Pinterest is my biggest driver of traffic, one that has blown me away with the number of visitors I get daily with very little effort put into maintaining the account. I’m not sure I would have continued blogging without it.
I discovered the potential of Pinterest 10 months ago. Until then, I had been using the platform casually and had amassed 200-300 followers in the 12 months since I began blogging. After changing my strategy and putting minimal but crucial effort into building my profile, I’ve increased my following to over 4k and gain 100 every week.
If you’re putting all the energy into creating great content for your blog, but no one is finding your posts, then this guide is for you.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a social network and a search engine for posts and articles all over the web. Users ‘pin’ images from sites and save them to their own categories or ‘boards’.
Why it works for travel bloggers
Compared to recipes and DIY pins, the travel section of Pinterest is unsaturated – that means less competition from other travel bloggers as few travel bloggers are really tapping into Pinterest’s potential.
So, considering that Pinterest's search engine is primarily used for finding inspiration, there’s a lot of potential to find readers in people who may not usually follow travel blogs. See, when people set up their account they are encouraged to pick a few categories that they’re even remotely interested in and many will have picked travel. Travel pins still spark an emotional response and dream travel boards are popular even among those who don’t travel regularly.
There’s also none of that follow/unfollow bullshit that you see on Instagram and twitter, so any followers you gain are there to stay.
While tweets, snaps, and Facebook posts disappear from the feed in hours or even minutes, Pinterest will suggest your pins over and over. The more people pin them, the more people see them, and the more people will click through to your site. I find that a pin has an active life of about three to six months but will keep popping up regularly after that as people search them.
But, to get your pins suggested often, you have to be active on Pinterest often. It only takes about 10 minutes a day of use and the rewards greatly outweigh the time invested.
So I’m going to tell you exactly what you have to do to rock Pinterest.
Step one – set up your account
First things first, set up a business account to access your profile’s analytics and verify rich pins on your site by following these instructions. A little technical to set up, but worth it when it’s done as it adds your blog's meta data to the pin.
Second, organise your boards so that anyone who stumbles upon your profile will see straight away what following you will offer them – bright and informative travel pins.
Merge or remove any excess boards that aren’t related to your travel blog - merging is better as deleting can lose you followers.
Keep your boards orderly, continent boards are better than individual country boards because I found I had too few pins spread over many boards, so it was annoying to search through all the boards I had accumulated when I wanted to pin something.
Click and drag your blog board (with just your content) to the top corner along with a couple of niche boards that work with your brand (outdoor adventure, solo female, world food etc.). Following that will be your destination boards with your group boards to the bottom of your profile (I’ll get to group boards in a moment).
Give your boards interesting titles like ‘badass women who travel solo’ and pick colourful covers to portray each board. I’m not a fan of matching cover pictures, I prefer the rustic mismatched look but that’s up to you if you want to create them.
Edit all your boards to add a full description using any key words that people may search when looking for related pins (like listing country names, specific activities or budget/luxury travel keywords)
Step two – follow active and quality pinners
These bloggers continuously turn out quality content with eye-catching pins. Choose to follow accounts that will fill your feed with varied and informative pins to keep your profile full of the latest posts. Following group boards are a bit of mixed bag, they can load your feed up with some pretty spammy pins.
Step three – join group boards
Group board are the best thing about Pinterest, they’re boards with thousands of followers – often more than I have and they help me to share my blogs pins to a larger audience.
The following list of group boards have worked best for me and at the point of publishing, are still taking on contributors:
Some of those boards have huge followings, others have just a thousand or so, but it’s the high engagement to follower ratio that matters most. What’s the point in having ten thousand followers if the majority aren’t using Pinterest?
So follow the account and then read the instructions in the description on how to join, some require a quick email stating which board you want to be added to and a link to your account, others ask for a ‘add me to [group board]’ comment on one of their pins. I find that one in five accounts I message, I won’t get a response – don’t worry about it, move on.
Once you have a few generic travel group boards, use PinGroupie to search for group boards in your niche, I find country or region specific boards are great. Or look through the Pinterest profiles of your favourite bloggers to find group boards. The boards without instructions are usually not taking on any more group members, but there's no harm in asking.
Within six months you’ll reach a point where you’ll be receiving weekly invites to join group boards.
It takes a little time to set up group boards in the beginning, but once you have them they’re worth their weight in gold to share your fresh off the press blog posts.
How often should you pin?
This is important. To keep the pins that are linked to your blog high up in the feeds of followers, you need to be active daily on Pinterest.
First you should give your account a boost by aggressively pinning 50-100 times a day until you hit 2k pins then feel free to drop to 10 - 20 a day.
These pins can be from your blog or from blogs you follow, or simply be from your feed. You want to give your profile a bit of padding, so that anyone who looks at your page doesn’t think they’re following a half-assed 500 pin account. Sorry! It’ll be worth the time in the long run.
I usually pin just 2-3 of my own pins per day to group boards, over-pinning comes across as spammy and I have been removed from group boards in the beginning for going OTT on my own content – oh well, live and learn.
I use Tailwind to schedule the pins for my latest blog post to go out every 12 hours over the course of two weeks, rather than lump pinning them in a single day to multiple boards. It just helps to get your pins seen by more people active at different times of the day. Sign up to the trial account to schedule a hundred free pins and the Tailwind Plus Account is worth getting when you have over 10 group boards to pin to.
How to create eye-catching pins
This is where the magic happens, all the work you’ve done until now is to insure people see your pins, now you have to entice them into clicking though to your site.
I use Canva to create pins (best operated in Chrome) and once you’ve signed up I highly recommend spending a few minutes using the tutorial for designing aesthetically pleasing graphics found on the left side bar ‘Learn to Design’. It has some great ideas on matching colours, fonts and filters to your photos to make them stand out and be legible.
How to word pins
I’ve found that writing text on top of an image (as opposed to just pinning a photograph) works best for my click through rate. You need to write a strong call to action – tell people exactly what they will find if they click your pin. I’ve found that just writing the destination name on the pin won’t have anywhere near as much success. Always include your blog address on the bottom of each pin, preferably sticking to the same font each time.
What to expect:
If you’re struggling with finding new readers for your blog, then Pinterest is where you want to direct your energies. The first month will be slow at first, you may not see much happen in the first two weeks, but the following month you’ll likely see a huge surge of traffic (quadruple the traffic for me), and now nearly a year later, Pinterest sends me over a hundred clicks a day, making up 80% of my traffic.
The time put into Pinterest in the beginning may not seem worth it. Creating pins, setting up an account, contacting group boards… it’s really time consuming! But now I spend 5-10 minutes a day after checking my emails to re-pin a handful of pins. Whenever I create a new blog post, I’ll put around 20 minutes into creating a pin and then a few more minutes uploading it to Tailwind. Afterwards I’ll reap the reward for months to come, enjoying traffic to my site with little to no effort.
Create a pin and upload it with your blog post so that readers can pin them for you. Consider creating your own group board and inviting others to pin to it. Try for a niche that you consider yourself an expert in.
Get the Pinterest save button added to Google Chrome to make saving pages easier.
Following other pinners doesn’t gain any return followers, so focus on pinning popular pins with thousands of re-pins or pins with the potential to go viral.
Save any pins from other bloggers that really standout to a secret board, then when you need inspiration for creating new pins you can have a look at what makes a pin look polished!
Sometimes the pins you think will go viral wont, and those you think wont, will. Also allow a few weeks for a pin to pick up the pace and get shared around.
Some people say hashtags don’t make a difference, others say to put them in pin descriptions – personally I don’t bother because the Pinterest search engine picks up on the key words in your description anyway.
Get a Pinterest app for your blog to make pinning your pins as easy as possible for your readers.
Use a good profile photo, one that you use for your other social media profiles, that’s also reflective of your blogging brand (I’m not a fan of logos on social medias – since they’re personal – but that’s up to you).
The second part of this guide will be available next week – how to create pins that standout using Canva.
Click to pin it to your blogging board: