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How To Do Pinterest (Updated 2020)

Around the globe 250 million individuals use Pinterest every month (source). My account was in the top 20,000 accounts according to Board Booster before that tool was banned. I was pretty pleased with that. Today I’m totally re-writing this post, it’s years old. I wrote it back when I was getting almost 1,000 clicks to my website every day from Pinterest. I don’t get that now but my Pinterest game is stronger in 2020 than it has been in years. I’m happy to share what I’ve figured out.

Pinterest has changed over the years, but the basics of Pinterest below and a few tips and tricks should help you get started with creating your business Pinterest account and growing your Pinterest Traffic.

Pinterest is still my number 1 source of social media traffic. But it’s not what it was for me.

Any post on this site may contain affiliate links. We earn commission on these should you make a purchase. All recommendations are genuine and we are not paid to include products, hotels, and so on.

How to do Pinterest

Pinterest changes the rules to keep us on our toes frequently, sometimes annoyingly. You need to stay on top of changes, read, listen to podcasts and tap into the brains of the Pinterest experts. But be warned, what Pinterest says, what Tailwind says, what Pinterest expert a says and what Pinterest expert b says can be entirely different.

This is updated for Pinterest in 2020 but huge changes are happening daily. Pinterest is incredibly hard to predict. Taking some or all of these ideas and tips to your blog or business could help your traffic, they will certainly help you get Pinterest set up.

How to Do Pinterest & Pinterest Tips

I’m presuming you’ve already registered, set up your profile and started creating boards. Lets just take it from there. You must be sure to validate your blog, Pinterest sends you reminders to do this.

What is the Aim of Pinterest?

This is the reality of Pinterest. It’s advertising. As a bloggers your aim is to :

1. Get as many new people to your blog as possible via your pins ( and hope they stick around to become followers) to increase traffic to make more money from ads or affiliate sales.  We have a post on making money from affiliate sales.

2. To collect as many followers as possible to impress sponsors and increase reach of future pins although number of followers is no longer nearly as important in determinging the success of a pin. It’s actually pretty unimportant these days.

3. To get people to repin your beautiful pins on Pinterest to spread brand awareness and generate even more traffic and facilitate 1 and 2.

4. You can also use Pinterest to generate more affiliate income directly.

5. Mingling, networking, outreach, making friends and brand awareness. I’ve had a hotel chain reach out to me via Pinterest and offer us work. It happens.

Making the pretty pins is fun and creative and you can make good contacts through Pinterest, but in the real, cold, hard world this is why we use it, business.

The beauty of Pinterest is that it’s longer lasting than your activity on other social media platforms, a Tweet is an instant hit, a pin can actively bring you traffic forever. A viral pin can bring you masses of traffic over months or years. I still have viral pins from the early days of Pinterest that out-perform all new pins.

You Need to Get a Business Account, Register for Rich Pins and Add Pin-It Buttons  

Pinterest actually requires businesses to have a business account. It’s very easy to make the switch by following Pinterest’s own instructions.

Rich Pins, complete with your blog’s favicon make a big difference in increasing your Pinterest visibility. They put your blog’s name and logo directly under your images. If you follow the usual instructions, things become a little complex as coding is involved. There is a very easy way to do it, can read how here. If you already have the Yoast SEO plugin installed ( we recommend this), there is a great shortcut.

Once rich pins and the favicon were up and running, I saw a significant increase in traffic to my blog from Pinterest.

Equipping your blog with “pin it” buttons is also a good idea, just follow Pinterest’s instructions. OR set up a site-wide, hover-to-pin option using Social Pug. This this kick-ass plugin is the model I prefer for many reasons, I used to recommend Social Warfare but recent problems with that plugin made me switch to Social Pug. The transition was seamless and all my specified pins and descriptions just flipped over to the Pug.

Pinterest for business also makes it easy for you to add Pinterest widgets ( click-through to build) in a shape to suit its location, after post, sidebar or header. These do, however, increase your page load time so I’m no longer using them.

Pinterest is a Search Engine

This is a vital thing to get your head around. Pinterest is a search engine and, just like Google, relies on SEO. So stop right here if you don’t know what SEO is and go read up on it.

Your pin’s SEO starts with the file name of your image ( Pinterest has said this doesn’t matter, but it does for your website, so do it anyway), continues with its alt tag, is affected by the SEO of the actual post and most certainly by the image, text, title and pin description that you set. This is an SEO game first and foremost. Hash tags are now used on Pinterest, previously they weren’t.

But there is another dimension to Pinterest SEO, Pinterest “sees” your image and tries to guess as to its SEO. So try to make Pinterest’s job easier by making the image a fairly easy to recognise place or theme and “teach” Pinterest what your pin is about.

The above is received wisdom I’ve read elsewhere. I can’t say for sure if it’s true. It does not explain why some of my very best pins have almost no image at all, they’re just a big text overlay obscuring a random photo of trees or flowers. My advice to you would be to try both ways, on each post. Also try pins with no text at all, just a pinnable, beautiful image. Do it all ( plus video pins) and something will take, hopefully.

Another piece of received wisdom I picked up from an expensive, bought e-book is this. Tell Pinterest what your pin is about by at first, only pinning it to strongly relevant boards. So if your pin is ” Vietnam with Kids” , ideally, pin it to a “Vietnam with Kids” board. If you don’t have one try a “Vietnam” board or a “Travel With Kids” board. Avoid the big dumping ground generalist boards particularly in the early days of a pin’s life. I disagree, see below.

The above is absolute hogwash. Pin your pins to your best boards, your highest performing boards first – so long as they are relevant. If your pin is on Lhasa Tibet and you have a very quiet board on that topic, don’t pin it there. Pin it to your high-performing Asia Travel board instead or your blog’s “home” board. Monitor the impressions each new pin gets in the first few hours. You’ll soon see where is best to pin your new pins.

Which brings us to board and account SEO, yes, your boards and your account as a whole can be SEO’d up to the hilt with their descriptions and categories. All of this information helps Pinterest categorise you and your pins.

What to Pin.

Don’t just pin your own stuff, make useful boards with great SEO

You are the curator of your boards and you want them to look amazing, be useful and appeal to as many people as possible. Pin things that are beautiful, striking, funny or informative, depending on the board. Your pins should stop scrollers in their tracks and make them go “WOW”.  Anything average will be ignored on Pinterest.

Your boards should cover every aspect of it’s topic. So, say your board is “Australia Travel,” pin every state, destination, style of pin ( so long as it’s good and popular) and pin often. Every day, round the clock, being mindful of time zones and optimal pinning times. This is why you absolutely DO need Tailwind, looping and tribes. But they must be set up right. If you don’t have Tailwind yet, get it now, here. I think you get a discount from signing up through me.

“They” say that anything small will be ignored on Pinterest. Pinterest says that we shouldn’t pin overly long pins. My long, brand new pins are performing very well, today in June 2020. So I’m calling hogwash on this too. Remember that most people will see your pins in a teeny tiny mobile phone feed. Make the text big, clear, eye catching and ultra descriptive. Pit your text in the middle on over-long pins, otherwise it can be cropped out.

Your board is more likely to be found if it is well stocked with a lot of good quality pins. Pinterest needs to know that you are a good curator, work hard at that. You’ll pin a mixture of your own and other people’s good quality pins. Consider the SEO as well as the look and quality of the pin.

Don’t be afraid to repin your old posts, or to add new Pinterest images to old posts, this is where the magic really happens. Keep your work appearing at the top of feeds and boards to reach fresh eyes. These days you need brand-new fresh pins every single day. Keep making them for old posts as well as your new content. Each post should have multiple pins. Space them out and pin them at optimal times for their target countries. With travel lockdown right now and local travel being the only possibility for many of us, this is super important.

Avoid looking spammy or swamping boards.

Around one third your pins to two thirds other people’s is generally recommended but I don’t think this is nearly as important as SEO and clear pins. A lot of pinners have success with pinning only their own content – which makes a lot of sense to me, so long as they have a huge volume of content and pins. I don’t have enough. I’d say that today I’m pinning about 60% other people’s pins and Pinterest is improving for me, even during the global crisis.

Some of your boards will contain only your own work. For example, your first board MUST be your blog or business board, showcasing your work to people discovering your account for the first time. You can use the Pinterest’s drag and drop ” move”  feature to keep your best performing or most profitable pins at the top of the page where they’ll reach the most eyes.

The majority of your boards will have mixed content, yours and other people’s. You can choose if you’d like it to be photography based or blog post based. I find a mix of both works best so long as SEO is good.

At least one of your boards could be a group board. Grow it and invite other pinners to collaborate so that over time applicants to this board will become a new source of traffic. Join other good group boards. Pinterest says these are less important these days but I’m not seeing much evidence of this, just stay off the ” dumping ground” group boards.

Where to Find Pins to Populate Your Boards

Anywhere! When I go onto Pinterest I always start with my fresh pin then go to my stream, find an amazing image, and pin it. Once you’ve pinned a box may pop up “also pinned to”. If that board appeals I’ll go there too, explore, like a few, pin a few, comment until another “also pinned to” notice appears that I love, then I go there and repeat the process. Pinterest is like a paper trail through a wonderful, amazing world, pick up what you like and share it with your audience and future audience.

Finding new pins is recommended, if you come across a webpage that’s just begging to be pinned, go ahead, pin it. If you’re first and it’s stunning it could lead to a snowstorm of repins and new followers.

Always be very wary of copyright. Never remove credits.

Try to find pins that link to original sources, you need to build a reputation as a reliable pinner. Sniff out scam pins, stolen pins or pins selling courses and ignore them.

Pinterest likes fresh content best. If you follow the figures under each pin you’ll see that this is screamingly obvious.

Make Yourself as Visible as Possible

I always tell the kids that what I’m doing on social media is shouting “LOOK AT ME!”.

And it’s true.

The more you’re there, interacting, commenting, liking, pinning and repinning, the more you’ll get noticed. Pinterest gives preference in search results to regular users. Be on Pinterest ( not on a sceduler) as often as you can, daily, consistently. Consistent Pinterest use gives you higher reach, I’ve seen it happen and seen reach drop after an absence.

If you can’t be on Pinterest, for instance, when you’re asleep or travelling, be sure to have your Tailwind queue full. Get Tailwind here, you absolutely do need it. For me, being in lockdown in Australia means I’m totally in the wrong timezone for Americans. Use your scheduler to pin for them in their evenings. If you use Tailwinds auto-schedule creator, check the times it picks for you. For me this auto feature sabotaged my Pinterest game as a global pinner.

Naming Your Boards

Simple seems best, people often search Pinterest by board, so they’re more likely to search for “Sri Lanka” than “The Magical Isle of Lanka”,  if you see what I mean. That said, be smart, scope out the competition and again, SEO is king.

Pinterest will like your board more if you fill out all the information, so don’t forget the description for each board. The more Pinterest likes you, the higher in Pinterest’s search results you will appear.

Your descriptions for boards and pins should contain key words, they need good SEO. Don’t forget, Pinterest is basically a search engine. People use it to find information, inspiration and ideas.

Pinning Your Own Stuff

Do not just pin every landscape orientated image from your blog posts. It looks rubbish and, again, will be ignored. But DO try to get a variety of images from each post onto Pinterest. Just make them big enough and vary the descriptions to contain different keywords and hash tags. Remember that it’s only bloggers who ” know” that a pin must officially be 600 x 900 ( or 800 x 1200 ). Your average Pinterest user will just pin stuff they see and like.

Create image only photography pins, pins with descriptive keyword rich text, pins with spammy clickbait text and video pins. Monitor their success ( the numbers under each pin as well as your Pinterest traffic in Google Analytics under Aquisition, Social) and see which is working best.

The Better Way to Pin Your Stuff

Thai Food for Beginners pin

This is one of my oldest and best pins, with tens of thousands of repins. It’s not perfect, it’s not even good, but it’s proven a success. Most of my best pins are very imperfect according to the Pinterest rules.

Tall and skinny looks best on Pinterest.  Tall and skinny gets repins because it stands out in the Pinterest format. If you want people to click through to your post, not just repin it, you need to tell them that this is what they need. You can either put text on your pin or leave it as a plain stunning image, both can work. I’ve A/B tested the same pin, one with text, one without, the one with the text was pinned more times. Other times a stunning image will go crazy. Sometimes a gross image goes crazy, I have one of cooked bats that people love.

Pinterest has said publically that it now prefers pins that are 600 x 900 pixels and that overly-long pins can be truncated or penalised. But keep up to date on this because Pinterest is notorious for moving goal posts. My extra long pins are still performing well.

Clickbaity words all over your pin “Click here for the most amazing post on the subject you’re most interested in!” or ” You need to read this post to change your life!” would work well, but could be disastrous for your bounce rate. So stay honest. Put big, clear words on the picture to describe the post, but make it as exciting as possible and an honest reflection of the post and its SEO.

File names, alt tags and keywords in meta descriptions all play a role in putting your pin at the top of the listings. Try to make sure every image on your site has every field completed optimally.

Your images should ideally have your watermark or blog name on them. Consistent branding is always a good idea, even for Pinterest. Something I’m guilty of not doing. People will still steal your pins though. Stolen pins are a problem, if you find one, report it and Pinterest will delete it.

The ideal size for a pin, as recommended by Canva ( a free design tool with pre-made Pinterest templates) is 735 x 1102 px. Canva looks great but I use Adobe Spark Post and Snapseed. These exact dimensions are only a guideline. ( these dimensions are now 600 by 900 or 800 x 1200)

The Text Bit

Beneath every image there is a text box, here is your chance to sell your post and your blog. Grab people’s attention, give them a reason to visit your blog and become a follower. Think of every pin as an advertisement.

Pinterest does now like #tags

Linking to Your Post

If you pin directly from your post the link is automatically inserted. If you pin by uploading your own image, you need to go to “edit” and paste in the URL in the box at the bottom.

Getting Your Pins in Front of Maximum Eyes.

There are 3 factors here, timing, how popular your account or board is and being good at Pinterest to start with, ie. Pinterest has to like you.

Timing is hard, if, like me, you have followers right around the globe. Evenings and weekends are best for Pinterest, but who’s evening? Australia or the US? For general travel I go for the US evening. For Australia specific travel I go for the evening in Australia and also, the evening in the US. US travellers will return to Australia eventually.

Best times are  reported to be :

Midweek  2-­4 pm and 10-11 am

Evenings 8-­11 pm

Saturday Morning 9-­11 am

Sundays are best for me, by a very long way. The Sunday boom flows through into Monday too.

Don’t pin everything at once, try to space out your pins and alternate the types of pins you’re sharing, make one about food, one about Asia, one about the UK and so on. That way you have more chance of appealing to someone. somewhere, but stay broadly within your niche, don’t skip about too much. Pin to all of your boards regularly.

Scheduling pins makes a big difference, particularly as I sleep while America is online. Tailwind is only $10-15/ month, Board Booster s $5 per month. ( Board Booster no longer exists). Both allow me to pin round the clock.

UPDATE:  Manual pinning at optimal times to popular boards works effectively for my own fresh pins. That’s hand pinning and spending time on Pinterest, in person. For other people’s pins I mostly use Tailwind.

GET A SCHEDULING TOOL, or TWO. Get Tailwind here.

Board Booster,  NO LONGER EXISTS. SORRY.

I had a VA that I was training up to take over my Pinterest account. Before I’d even finished training her properly I’d paid her more than the Tailwind plus Board Booster outlay. Just saying.

The First Pins Of The Day

A year or so back, Pinterest said that your first 5 pins of the day, with midnight GMT being the reset time, were most important and would get more views. They later backtracked on this, probably because everyone was pinning at 1 minute past midnight.

There’s still something funky going on with this and I’ve not figured it out yet. My first one or two pins always do better. Space your fresh pins out is all I can offer for now.

Group Boards

Group Boards can be your best friend on Pinterest. Even though Pinterest has publically said that Group Boards are no longer the be-all and end-all, I still get plenty traffic from these groups.

Find the good ones and follow the joining instructions under the board title.  Look for very specific group boards with good SEO rather than huge dumping ground general group boards. The popularity of the board, with group boards and your own boards, is key.

Tip: Search ” boards” in Pinterest search for your topic. If the first board that appears for, say, “Nepal” is a group board – draw your own conclusions as to which boards are best. But remember that just like Google, not everyone will see the same results on Pinterest. If you search “Nepal” let me know if my board comes up first. Thanks.

I’ve noticed that group boards followed by real people, rather than just bloggers, bring me a lot more traffic. Try to be selective. Some group boards are totally useless. I use Board Booster’s or Tailwind’s own stats to figure out which perform best for me along with just closely following my Pinterest notifications to see which boards are performing.

If you’d like to join my group boards get in touch.

You MUST repin from these group boards too. Pinterest needs to know that these boards are strong, reputable boards and it judges that by activity and interraction, So if you pin TO a board, pin from it too, seriously, pin 10 pins from it, you’ll only be helping yourself and the other pinners in the group.

Group Sharing Threads

Group Sharing Threads are of questionable value. If you’re just starting out use them, for sure, you will gain followers and spread your pins wider. I don’t really use them anymore because I don’t want to clog up my personal feed with pins I don’t really like or want to pin that may have bad SEO or not fit on any of my boards. You will find plenty of sharing groups for bloggers in your niche on Facebook. Some bloggers who do well on Pinterest swear by these groups. They don’t work for me.

Viralwoot formerly Pinwoot

Viralwoot is a tool for growing followers, targeting repins and scheduling. I used it in the early days to rapidly increase my following and I’ve considering upgrading to the paid service for scheduling. However, the followers you get here are “fake” in that they have no real interest in your work. They’re just repinning to get more repins of their own. Think about what you want. Your time is probably better spent working out a “real” way to become a Pinterest Ninja. I have not included an affiliate link here to Viralwoot because I no longer use it, so that would be dishonest.

Pinterest Likes Popular Pins, So Find the Most Popular Version

This is something I read in the expensive e-book I paid for. I don’t think it’s true. The theory is that each time your pin is repinned a new version is created. Some of those versions will be unloved, some may be pinned 10,000 times. If you want to repin that pin to a group board, do it from the version of the pin that has been pinned 10,000 times. This pin is pre-loved, it has a good reputation in Pinterest and it will be shown to more eyeballs. Like I said, this one is a big old nope for me.

Pinterest Experts and Strategies

One thing I’ve noticed that is so, so frustrating, is that each Pinterest expert has a different Pinterest strategy. Every blogger who finds themself with Pinterest success – and that could be down to pure luck and viral pins – writes a guide. I’ve read books, taken courses, picked brains and researched and no 2 people seem to do Pinterest the same way.

If you’re a new Pinterest user, start making pins for every post, be on Pinterest every day, stay consistent, you will see Pinterest traffic. Is there a magic way to grow Pinterest traffic – I don’t think so.  If there is I haven’t found it yet.

Create Content for Pinterest

This is, absolutely, a big factor in Pinterest success. As a travel blogger you need to be creating the pins that large numbers of people, particularly Americans, want. So a guide to London, or Disney or Cruises will do better than a hotel review or a guide to Tibet, for instance.

I like creating content about Tibet and off the regular holiday track places, so that’s one reason I don’t do so well on Pinterest.

Keep your destinations big and broad and entice clicks with a touch of click bait.

Use the Move Button

Use the Move button, top left of your home page, to keep your own pins at the top of any group boards you manage. That way new visitors will see your pins first and are more likely to save them. When I visit a new board I rarely look at more than the first few rows. Your pins need to be at the top. Do this daily if necessary.

But remember that people visiting boards isn’t a huge thing, Pinterest search and the feed are more important.

Less Social Media More Family Travel

I’ve put too much time into Pinterest but I did see real results. We now have around 26,000 followers.I’ve put in a lot of hours to make this happen, it wouldn’t have been possible if we were on the road travelling full-time and there are no real shortcuts or cheats other than hiring a good Pinterest VA.

I’m very glad we’re getting back to the full-time travel soon after this stationary period and I hope my  followers, readers and friends will be along for the ride. We have a passion for travel, it’s still there and we will continue to try and share that passion and encourage others to get out and have adventures. I still enjoy blogging, I’m not going to stop, but my online time will nose-dive soon as I spend more time exploring and with my boys. I’m glad I got all this set up while we were stationary.

The real world is far more interesting than Twitter ( I totally didn’t get Twitter, but it’s starting to make more sense now) so I’ll take the foot off the throttle for a while at least. Good luck with Pinterest, it’s a great tool and lots of fun.

Did you sign up to follow our journey and get more blogging updates? Did you follow our Pinterest Blogging Tips board? It’s a great resource as Pinterest is always my first stop if I want to learn something new. I’m personally checking every pin for its usefulness

Back to our Blogging Section for more thoughts on how to make money travel blogging. I make between $5,000 and $10,000 (US – pre-virus) a month, it’s a good income, but not stellar. You could too.

Booking.com
nomadic family life

Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.

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Beata

Sunday 24th of March 2019

Alyson thanks a lot for this useful article! I would like to ask question, not related to Pintrest, what Data & Cookies Content widget you use? Is it free? we need to get one and that one seems the most popular one. Thanks!

Alyson Long

Sunday 24th of March 2019

It's Mediavine's own one. All Mediavine members were given it. This post is old and I haven't updated it in a while, I hope it's still accurate. I've all but stopped using Pinterest now unfortunately. The rewards : work put in ratio is just way too low for it to be worth me bothering with. Pinterest and I are no longer friends.

Penny Watne

Friday 9th of June 2017

Alyson,

Thanks for the great tips! I'm working on building my blog and I know that Pinterest is a critical part of that. I would love to join your Pinterest groups and will be an avid follower in the future!

Pura vida, Penny

Tamara

Thursday 2nd of February 2017

It's been a few years, is Pinterest still a worthy use of time? I mean, I love it and use it, but just for fun. I'm just starting to get a blog together and other social media outlets for our travels we are starting this summer. I don't have a following yet so want to go back and try and blog some past trips, do an intro of our family etc. I'm trying to figure out some rhyme or reason to what and when to post where. How do you manage multiple outlets? Would I post weekly vlogs if that was our main focus and then just share those everywhere else for example? And I have about 7k followers on my personal pinterest, but I have a BILLION boards and pins. Do I still convert that account or make a new account that is a business account?? I'd be starting with no followers then though right? Idk if you'll even see this, lol. :) Thank you for all the info you share btw, I'm glad I found you!

[email protected]

Thursday 2nd of February 2017

Tamara we need to sit down and have a big chat about this. Start at the beginning. Keep that account, certainly, you can convert it to a business account, but we need to talk about what blogging really is, how to make money and how to start out right. You'll be wasting your time if you don't have a proper strategy from day 1. We'll Skype, no problem, let me know when you have time. And yes, Pinterest brings me shed loads of traffic still, but ....I need to explain.

Finding Beyond

Tuesday 20th of December 2016

This is a great informative post. Pinterest is something we have been really struggling with at the moment and we are slowly trying to understand it. We have heard about Rich pins but not really looked into it. We are going to follow your links and hopefully get them installed. I think your very honest about how hard it's benefits for you to grow Pinterest but make us realise we need to put alot more work into it.

[email protected]

Tuesday 20th of December 2016

Pinterest is still my precious @ Finding Beyond, but it's a lot of work and you need to make sure it's the RIGHT work. So many people waste their time on Pinterest and never see good return. It's still our #1 traffic bringer next to Google search despite the constant updates and changes trying to spoil it for us. Good luck.

danthewanderer

Sunday 8th of February 2015

Wow, have just spend a good hour going through your website, how you find the time to do everything is amazing. I had no idea of the potential of pinterest until reading this post & exploring your pinterest site. If I could ask one question, you have a little box titled -'thank you reading. could I ask a favour?' at the end of each post. Love to steal the idea :-), but not sure how to do it, is it a plug-in? Great post & excellent site.

[email protected]

Sunday 8th of February 2015

It's an after post widget, designed for text. So I made the words and photo ( photo not working...no time!) into a nice looking thing in the blog's HTML (post) editor and just pasted the HTML in. Easy!

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