There are a bunch of tips flyin' around about Pinterest. I thought I would try to put as many as I could all down in one place.
OK, here's what we'll cover:
- Pinterest Basics
- How to Use Pinterest to Drive Traffic
- How to Add the "Pin It" Button to Posts
- Pinterest Copyright Issues
- Further Reading
- What is Pinterest? It's a place to bookmark images and videos you love from around the web. In Pinterest terms, these bookmarks are called "pins." Your "pins" (think, pinning things to a virtual bulletin board) are visible to other Pinterest users and you can see the boards of others as well.
- How does Pinterest work? Here's the basic process: (1) Surf the internet. (2) See an image/video you like. (3) "Pin" that image/video to one of your Pinterest boards to keep track of it and to share it with others.
- How do I get on Pinterest? Go to Pinterest.com. You can request an invite by clicking the red button, or, you can ask someone that is already on Pinterest for an invite.
- Add the "Pin It" Button to your bookmarks bar. It's easy to install. Go to the goodies page on Pinterestand drag the button into your bookmarks bar (it's right at the top of the page in the blue box). Once it's installed, whenever you come across something great to pin, simply click the "Pin It" button in your bookmarks bar and you're set.
- Use the "Pin It" bookmarklet. Basically, if you see an image you want to pin, you simply click the bookmarklet in your bookmarks bar for quick posting. Like this:
- Use keywords in your descriptions. A lot of people leave inane descriptions ("Cute!") on their pins. I'm guilty too. However, keyword-rich descriptions will help get pins and boards found more easily via search. Great for all of us!
- Write your own summary description. Don't copy and paste the whole post, the whole recipe or all the instructions from the original post directly in your pin. Not only does it clutter the images with unnecessary text (see my pinterest pet peeves post), it's not good Pinterest manners. Plus, posts are copyrighted so pasting them in their entirety is copyright infringement (more on copyright below).
- Edit your pins. If you need to edit a pin, hover over it and click on the "Edit" button that appears. If you need to find the pin first, hover over your name in the top right of your screen, click on the "Pins" link in the dropdown menu. This will show you all your pins listed by the most recent. If it's an older pin, click on the "Boards" link while hovering over your name and then you can find your pin by topic.
- Pin from the individual post, not the home page. Again, this is another one of my pinterest pet peeves. When you're pinning, make sure you are pinning from the individual post, not the home page. (To get to the individual post, click on the post title. If you can see comments at the bottom, it's a sign you're on the individual post.) There's nothing more frustrating than clicking through a pin, only to realize the post with that image has long been pushed off the home page.
- Be kind and play by the rules. Know and understand the friendly guidelines Pinterest has put in place for its site. They created the site for us which we use for free. It's good to follow the rules.
- Tag people in pins. Simply add the "@" sign to your descriptions to tag someone so they know you were talkin' about them.
- Add a price tag to a pin. You can do this easily by adding a "$" or a "£" in your description. This works well, let's say, if you are pinning from an Etsy shop or something similar.
- Space out your pins instead of flooding the stream. If you're pinning a lot of stuff at once, you can overwhelm your followers. For example, if you're researching black shoes and spend an hour pinning a gazillion pairs of black shoes to your "Rockin' Black Shoes" board, anyone who follows you will just see a sea of black shoes in their stream. (I'm guilty of flooding the stream.) Instead, spread it out a bit.
- Set a timer. If you find yourself squandering your time on Pinterest (um, hello!), why not set a timer? Allow yourself a set number of minutes to browse and when the timer dings, you're off to something else. This might also help with flooding the stream (above).
- Organize your boards well. If your boards are clean and organized, you'll get more followers than if everything is hodge podge and there's no rhyme or reason to your pinning. Vague board titles aren't so helpful either.
- Take the extra time to see if a pin is a good one. Have you ever clicked through a pin only to discover that it leads nowhere? Frustrating, isn't it? So, before you repin, make sure you check it out first. We gotta work together to weed out the dud pins. Speaking of dud pins…
- Use "Like" as a pending place. This was a great tip from M on my Pet Peeves post. She says, "Sometimes when I don't have time to 'investigate' a pin to see if it is a good one, I'll just 'Like' it. Then I can go back to my likes when I have time and look into them a little further." Great idea!
- Follow individual boards to cut out the noise. One of the nice things about Pinterest is that you can follow individual boards. You don't have to follow a person and therefore, all of their boards (although you can do that too). So, maybe you want to follow my "handy tips" board but you don't want to follow my "easy peasy crafts" board. To subscribe to individual boards, simply click on the name of any Pinterest user and you'll see all their boards. If you follow the person, you'll follow all their boards. Otherwise, just pick and choose the boards you want.
- Find people and boards to follow by reverse rabbit trailing. That is, when you see a pin or a board you like, click on the person it came from. Or click on the original source. I've found a lot of good boards to follow that way.
- Hop on the "Everthing" page every once in a while. When you log into Pinterest, you'll only see the boards you're following. To find some new boards to follow, click on the Everything link at the top of your screen to find new people. Or search by category.
- Categorize your pins. This will make your pins more easily found and will potentially result in more people following you.
- Don't just be a repinner. Be a pioneer pinner. In other words, don't just repin what others have already pinned. Always be on the lookout for new pins that no one else has found. If you're like me, you see a lot of the same pins come through. I pay attention, though, when I see something fresh and new. I'm much more likely to follow that person too.
- Don't forget the iPhone app to use Pinterest on the go. Find them on the goodies page or in the app store.
- Personalize a board for your kids. You might consider making a board especially for your kids so when you're out and about and you need to kill some time, they can look at the things you've found especially for them. Supervise of course!
- Automatically populate a pin description. If you're on a site and you want to pin something, you can highlight a portion of text before clicking the "Pin It" bookmarklet. The text you highlight will automatically populate your description. I like to add quotation marks when I quote directly and only do a small snippet. You always want people to be directed back to the original site for the main content.
- Note the 500 character limit on your descriptions. Yay! That takes care of one of my pinterest pet peeves.
How to Use Pinterest to Drive Traffic
This is a sidenote to everyone here (not just computer types) and I'm talking about traffic. Online traffic, that is, not the driving kind of course.
Can I make a suggestion?
If you don't yet have your own little space online (like a blog or website), I highly encourage you to get one. Everyone. Why? Because as things become more and more digital, this will be one of the primary ways we connect. Think of it as one place that you can call "home" online from which you can organize and centralize all your other online activities.
Whether you use it for your small business (to expand your reach), your resume (much more sophisticated than paper), your portfolio (artists, photographers, designers), your website will become invaluable and I think, quite common (just like an email address has become so in the last 15 years).
Don't worry, getting a website is easier and cheaper than you think. I'm telling you, jump in now. I show you exactly how to set up your own blog or website here.
OK, on with the tips…
How does Pinterest benefit us? Assuming people use it as it's intended, your images can be pinned and anyone who clicks on them will be taken to your site.
- Pin your own stuff. There's been discussion about whether or not one should pin their own stuff, but why not? I mean, how is it any different than pinning your own stuff on Facebook or Twitter? And the Pin Etiquette indicates it's okay to do so (see #3) in moderation. Having said that…
- Don't only pin your own stuff. Pin your own stuff, yes, but pin others' stuff a lot more. Pick a ratio. Like, for every one pin of your own, pin ten that aren't.
- If you come across an image that's yours but doesn't link back to your site…Contact the Pinterest user who pinned your image and ask them kindly to edit the pin. Be friendly and offer a link to the pin to make it easier for them.
- Consider creating a board for your own stuff. If you do pin your own stuff, it might be nice to organize them on a "My Stuff" board or otherwise indicate that they are your own.
- Include your Pinterest follower counts in your media kit and business cards. Just as you would include your Facebook and Twitter follower numbers, your Pinterest numbers provide PR and advertising folks another glance at the influence you have.
- Use Pinterest for topics that don't fit into your blog niche. After blogging a while, a lot of bloggers want to branch out from their main niche. If you are someone with varying tastes, encourage your readers to follow a particular board on Pinterest for "more on that subject."
- Find out what of yours has been pinned. Type this into your browser (replacing "yourdomain.com"): http://pinterest.com/source/yourdomain.com
- Create keyword-rich board titles and board descriptions. Just as you should make your pin descriptions full of relevant keywords for better searching, do the same for your board titles and descriptions (instead of vague or cutesy). To edit your boards, simply click on your name in the top right and then click the "Edit" button underneath the board you want to change.
- Include your domain in your Profile. While it's not possible to add a clickable link in your profile (at this point anyway), you can still include your domain name for reference and association with your site like I did in mine here (follow me while you're there?).
- Link your site to your profile. You can make a clickable icon appear in your profile if you include your web address in your Settings. This will put a globe icon directly underneath your bio. Again, see what I mean here.
- Use images in your posts. I'm not a photographer (plus I'm lazy) so sometimes I post without any images. Of course Pinterest is all about images. Your posts are much more likely to get pinned if there are images in them. Obvious, right? Need images? Here's my tutorial about finding free images to use in your posts.
- Go back through your posts and add or improve images. Now's the time to go back through your old posts and add images if there aren't any already, or upgrade if they could use improvement.
- Don't use Pinterest images to make your posts look pretty. Assume all images are copyrighted. If you see an image you'd like to use on Pinterest, ask the owner for permission. They might just grant it, you'll be making a connection and you won't be violating copyright. (If you don't want to ask for permission, again, you can find images that are free to use in this tutorial.)
- Use text in your images. Back when I wrote the 6-part saga Why I Turned Down a Book Deal (And the Lessons I Learned), I had Joy create a graphic for me, specifically with Pinterest in mind. I wanted to make pinning a lot easier and I realized quickly that the images with text in them are more pin-worthy. (The Nester really broke this concept down quite a bit too.) Here's what Joy came up with and it makes the series clear right from the pin.
- Create your own images with only text. On a related note, if you don't have mad photography skills or you don't want to hire someone to do it for you, you can easily create text-based art like I did in this post (the Pinterest image above) and my posts 4 Tips for New Bloggers, Pinterest Pet Peeves and How to Take a Screenshot. (Check out my How to Make a Blog Button post for an easy way to create images like this.)
- Be particular about your images. If you're like me and don't do the image thing very well, less is more. Some bloggers can include a dozen images in a post and they are spectacular. If I did that, I'd spend about 20 days writing one post. For the rest of us, take the extra time to find really excellent images. You might even consider buying them, which I've done on occasion (at iStockphoto.com).
- Link your Pinterest account to Facebook and Twitter. You can do this in Settings. When logged in, get to "Settings" by hovering over your name in the top right corner and select "Settings" from the dropdown menu. (Dave Taylor wrote a detailed tutorial called How Can I Have Pinterest Updates Appear on Facebook?)
- Use Pinterest to get your creative juices flowing. If you need some post ideas, do a search on Pinterest with relevant key words from your niche. Note which pins have a lot of repins and/or comments. These are hot topics. Find your own unique angle and write on the topics people are already interested in.
- Capitalize on the seasons. If there's one thing people pin, it's seasonal stuff—recipes, crafts, decorating ideas, gift ideas, etc. Use an editorial calendar and plan ahead to write blog posts that coincide with the seasons. Post them early so that they can be pinned and get a little traction before the holiday passes.
- Make your site sticky! If you notice a lot of traffic coming to a particular post from Pinterest, think of ways to optimize that post for Pinterest users. Find ways to make it better and more importantly, get them to stay on your site a while. For example, if they're coming from Pinterest to your Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie recipe, add links to your Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream and Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares too. (Here's more about making your site sticky and optimizing your exit pages.)
- Ask for followers in your sidebar. Blatantly ask others to follow you on Pinterest. You can use the goodies Pinterest provides to create a button to put in your sidebar, like this (will you?):
- Add a button to your feed's footer. I wrote a post about that How to Add Pinterest Follow Buttons to Your Feed.
- Ask for followers in your posts. You can also ask for followers directly in your posts as well. Simply link to your Pinterest page with the following code:
<a href="http://pinterest.com/amylynnandrews/">Follow me on Pinterest!</a>
- Pin a coupon for your product. Got an ebook or other product? Why not pin a coupon, exclusively for Pinterest users?
- Create exclusive boards. Make some boards exclusive to Pinterest followers only, so they'll get content there that they won't get elsewhere. This is good if you are anxious to increase your Pinterest followers.
- Use Pinterest to connect with brands. You'd better believe companies are taking notice of Pinterest. Of course, we, the little people, have an advantage. That advantage? We're small enough that we can dive in and get our hands dirty quick. Big companies, on the other hand are sometimes a little slower to the punch. What about approaching a large company you don't see on there, let them know of the rage that Pinterest is and suggest ideas for the two of you to work together? Be respectful of course, but lead them by the hand and make suggestions from which you can both benefit.
- Create a "Reader Feature" board. Create a board just for your favorite readers. Or if you've done a tutorial, create a board where you highlight those who have used your tutorial and pin what they've created. Spread the love!
- Create a board with others. You can create a board and allow contributors to pin to it as well. This would be great for collaboration projects. To allow contributors Edit your board and select the "Me + Contributors" option. Here's a good example of a shared board from Oh Amanda.
- Connect with others. Don't think of Pinterest just as a fun place to whittle away your days and get lost in your own world. Comment and follow and interact just as you would Facebook or Twitter. This is part of networking too!
- Get creative. I think we're going to start seeing all kinds of creative ways people market their blogs and products via Pinterest. Brainstorm. What kind of fun things can you do with Pinterest? If your house is for sale, direct people to your Pinterest board showcasing it? Hold a contest (read the Terms first of course)? Create a scavenger hunt? Word scrambles? A board in lieu of a blogroll?
How to Add the "Pin It" Button to Posts
- Manually. You can manually add a "Pin It" button for each post by using the goodies (scroll down to the "'Pin It' Button for Websites" section) made available by Pinterest. This is a bit cumbersome, but if you only have a few posts you'd like pinned, this might work just fine. Is a bit cumbersome to add to each individual post.
- The Pin It on Pinterest plugin. This plugin adds a box below the post window in WordPress where you can create your own description (nice to be able to control that!) and select an image you want to be pinned. You can add the plugin straight from your Dashboard –> Plugins –> Add New –> Search for "Pin It on Pinterest." This plugin is my favorite so far although it has been a bit buggy. If you decide to use it, be sure to watch the video tutorial to see how to use it.
- The Pinterest "Pin It" Plugin. This plugin is very basic. It doesn't have a count, but if you just want a simple plugin to get the "Pin It" button at then end of your post, this one works. You can add this button straight in your WordPress Dashboard –> Plugins –> Add New –> Search for "Pinterest Pin It Plugin".
- On Genesis, without a plugin. It takes a bit more technical know-how but not having to use a plugin is always a good idea. Brian Gardner has instructions in How to Add a Pinterest “Pin It” Button to Your Site.
- On Sharebar. I wrote about Sharebar here (see the link which explains adding the "Pin It" button).
- For Blogger blogs. I
haven't tried any of these tutorials, but at first glance, they look like they'll do the trick. Try this one or this one. Update: I tried it. Here's a video:
Pinterest Copyright Issues
There has been a lot of talk lately about copyright and how best to use Pinterest to avoid infringing on copyright. I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty here, but here are some tips and some additional resources that touch on the subject.
- Watermark your photos. I did a tutorial, How to Watermark a Photo, using Picnik. Of course, we all know Picnik is going away, but you can use the very same technique in Pixlr Express as I showed you here. You might try a plugin like Scissors Continued to watermark your photos (I haven't used it myself but I see it has a positive rating).
- Put your full domain on your photos. Instead of just putting your blog name on your images, put your full domain name so if your image starts floating around, at least people won't have to guess what your domain is.
- Don't want people to pin your stuff to Pinterest? I recently asked on Facebook whether people prefer to be pinned or not. (You can see what they said here.) There's a simple line of code you can add to your <head>. Dave Taylor spells it out in Block Pinterest Users From "Pinning" Your Content. I also noticed a plugin to do this (but I'd go with the line of code).
- How to Report a Copyright Infringement (pinterest.com)
- Why I Don’t Mind Pinterest Hijacking My Links (blogworld.com)
- Information for Bloggers and People Who Use Pinterest and Pinterest is Changing How I Blog (livinglocurto.com)
- How Pinterest Uses Your Content Without Violating Copyright Laws (readwriteweb.com)
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- How to Start Your Own Blog (or Website) – It's easier and cheaper than you think.
- How to Write an Ebook – Don't wait around for a publisher to find you. Traditional publishing as we know it is dying. I wrote an ebook and make a couple thousand dollars a month from it. This is exactly how I did it.
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