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The 12 step guide to expanding your business with Pinterest

Pinterest has over 70 million users. Over 80% are female (but the ration is evening out), so if you have a female audience and you’re not using Pinterest, you’re missing out on a big opportunity for more brand awareness, engagement, traffic, and sales. Here’s a little info about the platform, as well as your 12 step guide to expanding your business with Pinterest.

What the heck is Pinterest?

For those uninitiated in the world of social media, Pinterest can be a bit puzzling. Boards, pins…what exactly is it for? Remember when you were a kid and the month before Christmas you would go through the Macy’s catalog and circle all the toys you wanted? Pinterest is like that but for adults.

Users browse through visual content like quotes, products, and photos and “pin” things that they like or want to “boards”. Think of a board as a kind of “wish list” or collection of ideas.

For example, “Susan” is an average Pinterest user. She creates a board for “Superbowl party ideas” then browses for products, tips, and ideas that other users have posted, adding items that she finds interesting to that board. Items can include a recipe for chicken wings, some decorating tips for the big day, some cute team-themed tablecloths, and anything else that Susan finds interesting.

Some websites have “Pin it” buttons on their products and pages, so Susan can add items to her “Superbowl party ideas” board directly from their site! Since pins have links back to their source, when it comes time for Susan to buy supplies for her Superbowl party, she might click through some of her pins and purchase items directly.

In addition, “Kelly” is browsing Pinterest at work and comes across Susan’s boards. Since she likes the pins, she follows Susan. When Susan adds new pins, Kelly is likely to see them and add them to her own boards. If your business happens to sell football tablecloths, getting your pin in front of Susan would be great for you, not only so she could click through to your site, but also because she might add it to her boards, share it with her followers, and come back to it in the future!

The best thing about Pinterest

One of the best reasons to use Pinterest is that the majority of traffic comes several months after the original pin is created. This means that good pins will continue to generate traffic and sales over time (unlike Twitter, where the average shelf-life for a piece of content is about 30 minutes).

So here’s how to get started with Pinterest for your business…

Step 1: Create an account

Creating a Pinterest profile is free and easy to do. To set up your business account, make sure you select the “business account” option. You will be asked to provide a little info about your business and your contact info. Make sure you verify your website (this will allow you to create rich pins, and put a “verified” checkmark on your profile).

Pinterest profile

Fill out your Pinterest profile with a bio and profile photo.

Step 2: Set up your profile

You’ll need a profile image (something that looks good as circle 75 pixels in diameter). Head shots are perfect, but you can use your business logo if you can fit it in there and it looks good.

You’ll also need to provide a brief, catchy bio (tell people in one sentence what you’re all about), your location, and your website. Once that is set up you’ll be asked to select some interests (this is how Pinterest knows what type of pins to show you when you log in). Once you go through all this, you’ll eventually make it to your dashboard.

Step 3: Create 5 boards

You need to populate your profile with a “base layer” of content so people will be more likely to follow you and explore your boards. Start with a minimum of 5 boards. Each boards should have a unique name and topic, but should be related to your business, industry, or niche.

Here’s an example of my first 5 Pinterest boards. You can see that I chose topics that are interesting to me and related to what I write about: “international travel”, “online business”, “motivational quotes”, “living the good life”, and “inspiration”.


My first 5 Pinterest boards

Step 4: Create 8 non-promotional pins for each board

You don’t want to have a bunch of empty boards. When someone clicks through your boards and profile, you want to have plenty of interesting content for them to check out, like, pin, and a good reason to follow you. So start by filling up your boards with some content.

At least 8 of your first 10 pins should be content that is NOT yours…not your products or photos with links to your site. You don’t want to come across as purely promotional, as that turns a lot of people off. So search for related topics, browse through the pins, and click the pin button to add it to one of your boards. Do this until your boards are well-filled with interesting, visually-appealing pins related to your boards.

Step 5: Add 2 of your own pins to each board

Now you can go ahead and add in one or two of your own pins to each of your boards. A good rule of thumb is to make sure at least 80% of your social media content is non-promotional. Just participate in the conversation, pin things that are interesting and worth pinning, and once in a while throw in a promotional piece.

How to create your own pin

add a pin

  • Go into one of your boards and click “Add a pin”.
  • To use a photo from your website, input the URL of the page that the photo is on (make sure you put in the product page, blog post, etc, NOT the URL of the photo itself).
  • Select the photo you want to use.
  • Fill in the pin description and select a board.
  • You’re done!

Step 6: Find 10 Pinterest influencers

Make a list of all of the influencers in your niche. These are the folks with the biggest followings. Find their Pinterest accounts. It’s okay if these are competitors or partners.

Pinterest infographic

Example of a great Pinterest infographic.

Step 7: Follow 500 users

Look through the followers of each of the 10 influencers and follow 20 people from each of their follower lists. A percentage of people will reciprocate by following you back, and this is an easy way to build your first few followers. Also, these people are more likely to be interested in your posts, since they have already shown an interest in your niche.

Does 500 seem like too many? You can spread this out over a week or two so it’s not too tedious. However, don’t skip this step as it will kick-start your follower count.

Step 8: Like 20 pins per day

Another way to generate some reciprocal likes and follows is by liking other people’s pins. Browse around and like (click the heart icon) pins that you think are interesting. Really good ones can be re-pinned to your own boards.

Step 8: Add a Pinterest share button to your website

You likely already have some social share icons on your website (if you don’t you should!). Make sure each of your product pages, blog posts, and all of your visual content has a Pinterest share button available. Also, add a “follow us on Pinterest” link to your email signature. Slowly but surely, these will build your follower base.

Step 9: Ask your existing followers to follow you on Pinterest

If you already have an email list or social media following on Facebook or Twitter, promote your new Pinterest profile! Tell your followers that you’d appreciate if they would check out your Pinterest page.

Step 10: Pin regularly

As with all social media, it’s important to schedule some time every day or two to add fresh content and engage with Pinterest. I suggest creating one new board every week and spending 5 minutes per day browsing, liking, and re-pinning content to your boards.

When you create a new product, write a new blog post, or have something new to share, make sure you include a high-quality, “pin-worthy” photo or illustration and create a special pin for it. Pin it to one or two of your boards.

Step 11: Monitor your analytics

Pinterest analytics makes it easy to track engagement (pins, likes, clicks) on your pins. Once you see a pattern of the type of content that gets the most engagement, product more of that type of content!

Step 12: Optimize

Some content naturally does better than others on Pinterest. Here are some good rules of thumb.

  • Tall and skinny images get more pins than square or wide images.
  • Infographics and quotes are extremely popular.
  • Images with multiple dominant colors get more pins than single-color images.
  • Red, orange, and brown images perform better than other colors.
  • Bright images perform better than dull ones.
  • Pin between 2-4pm to get the most re-pins.

More ways to get the most from Pinterest

Get creative! Once you have your profile set up, a few followers, and you’re comfortable pinning, engage with people. Run a contest, reward people for following and pinning, add your Pinterest link to your receipt emails…there are a lot of ways to get the snowball growing faster!

How have you used Pinterest for your business? Leave a comment:

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About The Author

Matt Coughlin

Matt started out as an engineer. After quitting his job to travel the world while building two successful online businesses (Custom Game Source and North South Promo Products) and an engineering consulting firm (Mfg Business Overhaul), he founded My Product Launch as a way to teach other beginning online entrepreneurs how to launch online businesses the right way.


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