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.
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.
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. I will say it again: having only 1 person's pins in your stream at one time is spammy and drives followers crazy. People will unfollow you for it, you'll get kicked off of group boards for it and other bloggers will talk behind your back. It doesn't matter if you think "it works for you", it would work much better if you didn't spam.
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.
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.
I 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!
The best way I've found to gain followers is to pin throughout the day with interesting content, and have that content be not only your own. Have that content spaced out throughout the day, so you're getting people that are checking Pinterest before work, on their lunch hour, while watching television at night, etc. And remember that there are a lot of time zones out there! You might hit one person right as they're making dinner, but that same pin is at a good time for someone else at 8 pm on the other side of the country. That's why you want your pins spaced out!
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 15MinuteBeauty.com" 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.
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: This is the biggest one, I can NOT emphasize this enough. 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. And guess what? If you have 1 post with a bunch of similar pictures, you should only be pinning that post once. It will count as spamming if you pin 3 pictures that are almost identical at the same time. You should probably keep yourself under 5-10 pins total to a single group board in a day, and all of those pins need to be spread out throughout the 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. And the person that pinned all of their holiday beauty gift ideas to my "Summer Beauty" board.
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. Also try checking the profile pages of some of your favorite pinners, chances are they belong to some amazing group boards that you'll want to follow or join!