I consider myself a little bit of an expert in Pinterest mistakes because I think I have made them all. The good news is that you can learn from my mistakes, fix them, and start going viral on Pinterest.
Going viral on Pinterest was a mystery to me for a long time. I kept doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Shocker – I didn’t get them. I kept pinning and kept getting about 20 – 40 clicks a day from Pinterest. I thought maybe it just took time, but it had been almost a year.
After starting to use these Pinterest tips, I over doubled my clicks in one month and over tripled them in the next month. Within four months, I went from 40 clicks a day to over 400 clicks a day.
My monthly views went from 100,000 to almost 350,000 in about six weeks. I hit 900,000 monthly views just two months after that. While monthly views aren’t important, my pins being seen more often helped me get more saves and more clicks. My most important metric is the number of clicks though as my goal is to grow my blog traffic.
If you are struggling to increase your Pinterest traffic, check and see if you are making any of these Pinterest mistakes that keep your pins from going viral. If so, make some changes and watch your Pinterest traffic grow.
Looking for some help with Pinterest? I now offer Pinterest management services, pin creation, and strategy sessions/coaching calls through my agency, Pinnovation Media. Find out more about our services here.
***Some of the links in this posts are affiliate links. If you purchase from them, I earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.
WHAT IS A VIRAL PIN ON PINTEREST?
Viral pins on Pinterest are your highest performing pins. There is no set number of saves or clicks that determines if a pin is viral or not. For some people, a viral pin brings in 20 – 30 clicks a day. For others, a viral pin brings in thousands of clicks a day. It all depends on how your pins typically perform.
Some viral pins only last a day or two. Others last a week or even longer. Some pins go viral right away. Others go viral months later when you least expect it. I have one pin that is just an image. When I first pinned it, no one cared. Suddenly that blog post started getting regular clicks from Pinterest. When I looked into it, it was a pin I shared about 8 months prior. That pin has been getting about 10 – 20 clicks a day for the last two months and about the same number of saves a day.
Another pin I shared a couple of weeks ago got noticed immediately. In 24 hours, it had over 150 saves and about the same number of clicks. It continued and within a week was my most saved, most viewed, and most clicked pin. Then it slowed down. It still gets some saves and clicks, but not nearly as many as it did at first.
While viral pins are great, your hope is that they become cornerstone pins. Cornerstone pins last much longer. They may not have the flashy numbers that a viral pin gets, but they continue to do work every day without fail. Many people advise you to keep pinning until you have at least 20 cornerstone pins that bring in clicks every day.
WHY SHOULD BLOGGERS USE PINTEREST?
A common goal for most bloggers is to build their blog traffic. When I first started blogging, I did not know much. Over the last two years, I have learned quite a bit about blogging. One of those things is how important Pinterest is for bloggers.
I never used Pinterest personally. I did not understand the craze and avoided clicking on search results from Pinterest. When I started blogging, I still avoided Pinterest for about a year. I did not see the importance of Pinterest for getting traffic. I wrote good posts (or so I thought), so why wouldn’t people find them on their own and read them?
It turns out that Pinterest is much more important than I originally thought. It is now my highest source of traffic to my blog without having to spend hours on it. With just a few minutes a day, I can get hundreds of clicks to my blog.
With SEO (search engine optimization), it often takes 3 – 6 months to start seeing results. Some blogs make it to the top search results in just a few weeks, but others never make it at all or take a year to get there. If you struggle with patience like me, you don’t want to wait months for that post you worked so hard on to get any traffic.
That’s where Pinterest comes in. While you wait for Google to figure out your post and start ranking it, Pinterest can send you traffic. There is more instant gratification in Pinterest because you get the results much faster. Sure, some pins take months to get traffic, but many pins start getting at least a click or two within a few days.
ISN’T PINTEREST JUST ANOTHER SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM?
No! Pinterest, while often grouped with social media, is actually a search engine. People use Pinterest to search for ideas or plan trips. When they search, your pin can show up in the search results. If your pin is one of the top ranking pins for a popular search, you are likely to get quite a few saves and clicks.
With social media, your posts disappear quickly. On Twitter, your tweet is gone within minutes. On Facebook and Instagram, your posts may show up for a few days but get most of their traffic in the first 24 hours. With Pinterest, your pins can bring in traffic for months or even years.
Plus, Pinterest doesn’t take as much time because you don’t need followers for your pins to be seen. I focused on growing my Instagram instead of my blog for a long time. I wanted to grow my Instagram authentically with the ultimate goal of driving more traffic to my blog. In the past, I spent hours a day on Instagram. While I grew, it did not send me as much traffic as I hoped. I still use and love Instagram, but Pinterest is the better route to go for growing your blog.
COMMON PINTEREST MISTAKES & HOW TO FIX THEM
If you are making some or all of these mistakes, know you are in good company. I have been there and made these mistakes. However, there is hope for you – I am proof of that. Some of these changes can be made in a few minutes, and others take a little longer to implement. If you want to save this post for later to gradually make the changes, here is a pin for you to save:
#1: NOT OPTIMIZING YOUR PINTEREST PROFILE
Your profile is the first thing people see on your page. It also signals to Pinterest who you are and what your page is about. Try to put “Travel Blog” or “Travel Blogger” (or whatever your niche is) in your title. When people search for travel bloggers, your page is more likely to show up that way.
You also want to fill in your biography. Try to mix your personality with keywords related to your blog here. You don’t want it to sound like a robot, but you do want to be clear what your blog is about. If you aren’t sure, search for other bloggers in your niche and see what they use for their bio.
Make sure you claim your blog, but you can also claim your Instagram, YouTube, and Etsy shop. By claiming your website, you get stats on pins from your blog (even if you did not pin them) and your link to show up in your biography. I am often surprised at how many clicks come from my profile itself, especially because I did not expect to get any. Claiming your other channels also gives you access to stats about pins from those channels.
#2: NOT OPTIMIZING YOUR PINTEREST BOARDS
When I started my Pinterest, I made a board for each continent and a few generic boards (bucket list, best travel destinations, etc.). As I write more blog posts, I create more boards. The goal is to be able to pin every blog post to at least five boards according to many who give Pinterest advice. If you have a few posts on the same topic, create a board for it. Now I have boards for road trips, weekend getaways, summer/winter travel, and specific countries.
When you pick your titles, don’t pick cutesy titles. Pick titles that use words people would actually search for instead. This gives you a better chance to show up in search results. It might be a fun title for you, but if it doesn’t help you get more clicks, it probably isn’t worth the cute title.
Once you have your boards, make sure to add a board cover. I created mine using Canva which is free (or you can do the paid option). You can see them here. This gives your boards a more cohesive look and makes it clear which boards are yours and which ones are group boards.
Make sure to also assign your board a Pinterest topic (in board settings) and give it a description. At first, I just listed keywords I thought people might search for on Pinterest related to that topic. After having an audit, I learned it is more important to make board descriptions easy to understand. Write a few sentences that use keywords and location specific terms to help people understand what to expect from that board.
#3: NOT HAVING A “BEST OF” BOARD ON PINTEREST
Having a “Best of” board allows you to show off your work. Most of your boards will mix your work with work from other bloggers. This means people have a hard time finding your pins. Keeping them all in a “Best of” board makes it easier for people to find your pins and see what you are about.
This is the board I keep pinned to the top of my profile. It is the first thing people see on my Pinterest account. If someone comes to my page and wants to pin some of my pins, they do not have to search through my recent pins or boards to figure out which ones are mine. They simply click on that board and pin any that interest them.
I like to go to other blogger’s pages and pin some of their pins. I try to do this a couple of times a week for bloggers I have gotten to know or to thank people for pinning my pins. It makes it so much easier if they have a “Best of” board. I can quickly find pins that belong to them to pin them.
You can make multiple “Best of” type boards with just your pins in them. For example, have a general “Best of” board for all of your blog posts. If you have a few different categories with lots of posts, you could create a “Best of _______ – Europe” board for example. I have also seen “Best of” boards for just Instagram posts if you want to feature your Instagram posts on Pinterest as well.
#4: GETTING PUT IN PINTEREST JAIL
If you already have a Pinterest account and are changing up your strategy, go slowly. Don’t go from 0 to 100 in a day. If you are just starting an account, you can start out pinning more and maintain it. If you already have an account though, suddenly changing all of your strategies with pinning can land you in Pinterest jail.
When I fixed my boards, I went through and added a bunch of pins to each board. To “fill” a board, you want about 50 pins on that board. I decided to fill them as soon as I started them. I also went through and deleted a bunch of old pins from when I first started pinning that never gained traction (not my own, just other pins). After deleting a few hundred pins and adding a few hundred pins, Pinterest put me in Pinterest jail.
I woke up on Saturday morning and could not log into Pinterest. It told me my Pinterest account was suspended for spam activity. I found out through research that Pinterest does not really respond to emails on the weekend. I emailed the general help email and the creator email for bloggers ([email protected]). Make sure to explain what happened in the email. I got an email back on Monday morning that my account was back and that it had been a mistake.
After that, I built up more slowly. I made sure to pay attention to how many pins I saved at one time and did not pin a whole bunch at once. I also did not delete pins like that again, mainly deleting when I realized an error on my blog post in the pin description.
#5: NOT INCLUDING PINTEREST OPTIMIZED IMAGES ON ALL BLOG POSTS
In blog sharing threads like Blog Post Saturday in the Facebook group Wandering Women Travel Bloggers, I often want to pin someone’s blog post and can’t because there is no pinnable image. I see people say, “You can pin any of my pictures though.” I am not likely to do that, and from the comments I see from others, they are not either. Typically, I only save an image if the image is a specific picture that I want to get or that really impresses me or that makes me fall in love with a place. I usually want the text to remember what the post is about when I’m scrolling through my boards.
For every blog post on your blog, start by creating one or two pins for it. Find an image and put a text overlay with a title for the blog post. Just having one of these on each blog post makes it much more likely to be shared. When you share these, they are much more likely to be clicked as well.
#6: NOT PINNING IMAGES FROM YOUR BLOG POST
When you post a blog post, chances are that you include images in that post. Pin those images! While images with a text overlay tend to get more clicks, plain images still get clicks and sometimes get more saves. Plus, you don’t have to do any work to create them – they are already there. Some of my most saved and most clicked pins are just images. I have several image pins that bring in daily clicks to my site.
If you struggle to figure out what to pin, this can help fill your pinning calendar too. You don’t have to take time to sit down and create these, but they can help fill your boards and your pinning schedule without much additional work.
#7: PINNING THE SAME PINS OVER AND OVER AGAIN
Pinterest loves and prioritizes new content. This does not mean that you have to constantly write new blog posts. You can simply create new pins for old blog posts. It takes less time than writing a full post and can bring new life to old posts.
The first 8 – 12 months of using Pinterest, I created 2 – 3 pins per blog post, pinned them, and then kept pinning them. They might get clicks, they might not, but I kept pinning them over and over again anyways. While this doesn’t hurt, it also helps to have new pins out there. I still repin old pins that are bringing in lots of traffic but mostly pin new pins.
Now I sit and batch create pins for new posts. I’m also slowly working on batch creating for old posts. I create anywhere from 20 – 50 pins for a blog post and roll them out slowly. I may only release one a week, so I have pins for months to come for each post. That saves me from having to go back every couple of weeks to create more for each post. Some prefer to do it that way, but I can knock out a whole large group of pins in 30 minutes to an hour for a post and not have to think about it again for a long time.
#8: YOUR PINS ARE UGLY AND/OR HARD TO READ AND/OR ALL THE SAME
My first pins were pretty rough. I quickly decided to change it and stick to my pink tones that commonly appear on my Instagram feed. Every pin had the exact same look for branding purposes. The problem? They weren’t easy to read. The white text disappeared into the pink background on some screens. What did I do? Made the pink darker.
The only thing that ever changed on pins for a blog post was the image. I used the same design, the same text, and the same colors on every single pin. It made it faster because I just had to swap the image. When I wrote a new post, I wrote the new title and then started swapping images again.
In July, I started experimenting with my pins again. Now I have several designs I use for each post. Some have one image, and some have multiple images. Some have one font and some have multiple fonts. I use one color on some and another color on others. I also made sure my text is clear and easy to read on all of my pins. Some have the same title as the blog post and many have other similar titles.
My clicks increased immediately by doing this and some of the new pins went viral. I thought before that I needed to stick to my original blog title. Now I have a variety of wordings that go on my pins. Some attract one type of Pinterest user and others attract other types of users. Some may fall flat, but others take off right away.
I pay attention to which ones work and which ones do not work as well. This plays a large part in future titles for pins as I see what types of words tend to get the most clicks. I also pay attention to which designs work best. Do the ones with a single image perform better or the ones with multiple images? Do the ones with me in them perform better or the ones without me in them? By tracking this, my future pins become more optimized.
If your pins aren’t getting many clicks, don’t be afraid to try something new. Canva is easy to use for creating pins for free. If you use Photoshop, you can also create pins there or in any other program that allows you to make graphics.
Take a look at the pins you compete with and give yourself an honest assessment. Are your pins as attractive as the ones at the top for your keyword? Are your pins easy to read when scrolling? Do they stand out from the pack? If not, do what you can to fix them and make them more attractive. You can switch out images or edit your images to make your pins more attractive. You can also use stock photos if needed, but make sure you get the proper permissions so there are no copyright problems.
Pinterest typically likes photos that are lighter or brighter instead of darker. Pinterest users also tend to be less likely to pin photos that show your face or make you a prominent part of the pin. This is obviously not the case in the fashion and beauty niches. In travel though, your pins are better off if they feature the destination instead of you. That being said, some of my best pins do have me in them, but usually as a smaller part of the image.
#9: NOT PINNING TO THE MOST RELEVANT BOARD FIRST
When I scheduled pins in the past, I went through my board list alphabetically or in reverse alphabetical order. It made it easier to keep track of which boards I had already pinned to and made it easier to make sure I didn’t pin a ton of pins all to one board in the same day. That is not the right way to do it.
Instead, pin to the most relevant board first. For example, my Iceland road trip itinerary post goes to my Iceland board first. Then it goes to my Europe board, my road trips board, my travel itinerary board, and my summer travel board. Once I am out of my most relevant boards, I pin it to my “Best of LiveLoveRunTravel” board. After I pin to to my “Best of” board, it goes to my more generic boards like bucket list destinations and my group boards.
By pinning it to your most relevant boards first, you signal to Pinterest what your pin and your blog post are about. If I pinned the same post to bucket list destinations or a group board first, Pinterest can only tell it is travel related. By pinning to my Iceland board first, Pinterest knows it is specifically about Iceland travel. The other boards tell Pinterest that it includes a road trip, an itinerary, and relates to summer travel and travel in Europe. From these words, Pinterest can get a good idea of what my pin and my post is about. Your first five boards are your most important, so make them count to give your pin a better chance of going viral.
#10: NOT USING PIN DESCRIPTIONS ON IMAGES ON YOUR BLOG
Every image on your blog needs alt text, but alt text is not where your pin description should go. Alt text allows people who use screen readers to know what the image is about. It is also what Pinterest pulls for your pin description if you don’t provide it another way.
There are a few options for ways to add a pin description to an image. If you are comfortable with coding it in, you can add data-pin-description=”Pin description here” to the code for the image. This is what I used to do.
Now I use a plugin called Social Pug (now Grow by Mediavine). It is a paid plugin but is worth it to me. It lets you control what image readers can pin using your share buttons and also includes a spot for a pin description. However, if you use Elementor as a page building, Social Pug/Grow is not compatible. Friends who use Elementor use Taste Pins which is also a paid plugin with the same capabilities.
For my pin descriptions on regular images, I start by describing the image and try to add keywords when possible. For example, for a picture of me watching the hot air balloons in Cappadocia, I might put something like “Sitting on the balcony at Cappadocia Cave Suites watching the hot air balloons at sunrise in Cappadocia.” This adds some searchable keywords while still describing the image.
Then I add a sentence for Pinterest that says something like this: “Click here for a 3 day Cappadocia itinerary including all of the most Instagrammable places in Cappadocia, Turkey.” This sentence also helps get more keywords in the description. You can also add a couple of hashtags, but keep them related to your keywords.
For pin descriptions on my text-overlay pins, I use a sentence or two to describe the post with several keywords related to the post and a call to action to click through. I also add a few hashtags and make sure the keywords I am targeting are included.
#11: NOT USING TAILWIND FOR PINTEREST
Tailwind is an amazing way to pin regularly on Pinterest without having to be on Pinterest all the time. It is one of the best blogging tools to grow your blog. I schedule my pins to my generic and group boards through Pinterest. I also pin my images from my blog posts through Tailwind. If you want to give it a try, click here to get $15 off (basically one month free).
When I first started on Pinterest, Tailwind was the only thing I used. I still use it, but I also pin manually (see the next Pinterest mistake for more). I schedule to Tailwind to keep pinning at regular intervals though. My Tailwind is set up to pin about 50 pins a day. You can change the amount of pins and schedule a day, a week, or months at a time. Using the chrome extension makes it easy to add or even schedule all of the images from my blog at once to my boards.
For my Pinterest optimized images, I pin to my most relevant boards right away manually. It would be hard to keep track of which boards everything went to without Tailwind though. Once I pin it manually, I schedule out the rest of the boards through Tailwind. Tailwind has an option to pin in intervals, so you can pin them all in a row or spread them out over time. Using Tailwind saves me a ton of time on Pinterest.
#12: ONLY USING TAILWIND FOR PINTEREST & NOT PINNING MANUALLY
As mentioned before, when I first started, I only pinned through Tailwind. This isn’t a bad way to do it, and many people get great results this way. Others swear by manual pinning. I find a mix of both works best for me. I pin to my most relevant boards manually and also repin some pins from my Activity tab or notifications in Pinterest manually. Most of the pins I pin manually are not my own though.
Manual pinning is supposed to signal to Pinterest that you are an active user. I scroll through my home feed and Following tab to pin each day. If you do any Pinterest threads, most require you to pin those manually as well. I also upload some of my pins to Pinterest since I don’t want to put all 20 pins I created on a blog post. Since I started pinning manually, my monthly viewers and my click rate have increased by quite a bit.
#13: NOT USING GROUP BOARDS ON PINTEREST
Some people say group boards are dead. While they may not be as successful as they once were, I do tend to still get saves and clicks from them. Some group boards are more successful and more useful than others though.
When looking at group boards, I look at a few things. I used to join them all, but I am starting to be more picky. Look at the number of followers and contributors. If you have more followers than the board, it may not give you the exposure you want. If it is just starting, it may be worth joining still, especially if the followers and contributors are in your niche. I also look at the number of contributors. Some have thousands of contributors. Your pins are likely to get lost in the shuffle in these.
I also look for the types of pins being shared. You want to join group boards that are specific to your niche. Do not join generic group boards as they allow all pins to be shared. This means the people following the board are less likely to be your target audience. I look for travel boards, but I also look for female travel boards or travel boards specific to locations I write about. Those are more likely to have people who are searching for my type of content.
HOW TO JOIN GROUP BOARDS ON PINTEREST
To join group boards on Pinterest, read the board description. Sometimes there is a button to request to join the board. Sometimes you have to go to a certain website to sign up. The most common way is to reach out to the board owner. You can find the board owner in the URL right after Pinterest.com (see below). If you simply delete the board name off the end of the URL, it takes you do the owners page. You can send them a message through Pinterest or an email through their blog.
Here are some of the best group boards for travel blogs or female travel blogs:
Boutique Travel Tips, Trips and Hotels
We Are Travel Girls Travel Inspiration Shared Board
The Instagrammer’s Travel Guide
Travels, Cruises, Vacations
Travels of Girls
#14: NOT USING TAILWIND TRIBES
If you use or decide to try Tailwind, make sure to use Tailwind Tribes. In Tailwind Tribes, you share your pins (usually text overlay pins only, not just images) and others can reciprocate and schedule your pins to fill up their pinning schedule. Some Tribes require a certain ratio of shares. For example, the most successful tribe I am in requires you to share 3 pins for every 1 pin you share. The Tribe owners can easily check your ratio and kick out anyone who is not sharing enough pins. Group boards are harder to police making Tailwind Tribes more effective oftentimes.
With Tribes, your success is often based on two things: your pins and the number of times you share content. When you share content, it notifies that person. They are then more likely to share your content, but they do not have to share it. This is when the style and content comes in. People scroll through Tribes and through your pins when you share their content. If they see something they like or something that stands out, they are more likely to schedule it. If they do not see something that would work well for their audience, they are not likely to share it.
BEST TAILWIND TRIBES FOR TRAVEL BLOGGERS
In Tailwind, you can search for these Tribes by name. You are limited on the number of Tribes you can join, but you can pay to upgrade to join more if you would like. You can also pay attention to which ones work best for you and leave the ones that aren’t working so well. Give it at least a month or two before leaving to see which ones work best.
Best Tailwind Travel Tribe by TravelisLife.org – you have to be vetted to join this board, and he does kick you out if you do not keep the 3:1 ratio, but this board lives up to its name
Ultimate Travel Inspiration and Tips
Slaying Social | Travel Tribe
Travel Inspiration Wow! (2 for 1 share)
#15: SHARING THE SAME PIN TO ALL TAILWIND TRIBES
Within Tailwind Tribes, you can share a certain amount of pins each month. I used to just share one pin to all of my tribes. Then I tried to remember a few days or a week later to go in and share another pin with all of my tribes. I did get shares this way.
However, I do not use Tribes this way anymore. Many tribes, especially niche Tribes, have the same members. While there are some people who will only see your pin in one Tribe, many will see it multiple times. Tailwind tells them which pins they have scheduled or published already. They can even exclude these so they do not see them again.
If you share the same pin in all of your Tribes, the people who already shared it will not share it again. If you share a different pin in each Tribe or only share each pin in 2 – 3 Tribes, Tailwind does not tell them they already scheduled it. Because it is a new pin, it is more likely to get another share from them even if they already shared the first one. This gives you a better chance of getting your pins shared and out there to more people.
HOW TO KNOW WHAT IS WORKING ON PINTEREST
Now that you have fixed (or plan to fix) your Pinterest mistakes, how can you know if it is working? If you get a viral pin on Pinterest, you will know it worked. However, even if a pin doesn’t go viral, you can still see success in other ways through analytics.
Look at Pinterest analytics for one. Your Pinterest analytics board allows you to change the time period. Look at larger ranges of dates like the last 30, 60, or even 90 days. Look at impressions, but also look at clicks. Make sure to change it on the left side of the screen to only show your site’s pins too. While looking at all of the pins is good, you care about getting more traffic to your blog specifically.
Also scroll down to the bottom of the page. Here you see your top pins during that time period. You can look at impressions, saves, clicks, etc. again here. Pay attention to if any of your new pins are rising stars on this list. Sometimes they may not take off right away. You may not check the individual analytics on that one pin again, but you can see if it shows up on this list later.
Another place to look is on Google Analytics. If you haven’t already done it, install Google Analytics on your website now. It is free and gives you more data than you will probably ever need on your website. In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition, then Social, and then click on Pinterest. This lets you see which pages on your site get the most clicks from Pinterest. Again, you can adjust your time period to get a wider view.
To take it one step further, click on any of the pages there. This brings up all of your pins that have brought in traffic in that time period. You can use those links to see which pins are working best. Is it from one of your boards? Did the clicks come from a pin on a group board? Are the clicks from other people sharing your pins? Use this to see what is and isn’t working with your pins.
MAKE TODAY THE DAY YOU GO VIRAL ON PINTEREST
If Pinterest isn’t bringing you traffic or you are like me and resisting Pinterest, start using Pinterest and making changes today. It is worth the effort! Once you are set up, it does not take much time each day to pin or set up your schedule in Tailwind. If you feel stuck, try making some of these changes one at a time and get your traffic moving in the right direction again.
If you want to connect on Pinterest, you can find me here. For more blogging tips to bring traffic to your site, check out the 8 things I did to explode my traffic by 1000% in just 6 months, the 9 tools every blogger needs, and the 24 things I wish I knew earlier about blogging.
Looking for a more individual approach with a chance to ask all of your Pinterest questions and get some individual feedback? Sign up for a Pinterest consultation with me to set up a time to meet one-on-one.
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