It's no secret that Pinterest has become one of the hottest social media type sites out there. What's not to love? Beautiful photos, neat craft and party ideas, boards full of shoes and clothes, a perfect tool to brainstorm and research for design projects, not to mention... food. And if people like your posts and pin your images, it can be a huge traffic boost to your blog!
Until recently, brands weren't allowed on Pinterest, there were issues with the site's Terms of Service and it was considered poor etiquette to pin your own content. But the site has evolved over the past 6 months and it's an important tool for bloggers - and not just in terms of traffic.
We had questions about how to get the most out of pinterest for your blog and who better to go to for answers than Aimée Wimbush-Bourque from Simple Bites and Under the High Chair. Aimée was named one of Time.com‘s Top 30 Pinners You Should Follow and has over 19,000 Pinterest followers. She knows her stuff!
FBC: You have a lot of beautifully curated boards. How do you stay organized and keep them so appealing?
AWB: Thank you. It’s actually a lot less work than it looks. I invested a few solid evenings a few years ago to get set up with about 30 boards on food-related topics that were of interest to me like Preserving, Family Dinner, Frozen Treats, School Lunch, etc. From then on it was history. If I started a new series on my blog, or threw a big party, I created a board about it. I said yes to a bunch of group boards along the way, and now here I am with over a hundred boards.
I don’t dedicate boards to single ingredients, because, really, I don’t know where I would draw the line! Although I admire boards dedicated to blueberries, bacon, or quinoa, I prefer to be slightly broader: Winter Salads, Sandwiches, Edible Gifts…etc.
As far as looks go, first impressions are everything, right? I have placed boards at the top that I know will grab the interest of fellow food lovers and DIY enthusiasts, while more specific, personal boards are buried at the bottom, along with the group boards.
By default, the newest pin on any board will become the board cover, the large image that appears at the top of each pinboard. I prefer to set a board's cover myself – something pretty and eye-catching, of course – which will be a permanent image. I make sure it is positioned correctly as well.
(To set a cover image, hover your mouse over a pinboard and then select Edit Board Cover. The Board Cover dialog box will appear. Click the arrows to preview different pins/images from the pinboard. Click “Set Cover” when you're satisfied with the cover image.)
I don’t pin EVERYTHING that catches my eye or I find useful. That’s what hitting the “Like” button is for!
FBC: Do you use any apps/plug-ins or tools to help you stay organized and pin quickly?
AWB: Early on I added the "Pin It" button to my bookmarks toolbar. It's pretty easy to install, even for a non-techie like me, and it is a great enabler for pinning content. Visit the goodies page for a walk-though on how to install the button: http://pinterest.com/about/goodies/
FBC: Initially, pinning your own content was frowned upon but now it’s becoming much more accepted. How would you recommend bloggers balance pinning their own finds and pinning their own content?
AWB: I don’t think it is black and white, although for some people it certainly is. I’ve always maintained at least a 10 :: 1 ratio – in other words, if I’m on a pinning tear, sure, I’ll add my latest post in.
I don’t always have time to make the rounds of my favorite blogs, so I love it when recipe developers and talented photographers share their most recent creations on Pinterest. It’s a lovely, fast way to see what is coming out of their kitchens, and if I want to click through, I will.
The way I see it is sharing your content on Pinterest is no different than sharing it on any other social media platform: do it tastefully and don’t beat people over the head.
FBC: Do you use group curated boards? They can be hard to maintain. Any tips on how to do them well?
AWB: As I mentioned before, I said “yes” to quite a few in the beginning, but they were all initiated by food bloggers I knew and respected, and I have no regrets. It’s been a fun way to collaborate and some of them have a huge following.
My only tip would be to turn off ALL notifications…or you’ll go crazy. (pinterest.com/settings/email/)
FBC: Have you made use of the new “private boards” feature?
AWB: Yes! It’s really helpful. I’m currently pinning to My Master Bedroom Makeover, and like, it’s personal, yo. I love that it is a private board. I also have a couple of secret group boards, which is fun too.
FBC: It’s no secret that having your posts pinned can be a great traffic boost – what are your tips for making your site and your posts pinner friendly?
- Definitely adding a small ‘Pin It’ button to your site is a good start. It invites readers to pin your content which is helpful for both of you. Visit the Pinterest Goodies page for instructions on how to add the button.
- Label your images specifically for Pinterest when you insert them into a post. In doing so, you can customize the description to fit your picture, add your url, and usually the pinner will leave exactly what you have as their description. Amanda has a great little tutorial on How to Label Your Pictures for Pinterest that is easy to follow.
- Text on photos is hot right now and really pops on Pinterest. You can use PicMonkey.com for the basics, unless of course you have something fancier. Tracy is pretty much the queen of text on images.
- Know your camera equipment and strive to take the best images you possibly can.
- Link your site to your Pinterest profile. You can make a clickable icon appear in your profile if you include your web address in your Settings. This will put an icon underneath your bio.
FBC: What are your tips for being a good Pinterest citizen?
AWB: Direct. Source. Only. Be sure you are pinning from the source. Please don’t pin through Foodgawker or Tastespotting. (It bugs me that they even have those buttons as options.)
Use keywords in your descriptions when you Pin - something other than "Yum!" or 'Cute"! This is helpful for your followers, and also helps to get pins and boards found more easily via search methods.
Tag your friends and colleagues in a post when you pin their content. Like Twitter, you use the @ sign to tag their Pinterest handle. Not only does it give them a polite nod, it introduces them to your followers.
And – maybe this is too obvious – but pin from the individual post, not the website’s homepage.
FBC: What are your top 3 tips for making the most of pinterest as a blogger?
1. Aim for one highly pin-worthy image per post, ideally in portrait layout, as it takes up more real estate and taller images just pop better on Pinterest than landscape images do. I am not religious about this vertical business, but it is something to strive toward.
2. Label your images for Pinterest (see above).
3. See what people are pinning from your site using pinterest.com/source/yoururlhere . It’s a good overall indicator of their interests and what’s hot.
http://pinterest.com/source/simplebites.net/ shows me everything people are pinning from Simple Bites. The comments can be helpful, too, but don’t get too hung up on the negative ones.
FBC: Who should we follow on Pinterest?
Sylvie – food photography http://pinterest.com/gourmandeinthek/
Heidi – for inspiring food styling http://pinterest.com/foodiecrush/
Tracy – best text on images http://pinterest.com/shutterbean/
Kelsey – queen of group boards http://pinterest.com/TheNaptimeChef/
Marla – for spark and dazzle http://pinterest.com/marlameridith/
Caitlin – dramatic and whimsical http://pinterest.com/cocofromroost/
Aimée Wimbush-Bourque is the editor of Simple Bites and author of Under the High Chair. She's also the FBC Regional Admin for Quebec and will be speaking at FBC2013. She lives just outside of Montréal with her husband, Danny, and three beautiful children, and can almost always be found in the kitchen. You can follow Aimée on Twitter at @SimpleBites, on Facebook at Simple Bites, and of course, on Pinterest.