Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pinterest 101 For Bloggers: Things You Should Know

Pinterest 101 For Bloggers: Things You Should Know

I am a bit obsessed with Pinterest. At any given time I have about 30 windows open with Pinterest, looking at different things, pinning them, using the ideas as inspiration for everything from blog posts to my new baby girl nursery. Pinterest is one of the biggest social networks out there, and if you have a blog you should be on Pinterest.


high traffic from Pinterest

This is why. It's a big traffic driver. A single pin on Pinterest can result in thousands of new visitors just to that post, and hopefully some of those visitors will become regular readers.

Optimize your pinterest profile

The best way to get traffic to your blog from Pinterest is to first become someone fun to follow on Pinterest. Who wants to follow a pinner that only pins ads once a day? No one. And if no wants to follow you, no one will see your pins.

Specialize your boards!
Believe it or not, more boards = good. I'm a beauty blogger. I don't have just one board about beauty. Instead, I have a mascara board, a perfume board, I have a hair inspiration board, a "good hair day" board for tips and product reviews, an eye makeup board... you get the picture.

One tip I can also add to help highlight your own content is to create boards only for your own content. These boards should be front and center at the top of your Pinterest profile. It's fine to have the topics overlap other boards, since those boards should also be featuring the content of other people. So, I have a 15 Minute Hair board, Great Hair board and a Good Hair Day group board that I started. When I write a hair post it can be pinned to all three!

Pin other people's things, not only your own
It really is boring to show only your own items. If you see a great pin that would be a good fit for one of your boards, you should pin it. Who cares where it is from? Chances are your followers will also find it interesting. You want to pin things that are interesting, drawing people over to your boards, where they can poke around and find more amazing content. If some of that content is your own, then even better!

Pin throughout the day
Not everyone can pin at the same time of day, let alone be in the same time zone. There's a lot of info out there about the "best" time of day to pin, and really, none of it is based on much info and most of it seems to be conflicting. A lot of women will look at Pinterest throughout the day, there are peak times. Think about the typical day of a woman (80% or so of Pinterest users are women). They probably have time to check Pinterest first thing in the morning (6:30-8:30?) before work or getting busy with their day. They might have time to look at it before dinner, and likely after dinner during primetime TV. Don't forget that there is a 3 hour time difference between the east and west coasts in the US (let alone even more time differences if you throw in Europe, Australia, etc). So, you have a pretty big window in which to pin and have those pins be seen by more followers.

Schedule the pins if you can
You might only have 20 minutes a day to pin, but you don't want all of your pins to go up at that time. Having 1 person's pins all show up in your stream at once is annoying and spammy.

Luckily there are quite a few services out there now for scheduling your pins. I use ViralTag, but there's also ViralWoot, Sendible, CoSchedule and Ahalogy. I try to space out my pins by at least 20 minutes, though I know this isn't always successful (in large part because I have some things scheduled out months in advance). But, pinning every 2 minutes, especially to the same board, will turn off a lot of people. It's a great way to be unfollowed.

Let people know you're on pinterest
Let people know you're on Pinterest!
Make it easy for readers on your site to find you on Pinterest. If they like you enough to read your posts, they'll probably be interested enough to find you on Pinterest. You should put a link or image near the top of your site, in an easy to find location, or use one of the Pinterest widgets to help readers find you.

If you look on my site I have a Pinterest logo in my social media links, and I currently (at least, while I'm writing this) have created a widget with pretty pictures to the right showing that I'm on Pinterest and showcasing some of my most popular boards. There is also a great Pinterest widget which creates a mini-board on your site. While it can be slow to load, I do think it helps a lot.

Getting more followers
A lot of the things I've already mentioned will help get you followers. Be interesting to follow, curating good content with eye catching pins (more on that below). Making sure the people who already follow you elsewhere know that they can follow you on Pinterest is a great step as well. While I've had the most luck in gaining followers by pinning throughout the day with interesting content, I also had the chance to ask Jill Nystul (she of the million viral pins) what is her best advice for gaining Pinterest followers. She told me that she's had the best luck by running contests. Pinterest seems to have a difficult to follow policy re: having people pin something specific to enter a contest. However, I like to use Rafflecopter for anything I run as a contest on my blog, and there's an option for following on Pinterest to enter (I believe you need to pay for that option). I always use it and make it a ton of extra entries!

Make your website Pinterest friendly
There are a lot of ways to make your website Pinterest friendly, and these are the ones that have been the most successful for me so far.

Add a Pin It button
Adding a button at the end of your post, or a button that hovers over an image, is a great way to make it easy for readers to pin your content. I recommend doing both if you can! I like Add This and Share This for easy sharing buttons and Pinterest has their own Pin It Button that is easy to install.

Optimize your images
Pinterest is an image driven website, and if a post doesn't have an image then it can't be pinned.

Go tall: Currently, Pinterest takes every image pinned and resizes it to a uniform width, keeping things in perspective. So, a landscape picture will end up short, but a tall image will stay tall. So, it's better to have a tall image. Note that Pinterest eventually cuts off images in the main feed, so you have a limit to which a tall image will do you any good, but tall and skinny is better and will show up more in a Pinterest feed.

Use clear images: You want an image that people can actually see. Bright is better than dark. Appropriately zoomed in is good. What works on a blog (eg, pictures of shadow swatches) doesn't really work on Pinterest. It's better to combine those into a collage, and it is better to use a max of 4-6 images if you're using full images for a "title" page.

Adding writing helps: Sometimes, not always, but yes. Adding writing can help. You can use free programs like Canva or PicMonkey if you don't own Photoshop Elements or regular Photoshop.

Add your blog name: I don't always do this, but putting your logo on an image can help a lot if the image ever gets pinned without your site being linked.

Red grabs the eye: I recently read that having red/pink tones instead of blue/green in your image will grab the eye and result in more repins. I've made images with both color schemes, and guess what? It works. The difference isn't huge, but it does change.

Have good pin descriptions
I know pinners who just put in a bunch of key words, and while this might make your pin show up in search more often, it doesn't help your followers at all. Use a few key words, but putting in a description that is helpful actually increases your repins.

Advanced tip: When putting images on your blog, make sure you fill out a good alt tag. Putting a random collection of key words isn't good (and Google frowns upon it). Instead, the alt tag should be a "description" of the image, but it is also what Pinterest will pull over as the pre-filled pin description. So, include a keyword or two, but you can also add in a clickable link to your blog or even tag yourself on Pinterest with it! I add "via @15minbeauty" (make sure you use your Pinterest user name) or "via" and they'll be automatically added to the pin description.

Don't give it all away: This goes along with images as well. The more leading your image and description, the more likely people are to click over. I've stopped making bit tutorial images for this reason. While pinners love to repin them, they don't drive traffic at all. Instead, create a great image with the end result.

Pinterest Group Board Basics and Manners
Group boards are your friend
Group boards can be an amazing way to get more exposure on Pinterest. Anyone can make a group board, when you go up to edit a board you can invite other pinners. The invited person needs to be following that board, and you need to be following at least one of their boards as well. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

The group board followers initially are composed of the followers of the board starter, though when more pinners are added if someone "follows all boards" on those pinners, they get added as group board followers as well. The group boards can become very large, but in general the majority of the followers are still the initial core group of followers that were following the board starter. This can be great as an added pinner, chances are that most of those followers are new to you.

Common Board Rules/Manners
Because the board starter is essentially giving you free uncontrolled access to their followers many board starters will set a few rules for their boards, or they may just feel free to delete anyone they want. Personally, I watch my group boards very closely and simply delete repeat offenders. I don't leave messages for people, I don't hunt you down, I simply delete you (and I tell Pinterest to delete all of your pins to that board when I do it).

You can usually check board descriptions for information about that board's rules. However, unless otherwise stated you should probably follow these common group board rules:

Don't invite friends: I'm super picky about who I will let into my group boards. I check out blogs, go through a person's Pinterest profile and even look at their Twitter feed. Not everyone does this. Recently another blogger started inviting other bloggers from her area into my group boards, and one of those invited bloggers started spamming with ads for fake LV bags. The original blogger was deleted and banned, which means that Pinterest also booted everyone she invited AND deleted all of their pins. I definitely won't be inviting her to any of my boards again.

Don't spam the board: Many boards will specify how many pins you can pin to it in a day (something I have a really hard time keeping track of when I schedule all of my pins), but as a general rule you shouldn't be pinning the same pin to a board more than once. You should probably keep yourself under 5-10 pins total to a single group board in a day. I recently booted a few bloggers from group boards that over the course of months were continually pinning the same post many times in the same day (5-10 times) and followers were even mentioning it in comments! Don't be a spammer!

Stay on topic: Sometimes you hit the wrong board name and send something off topic, and that isn't a big deal. Or sometimes a board can have a generic name (hair), and it might not say it in the board description, but maybe the board starter doesn't want hair tips in that board, only pretty hair pictures. Most board starters are pretty forgiving of that. But consistently pinning something very off topic to a board can definitely get you booted. Such as the person that wouldn't stop pinning high end beauty products to my "Drugstore Beauty" board. Yes, I booted them.

Finding group boards
You can often find group boards just by searching on Pinterest for names such as "beauty" or "makeup" and looking for the little group board icon on the results.

Friday, July 25, 2014

11 Great Anti-Frizz Hair Products

Product Sent for Review Affiliate Links I Bought It

11 Great Anti-Frizz Hair Products via

1. Ouidad Climate Control Frizz & Flyaway Fighter Taming Shine Spray: This spray is super lightweight and holds up even under high humidity.

2. AG Hair Smooth Frizzproof Anti-Humidity Spray (at ULTA): One quick spray and your hair is smooth and shiny. It's almost impossible to over use this product.

3. AG Hair Smoothing Balm: This is a creamy balm, and a little goes a long way! It is very lightweight and you can use it on wet or dry hair.

4. Bumble and Bumble Defrizz: You only need a few drops, and you can use it at any point in styling. It also does a great job of taming fly aways!

5. Kerastase Oleo Relax Serum: Also really lightweight, it adds a ton of shine and is a hair stylist favorite.

6. L'Oreal Smooth Intense Frizz Taming Serum: This is pretty lightweight and also helps protect against heat damage. If you're at the drugstore, reach for this over the Frizz Ease.

7. Mark Hill MiracOILicious Argan Oil: This oil is great on wet hair, but use a lighter hand if you're applying it to dry hair.

8. Redken Diamond Oil Shatterproof Shine: Another great oil, this one only needs 2 or 3 drops, even for my super thick hair. A bottle is likely a lifetime supply.

9. Living Proof Prime Style Extender: When used on wet hair, this is meant to "prime" your hair for later products, it tames frizz and smooths and helps your hair style last much longer despite humidity.

10. Avon Advance Techniques Frizz Control Lotus Shield Anti-Frizz Treatment: This is the best I've found for super high humidity, just a small amount on wet hair.

11. L'Oreal EverStyle Alcohol-Free Smooth & Shine Creme: This cream also helps tame curls when you're blowing out your hair.

Product Sent for Review Affiliate Links I Bought It

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Amp Up Your Style: Full Blown Volume with TRESemmé

Product Sent for Review Sponsored Post

Big volume blow dry

I'm all about volume this summer (have you noticed that I'm constantly posting about volumizing products?) and TRESemmé has a great tutorial for creating more volume over on their tutorial page! They're offering 5 different tutorials (pumped up pony, a super sleek look, rock ‘n roll waves, full blown volume and shine like a star), with the idea that you're Amping Up Your Style. The looks are all super easy to recreate on your own, and when you watch the tutorials you'll get a coupon for $1.75 off TRESemmé at Walmart!

adding volume to your hair with Tresemme

I followed the Full Blown Volume Tutorial, which started with washing my hair with the Anti-Breakage Shampoo and Conditioner. These products are super hydrating and help correct damage. I think they're actually the key to this look, not the mousse! After washing, I used the mousse, roughly the size of a large egg, and distributed it throughout my hair. I concentrated mostly at the roots. I probably could have used more mousse, it isn't sticky at all and really helped volumize my hair.

My hair definitely have quite a bit more volume than it usually does, but it is super soft, shiny and silky! I can't stop touching it today!

When you head over to watch the tutorials, you can enter to win a chance to attend the 2015 VMAs for you and a friend! Simply fill out the sweeps form.

Check Out TRESemmé's Amp Up Your Style Tutorials!

Don't forget! While watching the 2014 VMAs on August 24th post your VMA style and show how you amp up your style using the hashtag #ampupyourstyle for your chance to win TRESemmé samples.

Check Out TRESemmé's Amp Up Your Style Tutorials!
Product Sent for Review Sponsored Post

MAC's All About Beige Look In A Box Review and Swatches

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MAC All About Beige Look In A Box Review and Swatches

When I placed my massive Nordstrom Anniversary Sale order the other day (which was much pared down from everything that I originally put in my cart), the first thing to make the cut was the MAC All About Beige Look In A Box. While it looked a tad warm for my cool toned skin, I've been venturing into warmer territory since going auburn last year. Sometimes the results are good, sometimes bad. But this looked neutral enough that I would still be ok.

(FYI, you can check out the rest of my Nordstrom Sale Picks, but things are selling out so move fast!)

MAC All About Beige Look In A Box Review and Swatches

The great thing about this is that it is a pretty compact palette (it's about the dimensions of my iPhone, though thicker), and it has a lot of product in there! You could easily create a weekend's worth of looks using just this palette. It's great for those that just want to try a new look as well. After seeing how amazing the beige kit is, I'm really regretting taking the All About Plum kit out of my cart at the last minute.

MAC All About Beige Look In A Box Review and Swatches

Eyeshadows (top)
- Rocketgirl (satin finish)
- Plum Ember (satin finish)
- Sable Riche (frost finish)
- Cocktail Black (frost finish)
- Honesty (luster finish)
- Light Study (matte finish)

Powder Blushes (lower left)
- Love and Laughter (satin finish)
- Liberating (satin finish)

Lipsticks (bottom right)
- Modern Wow! (amplified finish)
- What’s Haute? (amplified finish)

- Duo-handled 275SE Brush/316SE Lip Brush

As usual, all of the products are very pigmented (you can't see Light Study very well because it blends into my skin, but there is a very light ivory shadow at the far left). They blend beautifully. The blushes are showing up as super pigmented in this swatch, but I applied them with a q-tip. With a regular brush they'll be a great compliment to the shadows. My only complaint is that I prefer my lippies to be separate lippies, that way they can join the collection in my purse that I carry around everywhere!

I'm still debating about picking up that All About Plum kit. Did you get it? How is it?

MAC All About Beige Look In A Box
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Paraben Free Drugstore Makeup Kit: Yes, It Is Possible!

Product Sent for Review Affiliate Links Bought It Myself

Paraben Free Drugstore Makeup Kit: Yes, It Is Possible! via

Hello. I just read your post on a makeup starter kit and it inspired me to write to you with a question of my own that I have been struggling with for a while now.

I am 14 years old and I would like to start wearing makeup. The only problem is that I am allergic to parabens, which are in almost every makeup that I can find. I cannot find any makeup or makeup companies that are completely free of parabens.

I have blond hair and light blue deep set eyes. My skin is very fair and it has a cooler undertone. I'm looking for a basic BB Cream or Foundation, Concealer, blush, eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, and any tools. I also have very oily skin and would like some type of powder or oil absorbing sheets. I'm not sure if I will be able to find any paraben free products in a drug store, but there is a CVS nearby and also a Sephora that is within driving distance. I am ok with spending a good amount of money as long as I don't react to the products.

Thank you for helping.

Parabens are a hot topic these days. While the medical community feels they're safe based upon our current level of knowledge and scientific research (Dr. Cynthia Bailey has a great post going over parabens in skin care), there are people who want to avoid them due to safety concerns. However, this weekend I received an email from a reader asking about paraben free products due to an allergy, in which case she can't really fudge it and ignore the paraben in her blush. Luckily, parabens are getting easier to avoid, even when you're shopping at the drugstore!

I've spent a few days looking for products that I recommend and building a makeup kit full of paraben free products. I looked primarily at drugstore products (as a teen I would have had to save for quite a while to shop at Sephora instead of CVS), and I looked at ingredient lists on manufacturer websites, CVS, Walgreen's,, etc. I've found some higher price alternatives that are paraben free, and while they're not in the graphic I've listed those below.

This is an epic long post (with an even bigger collage), so read more after the jump!