I’m always looking for quieter ways to do business. Especially when it comes to marketing (I wrote about quieter ways of self-promotion before). I’m not naturally built for the noise and constant interaction of platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, but I do love spending time with more visual ways of interacting, namely Instagram and Pinterest.
I didn’t really consider Pinterest as a serious marketing tool until towards the latter part of last year. Up until then, it was just something I enjoyed doing, with the added benefit of demonstrating the kind of visual style I like and the kind of things I’m interested in. In September, I decided to see if there was a way to make Pinterest work more efficiently for me when it comes to marketing. The results were pretty astounding!
There are many ways to use Pinterest, and one size does not fit all. I’m going to run through 10 different tweaks I’ve found most efficient personally, and how they apply to different kind of business owners. I’m in a fairly unique position of being able to compare what works best for two different types of businesses, as I run both a photography business and an infopreneur business.
Before we jump into the 10 tips, let’s cover the basics. First, when you set up your account, make sure your display name makes sense. The great thing is that you can even add some keywords here for a better chance to be found in searches, this is especially useful if you want to use your real name as the main handle. For example, ‘Jane Jones | Graphic Design & Illustration' will make your account more discoverable in relevant searches than your name alone would.
Second, make sure that your bio clearly says what your business is about, and how you can help your clients. It's good to include a link to a free resource, or something that introduces your business further. Ours links to the free version of our Business Plan Refresh Course.
Ok, now that's out of the way, let's get to the 10 tweaks I've found most effective in making Pinterest work double-time for my businesses.
1 Curating taste
This is the most important thing you need to keep in mind if you are using Pinterest in any sort of marketing context. Your boards should look consistent, cohesive, and your style aesthetic should be easy to spot. Plus, you should choose cover images for your boards that flow well together in colour and style, so that your profile looks as good as it can.
Below is an example of my Pinterest boards for Her Lovely Heart. When you look at them overall, they have a similar aesthetic and feeling to this website, and anyone stumbling onto the account will know at first glance whether they share the same sense of style or not.
Below are the boards for my photography business Pinterest account. There’s definitely a similar feel to both accounts, they are both curated by me after all so my taste is my taste, but there are some variants. Her Lovely Heart has a lot more colour and fun, while MTP is a bit more subtle, light and romantic. I feel like I can indulge two different sides of me, one that’s a bit more gentle, serious and romantic, and another that is more childlike and fun. They’re both genuinely me, but with a somewhat different vibe.
If you are a blogger or an ‘infopreneur’, and pin a lot of advice posts, you might find it harder to curate a cohesive looking account. What you can do is create styled title images for each of your boards, upload those from your computer, and set as cover images. That way you can create a totally customised look for your account.
Works best for:
visual artists, photographers, anyone selling services where people are hiring you for your style or taste
In order to change the cover image of a board, click ‘Edit' on the board you want to change the cover for, under Cover click ‘Change’. Find a photo that works and center it within the frame, click ‘Done’).
2 Curating targeted content
By far the most powerful thing about Pinterest is the way you curate the content of your boards, not JUST the visual representations of that content. When we pin just for ourselves we tend to use Pinterest as a big visual search engine, and then pin stuff that is eye-catching, interesting and relevant to us. Once you start adding a business angle to your pinning, you can draw from this personal experience. In fact, never lose sight of how Pinterest feels to you when you are pinning for yourself, that way you can better put yourself in your target clients' shoes when you are thinking of what might be relevant content for them.
When you’re pinning with a marketing goal in mind, you don’t need to stop pinning for personal pleasure, but you should add a dimension that is purely for your potential customers. As the Her Lovely Heart boards are aimed at being useful to you, a creative entrepreneur, I try to pin plenty of relevant resources (both others' and my own) about business, branding, self-development, and living a creative life, as well as plenty of inspiration from different genres of art & design. I also want to have a sense of fun about things, so I have a board for DIY and for parties, and because I know creative folk are generally interested in things like interior design (I know I am!) and inspirational quotes, I cover those topics as well. With all the content I pin I try to make sure the visual representation works with the overall look, and that the actual content is in line with what HLH is about i.e. supporting you, the heart-led creative entrepreneur.
On the Marianne Taylor Photography boards, I have to think of a different type of client. As I do wedding photography, couple photography and family photography, I’ve tried to integrate interests for people who could be potential clients for those services. For example, as I want to reach people who might be interested in family photography, I have a board about Family photography & resources and also one with inspiration for children’s room decor. I don’t have children, so I wouldn’t pin these things personally for myself, but it’s actually a lot of fun curating fun interior stuff for people who do have kids. I feel comfortable pinning stuff not directly related to myself as long as it's something find genuinely inspiring and have a handle on, such as interior design. But I don't pin stuff that is not in any way my strength to curate, for example, fashion, or anything to do with hip & cool things happening in the teen market (just saying hip & cool makes me sound 100 years old). If I tried to go in a direction I don't know enough about, it would just come off as false and definitely not appeal to the intended audience.
I also have boards that cater for the main locations I shoot in, London and Cornwall. These are especially effective for reaching people who might be researching overseas locations for engagement sessions. On those boards, I pin a mixture of scenic shots, but also my own photography, in order to drive traffic back to my site.
Works best for:
anyone pinning in a business context
Sometimes, especially when pinning more informational content, you can come across an article which would make for a great addition to your board and be super valuable to your followers, only it doesn’t have a suitable image to pin. There’s no reason you can’t whip up a simple visual yourself, perhaps with just text and colour, or using an image from the article, and then uploading that with the url to the good piece of content. If you do this, make sure the image acknowledges the origins of the content. Here's an example of a Pinterest graphic I created to someone else's content. This also adds another layer of networking to your pinning, as thanks to your graphic you might be directing traffic to content that wouldn’t otherwise reach as many people on Pinterest.
3 Organising your boards
Organising your boards goes hand in hand with both visual and content curation. You want your boards to look consistent, and be arranged in an order where the most relevant/important ones are at the top. Always think of the first impression, and make sure that the top section of your Pinterest profile introduces boards that include your own content.
You should also think about the description of your boards, something that is often overlooked. The more descriptive your description, the quicker the viewer can decide if the content is for them. Plus, it makes it easier for Pinterest to find your pins in order to show them to others.
It goes without saying, but you should also always make sure you’re boards are set to the most suitable category.
Works best for:
especially crucial for infopreneurs
4 Creating a business account
If you are using Pinterest in any hopes of driving traffic to your business, you should have a business account instead of a personal account. A business account gives you access to some pretty kick-ass analytics and rich pins. It will also enable you to verify your account (see below), which is important if you're using Pinterest for marketing.
Already have a personal account? No worries, you can convert that to a business account, just visit this link.
5 Verifying your account
Verifying your account means it’s linked to your website, so you’ll be able to see better analytics about how much traffic Pinterest is directing your way. Plus, you’ll look more professional.
In order to verify your account, click on the little cog at the top right of the page and choose ‘Account settings’. In there you’ll find a section called ‘Website’, pop your url in and click confirm website. You’ll then receive instructions on how to either download a html file you can ftp to your site, or a meta tag you can add into your website code, so that Pinterest can verify it.
6 Using keyword-rich captions
If you’re not paying attention to your pin captions, you are seriously missing out on a trick. Making sure the things you pin have coherent, keyword-rich descriptions helps Pinterest to promote your pins when people are searching for those terms, or when it’s showing relevant content to something else someone has pinned. Gold dust!
Works best for:
especially crucial for infopreneurs
7 Making your own content Pinterest-ready
If there are any magic tricks for receiving crazy traffic from Pinterest, it’s this. Make sure that all your blog posts have Pinterest-ready content. By that, I mean having at least one vertical image (as these are by far the most popular on Pinterest, purely because they catch the eye) within your blog post, and making sure that image is tagged appropriately. You want to make sure the file name is descriptive, and that you’ve thought about what to write in the alt tag (look for the field for ‘alternative text' if you're inserting images via WordPress or other blogging client) of the image. When someone pins your image, the caption gets generated from the alt tag, so make sure it’s something that is descriptive and includes keywords relevant to your image or post. Plus, make sure to add a call to action at the end, such as ‘click through to read the article' or ‘click through to see the full wedding’, you’d be surprised at how big a difference it makes to getting people to click back to your site!
When the author has thought about Pinterest at the time of posting their content, it shows when you're browsing for things to pin. I love to do my pinning partly in a way that feels like a relaxing activity, maybe taking a bit of quiet time alone with my Surface Pro 4. When my feed is full of beautiful, well thought out images with clear descriptions, it makes the experiences so much more enjoyable (and productive!).
If your content is information-based rather than the image itself, it helps to create a ‘hero graphic’ that has relevant text that helps pinners easily see what the pin is about (much like the first image in this post).
Works best for:
everyone looking to generate traffic from Pinterest
Something that works especially well on Pinterest are infographics. They are time-consuming to create, but totally worth it. Just check the amount of Pinterest shares this infographic on getting started with a mailing list has!
8 Rich Pins
Rich pins make you look more legit. Fact. When anyone pins content from you, rich pins add extra details to the pin straight from your website, such as the blog title. You can see a rich pin from HLH below on the left, see how it looks more professional than the ‘regular’ pins next to it. Pinterest walks you through the setup of rich pins here.
Works best for:
9 Joining group boards
Group boards are a great way to get your content, and your Pinterest profile, to reach a wider audience. When you pin helpful content (not just your own!) to group boards, others will start noticing you as someone who provides value, and thus start following you. If the board has a lot of members, pinning your own content can be a great traffic boost for your own website as well.
You can search for relevant group boards via PinGroupie. Generally, once you click through to the board over on Pinterest, the description of the board will let you know how to go about joining.
Works best for:
infopreneurs, but also artists wanting to get their work in front of a larger audience
If you’re into photography, you can join a group board for Photography Resources I set up by leaving a link to your Pinterest account in the comments below. If I think you’d be a good fit, I’ll add you to the board.
10 Scheduling your pins
To be truly effective on Pinterest, you need to pin consistently. Often that’s quite hard to do, as there’s all this other stuff in life that gets in the way. I used to binge-pin before, spending a couple of hours in the middle of the night just pinning away. That was all fine when I was doing it for my personal inspiration, but chucking a metric ton of pins out there all in one go is not very efficient if you are wanting those pins to be seen by as many others as possible.
Here’s where scheduling services come to the rescue. I think ‘automation’ has a bad rep when it comes to Pinterest, and I think it’s just down to a misunderstanding. Scheduling your pins doesn’t mean some robot will choose and pin quantity over quality, you will after all still have to choose those pins yourself. What scheduling allows you to do, is to let an algorithm cleverer than you to decide on the best times for your pins, and then distribute them over the following days or weeks. That way you can still have your binge-pinning session once in a while, but it will contribute towards a more coherent strategy, more consistency, and ultimately more eyeballs on the stuff you pin.
Here’s my HLH Pinterest queue for the next week. As you can see, there’s nothing automated about the content or style of the pins, those were all curated by me. But what scheduling does is free me from having to pin every day, while making sure my boards and followers are getting a steady flow of pins, especially at crucial times such as lunch breaks, commuting hours or weekend evenings.
There are many scheduling services out there. I use Tailwind (mainly because I like the look of the interface), but you might also want to check out Viral Tag and Board Booster before deciding which is the right scheduler for you.
Works best for:
busy entrepreneurs who want to maximise the results of their pinning efforts
And there you have it, the 10 most effective Pinterest tweaks I have found for my two different businesses! Since getting more intentional with my pinning, the traffic my websites receive from Pinterest has far surpassed any other traffic source. Just remember to do what feels right for you and your business. There is no one absolutely right way, but if you put a little bit of thought into it, you can definitely find your own way!
If you have any Pinterest tips you'd like to add, please pop them in the comments below!