Unraveling the Mysteries of How Pinterest Generates Business!

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Is it time for you to get started using Pinterest? By now the answer should be a resounding yes! Although some naysayers initially decried the platform as being unnecessary considering the other options out there, social media marketers were quick to discover that Pinterest could generate an incredible source of website traffic – and income.

Rebecca Dillon was one of those business owners who saw the potential of Pinterest. Her handmade shea butter soaps shop at www.soapdelicatessen.com and related blog are getting massive traffic from Pinterest.

“In the past week I got 17,824 hits to my blog from Pinterest and my total hits for the past week to my blog was 41,477. So it’s a good percentage of traffic. It’s also my number one traffic source,” says Rebecca.

Her Pinterest activity (at www.pinterest.com/soapdeligirl) has garnered her more than 11,000 followers on the site and that number keeps growing. That’s well more than double the number on her Facebook business page

Since Pinterest is set up in a way that makes it easy for people to find and follow you, why not use it to market your business? Here are her step by step tips for getting started on Pinterest and making it work for your business.

Getting Started on Pinterest

“I first learned about Pinterest from a post in one of the forums on Etsy and I decided to give it a try. I really pushed the site by encouraging others to follow me, pinning, re-pinning and following others because I saw the potential for growth,” says Rebecca.

Her top tip for getting started? Keep your expectations in check.

“While it’s easier to gain views now that Pinterest has become drastically more popular – even mainstream stores and venues have the “Pin It!” button now – it does still take time. It was several months before I noticed a large increase in traffic,” she shares.

Don’t get discouraged! After her initial increase in traffic, Rebecca’s numbers continued to rise. First she saw an increase to several hundred a week and then on to one or two thousand a week. Her traffic is currently at 12,000 to 20,000 views per week from Pinterest.

“Part of this is due to several of my pins going viral on Pinterest, followed by several more,” she says. She also made a concerted effort to grow her follower numbers quickly.

“Followers are key because they do a lot of re-pinning of your pins and their followers pin their pins. And then there are those who find you on their own and pin something they like,” she said. Filling out your profile completely can help interested pinners find your site, but you can also bring your blog audience to Pinterest.

Bringing Your Blog Visitors to Pinterest

In order to grow her Pinterest follower base, she encouraged her current blog visitors to connect with her on the social media platform. You can do the same by adding a button to your blog that links back to your Pinterest page. This makes it easy for others to follow you.

“I also highly recommend adding a “Pin It!” button to your blog somewhere on each individual blog post. I did this very early on when it first was offered so my code feels a little “old school” now. But you can add it into your html code of your blog in whichever way you like best,” says Rebecca.

In addition to make it easy to pin, Rebecca recommends introducing your blog audience to Pinterest with an official introduction post.

“While Pinterest fame is growing at lightning speed, not everyone is aware of Pinterest yet. So let your blog readers know you’ve joined, tell them a little about what Pinterest is all about, share your Pinterest profile and some of your favorite boards, and encourage them to follow you,” Rebecca said.

Growing Your Audience on Pinterest

Once you’ve set up your profile and have integrated Pinterest into your website, it’s time to grow that follower base! Rebecca has used several strategies to grow her followers and keep them interested (and sharing) her pins.

1. Create boards.

These are basically categories that you’ll share about, and topics that you simply enjoy. If you have specific categories on your blog (like “Handmade Finds” on Rebecca’s blog), create a board for each of these categories.

2. Pin, pin and pin some more!

Pin your blog posts to appropriate boards, but spread your wings to other sources as well.

“Be sure to pin a lot of great finds from other blogs and websites to those boards as well. You don’t want this to be purely about self promotion,” she says.

3. Take advantage of event-related and holiday traffic.

Think ahead about holidays and their impact on your business. You can create boards that are related to whatever current event or holiday is going on.

“I create a lot of DIY blog posts – which are insanely popular on Pinterest – so I have a Unique DIY Christmas Gift Board. I also have a Stocking Stuffer Board and a Holiday Decorating Board for the upcoming season that I also used last holiday season,” shares Rebecca.

4. Use Pinterest as an extension of your blog.

Posting about a particular topic on your blog but don’t have quite enough space to share all of the amazing things related to that topic? You can link back to your Pinterest board on that particular topic.

“When I do a feature on handmade stocking stuffer ideas I suggest they also visit my Stocking Stuffers Pinterest Board to find more great ideas,” Rebecca shares.

Optimize Your Pinterest Profile

Just like other forms of online marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) can help with your Pinterest marketing. SEO makes it easier for others to find your posts in search engine and it also makes it easier for people to find the pins to your blog posts.

Part of the SEO benefit comes from the way that your fans will re-pin your pins.

“Many people will pin and just use the text that appears in the box when they are pinning from their toolbar and won’t change it,” shares Rebecca. She uses the following method for SEO optimizing her pins.

1. Use a descriptive title in case they choose to highlight your title and use that as the pin description.

2. Utilize your properties and alt tags just in case your fans don’t repin the description as is. Using her blog platform, Rebecca fills in the properties for both the title tect and alt text using keyword filled descriptions – in a readable and natural way.

“For example – on my post about how to make a chalkboard game table, I used “Upcycled DIY Chalkboard Paint Game Table – Chalkboard Paint and Washi Tape Craft Project” as my alt text. You can also include hash tags with key words at the end the same as you would on twitter for your alt text which also helps for searches on Pinterest,” she shares.

3. Keep your content fresh.

Just like with on site SEO, keeping content fresh is important for Pinterest optimization and traffic. If your pin didn’t get a lot of attention the first time around, you can re-pin it. Simply delete your old pin and create a new one using the same keyword focused techniques.

Building Traffic Consistently

Rebecca’s amazing traffic numbers from Pinterest have been consistently growing. Once you’ve mastered the basics, here are her tips for taking things to the next level.

1. Specialize

Specializing in a niche and understanding her followers has been a big part of Rebecca’s success with Pinterest.

“I’ve gained a lot of followers in my target market that have similar interests. My blog posts related to these interests tend to get repinned from my original pin numerous times,” she says.

Those repins then go on to get repinned by others. It’s a viral form of social marketing, so with the right pins, an onslaught of traffic can come pretty quickly.

2. Use contests to promote your profile.

While Rebecca hasn’t done a Pinterest specific contest yet, she does use it in conjunction with her general social media contests. She gathers sponsors from other handmade shops to sponsor contests on her blog. The steps to interest the contest include pinning items from her blog and her sponsor’s shop, or following her shop or sponsor on Pinterest.

“I’ve seen others have contests where they “Pin it to win it!” and pin a specific blog post to win a prize,” she shares, “But my primary goal is to promote my shop and the sponsor shop.”

Using Rafflecopter to monitor her contests, she has contestants visit the sponsor shop and comment on their favorite item. They earn additional entries by following the sponsors and her social profiles – including Pinterest. The Pinterest related entries can include pinning their favorite blog post from Rebecca’s blog, pinning the contest to Pinterest or pinning their favorite item from the contest’s shop.

3. Keep your focus on the customers.

By understanding her target audience and going out of her way to provide what they’d like to see, Rebecca has developed a huge following on Pinterest.

“Don’t just think about you and what you want to promote. Think about what your followers might be interested in and what you are interested in from others when you follow their social media,” she says.

She suggests that marketers try to engage their followers, by sharing things not related to their business. Asking questions and staying active are critical as well.

“It’s only through continuous use of social networking that you start to see results. And the larger you grow your networks, the more benefit you’ll start to see,” she says.

4. Connect with similar – not competing – businesses.

In order to grow her network, Rebecca has strategically reached out to other shops that are similar, but not competing, in order to grow fans together. She searches for Facebook fan pages or Pinterest profiles from other handmade shops, and then reaches out to swap blog posts or trade pins.

Final Words of Advice

Rebecca wants to make it clear that Pinterest success is not overnight. Soap Delicatessen is her part time business that she works on after her full-time job, and she struggles with fibromyalgia. But she still makes the time to plan ahead with blog posting and pinning.

“Pinterest – just as with your blog – does require dedication and time. Doing a few things here and there won’t drive results. But sticking to Pinterest, your blog and other social networks on a regular, consistent basis – at a MINIMUM of three times a week – is a must if you really want to grow your following and see results,” she says.

What about you? Is Pinterest marketing in your future, or are you already using it successfully?

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer


Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness & @socialtoolssmmt | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker
Neal Schaffer


  1. says

    Neal, interesting story on how an online store tapped Pinterest for a marketing boost.  What did Rebecca share with you in terms how the increased hits and followers translated into actual month-to-month or year-to-year sales volume, revenue, profits?  Since she sells tangible products, this would be a great case for detailing the connection between “likes” and dollars.

    • says

      Joel, thanks for your comment, and sincere apologies for being so late in getting back to you!

      Like most small businesses, Rebecca’s tracking ended at Google Analytics, although with e-commerce it is easy to create goals within GA to see how traffic moves and truly link a sale with a referral site.

      The thing is that she intuitively knows that Pinterest has added so much to her business, that she doesn’t need to calculate the specific contribution to realize that there is positive ROI from being active on Pinterest.

      • says

        You’re right, Neal. For a small business, you are wedded to the results and probably have a visceral “feel” for the financial success. When the business expands and brings on more resources, that’s when the bean counters look to confirm the ROI via the balance sheets.

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