How I 10x-ed my Pinterest Traffic
Before we get started
There’s a lot of verbiage in this post geared specifically to fiction writers, but the lesson and advice is universal!
If you’ve heard me speak at any event in the past year on the business side of being an author you’ve probably heard me mention:
I don’t want to call it my secret weapon, because there’s nothing secret about it. Savvy entrepreneurs, especially in the design and self-help world, have been preaching the power of Pinterest as a business-grower for years now.
But us writers, as a general group, have tended to dismiss the platform. In talking to my fellow authors directly, as well as marketing/publicity teams at some of the major publishing houses, I keep hearing the same thing:
“We sort of gave up on Pinterest, because we’re just not seeing the returns.”
As someone who sees a hefty amount of my website traffic come from Pinterest (it’s second only to Google for me), and who’s seen 20k impressions + several hundred clicks on an organic pin (meaning I didn’t spend any money to promote that particular pin), I’m going to say this as gently but clearly as possible:
If you’re not seeing any return from Pinterest, ever, you might be doing it wrong.
Now, I’m not going to pretend every single pin I put up there goes viral. I put up plenty of pins that get maybe 39 impressions and 0 clicks. Compared to another pin that looks almost identical and sees thousands of impressions in under a week. In that way, Pinterest can be more of an art than a science.
But there is no doubt in my mind that Pinterest can and does work for writers.
Now, a disclaimer: compared to other creative entrepreneurs (life and business coaches, designers, etc), my Pinterest stats are fairly “meh.” I’m still learning.
But compared to other romance writers? My stats are looking pretty damn good.
When I say stats, for the purpose of this article, I’m looking mostly at my Monthly Viewers, and Monthly Engaged, not followers.
Why? Because I care most about how many people are seeing my pins. And counterintutively, that doesn’t always correlate with number of followers on Pinterest. It’s very different from Facebook and the other social media platforms in that way.
For example, there is a romance author who is a much bigger name than me. She has 13,000 Pinterest followers. Me? Just shy of 2,000.
But. Her monthly views? 21,000. My monthly views? 250,000.
She has a lot more followers, but a lot more people, overall, are seeing my stuff.
So, how do you get those monthly viewers up?
There are a lot of factors, and I still have a long way to go to hit my Pinterest traffic goals.
But, there is one relatively simple thing I can suggest that started to change everything for me:
Always be asking yourself: what might my ideal customer/reader be searching for?
Here’s a hint: hint. It’s probably not your name. Or your book. I mean, great if it is! But we’re really after those people who aren’t familiar with your name, who haven’t yet heard of your book or product?
So how do we find those people? How do we get discovered?
Here’s a start:
With every board you create, every pin you design, every pin description you write, you should be thinking:
Would anyone search for this on Pinterest?
How would they search for it on Pinterest?
Writers get this wrong. A lot. I see a lot of writers using Pinterest the way I used to use Pinterest.
Let me know if this sounds at all familiar:
You create a board with your book title. And then you repin inspiration (images that remind you of your story or characters) to that board. You repin 8 pictures of your Chris Hemsworth inspired hero, 12 of your Kristen Bell inspired heroine. Maybe you found the perfect picture of the teal dress from Chapter Twelve, and you scoured Pinterest for “brick wall loft” photos to find the perfect visual representation of your hero’s home, and you repin that. If you’re ahead of the curve, maybe you’ve even created your own content (as opposed to simply re-pinning content already on Pinterest), and maybe you save your own book-related pins to that board.
And then you realize nobody is seeing the pins, clicking on the pins, engaging with the pins, and your followers remain stagnant, so you decide Pinterest isn’t working, so you go back to focusing on Facebook.
Am I right? Anyone?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever create those boards for your books if they help you creatively while planning your story. Not to mention, those boards can make for fun bonus content for your readers!
But they’re not great for discoverability and engagement, and least not as your primary Pinterest strategy. Why?
People on Pinterest are generally looking for inspiration in their own lives; what to create, what to make, what to do, and yes, what to read.
In other words, they have no reason to search for your board titled Irresistibly Yours (one of my own book titles, as an example). And even if they stumble on it, it’s going to look like a hodgepodge of Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Bell, aqua dresses, and lofts with brick walls, and a few photos of your book cover.
It’s going to look like one big pile of Random, and they’re going to move on.
I know that’s harsh. But let’s look at how most people discover content on Pinterest:
They see Pins on their home feed relevant to their previous search or pin activity.
And chances are, unless you’ve written Harry Potter, Twilight, or Fifty Shades of Grey, your name/book isn’t a common Pinterest search term.
Don’t take it personally. It’s simply the same reason you shouldn’t create you shouldn’t create a Pinterest board dedicated to Macaroni and Cheese and call it “Yums.”
What search term do you think is more common on Pinterest?
Yums? Or Macaroni and Cheese?
That’s what I thought. Name your Macaroni and Cheese board Macaroni and Cheese if you want anyone to find it!
Is anyone likely to search for your book title Starstruck Lover? Probs not. Because they don’t know that it exists.
Take a moment to picture your ideal reader. What might she search for on Pinterest? For me, this “potential search terms” exercise looks a little something like this
Sex and the City
When I started incorporating those phrases into my board descriptions, pin descriptions, and pin creative, guess what? That’s when my stats started going up.
real-life next step:
Imagine your target reader’s search history. Brainstorm a list of potential keywords he or she might search for. Start incorporating those exact phrases into your board titles, descriptions, and the pins themselves.