For many blogs, the biggest source of traffic from a social network is Pinterest.
If you’ve eschewed Pinterest because you don’t care about ombre cakes or repurposing wooden pallets for home decor use, you might be missing out on a huge audience for your blog (and some delicious cake). Today, we’ll push past the inspirational quotes with beautiful typography, turn left at the green smoothies, and explore whether Pinterest is a good match for your blog.
Why should I care about Pinterest?
We all love it when our stats show that someone other than our best friend reads our blog. Take a look at these:
These are the last month’s stats for a blog that hasn’t been updated since the autumn of 2012. The slowest day had about 200 views; the best day, over 400. Just sitting there, dormant, this blog has traffic that many of us would do a happy dance to achieve.
How? Pinterest. No, really.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a virtual, sharable bulletin board. When you find something on the web you want to remember or share, you can pin it to your board. You can create multiple boards — if you need to separate your purple ombre cakes from your yellow ombre cakes, for example, or if you pin a wide variety of things, like The Fashion Medley’s Elif — to organize your collections. Each pin links back to the website where you first saw whatever it is you want to remember.
Once you’re on Pinterest, you can follow other users and browse their collections. If you see something you love, you can re-pin it onto one of your boards — like reblogging on WordPress.com.
As you develop collections, you not only create a handy catalogue for yourself, you become a resource for your blog’s readers and for other Pinterest users who admire your excellent taste… some of whom will find their way to your blog.
It’s especially useful for supplemental content that you wouldn’t necessarily put on your blog, but still want to collect and share. If you’re a book blogger, your site might feature reviews or affiliate links for your absolute faves, but your Pinterest boards are a place to park all the other titles that catch your eye.
Who should be using it?
Unsurprisingly, Pinterest is a hugely popular way to share content with a strong visual element — food, fashion, and memes abound. In our stats example, the blog is food-focused, so there are lots of drool-inducing photos that make great Pinterest fodder.
For some kinds of bloggers, Pinterest is a no-brainer:
- Food bloggers: Share images of your own finished masterpieces, and keep a virtual recipe box of need-to-make dishes you find as you read other blogs, like Mrs. French.
- Style bloggers: Pin other bloggers’ looks and must-have items from other blogs and shops, and create a virtual dream closet à la The Fancy Pants Report.
- DIY/craft bloggers: Collect projects you love, or tools and materials you’re drawn to for your readers’ (and your) easy reference, the way M&J Trimming does.
- Design bloggers: Share the photos of interiors or products to create an online vision board, like Lyndsay of That 70s House.
- Photo bloggers: Collect shots you love. Sort them by subject or style (black and white, macro, street, film…). Be inspired to stretch your own photography, and inspire others the way the blogger behind Flights. Camera. Satisfaction. does.
- Travel bloggers: Places you’ve been, places you’d love to go, offbeat locations that aren’t on most travelers’ radars — all ripe for sharing, as On the Luce’s Lucy Dodsworth has.
What about me? I’m not any of those things.
Pinterest can be low-stress way to explore peripheral interests. Maybe you mostly blog about writing, but love gardening, working the occasional gardening metaphor into posts about language. Start some gardening boards! Readers who are interested in gardening can visit them and learn more, but the focus of your writing blog remains the same. Maybe you write about attachment parenting, and use Pinterest to collect ideas for your toddler’s room renovation.
Anyone can use Pinterest as a visual bookmarking system, or explore it as another way to connect with an audience. If the thing you want to save or share has a visual element, you can pin it. Album covers. Animated GIFs. Sports. Cars. The vast majority of things we create and share on the internet are connected to something visual.
What do I actually do with it?
You can use Pinterest as a purely personal bookmarking/bulletin board system — keep your boards private, and make it your own resource. If you do use it publicly, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- As with any other social network, you’re using it to continue and expand what happens on your blog. Feel free to pin your own posts… but don’t pin your own content exclusively. There’s no reason for anyone to follow you on Pinterest if the content is identical to your blog. Spread the love, and spread the traffic.
- Re-pin posts you love to help spread the word. Unlike reblogs, which some bloggers don’t love, pins are meant to be pinned and pinned again.
- Check the rights before pinning possibly copyrighted content. Lots of people don’t mind having their photos shared, but some do — check the license for images you pin before pinning them. If the photographer reserves all the rights, or you’re otherwise unsure, ask before pinning.
- Consider a blog-specific account if you use Pinterest for very different purposes personally and, um, blogularly. Alternatively, you can set personal boards to be private and limit what you share.
Finally, if you use Pinterest to share products you like, you can use affiliate links on your blog for the ones you particularly love (think the Amazon Associates program, one of the most frequently used). Most affiliate links for reputable merchants are welcome — highlight books, music, clothes, gadgets, or any other product you love and recommend to your readers.
Do you use Pinterest? Does your blog get substantial traffic from Pinterest? We’d love to hear more about your experience with it.