Hi guys! For us artists the whole world of marketing can seem absolutely terrifying and exhausting just to think about it, we simply want to make art all day and not worry about a thing. But on the other hand, we want to have an audience to share our art and build a community of followers, that’s where Pinterest comes in to save the day, because Pinterest is not just an inspiring collection of beautiful pictures, it’s a huge and mainly free marketing platform. I haven’t used ads on Pinterest because it already has a powerful set of tools that, if used right, can bring the exposure you want. This summer I significantly improved my Pinterest marketing strategies and that paid off in just a few month. I started getting questions regarding my strategy and here is my story and the steps I took to start bringing more traffic. It might seem overwhelming at first, but you can take it one step at a time, introduce one new thing each week, and before you know it will become a habit. My blog is about making things easy, but I don’t want to just list the generic steps that you can find on any blog these days, I will put them in the context explaining why each of them matters and how it works, because the best way of learning is understanding 😉
Why I think that Pinterest is an easier way to promote yourself or your business than Instagram?
First of all, you can’t really compare the two, because Pinterest is a search engine while Instagram is a social network. I will get back to these two concept in a minute. You’ve probably heard how Instagram has recently changed it’s algorithm that now prioritizes accounts that have more engagement, higher number of followers, more consistent content, and it now decides what and who you see, cutting other, less popular, accounts out of your feed. If you are just starting out, whether you are an artist or a small business, this means that you have to work twice as hard to gain followers on Instagram and get a chance to get noticed and show up in someone’s feed. Pinterest doesn’t judge based on your performance, Pinterest prioritizes content. That is where the search engine concept comes in handy for four main reasons. First, because no matter who you are, a blogger who’s all about sharing posts, or a one-person business owner with little to no time available for marketing, Pinterest will pick your post for some’s feed if that fits the interests and the description of what that person is looking for. Second, because People go on Pinterest willing to find information, inspiration, products, ideas, businesses, portfolios, etc. In other words, people go on Pinterest with an intention to find something, rather than simply kill some time scrolling through pictures like what we do on Instagram. Therefore you are more likely to find engagement on Pinterest. Third, Pinterest does all the marketing for you. When you open a profile you already have a full list of fresh content picked for you, so does your customer. Once you pin something to your board, you don’t have to share it anymore, Pinterest will find it and send it to others with the similar interests bringing people to your page. And last but not least, most exiting part in my opinion, is that there is a slight similarity with a social network in a way that people do most of the marketing for you by repinning and saving your pins, so you have to keep the ‘human factor’ in mind, by learning more about your potential audience and appealing to their interests.
Now, lets put the information we just learned into some action steps.
Step one: Understanding the Search Engine factor
Even though Pinterest is a search engine that is all about pictures, it organizes pins by the information that comes with them: pin’s description and the board it belongs to.
Let’s start with setting up and optimizing your profile, boards and pins.
PROFILE. First of all, if you already have a Pinterest profile, you don’t need to create a new one for your business and start from scratch, use the existing audience and traffic, chances are, your business fits your personal interests and therefore your existing audience’s interests. Simply convert your personal profile into a business profile, add your website information(if you have one), put your business name, write a paragraph about yourself and your business. If you wish to keep some boards private to maintain professional social presence, just click on a pencil icon next to the board name and switch ‘Secret’ to On.
Business profile gives you access to the Analytics tool that’s gonna show you the performance of your profile, what your audience pins most, what boards they pin to, where they’re from, what else they are interested in, etc. You will have to visit these statistics regularly and really pay attention to your performance. The one inconvenient part about it is that it is much easier to view and set up analytics from the desktop version.
Here’s the chart from my Pinterest account for the three months when I was getting more active and more strategic:
May, when I started with 5000 monthly views
June, the growth was consistent, but not big enough because I was still figuring out my routine
July, that’s when I had all of my steps implemented and started practicing them on a daily basis, I quickly went from 40k to 120k…
Analytics tool also give you an access to the performance statistics of each pin. But if you pinned it to a few different boards from the original, the stats will only be shown on the original pin.
Mainly, you want to see consistency in your audience to make sure you are reaching the right people because you want to potentially convert them into customers. Here I can see that I reach people interested in photography ( I sell Lightroom presets, so these are my potential customers), I have people interested in design ( I advertise my home decor items and graphic design services as well as graphic illustration that can be purchased and used in graphic design), I have people interested in education ( I promote my blog and art tutorials, so they are my potential viewers and sharers) and so on. If you see that majority of your audience is interested in completely different things, you will have to revisit your pins and make sure you have the right descriptions and the right boards so the Pinterest can better understand your product and your business to reach the right people. But I will get to these details later.
BOARDS. Boards are the categories. Each board should contain only the specific pins that belong to that category. That is one of the ways that helps Pinterest better characterize a certain pin and help it show up in someones feed. Boards have names, descriptions, categories and subcategories, but subcategories can be created once the board is created.
By clicking on a pencil icon next to the board name on your page, you can edit any of these parameters. Even though I said that boards have to be specific, keep their names pretty generic so that Pinterest can easily identify what sort of content belongs to that board. In the description write down what would you type into the search to find this board. Again, keep description clear and specific, but not too narrow. And last but not least, pick a category that is provided by Pinterest, it helps it better understand what should belong to that board. You want to have as many boards as the topics you want to pin, don’t pin everything into one board.
PINS. Pins are your main bits of information and the main form of communication with the potential follower and a customer. Besides having a good quality image to attract a customer, you much have a correct description for your pin to help it get discovered. Pinterest doesn’t use hashtags the way Instagram does. If you see hashtags, it’s probably because that post was shared from Instagram (I know I’m guilty of quick copy-and-paste sharing to save time). You have to approach the description as a collection of the key words that you would type in to find your pin. Think of all the qualities that describe your pin, shape, color, purpose. etc. There are a few ways to create a pin:
- Manually. You go to your Pinterest page and click on a plus icon to create a pin. You pick your own image, add a website URL of the destination that you want your viewer to go and add a description to help Pinterest identify the content. Then you pick the board you want this pin to go to. Done.
- By connecting to your website. You simply choose Save From Site option once you click on Create Pin icon. Enter the URL of your website, post or your product listing on a selling website like Amazon or Etsy. Choose an image from given options (Pinterest will list all of the images it can find on that page), add description for that image and pick a board. Done.
- Pinning directly from your website. For this option you will need to instal a Pinterest plug-in for your browser. Just google the Pinterest button for the browser that you use, for example for Chrome you can find it here. Now you can click on it when you are browsing your website and pick an image to pin, or right click on any image you like and it will give you a Save option.
- Sharing a listing from the selling website. Websites like Etsy provide a few sharing options like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Sharing your listing that way creates a Rich Pin, a pin with more information about your product or post, like price of your listing, location, app, article, ingredients to your recipe if you have a food blog, etc. But mainly, rich pins can show a customer that your product is real and is currently for sale.
Now that we got the basics out of the way, let’s bring in some viewers.
Step two: Understanding the Laws of Attraction on Pinterest
First of all, marketing your brand on Pinterest involves much more than just pinning your products to your boards. If you want to have exposure and expand your audience, you will have to pin a lot! Your products alone will not bring the needed amount of people right away. People go to Amazon when they know what they want to buy, they go to Pinterest when they need ideas and inspiration. And here’s another reason why I prefer Pinterest over Instagram, you can create the right context by filling your account with the boards and pins from other accounts that complement your business and help you attract more viewers by creating a strong profile filled with exciting content. I know I will click on a profile of someone who’s pin I really like and will follow that profile to keep those pictures popping un in my feed.
Let’s take my account for example. I am a photographer, blogger, illustrator, oil painter, art teacher. I have my boards where I post my paintings for sale, or blog posts I want to share. But I also have a ton of complimentary boards, like sketchbook inspiration, teaching tips, photography inspiration, that attract customers attention and bring them to my page. The more pins you have, the more people you can reach with them. It may sound like a lot of work, but, if you look at it, people and Pinterest have already done the job for you. Some one has already posted, Pinterest has already picked it for your feed, you open Pinterest a few times a day anyway, so just pin a few thing every time you open the app. It became a habit for me, if I like it, I pin it. You don’t even have to search for pins if you don’t have time, you feed is most like already optimized for your main interests, and Pinterest constantly updates your feed preferences based on what you pin most frequently. But you will have to listen to the interests of your followers too. Analyze what’s being saved from your profile, what else your followers are interested in. You can see all this data in your Analytics.
Keep your fingers on the pulse! Follow a lot of successful profiles that either have a similar business or similar interests. Basically find your most successful competitors and follow them. You can repin the pins they use and follow the profiles they follow. Don’t repin their products, only inspiring images that can do you the same favor by bringing you more viewers. Learn what style is trending, what graphics people like, what designs. You don’t have to copy them, you want to have original content that represents the image of your business, but it’s important to know your market and be one step ahead.
Discover new things! Just as much as you need to have popular pins that circulate around and attract lots of attention, you also want to be one of the first ones to discover something new. Pin from the interesting blogs that you read or the websites by using your Pin button. You want to be the original source of that pin even if you are not the one who posted that blog content in the first place, because all of the views will count back to your Pinterest profile. In addition, people will be coming back to your page to see what else you have found that can be interesting, and the more time they spend on your page, the more they are likely to notice your original content and the products you are promoting.
Don’t pin everything you see, be critical. I talked about pinning a lot, but you have to be choosy about your pins. In some cases the description is missing, or is completely irrelevant to the picture and when you click on it it takes you to a whole different thing. For example, I started noticing that a lot of interior design pins have a description of a custom calendar print-out that takes you to an Etsy listing. What? That’s just a really bad strategy for someone to choose, but even for your followers it will be annoying, so commit to pinning only verified pins.
Image Quality. As I mentioned before, people go on Pinterest willing to find products and ideas, but mainly inspiration. You want to inspire and excite your viewer by what he/she sees on your profile, an inspired viewer is more likely to become an engaged customer. Let’s be honest, you are not going to pin a dark or blurry low resolution image, and so is your follower. In our times, perceived value is much higher than the actual value. If you are selling a product or showcasing your portfolio, you already know that a good picture is more likely to attract attention, but the same applies to the other pictures you pin to your boards. All of the content that you have on your page, your’s or someone else’s, has to meet the highest standards and showcase your profile in best light possible. So be meticulous about your content.
Graphics. Pinterest has started it’s own culture of informative graphic pins containing the main facts about a certain product or a concept or a catchy title. These graphics are more likely to be saved because they catch attention and conveniently deliver the main information about your pin. These graphics also have to look consistent and professional. Lucky for us, there a free apps that already have premade layouts and even free images you can use. Here are just a few free examples:
- Canva available both as an app and a full website version. It organizes all of its layouts and designs by their purpose. Posters, Instagram posts, Pinterest graphics, business cards, etc., and you can always upload your own images and start your design from scratch. There is a paid version that gives you access to more designs, but a free one is more than enough for a small business, new designs are being added non stop.
- Over is available only as an app, and it also has a huge variety of premade designs, sizes and graphic elements. What I like about it is that even after picking a design, you can still change the size and the orientation, which helps you to create the same graphics for different platforms (Pinterest graphics are much more taller than what Instagram can fit, so I can create one design and simply resize it)
- Unsplash is a new but quickly growing image stock community. There you can find unlimited amount of free images for any topic you can imagine, all are in high resolution and professional quality. You can create albums there and organize your pics by categories. I use a top of their pictures for my drawings as reference and for my blog graphics.
Add variety ( a few images that take you to the same destination) To increase your chances of getting noticed you will have to constantly add new pins of your products, but you don’t want the same picture to be showing up in someone’s feed every day, it starts serving the opposite purpose of what we’re trying to achieve. Have a few pictures of your product with different backgrounds, include other elements in your pictures to make them more interesting. By choosing different settings and arrangements for your pictures you can pin them to different boards to help them reach more people. In the same way, you would need to add a few pictures or graphics to you blog post or website so that you can keep pinning these pictures promoting your content, if a person didn’t pay attention to one picture he/she might like the other one you posted and still reach your blog.
Consistency is a key. You hear this everywhere and just about everything, but it couldn’t be more true. When someone decides whether to follow your profile, that person wants to know what sort of content you will be providing and that content will be coming regularly. You will have to keep your boards consistent within themselves and your profile overall. Don’t pin too much of random stuff, if you want to keep some boards for your personal pins that are just all over the place, you can make them secret in settings and only you will see those pins.
This article turned out pretty long so cheers to the ones who made it this far! Hopefully now you have a better vision for your Pinterest marketing strategy. Just to recap the most important points that we discussed:
- Optimize your profile and take advantage of what a business profile settings can give you.
- Optimize your boards and pins by using correct descriptions and pinning different topics into corresponding board, not all into one board.
- Create a context for your pins by pinning other people’s pins and creating complementary boards to reach more people.
- Watch what others are doing, but be one step ahead, follow most successful accounts, but look for new ideas and pin them directly from the source.
- Pin a lot, but be meticulous about your content. You want to bring only the highest quality images and graphics for your customers.
- Stay consistent, once you create a strategy, stick to it.
Another rule to remember is that on average a customer has to see your product at least seven times before considering purchasing it. And the same applies to following boards or profiles. So don’t give up on something if it doesn’t happen immediately, just keep working on all of the steps and your audience will find you!
Thank you for reading, feel free to leave any questions or comments and let’s connect on Pinterest 😉
My account: https://www.pinterest.com/kkhrysty/overview/