion than actual blog writing. If you’re just starting out or considering jumping in, you need to consider if promoting more than writing is really for you. For me, it was a big adjustment.
If you’re already a blogger or writer and you’re not utilizing Pinterest, you may be missing out on a huge cache of new readers and followers dying to find the information you’re sharing. If you’re already on Pinterest, but haven’t formed a viable strategy yet, this post may help you change that.
Pinterest can help your blog grow exponentially, but you have to know how to attract readers. Pinterest is a different kind of beast and you need to take the time to use it for yourself to understand it’s full potential as a business tool. In the first year after establishing my brand on Pinterest, a whopping 35% of my traffic came from Pinterest and I more than doubled my overall traffic. My Pinterest traffic prior to establishing my brand was less than 1%. And I did it all for free.
I first wanted nothing to do with yet more “social media,” and ignored Pinterest for longer than I should have. After my first year of establishing my brand on Pinterest, I now get 45% of my traffic from Pinterest, which is only beat marginally by my Facebook traffic, which has been established since 2016. I’m sorry I ever had such an attitude. My health blog would have taken off much sooner, probably by years!
It’s no use crying over spilled milk, but it’s never too late to make amends by getting started and working to catch up. I still haven’t quite built the blog empire I’m after, but I’m on my way. If you’re established, like I was, it’s a bit of work “pinning old posts,” but it’s work that pays off. If your a new blogger, getting started now can save you a lot of back-peddling and redesigning of your processes.
How Pinterest Works
Pinterest isn’t just another social media site. It’s a search engine that capitalizes on relationships. Once you understand this, you’ll begin to see how it works and benefits bloggers and small business owners, most especially those with niche subjects and products.
When you sign up for Pinterest, you choose topics of interest you can follow. The site then crawls, looking for information that fits so it can offer you tailored options. As you select topics, pinning to the boards you create and following the boards and channels of others, it gets smarter about what it offers. Your Pinterest world expands more and more as you find people and boards to follow and people with your same interests begin to follow you. These things all drive what you’re shown.
As you pin to your own boards, people with like interests are receiving your pins as suggestions, too. They might notice this is the 3rd pin they’ve seen with your name on it. They click follow. Once they get to know you and what you like, they might even raid your boards, saving several pins at once. To build a strong Pinterest posse with a following and followers, it’s a good idea to follow those with similar interests. You can follow one or more of their boards, or you can like them and follow all their boards. There’s so much flexibility!
These relationships become symbiotic, or beneficial to both parties and if you’re a business, it’s not hard to cash in on these relationships, but remember, it’s a symbiotic system, meaning that everyone can benefit, but you have to know the rules so you can be a good team player.
The more people you connect with, the richer the pool. Think of the people you follow as a source of material; as a buddy searching with you and sending you premium links. You’re not just pinning things you find to your boards while out browsing, Pinterest is offering you new options you didn’t even realize existed, posts and articles about your most avid interests, products and services just right for you. And everything’s laid out in a visually pleasing, easy-to-follow system that you get to organize just the way you like, because you’re creating, arranging and pinning all of the information to your boards, exactly where you want it.
Building Your Pinterest Presence
As much as I want to talk about pin creation here, I’m not going to cover it in this post. It deserves a post of its own; probably several. However, I will note a few things that will make your channel more professional and successful and creating a good pin is definitely part of that.
- When creating your page, use your business name and logo. You want it to be clear who owns your page and what you offer. Transparency is both appreciated and accepted on Pinterest. People are looking for what you offer. Fill in your about information, capitalizing on key words and phrases for your genre.
- Capitalize on the business tools and analytics they offer by signing up for a business account. It’s free.
- Create boards specific to your genre, always selecting an apt title, topic and providing a thorough description that includes all the keywords important to your subject matter. This will help people find you, your boards and ultimately get them to your site.
- Add your own pins and those of others on your boards. This seems unnecessary, but as I explain below, you’re building a network of pinners on which to rely and who will come to rely on you. By focusing on these social aspects, you will succeed.
- You can always build a brand board that contains your pins alone. I have one on my page, along with subject specific boards where I pin my own and others’ pins.
- Create pins for each of your posts using good quality images (with open/free licenses or that are self-created and owned) and clear, easy-to-read text. Also include a logo or URL. These images should be 400×600 pixels, which is the standard size for pins.
- Create a few additional boards that aren’t necessarily specific to your business which include your hobbies and other interests. Not only can this increase your followers, it allows for mixing a bit of pleasure into a business task. But be careful that you don’t create boards that might be offensive to some. For example, pinning scantily clad (or unclad) women may be a lot of fun for you, but it’s not unlikely you’ll offend most of the women who visit your page and suddenly you’ve lost the interest of roughly half the population. On the flip side, if you’re running a porn or bikini contest site, then this is exactly the type of material you want to provide (excuse me while I go wash my mind out for even creating that scenerio… my feminist side is so offended.) This includes politics and religion, so if you want to adorn your page with little crosses and prayer hands when your business has naught to do with Christianity, it’s important to understand who you’re excluding as well as what it is you think you’re saying about yourself.
How Bloggers and Other Small Businesses Work Together on Pinterest
On Pinterest, bloggers help each other by forming these relationships and pinning each other’s pins. In order to meet and mingle with ease, Pinterest created group boards. Unlike personal boards where you’re the only pinner, group boards can have multiple members, from just a few to hundreds, though size matters quite a lot to how a board functions.
Each group board has its own rules and those rules must be followed by everyone who joins or the system breaks down pretty fast. But first, there are some basic universal rules that you should understand first.
Guidelines for Group Boards:
- Don’t ever spam group boards. Spamming on Pinterest is defined as dropping multiple copies of the same pin in a short span on one board. This is a fairly hard and fast rule. No one likes a spammer and it makes you look bad, even if it were allowed.
- Don’t ever delete or interfere with another pinner’s pins unless the board is yours and the pinner has violated the terms of the board.
- Don’t ever create a section in a group board unless specifically requested by the owner. I don’t know why people with group boards use sections; it’s limiting, it’s annoying and Tailwinds doesn’t recognize sections so you can’t schedule to them. IMO, it’s best to leave the sections to personal boards.
- If there’s no minimum for pins, use good judgement. You don’t want to drop 15 pins to a board every day when everyone else is only dropping 1-2 and you’ll really start to annoy people, making it less likely that they’ll repin your work.
- Follow every rule to the letter. If you can’t, don’t join that board. It’s that simple. If they want you to pin someone else’s pin for each one you drop (1:1 boards is how I refer to them), do it! It doesn’t have to be every day, it doesn’t have to be the second you drop a pin, but it does need to be honored and it’s a great way to know your own pins are going to get reshared to large audiences. I usually go in every few days and pick up a few pins from each group that has this as part of their rules.
- Check group boards from time to time to make sure the rules haven’t changed.
The first and last of these rules is probably most important, as breaking these rules could quickly trigger your expulsion from the group you did it in. Do it in multiple groups (especially those specific to your genre) and you will soon be pinning alone. This is why the social aspect is so important.
I join more 1:1 boards than others, even though it’s a little more work. This is because boards without 1:1 rules are good for increasing the number of times something is pinned, but they don’t spread nearly as well as those with the 1:1 rule, where everyone is actively sharing everyone else’s content. Pinterest is very much like life, you get out of it what you put into ensuring its success.
To be successful at pinning, you have to create buzz around your pin. This means not only creating a good pin with a nice graphic and captivating text. You need to pin it several times in a row to help it spread and where you pin it matters. This is where belonging to multiple group boards comes in. I was slow to catch on to this myself at first, but once I got the hang of it, things really began to take off.
The more boards you belong to, the more opportunities you have for spread. Even if that pin only gets pinned to one board one time, that’s okay, because you belong to 15 more boards. This helps your own boards to keep from looking spammy, too.
Boards to Join
Below is a list of some of my favorite group boards. While most are related to chronic illness and mental health, I’ve included a few that welcome any kind of blogs and a few for more creative endeavors. Each has their own rules and not all are 1 for 1 boards. Click on each to read the rules and find out how to join. The first two I offer are my own. I have no control or affiliation over the others. They are simply boards I belong to and seem to work well, but admission to these groups are at the sole discretion of their owners.
- Spoonies Group Board (chronic illness-Mine)
- Poetry and Short Stories Group Board (creative writing-Mine)
- You Didn’t Pin That (all genres)
- All Things Nursing & Patients Provide the Best Education (chronic illness)
- Bloggers Post Here (all blogs)
- Blogging Well Group Board (all blogs)
- Chronic Illness Blogs/Communities (chronic illness)
- Chronic Illness Board (chronic illness)
- Chronic Illness Group Board (chronic illness)
- Chronic Illness Hangout (chronic illness)
- Chronic Pinning (chronic illness bloggers network members only)
- Community Board (all blogs)
- Creativity Group Board: Art, Music, Writing (arts genres)
- Creator’s Clan Group Board (all blogs)
- ME/CFS, POTS, Fibromyalgia, Lyme, MCAS, Hypermobility, EDS, Craniocervical Instability, Interstitial Cystitis (Comorbid Conditions) (chronic illness)
- Pinning Bloggers (all blogs)
- The Chronically Strong Warriors (chronic illness)
- The CoUnity (all blogs/influencers)
- United Bloggers Group (all blogs)
As you can see, there’s a wealth of genre-specific blogs, so if you blog in different areas than I do, simply search for group boards with your most used keywords or genre and you’ll likely find many. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot for us creative writing folks and there’s not a large interest in literary blogs on Pinterest, yet. Of course if a few bloggers join, others are likely to follow and I’ve created a group board to help get us started. It’s number 2 on the above list, the Poetry and Short Stories Group Board and then there are many non-genre-specific boards and collective arts boards you can also join.
What are some of your biggest challenges with Pinterest? What have you had particular success with? In this post, I’ve covered the basics of what you need to know to get started on Pinterest, from creating your brand page or channel, to group boards and why it’s important to pin more than your own pins. These are all integral steps that need to be taken before developing a pin strategy for your blog or organization. In some of my upcoming blogging related posts, we’ll talk about some of the specific differences for starting Pinterest for a brand new blog versus an established blog. I also want to cover more about the anatomy of a pin, some effective pinning strategies, and some great tools that can help.