Updated: Oct 16, 2020
Hello! I have online stores selling my original, handmade and creative travel prints and posters on Etsy, Amazon, Folksy and also have a print on demand store on Redbubble. I market my stores in as many ways as I can and this is a post explaining how I got to these pins stats on Pinterest. I'm not an expert and this is more of a log of my small business journey - what is working and what is (often!) not.
Pinterest is an amazing, free marketing tool for any small business unwilling to spend money, it is described as a "visual discovery engine" ranking alongside Google and Bing. Pinterest's mission "is to bring everyone the inspiration to create a life they love", it wants to be the go-to place for discovery searches to help you find things when you don't have the words to describe them.
Pinterest is also a bit of a headache to wrap your head around when you just want to get a bit of traction on your pins so you can sell more stuff.
Success on Pinterest depends on how much time and effort you're willing to put into creating and posting regularly, pretty images and customer friendly titles/descriptions are key but there is also quite some work involved.
Firstly before you do anything else double check your ideal customer will hang out on Pinterest. If yes, you're good to go.
You are going to hate this, but before you do anything else on an A4 sheet of paper create three columns labelled "1", "2" and "3". Write a list of 10 in each column describing your product(s). Never lose this piece of paper as these are your "keywords". (I've made this blog about keywords). I have my keywords in a folder on my desk and refer to it continually, adding more and more as I go along, it is like gold dust when you stuck once again how to describe something! In column one, make your list one word e.g. "Amsterdam", column 2, two words e.g. "Dutch Prints", column 3 "Expat Leaving Gifts". Just do it now, it will save you time later I promise. This information will help you create your board names, titles and "thoughtful pin descriptions" Pinterest highly desires. I've also published a small blog on your unique selling points which can help to build into your keywords here.
Just as an aside, your keywords will also help you create hashtags - Pinterest has changed the way hashtags function and they DO suggest using them, they are considered “optional.” It’s recommended that you spend more time working on using keywords in your description rather than finding hashtags as searches for hashtags will pull non-hashed keywords from your description. According to Pinterest: “Hashtags are a new way to reach users interested in your content. When a user searches a hashtag the freshest pins with that hashtag will appear at the top of the feed. When a user searches the same phrase without the hashtag, it will pull up the original search results page.”
This next bit does take ages, it will drive you to the edge of reason but there is a point to it all, don't skip any steps (*cough, I may have done that when I set up*):
1. Firstly set up a Pinterest business account and "claim" your website (it just means add your website to your business account). You have to do this if you want the person who clicks on the pin to land on your product selling page. Once you've set this up any pin will be known as a "rich pin". Only use rich pins.
2. Optimise your Pinterest boards. I hate the jargon, it means set up your boards to get the most out of them. Your board name is a reallly important step to have your products advertised on them. Think long and hard on this as I believe it is the combination of board name plus pin name that will make your pin a success. If you can, using a few of your keywords, create board names with things that people are looking for e.g. "10 original handmade creative London bus designed t-shirts" or a question you can answer "How to style boho + Dalmatian Print". If you are stuck, think about the question you would ask on Google, so if I put in Google "London themed leaving present" and you'll be moving in the right direction for the sort of board name you will need. Often if you put in two words in the Google search box it will populate it with suggestions. This is a useful tool!
3. The next thing I will ask you to do will make you crazy. I want you to save 10 pins from other people to your newly named board relating to the name of your board. My example would be, I created a board called "Location themed Art Prints". I put "Location themed Art Prints" into my Pinterest search bar, I chose the top ten pins and added them all to my board. The reason for 10 pins is that the most successful boards have at least 10 pins according to Tailwind, a Pinterest partner. Basically, I'm sending a message to Pinterest that I like art prints with a location theme. I then do this nine times over with other similar (but has to be differently named boards) relating to my products. Take key words from the list you originally created above (see, told you it was a good idea to create the list). Now you have 10 boards, with names relating your product and 10 pins on each board similar to your products. Stop now and give it 24 hours.
24 hours later... Your Pinterest feed will start filling up with all things relating to the boards and pins you have created: Pinterest has acknowledged you are interested in these things and they appeal to you and is screaming "look at these things you like". Don't add any pins yet, but this is the stage where you can will soon start adding your pins to the 10 boards you have created, you are saying to Pinterest 'hey these pins I've created are similar to those highly ranked pins I saw before'. Phew, that wasn't so bad you think to yourself, but no, here is where it really begins, that was the easy bit!
As a reminder, above everything else, Pinterest desires fresh content, it does not want duplication of any kind. I have shops on ETSY, FOLKSY, Amazon and REDBUBBLE. Etsy and Folksy both advertise my products on Pinterest - if I share any of my images from either of those shops on Pinterest too it recognises it as duplicate content and does not necessarily (not always!) rate them very high on search results. Therefore I can't use those images, nor do I want to as Etsy and Folksy probably have highly trained people working their magic on Pinterest and in no way do I want to interfere with that!
I need to create a brand new image just for Pinterest. I have this blog piece here on how to create a new image from existing ones so I won't go into.
You will need to ensure you use "rich" pins, a rich pin Rich Pins are pins with extra information added to the Pin itself so for products this information may include the price, availability, description and where to purchase. This information comes directly from your website’s product listing. That's all the fabulous information you want them to have!
Back to my brand new image, I now need to create a new description too (do not use the descriptions you have in other shops as this is a duplication that Pinterest doesn't favour). Try to take at least 25 keywords from your keywords page to add to the title and description of your pin. This is the point, finally, when you have now created your new, fresh, shiny pin. Sometimes you set it free and it bombs, I can't explain why, it just does, people aren't thrilled with the image you've chosen, don't like your description or you've chosen the wrong time of the day and that's just the way it is. You have to take it on the chin whilst crying "WHY??". It happens regularly.
Now, on a regular basis add pins to your boards, sprinkling your direct pins probably on a ratio of 1:5 of others. You can't just load your own as Pinterest doesn't like it. Then cross fingers and toes that everything works, I really hope it does for you!
Pinterest can be slightly soul destroying and you will question why you are wasting hours of your life doing this. You will question it right up until the point you start seeing some lovely results of traffic driving through to your website and products, that you marketed FOR FREE. Try to note down exactly what you did and how you did it for every pin because maybe (just maybe) you will hit gold and need to replicate it!
Some interesting things I'm currently trying out:
1. On Folksy I've trialled a system where 8 of us all agree to share each others products once a day for 5-days on our individual Pinterest boards, it was well-organised and everyone cooperated but it didn't work out very well for me with impressions (but I did see their lovely products).
2. Regular sharing seems to create more traffic. What does that really mean? Should I be sharing every day? Multiple times per day? Once per week? Still no answer on that one.
3. Tags with more than one word perform better than single word tags. Not surprising really as most people do not put in one word tags in the Pinterest search bar. When I've looked at how I put things in search bars it does tend to be 3 e.g. "Dutch Canal Print".
4. Don't worry about the number of followers, those are vanity metrics. Unique monthly views are the important figure (mine fluctuates dependent upon how frequently I use Pinterest).
5. Pinterest Tribes: I need to investigate this, apparently a really good way of sharing and connecting.
6. Pinterest Stories. I've heard that the reason the impression rate for pins dropping is due to pinterest stories pins (mini-videos). It is the future....