I’m branching out a little bit here again, and blogging about blogging. More specifically, about using social media to promote your blog. I’m typing this up on August 6th, and in two days I will have had my Pinterest business account for exactly one month. I started it with absolutely no experience, no followers, no personal account to transfer from. I was definitely confused about how the whole thing worked, but I’ve sort of worked out how to do it now. And I’m going to share my newly found knowledge with you.
Before you read: I’m really honest in this post. I’m normally quite a polite and positive blogger due to writing about the stuff I love, but Pinterest and I haven’t really been…getting along. If you want a slightly frustrated (hey – maybe you can relate and this will help you!) post to read then this is the one, but if you’d like some flowery language about the beauty of Pinterest maybe check out someone else’s post. I would recommend the posts on Oh Clary – considering she says she already had a personal Pinterest account with over 1000 boards, I’m assuming she loves the site!
This post contains affiliate links, meaning that I will earn a small amount of profit if you choose to purchase something through my link. It will come at no extra cost to you, though, and means that I can continue to work on my blog.
First of all, don’t get me wrong – I know 36.9k isn’t a huge amount of monthly unique viewers. However, Pinterest takes a while to update and is always slightly behind my analytics, so it’s probably a bit more now. Also, I only have 98 followers. So that’s a BIG conversion. On other social media it’s practically impossible to get any of my audience to interact with me – hello, 0.7% Instagram engagement rate – so having people who don’t even follow me see my pins is kind of a big deal. For me, that is. Hopefully you too, or this post will be of no use.
When I first heard about Pinterest being useful for blogging, I laughed and turned off my laptop. When one talks about social media, does Pinterest come to mind as being a top site?! No. Not to me, anyway. Soon after that, though, I read a post on Obstacle.co where Paul talked about it being like a visual search engine, where people look for a solution to their problem, come across your pin, and click the link. And it started to make sense. (Well, when I imagined that anyone actually searched for solutions on Pinterest, instead of, you know, GOOGLE.)
The posts on that blog definitely helped me work out my Pinterest method (read here and here), and when I joined Paul’s Dare to Conquer community and read the Pinterest course it was of use, too. But some stuff I needed to understand through experience. Here are my steps to follow if you’re setting up a new Pinterest account.
1. Make a Business Account that’s Relevant to your Audience
This is hardly a secret. I thought I might as well include it anyway, though. Set up your business/blog name (one tip is to follow your name with your profession for the SEO/keywords. Eg. Mine says ‘Ethical Vanity | Blogger & Influencer’. Yes, it’s okay to lie or put in what you hope to be. I’d hardly be considered an influencer right now but it seemed closer to me than ‘entrepreneur’ or ‘writer’ or something) and then claim your website so that Pinterest knows pins from that site are yours. Then, set up boards that are within your niche. Mine are stuff like ‘Blogging’, ‘Makeup’, ‘Skincare’ etc. It’s recommended to have 15 boards. I have about 9. I’m lazy.
(It’s also recommended to have a cover photo for your boards to make them look more professional, but I don’t. I’m not sure if it really makes a difference bar a neater appearance.)
2. Pin Stuff!
Stating the obvious? Yeah, a little, but this is important. To get anyone anywhere near your account you need to be active. Supposedly to keep Pinterest recognising your boards as active, you need to pin 3 things to each of them a day. If you’re a Pinterest lover who can spend hours browsing (literally me with any other social media) this will be a blast. If you’re like me and you just don’t get the enjoyment of saving random photographs to your own account, you might struggle a bit. But keep at it! I believe in you. We can get through this together. I just pinned and pinned and pinned for about 3 hours a day (spread out though, not all in one go).
3. Join Group Boards
Okay friends, it’s time to leave your pride at the door here. I was going to say dignity, but that would be a bit too dramatic. Listen, this is annoying, but to get anywhere in the blogging world you have to play other people’s games by their rules. One day, obviously, you will be up there making your own rules and that’s great, but right now you’re at the bottom.
Group boards are a truly wonderful thing on Pinterest, because when you pin something to them you are pinning it to every board member’s audience. Whilst you might have 3 followers, the group board could have 71k. This means you now too have a huge audience! So try and join as many as you can. You can find them by searching up something plural (I always search for ‘beauty bloggers‘ or ‘lifestyle bloggers‘) and then click on ‘Boards called [your search term]’. It took me more time than I’d like to admit to work that out. Then, the description of a group board generally gives instructions on how to join it.
Some group board owners are great, don’t get me wrong. In 90% of the boards I’m in all I had to do was follow them on Pinterest and shoot them a quick message asking to be added. I generally say something along the lines of:
I was wondering if I could join your group board ‘[insert name here]’. I promise I will follow all the rules! My Pinterest username is @ethicalvanity.
and it works great. I love my group boards and the pinners in them, as they all seem nice people with great blogs. Yet, some boards are just more awkward to get into. There are people who want you to subscribe to their blog, join their mailing list, follow them on Instagram and so on. As I said, just play the game. Hopefully one day you will be at the top making your own rules other people have to follow. I sincerely hope, though, that when you or I are making our own group boards we make it easy access. Because we’re nice people, of course.
(I kind of want to add a mini rant here – I once went to join a board where the owner wanted potential contributors to pin 10 of her pins and then SEND HER EACH URL OF THESE INDIVIDUAL PINS SO SHE CAN CHECK. Who even has the time to check that someone has pinned each of those pins? Who is that particular about who joins their board? Who thinks other people will have nothing better to do than copy and paste 10 URLs just to access a group board? If someone messes you about like that, just move on to the next board. It’s not worth it. They are, excuse my first attempt at remotely swearing on this blog, taking the piss.)
4. Pin more of Your Own Stuff
As your blog grows, slowly replace other people’s pins with your own. You’ll notice the majority of established Pinterest bloggers only pin their own stuff, along with about 10 other random pins to prevent Pinterest suspending their account due to spam. If you don’t have enough of your own pins to save 3 a day to each board – I still don’t – then definitely do keep your boards’ activity up with other people’s pins. My account is a mix at the moment.
One easy way to do this is to have a board entirely devoted to your own pins. It means you have them all in one place and can easily re-pin them, as well as check their analytics. Which brings me to my next point…
5. Set up Rich Pins and Pinterest Analytics
For the longest time I sat wondering how on earth my pins didn’t have the same amount of info under them as other people’s. I genuinely thought I was using the site wrong and that Pinterest thought I was actually pinning other people’s stuff rather than my own. Turns out I just needed to apply and be accepted for rich pins, whereby the description gives a short snippet from the blog post and it in turn makes the pin look a lot more put together.
Definitely set up Pinterest Analytics to see how you’re doing. Unfortunately, analytics have always been a bit of a nightmare for me. I am addicted to checking them every 5 minutes, which is (a) totally pointless and (b) depressing. Yet I still do it on every single site. Pinterest ones are very insightful, but can give you a false sense of security. You’re given ‘Your Pinterest Profile’, which contains the impressions and views of things you’ve pinned. Looking at this number getting large is so exciting, until you realise that those are not your pins. They’re other people’s pins, and you’re giving them free traffic whilst your own numbers are still dwindling. The ‘Activity From [your website name]’ tab gives the analytics for your own pins linking to your blog. These will probably be significantly less than the other tab’s numbers.
As you can see, my Pinterest profile numbers have significantly dropped (the daily impressions count used to be at 12,000), but my Website activity has increased (daily impressions were at around 1,000). This is due to my new strategy of sharing my own pins and not as many of other people’s. When I began to pin less and less of other people’s stuff, the ‘Your Pinterest Profile’ daily impressions dropped by about 5,000 and I panicked. If this happens to you when you begin to pin more of your own stuff and less of other people’s, you need to remember that this isn’t the important tab. I’m trying to remove the safety net of sharing tonnes of other people’s pins to get the ‘My Pinterest Profile’ impressions up, as it’s meaningless in terms of promoting my own blog. As for the accuracy of these analytics, you can see that the ‘Activity from ethicalvanity.com’ tab states that there’s been a day where my pins have received 0 impressions and viewers. I know for a fact that this isn’t true. So take these with a pinch of salt.
The analytics numbers will also allow you to view the impressions, re-pins and clicks on each individual pin so you can see which are performing the best.
6. Set up Tailwind
Tailwind costs money, and I haven’t gotten around to paying that yet. However, I have used the free trial. It definitely helps a tonne, and I enjoyed using it, but right now I can’t afford it. I’m going to wait until I start earning a bit more before I invest any more money into this blog.
Tailwind is a pin scheduling site. You get 100 free scheduled pins, which is a much better measurement than a time constraint since it took me ages to get started on properly using it. Reason being that as Instagram is the only social media I really understand business on, I didn’t see the point at first of scheduling pins when I can just pin them myself. That wasn’t until I started to:
7. Re-pin your Pins you’ve already Pinned
Does that make any sense? When you make a pin (and a few more variations of it, if you have the time. You’ll find on Pinterest that a lot of pins with different titles lead to the same post) it isn’t enough to pin it once. You want to promote that blog as much as possible. So, whist you might have pinned it before with one description, pinning it again a few days later with another description isn’t going to do you any harm. The reason I referenced Instagram is that if I started posting the same photos and stories on there more than once I would lose a few followers. Pinterest doesn’t work that way. Your pins are always exposed to a huge number of random people, rather than just your followers. So it’s likely they won’t have seen them before. Tailwind comes in in handy whereby you can have your account pin these blog posts every hour or so to different boards and group boards. Most people use Tailwind to schedule their pins for the month ahead, so it really comes in handy. Try out the free trial and get a feel for it.
My one piece of advice for Tailwind is to go right in and create ‘board lists’. This is just a list of your boards/group boards under a certain title. It means when you schedule a pin you can select the list rather than typing them in individually. It saves a lot of time, and I never would have discovered it without the Pinterest course on Dare to Conquer. It took me ages to work out Tailwind and I lost a lot of time scheduling each pin to individual boards. What you want to do is select a board list, choose the option ‘select interval’ – I usually set mine to a day – and then click ‘optimized’ so that your pins go up when your audience is most active. Then you have a few pins scheduled for the next few days. It’s simple enough once you get your head round it, but if you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to email the customer service. I asked for a LOT of help to begin with. You can always email me too, if you like – though I’m no expert.
8. Be Patient
Yep, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Pinterest definitely has an exponential growth, in that with time your views and followers will increase with larger numbers each day. I was so frustrated at the beginning when my account had 0 followers for at least a week and a half, despite the fact I was doing what was recommended to me. Today, I gained 10 new followers. It just takes time to get any results, but remember that each time you get them, they’ll come in a larger number than the previous batch. Another example of this is that my profile had 484 impressions on July 23rd (which I was exceptionally proud of, by the way) and then 3,657 on the 26th. The day after that, I had 10,279. The ball will roll, eventually.
I was also surprised to read recently that most bloggers will leave a pin for at least a couple of weeks to a month before checking its analytics. I think I had some sort of epiphany finding that out. Again, my Instagram mentality told me that after 24 hours the peak engagement had pretty much been reached. I kept seeing my pins ‘flop’ because they only had a few impressions after a couple of days. Now I realise that my account has been up for such a short amount of time that I technically shouldn’t have even checked the pin analytics yet. My earliest pin has been up for 3 weeks at most. The maximum engagement is yet to come (I hope).
Those are all the steps I begrudgingly followed. One bonus tip I want to add to this exceptionally long and rambled blog post is a small one I read from Paul’s Pinterest course, and it’s that when someone re-pins one of your own pins to a board with a relevant name, you should go into their board and then re-pin it back to your board that has a similar name. For example, if they pinned this blog post about ‘How I grew my Pinterest’ to a board called ‘Blogging for Beginners’, I would go into their ‘Blogging for Beginners’ board and pin it to my board ‘Blogging’. This just means that Pinterest will begin to pick up on the fact that ‘Blogging’ is a keyword for the URL to this post, and therefore, when someone types ‘Blogging’ into Pinterest, there is a chance it will pop up in the results.
I really, really hope this blog post made sense and didn’t come across as too passive aggressive. I’m grateful for the traffic Pinterest is bringing, but I just wish I could actually enjoy using it. Instead of doing it because I have to, and treating it like a chore. Maybe, with time, I’ll learn to love it. If you’re interested in more tips about blogging, you can check out my post about what you should know before starting blog. It’s a lot more upbeat, I promise!
Thanks for reading,