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Build a Pinterest Presence from Scratch: Pinning and Following (Day Three)

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This is part three of a five-part series to help you create a Pinterest presence from scratch for your business or online content. Make sure you’re subscribed to our blog so you don’t miss a single day!

If you’ve been following along with our little series about creating a Pinterest presence, you’ve already created your profile and created your first ten boards. Now it’s time to start filling those boards with some great content and find some people to follow! push pin

Pinning and Repinning

On Pinterest, you can add content in three ways:

  1. Upload an image directly to Pinterest (this is usually not the best option).
  2. “Pin” content you find online, both from your own site and from other sites.
  3. “Repin” content that you see others pinning.

You want to split your time between pinning and repinning. Pinning something allows you to be the start of the repin ripples, which is good if you have content that hasn’t been added in other ways and if you want more followers. Repins are good too, though. It’s like retweeting content on Twitter – it’s a cool way to say “thank you” to people. Interacting with your community is a gesture of goodwill, and if you repin stuff from people who aren’t following you yet, it encourages them to check out your profile and perhaps follow you back.

So, both are good. Pin and repin often. If you get the “Pin It” button, it’s pretty easy to do; you don’t even have to go to Pinterest’s site to pin stuff you find throughout the day.

Whenever possible, pin a few things here and there, rather than a clump of 10-20 pins within an hour. When is the best time to pin? That depends on your target market. When is your audience most likely to be online, checking out Pinterest? Do some testing to find out.

Pin both your own content and content from others. It’s like Twitter: if you pin only your own stuff, you look selfish. So spread the love and pin from multiple sources.

Also like Twitter, you can use hashtags, and if you put an “@” before someone’s name, it will tag that person so they’ll be notified of a pin. But – and this is important – you can only tag someone if you’re following at least one of their boards. So how do you find people to follow?

Following Other People

There’s a great section about following others on Pinterest in our free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Blog, Podcast, or Videos with Pinterest. Let me go over some of the top tips here:

  • Follow profiles, not boards.

When you see someone interesting, you can choose to follow their entire profile or you can just follow the boards that interest you. Most of the time, it makes sense to follow the entire profile and then unfollow the boards that don’t interest you. That way, you’ll see future boards they create. If you just follow some of their boards, you won’t see any boards they create in the future unless you click to their profile and review their board list again. It’s much easier to just unfollow boards!

  • Use the search function to find interesting boards.

When you write good descriptions for your boards, pins, and repins, it helps you get found when people search on Pinterest. You can use this same search function to find other people interested in the same topics you like. When you search for a keyword, remember to look at pins, boards, and profiles by toggling between these three options.

  • Follow your fans.

People who repin and like your content may be others you want to follow. You don’t have to follow back everyone, but if someone finds your pins interesting, chances are that you have similar tastes and will find their pins interesting as well. So pay attention to the people who are interested in your content.

Check out the ebook for even more advice about how to find people to follow!

See the entire series here:

How to Instantly Make Your Content “Pinable”

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Want to instantly make every blog post you write pinable? Of course you do! According to PR Daily, Pinterest accounts for 3.6 percent of referral traffic, which makes it just about neck and neck with Twitter. So, the more your posts get pinned, the more traffic you’ll get to your site – and that’s a good thing all around, right? Yay, traffic!

It should come as no surprise that the best way to instantly make your blog posts more pinable is to focus on your images. But what if you don’t work in a visual niche like travel or food? Not to worry; you can still create images that will make your blog posts extremely pinable.

The following is an edited excerpt from The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Blog, Podcast, and Videos with Pinterest, an ebook you can download for FREE right here on the NMX blog. In this excerpt, we’ll talk about how to create great images for Pinterest that make sense for you blog, no matter what your niche.

Images for Visual Niches

Start by analyzing your niche. Do images work hand-in-hand with your content? We’re not talking about your personal practices. A lot of people get a little lazy when it comes to adding pictures to blog posts. But what’s the standard in your niche? Do people generally use a lot of pictures? In any basic how-to niche (food, crafts, etc.), this is often the case. That’s why those topics are so widely spread on Pinterest.

If pictures are a huge part of your niche, half the battle is already done. The other half is making sure that your own content is up to snuff. Simply put, you need a money shot.

In film terms, the money shot is the scene that often takes a disproportionate amount of time and money to shoot, but is essential to the success of the film. It’s that moment in a film where viewers feel like the price of the ticket was justified. Money shots are those big movie moments that you remember forever, like the scene where Luke Skywalker loses his hand in Star Wars or Leonardo DiCaprio shouts “I’m the King of the World” in Titanic.

You need to use pictures that serve as money shots for your blog posts or other digital content in order to gain traction on Pinterest. You want readers to need to share because they’re so enticing. It’s that shot of freshly baked rolls with melting butter when you post a bread recipe. It’s that adorable shot of your daughter covered in finger paints on your parenting blog. It’s that shot of your finished product when you post a tutorial. Stock photography certainly doesn’t give you a money shot (in most cases).

And not every picture you take yourself is a money shot, either. These pictures have to be special; they have to make you want to click through to see the amazing website they came from. In other words, these pictures have to be evangelists for your content.

When the Money Shot isn’t Easy

The concept of a “money shot” picture is pretty easy to implement on sites that are already inherently visual. But on other sites, this is not as easy. For example, if you blog about social media and write a list of the “Top Ten Tips for Using Twitter,” there’s nothing physical to photograph, other than maybe a screen shot of you using Twitter. And that’s not exactly a money shot. Or if you’re a virtual assistant and sell services instead of products, there’s nothing to really photograph other than yourself.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful on Pinterest. On the contrary, if you work in one of these niches, you can be super successful because others aren’t using the network. Less competition means more opportunity for you! Creating a “money shot” picture that’s eagerly pinned is easier than you might think.

Step-by-Step Image Creation

The first step is to find a picture that makes sense for your post. It can be one of those dreaded stock photography images, as long as you’re making sure to use Creative Commons pictures that allow users to alter the image. Fair use photography can be found at a number of sites, include SXC.hu, Flickr, and Wikipedia. Again, make sure you check the licensing of any photo you want to use to ensure you’re giving attribution properly and to ensure that the owner allows people to create derivative works.

The second step? Add some text. In most cases, your headline works just fine, but remember, the focus here is on the picture. So if your headline is too long, alter it. You want the text you use to convey information and entice readers, which is why you should use your blog post/podcast/video title—you should already be creating headlines that attract clicks.

If you’ve never really thought of the power of headlines before, here are some great resources:

In addition, Brian Clark at Copyblogger has an 11-part series called How to Write Magnetic Headlines that you should check out.

The third step is to make the text look professional (and readable) by adding a drop shadow, highlights, and if necessary using photo-editing software like Photoshop. Looks matter. I know your content might be great, but that alone won’t help you get shares and clicks on Pinterest. You need to present a pretty package.

Even if you don’t have a photo editing program, you can quickly and easily add text to pictures with PicFont.com.

Examples of Great Images for Pinterest

These images can take on lots of different looks. Here are a few pins to check out to get some ideas for your own pictures:

We also have used images like this here on the NMX/BlogWorld blog. Here are some examples:

There are some challenges with creating these images. Sometimes, if you have a theme where the homepage pulls images of different sizes, it can be difficult to create images with text that work across the board. We have that challenge right now, so it’s one of the things we’re thinking about with future redesigns of this blog. If you aren’t a designer, placing the text on an image can also be challenging so that it looks good.

What’s important is that you’re trying, and that you’re making as many posts as possible pinable on Pinterest. This isn’t just about Pinterest. If you don’t like or don’t care about this platform, that’s your prerogative. What it’s about is realizing that a more visual, interactive web is where we’re going as an industry. If you aren’t making an effort, if you’re just using stock images and logos, you’re going to get left in the dust.

Want even more awesome Pinterest advice? Get the entire ebook for FREE here: The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Blog, Podcast, and Videos with Pinterest

Should You Block Pinterest on Your Blog?

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Pinterest recently released a new bit of code that you can add to your website which will block anyone who tries to pin your posts. It’s pretty simple. You just add a line of code to your header/footer and would-be pinners will receive a message when they attempt to pin anything from your site that says the site doesn’t allow pinning. Hear that? It’s the sound of Pinterest haters everywhere rejoicing.

But whether you use this social network or not, is blocking Pinterest a good idea? In my opinion, no.

At least, not for most bloggers. There are a few exceptions:

  • If your blog is photography-based, with posts containing little content beside your pictures, it might make sense to block Pinterest.
  • If your blog is about showcasing your artwork and, again, contains little written content, it might makes sense to block Pinterest.
  • If you hate traffic, it might makes sense to block Pinterest.

Okay, I think the last point probably doesn’t apply to anyone here…but the first two certainly might.

Pinterest has been getting heat lately because the platform basically makes it easy to repost any picture you find online. Pinterest does abide by DMCA rules and will remove pins when asked to do so by anyone who owns the picture in question, but this new opt-out code will make it even easier for bloggers to just say no to Pinterest.

Only…why would you want to?

I’m not arguing that artists and photographers should share their work for free. I believe everyone deserves to get paid for the work they do. However, Pinterest isn’t about stealing your work to use for some kind of personal gain. It’s about sharing your work so that others can find it. Curation is the theme here. Pinners are trying to help drive traffic to your site, not hoping to get away with not paying you for your work.

When someone steals a picture from Google images and publishes it on their blog without buying it (or crediting it properly/getting your permission if that’s what is required by the license), they’re using your work in a way that robs you of the money or traffic you’re supposed to get as the picture’s creator. They’re doing so because they don’t want to spend the money to pay you for your time. It’s the same as copy/pasting my words and posting on your own blog without permission – it’s wrong.

For example, let’s say that I am blogging about cake. Mmmm cake. Instead of taking a picture of a cake myself, buying a picture of a cake, or finding a free image to use, I steal a picture of cake you took for your own blog. It’s wrong. I’m using that picture for my own gain because I’m too lazy/cheap to do the right thing. You get no benefit.

Pinners, however, aren’t using your pictures without permission for their own gain. They don’t own their pin boards any more than we own our Facebook profiles. They’re using your picture as a preview in order to encourage others to be fans of the posts you create. It’s a recommendation, the same way it would be for someone to share a link on Twitter or Facebook. Pinterest just happens to create visual links, like a little preview of your site to encourage people to click through.

And because most people are visual learners, I think as Pinterest grows, this could lead to more traffic for any visual-based site (food, crafts, fashion, etc) than any social media site where just links are shared. Think about it. You’re more likely to be interested in a recipe if there’s a picture of the finished product to entice you, right? Allowing pinners the ability to pin your posts can lead to a LOT more traffic than places where people just share the title/URL.

Of course, like with every social media site, some users are jerks. They pin pictures without linking to the original source. They copy/paste the entire blog post into the description so people aren’t encouraged to click through to your blog. They change the pin URL to lead to their own site. They download your pictures and then upload them as if they own them.

But these users are a VERY SMALL percentage of users, at least in my experience. Don’t let a few bad apples ruin the bunch for you. Pinterest is working to make the platform better (for example, there are plans to limit the characters in a description to avoid c/p of the entire post). You should definitely contact Pinterest if some users are pinning your work incorrectly…but don’t give the middle finger to the entire platform! You’ll be missing out on the potential for lots of new traffic if you do.

Now, like I said, the opt-out code could make sense for some people. If your website or blog is all about your artwork (photography or otherwise), it might make sense for you to say “thanks but no thanks.” Personally, I would want as many people as possible sharing previews of my work, but I can also understand how you’d want to limit the way people share. For the typical blogger, though, blocking Pinterest just doesn’t make sense in my opinion. This platform is such a cool new traffic source, and unlike some other recent networks *cough*Google+*cough* it seems to have attracted the attention of the general public, not just people who blog and use social media. For most people, blocking Pinterest is cutting off your nose to spite you face. Before you make this decision, I recommend you at least spend a few weeks giving the network a try first-hand.

Feel free to disagree with me in the comments! Will you block Pinterest on your blog now that this option is available? Why or why not?

35 Brilliant Bloggers Talk about Pinterest

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Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Pinterest

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been blogging and tweeting a lot about Pinterest. It’s my latest obsession, and one that I believe has unlimited potential for content creators and business owners. Check out Seven Cool Ways to Use Pinterest and my Pinterest Beginner’s Guide if you haven’t already; then, take some time to read the below Pinterest posts by some of the most brilliant bloggers online.

*Note* Usually, I link everyone’s Twitter handles, but this week, given the topic, I thought it would be an even better idea to link to Pinterest profiles too, when I could find them.

Also, you can find my Pinterest boards here. I pin mostly funny stuff, good blog posts, and craft ideas (plus a mish mosh of other stuff). Leave your Pinterest profile link in a comment below and tell us what you most often pin so we can all connect!

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

5 Pinterest Tips for Beginners by Kelby Carr at Type-A Parent

Kelby’s a power user in the world of Pinterest, and she’s currently working a new Dummies book about this network, so her post is a great place to start! If you’re new to Pinterest, this post will help you get going. Upon first glance, Pinterest can look really confusing and hard to learn, but with a little time – and Kelby’s tips – you’ll be addicted in no time!

Pinterest is great to find cool stuff and inspiration, and it’s also great for content creators hoping to drive traffic. Writes Kelby,

If you’re a blogger jumping in, it is probably because you would like to get exposure and traffic as a result. Just like other social networks, you should primarily pin content from other sources or you will look spammy. Still, you can pin your own content on occasion. What is even better, however, is to encourage others to pin your content.

Read the entire post, and then check out Kelby on Twitter (@typeamom) and on Pinterest (kelby).

Pinterest: Behind the Design of an Addictive Visual Network by Lauren Drell on Mashable

One of the best ways to learn about any network or platform is to hear information straight from the horse’s mouth. That’s what you have in this post from Lauren Drell at Mashable – a great interview with one of the co-founders of Pinterest, Evan Sharp. Along with Paul Sciarra and Ben Silbermann, Evan created this social discovery platform as a way for people to visually share things they find interesting, and today, it’s one of the fastest-growing start-ups out there. Check out this complete interview with Evan to learn more. Here’s a snippet:

I was always collecting images on the web in folders on the desktop of my computer, but it wasn’t a very good system for remembering where things came from or who made them. We wanted to create a place where you can go to upload or collect things on the web and simply organize it the way you want to [each with its associated metadata].

You can find Lauren on Twitter @drelly and on Pinterest (drelly).

18 Real-World Examples of How Brands Are Using Pinterest by Sakita Holley at SakitaHolley.com

Pinterest isn’t just for bloggers. This is also an absolutely great platform for brands who want to connect with their audience. Companies like Nordstrom and Whole Foods have been cited often for using Pinterest well, but these aren’t the only companies making awesome use of Pinterest. In this post, Sakita takes a look at 18 brands that really understand how to use Pinterest – and as you can guess, they’re doing more than just promoting their own products. From her post:

I’m always curious to see how brands use various platforms to engage with their customers and fans. So naturally I’ve been scouting for early brand adoption examples on Pinterest, a new website still in its infancy that puts a digital spin on pin boards.

After checking out Sakita’s post, you can find her on Twitter (@MissSuccess) and on Pinterest (misssuccess).

BONUS: I usually only highly three brilliant bloggers and list the rest as links below, but this week, I wanted to also highlight a fourth post, from Dave Copeland (copewrites/@copewrites) at Read Write Web – “A Guy’s Guide To Pinterest.” Most of the posts this week are written by women and the platform itself tips in favor of female users…but that doesn’t mean guy’s can’t use it too! In fact, there are a lot of really cool things guys are pinning on Pinterest, so fellas, don’t be afraid to sign up.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about Pinterest? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link

Next Week’s Topic: Public Speaking

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Seven Cool Ways to Use Pinterest

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Have you joined Pinterest yet? I have to admit – I’ve been pretty obsessed with it in the last few weeks as I started pinning things and exploring the community. And some pinners are using this new network in really cool ways.

For those who’ve not yet familiar with Pinterest, the concept is pretty simple. When you sign up, you create “boards” – as many or few as you want. Each board has a certain theme. When you come across something you like online and want to both remember (like a bookmark) and share with others, you can pin it to one of your boards. For example, I found this really cute costume idea and wanted to remember it for next year. So I pinned it to my “Halloween” board.

Your homepage is filled with the pins from the people/boards you’re following. When you follow someone, you can choose to follow all of their boards or pick and choose the boards you want to follow. I find this extremely helpful, since a lot of my friends have interests that aren’t relevant to me, but I still want to connect with them when it comes to other interests that we share. A good example of this is my friend Kelby Carr. I follow her craft projects board, since that interests me, but don’t follow her board that features stuff for kids, since I don’t have kids of my own.

The most common boards I see are for recipes, craft projects, fashion, and humor, but more and more, people are starting to get creative, which is super inspiring. And, if you use Pinterest in unique ways, it can definitely help you as a blogger or online business owner. Let’s take a look at some really cool ways I’ve seen people using Pinterest:

  • Create a gift registry.

This list tip comes from Kenna Griffin from Prof KRG. This holiday season, she used Pinterest to create a Christmas wish list, which you can see here. She shared the list with family members, which made it much easier for them to purchase gifts she really wanted. You could use it to create a wish list for your blog as well. Depending on your niche, fans might want to send gifts or donations, and this helps them understand how to best show their appreciation. Of course, if you’re a parent, you can also have your (older) children create boards with a wish list theme to help you make purchases.

  • Pin your best blog posts.

Sure, Pinterest is a great way to share funny pictures and whatnot, but does it have any practical use for bloggers who aren’t working in visual-centric niches? Yes! For example, one of the boards I created is called “Favorite Blog Posts I’ve Written,” and my plan is to use it to pin posts that I’m especially proud of. This has the potential to get out of hand if bloggers use boards to promote every post they write, but with the correct restraint, I think it can bring me a lot of traffic. People have already started to follow that board, and as of writing this post, it only has a single pin.

  • Start a Pinterest book club.

This is one board I’m hoping to start in the coming months – a little book club for me and others interested in reading the same books as me. Lots of people use Pinterest to share their favorite books, but what about creating a group board (where anyone can pin things) and every month reading a book together, using the board to share links to reviews and analysis, products inspired by the book, interviews with the author you’ve found, etc. When I read a book I like, I love to read as much about it as possible, and share with others who are reading the same things, so Pinterest could give us a fun place to collaborate.

  • Use Pinterest for project management.

I haven’t seen anyone doing this yet, but I think it could be super helpful for some people, since you can create boards where multiple people can pin things. For example, say you’re an interior decorator. You could use Pinterest to share cool stuff you find online for a specific room you’re designing with the rest of your staff (and they can share with you too). The homeowners can even get involved with pinning. There’s a lot of potential here for anyone collaborating on a project. I love that it would cut down on the crazy number of emails you send back and forth.

  • Pin as an affiliate.

This Pinterest board idea comes from James Dabbagian, who created a board called “Books on Blogging and Social Media.” All the pins on that board are affiliate links, so if others check them out on his recommendation, he’ll get the credit on Amazon (or wherever). You can easily disclose that your links are affiliate links in the description, which James has done, and it makes total sense, since it helps people who are interested in a specific type of product find an entire list of items to check out.

  • Create a Pinterest test kitchen.

Food bloggers have definitely headed to Pinterest en masse, which makes sense since food is definitely visual. Instead of just sharing recipes, though, what about creating a “test kitchen” board? As you’re developing new recipes, ask your followers to try them out and “like” or repin if they enjoyed the meal. It’s a great way to get feedback on the success (or not) of a dish.

  • Bookmark inspiration pieces.

Occasionally (and by occasionally, I mean every two minutes), I come across blog posts, infographics, pictures, and so forth that get my inspiration juices flowing. I don’t always have time to write at that moment, though. Instead of just bookmarking posts, which is clutter-y and hard to efficiently organize, I’ve created a new Pinterest board to essentially bookmark cool ideas. If it inspires some of my followers to check out awesome things other people have written or created, all the better.

Some there you have it – my seven cool ideas for using Pinterest. As I continue using this platform and explore what others are doing, I’m sure I’ll have even more neat ideas to add to this list. Have you come across anyone using Pinterest in a cool way? If so, tell us about it in the comments!

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