How to Grow Your Business & get Clients Through Pinterest
People are surprised when I tell them that most of my clients come through Pinterest. Like, really surprised. Pinterest has been such a large factor in my success that I want to make sure every business owner knows how useful Pinterest can be, and can learn and implement the strategies I use.
When I first started using Pinterest, I didn’t really get it. I thought, how does it work? And when I figured out how it worked, I thought, people actually spend time doing this? 😂
For those of you who are asking the same questions, I’ll break it down. If you already know what Pinterest is all about, feel free to skip ahead.
A QUICK PINTEREST RUN DOWN
Pinterest works like a search engine (it’s not technically ‘social media’). If you think of it like a search engine, the whole platform starts to make a lot more sense. You search for things, and then the results appear (just like Google). Only Pinterest shows its search answers in images (called ‘Pins’). So basically it’s just a big visual search engine.
Pinterest will show you all of the ‘Pins’ that it thinks you're interested in (algorithms way beyond my skill level) and then you can ‘Repin’ these items (yes, you Repin the Pins).
Pinning = adding something original to Pinterest
Repinning = someone else's Pin that you’re re-saving to a board.
You Repin to your Boards. Your Boards are like folders you create for your Pins, but they’re public (you can make them secret/private, too). This is just a way to keep all of your Pins organised.
For example, if I was a foodie and loved collecting recipes, I would search Pinterest for recipe Pins, and would save (re-pin) the Pins that I like to my different Boards. I might have Boards like “Vegetarian Recipes” and “Chicken Recipes”.
You can see my business profile here, all of my Boards, and each Pin that I have Pinned and Repinned to each of these Boards: www.Pinterest.com/bigcatcreative/Boards
You can Repin anything you see, and you can add whatever you want (with the add Pin button, you can add images from the internet or your computer).
That’s basically the jist of it.
Pin to your heart's content, but this article isn’t about Pinning for fun (really) it’s about Pinning for Business.
So why would you want to Pin for business?
Since we’ve established that it’s just a visual search engine, then, just like wanting to be at the top of Google, you should want to be popular on Pinterest.
When you add an original Pin, you add a URL to the Pin. So people will click on your Pins, and it will take them directly to your website, or recent Blog post, or whatever address you added. All Pins link back to their source and that’s exactly what you want, traffic coming back to your website.
In a nutshell, it’s a really easy platform to use that will give you a lot of traffic (your Pins will basically live on there forever). But, you need to focus on a few key factors to really boost your Pinterest performance.
So go ahead, if you haven't already, and sign up for Pinterest for Business. If you already have a personal Pinterest account, I suggest you either start a new account for your Business, or convert your existing account to Business.
Before we get started:
Make sure you have defined your target audience. A lot of the following information is based around your ideal customer, so get this clear in your head before you start.
I’ll be talking a lot about Keywords in the following post. Keywords are words that people might be using to search for things that are related to your business. The more relative keywords that you use in your profile, the more chance of you showing up when someone uses those words to search.
STEP 1 | Optimize your Profile
First we're going to make some adjustments to your profile. Fill out your profile information as completely as you can, and confirm your website address. (You can do all of this under the Settings tab by clicking the button in the top right corner!)
Change your profile name to more than just your name.
You’ll want to add some keywords to your name. This makes it really easy for people to see exactly what the account is about.
For example, my name on Pinterest is: Big Cat Creative | Squarespace Templates for Small Biz Babes
If I just had Big Cat Creative, people would have to really search to find out what it is that I offer.
This also gives you a much higher chance of appearing in people's search (Pinterest, or Google). If someone searched “Squarespace Templates” there’s a higher chance my profile would show up.
Pinterest has recently made it so that you can only include 20 characters in your name, which often isn’t enough! If you already have an existing name over 20 characters Pinterest won’t cut it down, but, if you want to change it now it won’t let you add in more than 20 characters. A work around for this is to log-in to Pinterest on the mobile app and edit your profile name there - if you do it this way it will allow more than 20 characters, woohoo!
Update your bio.
You need to get clear on your target audience before you start this step. Once you have a clear idea of your target audience, update your Bio with:
1. Who you are, 2. Who you help, 3. How you help them, 4. A call to action
For example, something like:
(1) A boutique branding & website design studio (2) helping small business owners and creative entrepreneurs (3) create brands they love ♥ Work with me - (4) http://bit.ly/2zk4zP8
It's true, people are selfish (especially people on the internet), and they would rather know what you do and how it can help them, before they want to know who you are. So use that tiny bit of space provided to tell them.
If you can easily fit your complete URL into your bio, you should use that! But if you can’t, you can use a bitly.com link thats connected to your site to shorten your links so you can fit them in your bio!
Add an on-brand photo.
This could be your logo or a professional headshot. Professional headshots are preferable, as people can relate to you and they feel a sense of trust. You can take one of these with some natural lighting and a plain background. But if all you have is a flip phone selfie from 2005, just use a high quality logo!
Choose which Pins to display in your top banner.
This is a relatively new Pinterest feature, but isn’t it cute?! It’s a way to give the viewer a quick snap shot of what you’re all about, which is great because the alternative to that is sifting through your Pinterest boards one by one to view all of your Pins, and no one really does that!
You can choose either Latest Pins, Recent Activity or pull from a specific board. I would suggest pulling from a specific board if you have a good one to pull from. I have a board called “Big Cat Creative” and I post all of my best, original content in there. This is also the first of my boards in my list of boards, as it’s a great way to quickly show visitors what I do and some of my work at a glance. I suggest creating your own board named after your business filled up with all of your best original content!
Here’s an example of my complete, optimized profile:
Step 2 | Search Engine Optimization
Remember how we talked about how Pinterest is a search engine? Just like a search engine, Keywords are key.
Pinterest makes sure that whatever anyone’s searching, they’re going to get the most relevant information (just like Google). How do they decide what is the most relevant information? That complicated algorithm that I briefly mentioned earlier, and the following things:
Clean up your profile and create engaging Boards.
Think about your target audience again. What do they want to see? For example, as a website designer, I’m not Pinning recipes (well, publically anyway). Stop Pinning for yourself, and Pin for your ideal customer. Even though some of my target audience may possibly be into cooking, it’s too much of a stretch.
I Pin Design Tips, Squarespace Tips, Design Inspiration, Business Tips and other things that I know my ideal customer will be searching for, that also relate back to my business.
Name your Boards clearly, so people know exactly what they are. Clear > Cute!
Add Board Descriptions
There’s those pesky keywords again! This step is super important because Pinterest users often search for Boards, rather than just Pins, so if you add a bunch of relevant keywords to your Boards, then you have a higher chance of coming up in their search.
Adding Board descriptions even increases your chance of this Pinterest Board showing up on Google. If someone is searching something relevant that involves your keywords, there’s a pretty high chance of this happening. (Yup, a search engine showing another search engine). But seriously, Google traffic is the best traffic, so don't skim over this step!
Here’s an example of one of my Boards with a keyword description:
Add Pin Descriptions
I think this step is one of the main reasons I get so much traffic from Pinterest, so definitely don’t overlook this one!
We need to add keywords, just like we did to our Boards, but this time to our actual Pins. Note, I’m just talking about our own original Pins here, not anything we’ve Repinned. That would potentially take forever.
When you load a Pin to Pinterest, it will prompt you to add a description. Here I add a short description of the Pin, and then a bunch of Keyword phrases that relate to it.
For example I would add:
“Branding Style Board by Big Cat Creative - get yours at www.bigcatcreative.com | Branding Style Board | Brand Design | Brand Design Inspiration | Brands for Photographers | Design Inspiration | Logo Design Inspiration | Graphic Design Inspiration | Logos for Bloggers | Design Ideas"
The more specific you get, the more chance that your target audience will find you. If I just used generic, singular Keywords like “Design”, “Branding”, “Logos” etc, then my Pins will probably get lost in the millions of other Pins with those Keywords.
If I’m more specific and use Keyword Phrases like “Brand and Logo Inspiration for Interior Designers”, there’s a really high chance that if anyone searches something similar to that phrase, they will see your Pin.
You can make up the Keyword phrases yourself, or you can get even more tricky and let Pinterest show you what people are looking for.
If I type into Pinterest search “Design” it gives me a whole lot of commonly-searched suggestions:
I pick out the suggestions that are relevant to my Pin and add them to my keywords. For example Design Inspiration, Design Ideas etc
You can do this for any words that you can think of, that are relevant to your Pin. And you can continue to add relevant and searched-for words that will make your phrases longer and more specific.
Always try to remember: What would your ideal customer be searching?...
Pinterest is now accepting the use of Hashtags within your Pin descriptions, too! As this is a new feature, the jury is out on whether this is more or less beneficial than using keywords, but to prepare for a potential shift in the future, I would cover all bases and include continue to include keywords and also a few relevant hashtags.
Step 3 | What and When to Pin
Pin your original content
First and foremost, you want to be Pinning pretty much everything you produce to Pinterest. For me, this is all of my Blog posts and portfolio items.
I have 2 main Boards. One called “Big Cat Creative” and the other called “The Blog”. I Pin all of my Blog content, to the Blog Board, and I Pin everything else to the Big Cat Creative Board. These two Boards contain only my original content, and no Repinned content.
I have these 2 main Boards because it’s a good first glimpse on my profile of what I do, to potential customers.
I Pin content as soon as it goes live on my website (for example, when this Blog post goes up, I will Pin it straight away).
Not only do I Pin them to my 2 main Boards, I also Pin them to wherever else they are relevant. I have a large selection of different Boards that appeal to my target audience (remember in Step 2). I Pin original content and Repinned content to these Boards.
So, after this Blog post goes live, I will first Pin it to “Big Cat Creative Blog”, then I will Repin that Pin to “Business Tips”.
I have original Pins posting at least 3-5 times a week. Which when you think about it, is pretty minor, and Pinterest is still one of the largest traffic drivers to my site. So what about all of the other Pins?
Repin other people’s content
Repinning other people’s content increases the likelihood of your original Pins being seen. Seems counterintuitive, right? But it’s not.
I used to Repin about 10 Pins per day of other people's content throughout each day. This was because I didn’t have lots of original content to pin as I was a relatively new business owner. If you don’t have a lot of original content, I definitely recommend doing this, as it’s good to be consistently Pinning. If you’re only Pinning your content (which is maybe 1 Pin per day) that won’t be enough to gain any traction. Leverage other peoples Pins in the beginning to increase your overall Repins, which will increase monthly views and more followers.
As soon as you have more original content, I suggest doing the following…
Now, I have so much original content coming out consistently, and so much content already existing on Pinterest that I Pin and Repin around 30-40 Pins per day to my boards and group boards, and hardly Repin anyone else’s Pins. When you’re in a place where you have lots of original content to Pin, it’s not necessary to Repin other peoples content, although you still can, and if you do I would recommend following the 80/20 rule (no more than 20% other peoples pins).
But always remember, Repin content that is attractive to your ideal audience and is related to your niche.
But how the hell do I have time to Pin 30-40 time’s per day?
Schedule Your Pins
RIP BoardBooster, and all hail Tailwind!
Now that BoardBooster has closed down, the only reputable alternative software to schedule your Pins is Tailwind. I actually changed to Tailwind before BoardBooster even closed, because I had heard so many amazing things about it! And BoardBooster was getting a pretty bad rep.
Tailwind is actually partnered with Pinterest, so, in a way, Pinterest is encouraging people to use Tailwind. This means to me that Pinterest isn’t ever going to penalize you for using it, so I feel safe using Tailwind.
If you have no idea what I’m even talking about, Tailwind is an amazing online software that easily manages your Pins and helps you schedule them all out so they Pin on their own and you don’t have to lift a finger (woohoo!)
Now I’m not going to get into a complete Tailwild tutorial here, because there is SO much you can do with Tailwind and this blog post is already long enough. But if you’re serious about using Pinterest for your business, then you NEED to at least be scheduling your Pins, and Tailwind is by far the best way to do that.
When you sign up for Tailwind, they walk you through a comprehensive tutorial about how to use the platform, which is great! It can be a bit daunting at first but if you put a couple hours aside to learn how to use it properly, you’ll save yourself so much time and hassle in the long run! Sign up here!
Using a scheduling tool is important for a few reasons, but the main two are that
It saves you time! You can spend a couple of hours a month filling up your Pin queue, and you will have Pins going every day out for a whole month without doing a think. Just hit Schedule and GO! That’s kind of incredible.
It Pins everything at the perfect time, you just tell it how many Pins you want to go roughly per day, and it will stagger them perfectly throughout each day so that you are Pinning at the optimal times, how great is that? This is important, because Pinterest (and your followers) don’t like when you Repin 100 things all at once. It’s spammy and it will decrease your chances of being seen. What Pinterest does like, is a user who is Pinning a lot, consistently. Tailwind will handle this for you.
Step 4 | Join Group Boards
This step is often overlooked, but really helpful for gaining exposure and increasing reach for your Pins.
Group Boards are just what they sound like, Boards that have multiple users/contributors that Pin and Repin content to the Board. The Boards usually have a theme, and rules. The good thing about Group Boards, is that they usually have thousands, if not tens of thousands of followers. So by joining group Boards and Pinning to these Boards, the chances of your Pins being seen increases beyond your following.
There’s a few different ways to find Group Boards. You can try www.Pingroupie.com, or you can just search on Pinterest. I often find group Boards by visiting the profile of someone else in my niche (usually a guru), are they in any group Boards? If they are, you could try to join the same group Boards as them.
You can’t just join any board, you have to apply. The application instructions are usually in the board description (along with any rules the board might have). If there’s no instructions on how to join, you can contact the owner directly through Pinterest and just ask (nicely). To find the owner of the board, click on the first profile image you see when you’re on the board:
What kind of Boards should you join? Boards that are in your niche and Boards that your target audience would be following. Boards that are active, have a good number of followers and not too many contributors. There’s no point joining group Boards if they’re stagnant and no one is posting to them. There’s also no point in joining a group board if it has so many contributors, or no followers, that no one will even see your posts.
I’m in a few different Boards for designers and bloggers which are topics in my niche and what my target audience might be looking at.
I Pin to these Boards regularly, and always Pin my original content to them. I also use Tailwind to schedule to these group Boards.
Step 5 | Optimize your pinterest images
There's a-whole-nother blog post for this one > How to Design Kickass Pinterest Graphics
Phew! That was a long one today. But I hope you got through it, because by using these simple strategies you’ll definitely start to see your Pinterest grow, which means (drumroll please) More website traffic!
Let’s quickly recap:
Pinterest is a Search Engine, not social media, so you need to use SEO.
Optimize your profile by updating your name, bio and picture and featured board.
Optimise for SEO by creating relevant Boards and adding Keyword Descriptions to your Boards and your Pins.
Always remember, what would my ideal client be Pinning?
Pin all of your original content, and Pin other people's content if you need to.
Schedule your Pins with Tailwind
Join active group Boards and Pin to those
Design kickass Pinterest Graphics for your original content
Good luck and happy Pinning!