Why Won’t the Cool Kids Pin My Stuff on Pinterest?
Everybody knows Pinterest is an awesome tool for marketing your blog posts. If you’re a creative blogger, this is especially true. The great thing about Pinterest is that while other social networks can give you a “flash in the pan” boost in traffic, content that’s getting traction on Pinterest can bring traffic back to your posts for months (if not years) to come.
Pinterest is one of my favorite places to share people’s content because it can really help the blogger and it’s socially acceptable to share a lot of content there, but I often find that I can’t pin images from articles I read because, well, they’re just not what I consider particularly “pinnable”. Now, if you’re one of those bloggers needing some help in this area, don’t despair! We’ve all been there and we’re all still learning. I hope this post will help.
But what if no one is pinning your content on Pinterest? Most new bloggers have wondered the answer to this question. Today, I want to talk to you about some reasons this might be happening.
It should go without saying that you have to create an image for your blog post if you ever want it shared on Pinterest, right? I hope so. I’ll assume you’ve been hard at work creating (or at least finding) images to go with your blog content. Now let’s take a minute to make sure your images are going to get you the best possible results.
After all, you can join all the “pin for pin” groups you want, but if your images aren’t great, there’s a good chance that even those who’ve agreed to share them won’t do it, and even if they do, no one else will.
Sadly, I see a LOT of sub-par images in my blogging travels, which makes me really sad because sometimes the content that goes with them is great, but it’s just not shareable on that platform. The trouble is, most of us are trying to build trust not just with other bloggers, but with our readers/social media followers as well. We want them to associate us with having good taste and sharing quality content– not wasting their time with irrelevant or low-quality shares.
Wondering if your images are driving away potential shares? Here’s why this might be the case:
1. I Don’t Want to Share Your Content
Even with the most appealing image in the world, you’ll never get shares if you don’t have the content to back it up. I wrote a post recently entitled 12 Reasons Why No One Is Sharing Your Blog Posts. To better understand why the content of your post might be preventing social media shares, I definitely recommend reading that.
Start with great, interesting, unique, relevant content and you’ll be well on your way to seeing some activity on Pinterest. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
2. Your Background is Sloppy
There are lots of ways to create backgrounds for your blog’s images, but in general, the things that get pinned have high-quality photos behind them (unless they’re infographics, which of course usually get quite a few pins). From time to time you’ll see a popular pin that has a solid or patterned background with a catchy headline, but in general, I’d say it’s usually better to find a great, high-resolution photo to use as a background.
You don’t have to break the bank to get these, either. My new blogging buddy Stacey Corrin recently wrote a post about some great places to find free (or cheap) stock photos, some of which were fantastic resources I had never heard about before, so I definitely recommend checking out that post if you’re not sure where to start looking for images.
If you have a pretty decent camera, you can also take your own photos. This can be a really fun thing to do whether you end up using them on your blog or not– just go for a walk and start looking for things that could become interesting background images. Looking at the world through the lens of a camera is a whole new way to recapture your excitement for its beauty, so why not give it a try!
Just make sure that if you’re using your own photos, they look professional. You can do quite a bit of tweaking on PicMonkey, and some of my favorite quick-fix photo editing effects are only available with PicMonkey Royale (affiliate link) which is one of the reasons I consider it one of my Super Secret Blogging Ninja Weapons. =) Even if your photo doesn’t look professional at first glance, you might be surprised by how great it could look with a little boost from some clever editing.
3. Your Font Choice is Unprofessional
This is a big one for me, guys. I’m a bit of a font nerd. Unfortunately, this is one of the harder subjects to teach, because in many ways it really is a matter of taste. If you’re unsure about your font choice, I very strongly recommend using Canva. Canva provides some fantastic pre-designed layouts with fonts that have been combined by experts. While you’re there, make sure to subscribe to their blog. It’s full of FANTASTIC tutorials on basic design principles that have really been game-changers for me.
4. Your Layout is Awkward
Even with a great background and good font choice, if your text is placed in a way that feels awkward or clunky, it might be just jarring enough to prevent the cool kids from pinning your image. This is another one that’s really hard to teach, but the best way I know to learn proper principles as far as text layout goes is a little trick I like to call “Pinterest Stalking.”
One of the first people I ever stalked on Pinterest was my good blogging buddy Lauren Tamm. Many of the techniques I use when creating pinnable images came from studying her choices. She writes a lot of parenting-related posts and even though as parents, we’re on pretty opposite ends of the spectrum (she’s organized and awesome while I’m a bit of a crunchy, abstract type) I STILL always pin her stuff just because it’s so danged pretty!
Find some pins you think are just gorgeous and study them. Study the colors, the fonts and the layout. Take notes if you must. You’ll start to see thing you like and things you don’t. Don’t be afraid to copy people! As long as you’re not actually plagiarizing, you’re not doing anything wrong if you’re using the same techniques others use.
5. Your Color Choice Isn’t Appealing
One tool I find particularly essential to my image creation process is my Color Picker extension for Google Chrome. I use it all the time. If possible, I totally recommend all bloggers have something like this, because it makes it possible for you to grab any color you want from any image you see and get the hex code to put into your image editing software. Sometimes (often?) the pre-loaded colors just aren’t quite right and you need to use a more compatible shade.
How do you know which shades are compatible? Easy. You can use a solid knowledge of how to use the color wheel, OR, you can just steal the color scheme from the photo you’re already using. Take my featured image for this post, for example. I grabbed the hex code from the girl’s hair color for the font and the sky for the background behind the text. At first, I tried the green from the grass as the background, but that was just plain yucky looking. Usually, though, if you can pick a couple of contrasting colors from the color scheme you already have going on, you’ll be able to come up with a lovely and harmonious-looking design. Simple as that!
I’ve also read that using bright colors is best for Pinterest, but I’ve also seen some really popular pins with more muted tones, so I wouldn’t obsess about that part too much.
6. You Didn’t Include a Description
Do you know how to pre-populate pins from your site with a description? If you don’t, you should because it’s great for more than just Pinterest. It affects your SEO too!
Quick tip: It’s all about the Alt Text. When I go to write the Alt text on my images, I think about it like a hypothetical tweet or status update. Of course I want to include the keywords from my title for SEO purposes, but I also want to say something that entices the viewer to click through and read the post. If I’m pressed for time, I at least just copy and past the image title, but it’s always better to take a few extra seconds to write a good description if you can.
If I’ve already decided to pin an image and it has no pre-populated description, I usually will go ahead and write one, but sometimes I don’t and abandon pinning it altogether. Don’t take that chance! Your readers’ time is precious so save them that step.
7. You Didn’t Include Text
So many bloggers just throw an image into their post because they’re “supposed to” but that image doesn’t say anything about what the post is about. Sure, you can describe it in a pin description, but depending on the subject of your post, this sometimes doesn’t cut it.
You can get away with not including a headline in the image if it’s something like a home decor photo, but even then, images with titles (in my opinion) are much more click-worthy. The image alone can draw in a potential reader, sure, but if you combine that image with an interesting headline, your chances of getting traffic from that pin will multiply exponentially.
I read a lot of blog posts that have nice images, but no text. I don’t have time to try and figure out how to describe their post to my readers, so I just don’t share those posts there. I rarely click the “pin” button to find out what their description is. I get the impression I’m not the only one who feels that way.
8. Your Headline Isn’t Interesting
Headlines are a huge deal, guys. I’ve written two posts about them recently– one here at the MBA and one over at my friend Kevin Duncan’s blog, Be a Better Blogger. For some headline pointers, read those.
As far as Pinterest is concerned, though, remember that users on that network see a LOT of content, so your headline has to stand out to grab their attention. Also remember that repins are great, but repins that get CLICKED are even better! That’s where your headline can really come in handy.
9. You Didn’t Pin It Yourself
A vast majority of the content on Pinterest is repins; people much less frequently are taking the time to pin things directly from websites (even if you make it really easy to do so with fun “Pin It” buttons– which you must). That means that if you ever want to see traffic from Pinterest, your best shot is to pin it yourself and if possible, find ways to get other people to pin it too, to get the ball rolling. That’s where blogging communities can really help you, but as I mentioned before, they can only take you so far. Your content still has to be awesome or people will do everything they can do avoid sharing it.
10. Your Topic Isn’t Pinterest-Friendly
If you’re not seeing pins or repins of your stuff, it’s possible that your subject matter could be to blame. It’s true, some topics do better than others on this platform, but as their user base expands, it becomes more and more inclusive. I’ll tell you right now, though, if you’ve written a post about how sad you are that your daughter’s going off to college or how much you love your q-tips (sponsored by the q-tip company) then it’s highly unlikely anyone will pin it. For more on my reasons why not, read this post.
If you’re not seeing much action from Pinterest, don’t worry. It takes time and practice to improve your design skills. That’s why one of my favorite times of year as a blogger (and a Mormon) is General Conference because I use it as an opportunity to put all that practice to good use. I like to think of it as my bi-annual blog image design crash course!
In a nutshell, I listen to a bunch of really inspiring speeches, take my favorite quotes from them and turn them into memes for sharing. Want to see some examples of the design tricks I’ve been working on? Come see my images from this weekend! Now I realize that not everybody watches General Conference (even though you should because it’s RAD), but that doesn’t mean you can’t go on a similar design binge every once in a while to sharpen your instincts.
Over to You
What’s your process for creating images? Have any advice to share? I’d love to hear about it!