If you’re a small business owner and you’ve landed here, chances are you have already heard how effective Pinterest is for raising brand awareness and driving traffic to your website.
You’re at the beginning of your Pinterest marketing journey, and want to learn how to use this tool the best and most efficient way.
As small business owners, our time is limited. We want maximum results for minimum effort! Unlike the treadmill of your favorite social media platform, Pinterest does not require as much constant input.
Neither is it a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ platform – but it certainly allows for impressive results without having to log into Pinterest or your scheduling app constantly. You don’t need to constantly engage, reply to comments or DMs, deal with spam, or any of the small stuff that keeps us from what truly matters.
Wondering how to best use Pinterest for business? You’re in the right place!
In this guide, I want to show you how I use Pinterest for my business in conjunction with a healthy blogging strategy. My aims when I use Pinterest are to:
- Drive targeted traffic to my website.
- Build up my monthly viewers on the platform.
- And all the while… spending as little time as I can on the platform to get the results I want.
Here’s how to use Pinterest for your small business in 2020! Watch the video linked below if that’s your jam! : )
Introduction to Pinterest marketing – what is Pinterest?
I’m going to save you all the long and boring stats. If you’re on Pinterest for small business marketing, like I am, I’m going to assume you’re already sold on how popular the platform is. That’s why you’re here.
But there is one important piece of information that I want you to absorb and bear in mind as we move forward.
Think of Pinterest as a search engine, NOT a social media platform.
That’s right – Pinterest is less like Instagram or Facebook, but more like a visual version of Google. So we’re always trying to make the optimizations we can in order to get picked up by the ever-changing Pinterest algorithm.
What does this mean for you? A pin has a very long lifetime. Just the same as a blog post or a YouTube video! And very dissimilar from an Instagram post or a tweet, which will not be shown to anyone after a matter of hours or days.
Every time you pin, you’re creating content that can potentially be found for years to come.
More news to cheer you up – every one of those pins directs people towards your site (or wherever you choose to send them).
Unlike Instagram, where everything is geared toward making users stay on the platform, Pinterest is quite different. Users find a pin they like? They’ll have to click on it to read your blog post! The pin is like a visual invitation for the user to read more.
Using Pinterest for small business marketing
So the ultimate goal of a pin on Pinterest is to get your target audience to click on the pin and either land on some content that you created, or buy a product if it’s a product pin.
Another key difference on Pinterest and how it relates to business owners is this. You know how on Facebook and Instagram, businesses do not get as much reach? Not the case on Pinterest!
Pinterest loves business accounts and doesn’t penalize you simply because you are a business or have a business account! If you are consistent, create valuable conten and design click-worthy pins, you stand a very good chance of gaining clicks through Pinterest.
What is a pin on Pinterest?
What exactly is a ‘pin’? A pin is a vertically formatted, custom-made graphic or image in jpeg format, that has a keyword-optimized title and description. A pin also has a destination. When a user clicks it, it takes them somewhere off of Pinterest.
Anatomy of a pin
You would create your pin and write your text off of Pinterest. Keep reading to find out how I create my pins, because there’s a whole art to that! Typically you will also need some graphic design software that’s usually free.
We will go into how to create the text that goes alongside the pin, too.
The final and very important aspect of a pin that I touched on is that it should contain a clickable link back to your website. Some pins will go to your homepage but the vast majority will link to blog posts.
Informative tips and how-to type content does really well on Pinterest.
This means that if a user sees your pin they can click on it and be taken directly to your site or video. Yes, even if it’s on someone else’s Pinterest page. That’s because content can be repinned and shared around. In fact, on Pinterest, you want your pins to be repinned to other people’s boards.
Other types of pins are ‘product pins’. These will allow you to buy a product directly through the pin, rather than going back to a blog post or other informational content. Here’s an example of a product pin so you know what I’m talking about.
A step-by-step guide to using Pinterest for marketing
I’m going to take you through the actual process I used to gain traffic to my blog. I’m less concerned with the vanity metrics like followers Traffic to your site however, may well move the needle for your business – as will raising brand awareness.
Much of what I’ll be describing here will be easier to follow in video format. That’s why I am working on a series of videos that will take you through the whole process in more detail. Subscribe to my channel here and click the bell to be notified whenever I publish a video!
Convert to a business account and change to your desired URL
The first step is easy. You will simply need to convert from a personal account (the default for all new accounts) to a business one.
To do this, go to the three dots in the top right corner. Click on ‘Add a free business account’. That’s right – technically you’ll be adding a secondary account for business. Your personal one will be unaffected.
After you’ve got your business account set up, you may want to change to a custom branded URL as mentioned. To do that, go to Settings > Edit Profile > Username. When you change the username, it automatically changes your URL. So pick something that matches your name or brand, if possible.
Zoe’s tip: Make sure you do not start your account with the URL you actually want! That’s because once you ‘add’ the business account, that account will have a brand new, random URL.
And guess what – if you already have the desired URL associated with your personal Pinterest, it won’t be possible to change your freshly-created one… because your personal account already has it! Phew! I’ve made this mistake this before. I needed to contact Pinterest to fix it.
In recent months, Pinterest has made your URL visible as part of your actual profile in the ‘bio’ section. So you will not want to use a random URL that was fine for your personal account, but something you’ve chosen thoughtfully to add to your brand experience.
Rename your Pinterest account using keywords
Here’s a little trick that’s great for Pinterest SEO and more importantly, actually helps users. You can rename your account name with something a little more descriptive than your actual name.
In the box where it says ‘display name’, you can add a maximum of 65 characters. So make them count! A good idea is to use your first name / brand name and then a super brief description of what you do.
Here are some quick examples.
Zoe | Bay Area Wedding Photographer | Business, SEO & marketing
Lucky Spark | Affiliate Marketing Tips | Work From Home Ideas
Emma Tan | Life coach • Productivity • She Preneur Lifestyle
These all fit fine. The ‘business name’ box on your Pinterest profile has a character limit of 65. So use maximize the characters count!
Add a descriptive bio to your Pinterest profile
Your Pinterest bio has 160 characters so you can go into a little more detail about what you offer here. Use keywords naturally in your bio, just as you did in your name. Never stuff keywords in unnaturally. You should be able to read out your bio if someone asked you ‘what do you do?’
Some pointers and then I’ll give you a real world example.
- What do you do?
- How do you do it?
- For whom do you do it?
- Where do you do it?
Mine currently says:
Candid + fun wedding photography for rad, modern couples in the San Francisco Bay Area & Northern California. We love SF City Hall weddings! | IG @zoe.larkin
As you can see, I have words that talk about what I do, how I do it and who I do it for. As mine is a local service business, it’s crucial to mention the area I’m based in.
I also used another great keyword relating to a specific type of wedding that people search for.
You might also want to sneak in your Instagram or other social media platform in case folks want to find you there, for further social proof. This is also a good way of funneling users to an arena where you can get to know each other more personally or wherever you are most active!
The opportunities for intimate interaction are not big on Pinterest. So if that’s important to you, you could direct users to your Instagram, Facebook, TikTok or YouTube channel.
Zoe’s tip: If you have a course, shop or freebies page that you want to link here in this prime real estate, then do! You can use a link shortener like bit.ly as characters are so limited.
Add an on-brand profile picture of yourself
Your profile picture is so important! Don’t use a logo, especially if you’re a small business. A headshot is so much more personal! Sometimes we think that a logo looks more professional, but a clear photo of you is actually far more effective.
People want to connect with people. Unless you’re a huge brand with a widely recognizable logo, show off the human touch!
To help with brand recognition, simply use the same profile photo that you use on your socials. Or spruce it up and take some well-lit photos of yourself. You don’t need a fancy camera. A smartphone and your favorite editing app will do.
Make sure your face is clearly visible – you may need to crop in a little before uploading. Here are some great examples of Pinterest profile pics that I found from around the platform!
Claim your website
On Pinterest, you will need to claim your website once you’ve added it in the ‘claim’ section. This is a simple verification process that you can undertake easily by uploading an HTML file into your website’s root folder. I also have a quick workaround using plugins for WordPress websites if you’re not the technical type. You can that you can find video below or Video is here.
Or if you prefer to check out the blog post, feel free to hit the link below.
Create some boards with descriptions
Next up, create some boards! You’ll want to put a little thought into this, so I think it’s helpful to strategize a little first before you sit down to create them. So, brainstorm them out, or check out my Pinterest or your favorite accounts for more inspiration.
But hold up – what exactly is a ‘board’? According to Pinterest,
Boards are where you save, collect, and organize your Pins. You can create new boards from your profile or when you create a new Pin. Use boards to organize your business’ Pins so that people can easily browse your profile or explore your ideas.Create a Board, Pinterest
Basically a board is a collection of pins. Boards contains pins from other Pinterest users as well as your own created pins.
It’s normal practice to ‘pin’ each of your pins to multiple boards – in fact, pinning to up to 10 boards is considered safe and not spammy. This means each pin gets a good chance of being seen, depending on the exposure each board may be getting and who it reaches.
For example, if I have one pin that showcases a blog post of my favorite boho wedding dresses on Amazon. This could be relevant to multiple boards, like ‘beautiful wedding dresses’, ‘planning a wedding’, ‘wedding budgeting tips’, ‘bride style’ and ‘intimate wedding inspiration’. There will be crossover between the different boards.
In the same way that one pin can (and should) appear on multiple boards, you’ll also want to create multiple variations of pins for each blog post.
Create pins using Canva or your choice of graphic design software
There’s a lot to creating pins and I’ll cover this more in future posts that I’ll link here. But the main thing to remember in this quick guide is:
- Use both text and images for a great pin.
- Keep the text clear and legible (avoid cursive or novelty fonts!).
- Vary the photos/ images from pin to pin.
- Create 3 – 5 variations of each pin per blog post.
- Put your website (ideally, or your brand name) on each pin to safeguard against pin theft and increase brand awareness.
Here are some of my favorite pin designs I created myself – fast and easily using Canva.
I use Canva to design my Pinterest pins quickly (it’s also great for many other quick graphics jobs, like blog post graphics and YouTube thumbnails!). That’s the software I recommend and I have the pro version which is well worth it for me.
You can get started for free and you may never need to upgrade. Almost all the full suite of features is available in the free-for-life version!
Whichever software you use, you want to create a consistent look across every pin you create. Use your brand colors and ensure your pins are easily recognizable as yours. I sometimes break these rules if I want to make my pins appeal to different audiences – sometimes pretty and pastel works, other times bold and loud fares better, but that’s my personal preference.
I have a full tutorial on designing Pinterest pins for yourself using Canva for free! You can get started by clicking the link below or the video which takes you through the pin graphic designing process, step by step!
I also do custom designs through Fiverr, as I love designing pins so much! If you want someone to do the designing for you, check out my gig here.
Sign up for Tailwind app (Pinterest scheduler)
Pinterest best practices dictate that you should pin multiple times every day, but not all in one go – spread out throughout the day. Of course, this would be an extremely tiresome practice if you were pinning 25 pins per day manually. That’s where Tailwind comes in!
Tailwind is a Pinterest scheduler tool, that allows you to time your pins to be posted to the platform at the most optimal times for maximum visibility. It also allows you to pin the content of others, both from around the web via a nifty Chrome extension, and from your fellow Tailwind users in the same niche via a feature called ‘Communities’.
Of course, you don’t have to use a scheduler. It’s possible to schedule directly through Pinterest itself – but not recommended due to the lack of features.
Tailwind happens to be an official Pinterest partner and it’s actually designed specifically with pinning in mind. (Though they actually have a separate subscription available for Instagram scheduling, too!)
As I don’t want to spend all my time doing anything on Pinterest manually, I think Tailwind is well worth it. I only spend half a day (about 4 hours) each month doing all my Pinterest tasks for the whole month ahead.
Yes, even scheduling out pins for blog posts I haven’t even published yet but have scheduled or will be publishing in the coming few weeks.
Once the pins are published, that’s it. They will go live and be shown to users who are searching for whatever it is you write about, and be ranked according to the Pinterest algorithm.
Tailwind also offers an amazing new way of creating Pinterest pins in a way that’s completely automated. It uses AI to design pins for you so you don’t have to. For more info, check out the video below!
Join a few Tailwind Communities and begin sharing
Communities are simply groups of Tailwind users that congregate around a particular topic, industry or niche.
Note: Tailwind Communities were formerly known as Tailwind Tribes. In November 2020, the name changed. However, everything else remains the same.
Communities is an additional ‘PowerUp’, meaning it’s a separate subscription you would need to purchase on top of your regular Tailwind subscription. You can choose the right Communities PowerUp depending on the tier that’s right for you. I started with the level that allows 30 submissions per month to Communities, then I upleved to the 200 submissions/ month.
There are communities about weddings, small business, fitness, food, art – just about any topic you can imagine! You can also start your own Communities. Tailwind users simply join the Communities/ Tribe(s) that are most relevant to them.
Once you’ve joined, you can easily view all the pin submissions from the group and submit your own. You can see who has repinned or reshared your content – meaning your pin now appears on someone else’s board which means more reach! You can even join the chat with your Community-mates, or begin a conversation with folks that are in your Community.
Why is it important to share and share alike? Well, most communities have rules about 1:1 sharing. Simply put, if you submit a pin to the Community , you have to share someone else’s pin to your board(s)! The idea is that your pins will end up on the boards of other serious pinners – which is a great way of gaining highly targeted traffic. Why highly targeted? Because Communities are niche-specific!
Write optimized pin titles and descriptions
There is a lot more I can say about writing well-optimized titles and descriptions, but I will try and keep it brief for the moment.
Basically, the title of your pin should be your target keyword or keyphrase that someone is searching for.
The description should be written in natural language (not keyword-stuffed) but should contain words and phrases that make it clear what your pin is about. You should include keywords or related words in a natural, descriptive way.
How many characters are permitted in a Pinterest pin title?
You can have up to 100 characters (including spaces) in your pin title. You might want to include the name of your website or brand after the pipe (separator) “|” so be sure to leave some characters for that.
How many characters are permitted in a Pinterest pin description?
Your pin description can include up to 500 characters including spaces. You cannot use line breaks – they will not show up on the pin. If you want to use hashtags in your pin, include these in your pin description.
I use the free web-based Hemingway App to check my character count when creating pin titles & descriptions. I then copy and paste all of these to a Word doc so I can easily find all my text in one place, rather than having to hunt through tens of thousands on pins on my Pinterest boards!
Don’t get too creative with your titles – it should be a simple reflection of the title of your blog post.
That said, remember we talked about creating pin variations for each blog post – about 3 to 5 different designs? Each pin design will also ideally have a different title to target users in a slightly different way. Think of this in the same way that each blog posts will rank on Google for many different keywords.
This is easiest to explain with an example from one of my own blog posts, titled, ‘The best legal structure for your wedding photography business – explained’. The pin titles I came up with were:
- How to start a photography business right with the best legal structure for you!
- What you need to know about legal structures and tax efficiency for photographers
- Sole proprietor, LLC or S Corp? How to start your photography business right!
- What type of legal structure is right for your photography business?
- Choosing the best legal structure for your photography business in the US
In this video I go into more and you’ll see me creating my pin descriptions in real time and the process behind it.
Nutshell version is write naturally but include keywords – and always go right up to the 500-character limit to pack in as much valuable information as you can. Make that thing as clickable as you can without clickbait!
Here’s a much more detailed guide to writing optimized pin titles and descriptions. You can view this blog post format if you prefer:
The idea is to arouse your viewers’ curiosity and pique their interest so they can’t resist clicking over to see your content.
Schedule out your pins
You can actually now schedule pins directly through Pinterest but this is quite a cumbersome process as you would have to upload each pin separately.
Also you cannot schedule to multiple boards through Pinterest’s own uploading system (you would have to duplicate each pin and then pin to various boards).
As I’ve mentioned, Tailwind is the easiest way to schedule your pins this. It will even give you optimized timeslots once it has figured out when your followers are most likely to be on Pinterest and engaging. Pretty cool, huh!
You’ll want to schedule your pins for whenever your audience uses Pinterest the most so typically this will be in the evening around 6 – 8pm.
That said, don’t schedule all your pins for the most optimized time-slot – Pinterest may mark you as spam if you, well, spam out 20 pins in the space of 2 hours. So spread out your posting between the hours your audience is awake.
When adding pins to your board, remember you want to pin not just your own original pins, but a good mixture of your own fresh content and pins from around the web that your audience may find helpful once they’ve landed on one of your boards.
Build up your boards and establish consistency
You will want each one of your boards to have lots of pins (a few hundred or thousand plus is good!) so that there is plenty for users to engage with. Obviously, this takes a little time.
Boards with very few pins are less likely to rank highly on Google. And Google is actually a great way of finding new Pinterest followers and all-important clicks to your website!
Check this example out – my Pinterest board ranks second on Google search engine results page (SERP) for the keyword, ‘rad wedding dresses’:
So how many pins should you post per day? A good rule of thumb is between 20 – 25. Tailwind (which works closely with Pinterest developers) puts the upper limit at 25 pins per day at the current time. You are free to go up a little to say, 30 – 32, but this increases the risk of being identified as spam – not good!
Conversely, if you go days without pinning (or pinning very little), the Pinterest algorithm may see you as an inactive account. So you want to be as consistent as you can with pinning!
Always keep an eye on your analytics and be ready to change up your strategy as things change. If you are experiencing drops in traffic and engagement, it may be worth looking into the causes, so you are not wasting your significant efforts investing time and money into an effective Pinterest strategy.
For more information on how to address traffic decreases, check out:
Using Pinterest for small business marketing can seem overwhelming at first, and to be honest it takes a little while to get into the groove. If you are blogging consistently, pinning is a fun, fast and easy way to bring in lots of traffic to your blog posts.
The best part about using Pinterest for my small business is this. The work that I do creating pins, writing my descriptions, adding them to Tailwind Communities, scheduling them out – yes, it’s a lot. But I remind myself that the work I’m doing now will continue to compound over time. Unlike Instagram or Facebook posts, Pinterest pins will be searchable and shown to users for years to come.