Discover how I reached new readers and grew my account, then try it on your profile and watch your traffic grow.
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If there’s one thing I’ve grown to love over the last few months it’s Pinterest.
The discovery tool (closer to a search engine than social media) has become one of my favourite places to spend time. Not only that but it’s becoming one of my biggest sources of traffic, bringing new readers to my blog every day.
The best thing about these new readers (hello if you’re one of them!) is that they’re looking for exactly the kind of thing you blog about so chances are they’ll stick around, read more of your content or become loyal readers. It’s definitely true for me as a reader – I’ll often browse a site after landing on a pin that’s interested me, reading posts or signing up to the blogger’s mailing list. Just think… people could be doing this on your site.
Lots of people are trying to make Pinterest work for them this year, so I thought I’d share the steps I took to bring traffic my way. Using these steps I grew my referral traffic from Pinterest by 366% in one month.
And they’re so simple. No smoke and mirrors, no time-intensive stuff – just good practice.
The steps I took to grow my Pinterest traffic by 366%
Step 1 – Make your profile shine
Your profile is your show home and first impressions count. If someone lands on your Pinterest profile you want them to do one of two things – follow you, or visit your website. Maybe even both. While you don’t need a huge number of followers to generate big traffic, gaining a few new fans never hurts.
Take a look at your profile now. How do you think it looks? Does it show who you are and what you do? If not, time to fix that. But before that, make sure your account is a business account – you’ll gain access to analytics and more.
Here’s a few pointers for a so-good-it-sells-itself profile:
This is big and bold and centre of attention on your profile, so use it to your advantage. ‘Rebecca’ might be your name but it doesn’t sell you. Instead use this space to tell visitors who you are or what you do. If you’re Sarah a top food blogger from Manchester why not try ‘Sarah at FoodieBlogName – Top Food Blogger + Foodie’. Using keywords is fab but make sure it flows well, or risk looking spammy.
Mine at the moment is ‘Nicola Says ~ Parenthood + Lifestyle Blog‘. That’s got my blog name and niche covered.
It goes without saying, but make sure your blog URL is linked on your profile. And make sure you confirm your website and you’re all set up with Rich Pins too. More on this below!
Your description needs to be short and sweet but tell your story at the same time. It’s tough with limited characters, but here’s a few things you could include:
- What you are/do – e.g. a blogger, online store owner, graphic designer
- What you offer visitors – e.g. fun family recipes, easy DIY crafts, home decor inspiration
- Who your content is for – e.g. busy parents, ambitious female entrepreneurs, new photographers
- A call to action – e.g. visit my blog for a new DIY every week, find my free course on my website
Add in a bit of your personality, too. Always, always be you and write in your style.
Your profile picture
Along with your name, your photo shows up not only on your profile but below any pins across the website so it’s important to choose the right one. Pick something that suits you and your brand perfectly, whatever that may be.
I’d always recommend using a photo of yourself over a logo – it’s so much easier to connect with a face. Pick a photo that’s you smiling or expressive and high enough quality not to be distorted. A non-busy background can help, experiment with white vs. a bright colour. Whatever you choose make sure it reflects your style. It’ll be how people recognise you across the site.
Using the same photo across all your social media and digital platforms helps people find and remember you, so take a few minutes to update your photos so they’re all the same.
Step 2 – Show your boards some love
After perfecting your profile it’s time to move on to something that’s equally important – your boards!
Your boards showcase your style, your content and the quality of both. There’s a few different views on how many boards you should have, or how many pins per board, but at least 20 boards with at least 50 pins per board is a good starting point. You don’t want too many (it’s overwhelming) or too few (you’re selling yourself short) but you can always create more as you spend more time on the platform.
However long you’ve been using Pinterest for, it’s always a good idea to have a little spring clean of your boards. Here’s the things I go through, board by board:
Your board titles are searchable, so make sure they feature a keyword or two. Calling your kitchen board ‘Light and Airy’ might make sense to you, but calling it ‘Light and Airy Kitchen’ makes it so much more find-able. They should all be a uniform style (so all sentence case, or caps, or lower case) and not too long as the last characters will get cut off in pin search results.
Create your own ‘brand style’ for your Pinterest board names, but I like to make sure mine are:
- In sentence case
- 2-5 words long
- Obvious to a first-time visitor, e.g. ‘Minimalism’
- Uniformly styled, e.g. a + in place of ‘and’ or ‘&’
When people view your boards on your profile they’ll see your latest two pins on each board PLUS your cover photo. That makes it a really key image to get right.
Some people like to create branded cover photos so that their boards have a uniform style. Personally I don’t like that as a normal user, so I don’t do it. Instead I let my style show through using cover photos with similar colours or themes, e.g. whites, greys and pinks.
Whatever your style try and pick an image that’s high quality and representative of the pins on the board.
Your description is the place to detail what the board features, who it’s for and why it’s so great. It’s highly searchable, so pack in those keywords and search terms – but do it very naturally. Pinterest users are people, not bots.
You don’t need to write an essay of SEO wizardry but a few sentences that describe your board, its contents and aesthetic will help users find it more easily.
Ordering your boards
It’s up to you what order you display your boards in, but I’ve found it helps to group similar themes together. If someone likes your ‘kids bedrooms’ board chances are they’ll like your ‘kids playroom’ board too, right?
As well as grouping by theme, I always make sure the board featuring my blog content (this one) is the first one. After all, I want to maximise the visibility of my own content.
Make use of the new showcase feature, too. Use it to show off your most popular boards, the ones that represent you best, or the ones which feature your blog content.
Step 3 – Create Pinterest-friendly graphics
This is a biggie. Pinterest is a visual discovery platform, so looks count. That doesn’t mean your graphics need to be fancy or bang on trend though. They just need to fit YOUR style and be recognisable.
I find creating (or using) a template really helps. Create a design that’s Pinterest-friendly and use it over and over, swapping out the background and text to suit the content.
Here’s my tips for a great template:
- Use your brand colours – three or so max, so it’s not overwhelming
- Feature a high quality photo or graphic
- Make use of white space, don’t over-clutter
- Use attention-grabbing text that’s easy to read
- Include your logo or web address near the bottom
Something that really helped me was to collect pin designs by others that I liked, on a secret board. Going through these, reflecting on why I liked them helped me narrow down my own design. Be inspired by others but develop a unique style. You can see my current and older pin template styles on my blog board.
I like to create my graphics in Adobe Photoshop, but a really easy to use (and free!) alternative is Canva.
Step 4 – Optimise your website for Pinterest
Let’s take a break from Pinterest.com here and head over to our own blogs. To make the most of Pinterest it helps to set your website up to support features like Rich Pins and install a ‘Pin It’ button.
Rich Pins is a business tool that enables you to include extra information with your pins. It’s especially good for retail, recipes and blogs – using an ‘article’ pin allows you to feature the author name and description prominently. There’s a guide to setting up Rich Pins on the Pinterest site which is well worth reading, or this easy to follow guide by Station Seven.
Pin It Button
To encourage readers to pin your content, install a ‘pin it’ button. This’ll display a graphic instructing readers to pin, usually when they hover over a photo on your blog. You can do this with some code or use a plugin. Again one of my favourite resources for this is Station Seven – it’s the guide I followed to get mine working.
Step 5 – Join group boards
Group boards are such an effective way of getting more eyes on your content. The more people that see your content, the more re-pins and clickthroughs you’ll get. It can be hard to find group boards to join, but I’d recommend this Facebook group for starters.
Once you’re in a group board be sure to follow the rules, pin your own content regularly and re-pin others’. Sharing is caring. You’ll see the most benefit if you check in regularly, but even once a week helps.
Step 6 – Be a quality curator
Pinterest’s all about the content. Users gravitate towards quality, so don’t be tempted to bulk out your boards with any and every pin you see. Become a curator, a collector of the best. By pinning useful, beautiful or on-theme content users will be more likely to follow your boards or visit your profile. The most popular pinners have a defined look to their boards, so it’s a safe route to follow.
Step 7 – Schedule your distribution
Once you’ve set up all the stuff above you’re probably thinking you’ll need to spend ALL DAY on Pinterest to make a dent in it, right?
The beauty is that you can use automation and scheduling tools like BoardBooster* to maintain a presence on Pinterest, even when you’re too busy to work on it that day or week. I currently use BoardBooster to re-pin from hidden boards onto my main boards several times a day, distributing content when my followers are online. It takes some time to set up initally but then you can pin as you go to your hidden boards, building up a library of content to be distributed throughout the week.
It’d take a really long time to get into the details here, so I’ll send you over to this useful post by Krista at Blog Beautifully on some of BoardBooster’s features. I might write a mini guide on how I find and distribute content at some point, but for now the above should set you on the right path.
You can sign up to BoardBooster using my referral link, which will get you a free trial with 1,000 pins included (instead of the standard 100 pin trial) so you can test it out before committing to a monthly plan.
Step 8 – Always be improving
Lastly, one of the most important things is to always be improving. Always be on the lookout for new ways you can leverage Pinterest to generate blog traffic. Look for ways you can improve your profile, make time regularly to source quality pins for your boards, and stay on top of developments at Pinterest to make sure you’re up to date.
A great way to do this is by joining my Facebook group that’s dedicated to bloggers who want to make the most of Pinterest. There’s opportunities to share your pins, find new users to follow, share and find guides and tips, and more. It’s a small community right now but that means we’re extra supportive. I’d love you to join us!
Phew. That was a SUPER long post. It’s taken me a long time to write it and find the best resources for you, and I hope it’s been useful. If you’d like to see me write more about Pinterest, social media or blogging please leave me a comment and tell me what you’re looking for help with. I’d also love your comments on how you’re finding Pinterest, your own tips and tricks, or what you’d like to learn more about. (P.s. make sure you’ve joined my Facebook group!)
If you’ve found this guide useful I’d be SO touched if you’d share it with a friend or someone you know that would benefit from it too.