Pinterest Tips for Bloggers & Small Business Owners

Pinterest Tips for Bloggers | Pumps & Iron @nicoleperrPinterest can be a powerful—and I mean POWERFUL—tool for growing a blog or online business. It’s actually my number one driver of traffic to P&I, even before Google search. Crazy! Its power will of course depend on what type of blog or business you have, but if visuals are a key component (that could mean professional photography, graphic collages, product photos, pictorials, etc.) then this blog post is definitely worth a read. These are all the Pinterest tips for bloggers and small business owners I can think of, but feel free to leave a comment with any questions remaining!

Create Pin-Worthy Images

Long images (portrait orientation) perform best.

Because width is limited in Pinterest’s gallery layout, landscape orientation images will appear very small. Long images, on the other hand, will take up more of their column and catch the eye of those scrolling through.

A lot of agencies will say 2:3 is the preferred ratio for image size on Pinterest, but in my experience, I’d say it’s more like at least 2:3. Longer images still perform really well, but don’t go any shorter than that 2:3 ratio. One thing to consider if you’re going longer than 2:3 is the placement of text, if any. Beyond a certain length, users have to click to expand to see the rest of the pin so keep in mind the bottom may be hidden from initial view.

Add (aesthetically pleasing) text to images so that the topic is clear.

image sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

It might seem redundant because you’re (hopefully) filling in a descriptive caption to the pin that explains what it is, but when it comes to the internet, everyone is skimming. Pinterest only shows the first line or so of image captions, and when scrolling through, not everyone is going to do that extra click to expand the description.

I don’t think adding text is necessary in all cases—depends on the content of the blog post. If, for example, you pin a gorgeous image or image collage of blueberry pancakes, users can easily assume that if they click that pin, they’re going to a blueberry pancake recipe. Same goes if you’re pinning product images for an online retail store. If it’s an image of a tank top, users can assume they’re going to be taken to a site where they can buy that tank top.

But if you’re trying to get exposure for a blog post that isn’t so easily visually represented, text is key. Using the image above as an example, the food pins don’t need the text to convey the content (although I’d argue it adds to the visual quality of the overall pin). If, however, “Why I Stopped Drinking Coffee” and “7 Ways to Take Viral Food Photos” weren’t written on the other two images, you’d have no idea what was waiting for you on the other side of that pin click unless you read the pin description.

Combine multiple images with text to show details or the “how to”.

Pinterest Tips for Bloggers - combine multiple images and text to create how-to pictorials

image sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

If the content of your blog post/webpage involves any sort of step-by-step instruction, DIY or how-to, I find images perform really well when you combine the previous two points I discussed: long image(s) + text. Visually showing a recipe in progress and then finished, a DIY project step-by-step, or all the exercises in a workout gives users a full picture of what to expect at just one glance. Because they clearly paint a picture of what to expect on the other side of that pin click, they’re also really “shareable”. My workout pictorials and long recipe collages get far more repins than a single picture.

To make pictorials, I use Adobe Photoshop (affiliate link). There are other apps out there but I’ve been using Adobe products since high school so I stick with what I know (and what I think, in my biased opinion, is best). 😉 A little tip about picking the font color if you’re going to add text to your graphic: match it to the images. For workout tutorials, I’ll use the eyedropper tool in Photoshop to lift the color from an article of clothing I’m wearing in the pictures and then use that as my font color.

Optimize Your Site for Pinning

The cool thing about Pinterest is that you don’t need to necessarily have a huge following on your Pinterest account to reap the benefits of it. Because other people pinning your content can be just as powerful as you doing so, you can start to see big increases of traffic to your blog or site from Pinterest even if you only have a small following on the platform. To see this happen, you need to make it as easy as possible for visitors to your blog/website to pin your content.

Add a Pin It button to appear when you hover over images.

Pinterest Tips for Bloggers — how to add a Pin It button when users hover over images on your blogYou want to make it as easy as possible for people to pin images from your site. While some users may have a Pin It tool installed in their browser’s toolbar for easy pinning as they browse the web, certainly not everyone will. By installing a plugin, a Pin It button will appear when readers hover over an image on your site. All they have to do is click it to open a small window that allows them to pick a board on which to pin the image.

I use the jQuery Pin It Button for Images plugin (I have a WordPress site). It’s easy to set up and I like that it allows you to customize the Pin It button. Right now I’m just using the default look, but you can create your own button image to match the theme and style of your blog layout.

Activate rich pins.

Pinterest Tips for Bloggers - activate rich pinsThis is especially important if you have a Shopify site (but good for bloggers to do as well!). If rich pins are activated, it means that Pinterest will use the available metadata to populate the pin description and give it a bolded title (shown above). If you’re pinning images of products for sale on your Shopify site, it’ll display the price as well.

Instructions for activating rich pins can be found here.

Add alt text to your images.

This is good practice for your blog’s SEO so even if you have no interest in Pinterest, you should be doing this! I’m not sure what the workflow is like with Squarespace, but in WordPress, when you upload an image to a blog post, you’ll see this:

Pinterest Tips for Bloggers - add Alt Text to your images

You want to make it as easy as possible for people to pin images from your site. Filling in an engaging Alt Text that uses keywords relevant to the blog post/web page (think of it as your elevator pitch) will help. It depends on what you’re using to pin an image (Pinterest hovering button, bookmarklet, third party app), but typically when you go to pin an image, the pin description will autofill with whatever Alt Text has been specified.

If the Alt Text is blank, typically the pin will autofill with the Title instead, but not always. Sometimes it autofills with the file name (deck-cards-workout-dumbell-exercises-23.jpg), which is no bueno. If that’s the case, pinners have to go in and edit the description. Yes, it’s only one more little step, but you’d be surprised how many people that will deter.

Pin Strategically to Increase Traffic and Grow Your Pinterest Following

Ok this section is going to sound like an ad for Tailwind but it’s in no way sponsored by them—I just seriously love the tool and would recommend it to all bloggers. Not only does it streamline the content pinning process, but I attribute much of my follower growth on Pinterest to using the platform. In the year since I’ve been using Tailwind, I’ve gone from about 15k followers to 50k followers on Pinterest, a MUCH bigger jump than I’ve seen in years past.

This referral link will give you a $30 Tailwind account credit if used today (after May 31st it’s a $15 credit).

All the tips I’m about to cover on pinning strategically are either automated or made much easier by using Tailwind. I was asked for time-saving Pinterest tips and it pretty much all comes down to this tool!

Pin quality content from both your site and other sites.

You of course what to pin content from your site, but to truly grow your Pinterest following, you need to pin quality content from other sites as well. Think about it: If the only content you pin is from your blog, then there’s not much of a need to follow your blog and Pinterest account—they’re the same thing! As your Pinterest following grows, you’ll get more exposure for your content when you do pin from your site. So this is a great place to start if you’re new to blogging and don’t have a ton of your own content to pin. Focus on growing an engaged Pinterest following for when you do.

My work flow for keeping a constant stream of pins is as follows: Each morning I open up Bloglovin’ and scroll through all the new posts from my favorite blogs. I open the posts that catch my eye and use Tailwind to pin images. Pinterest Tips for Bloggers - Tailwind for scheduling pins ($15 discount)

After you select a board (or multiple boards) on which to pin it, Tailwind will generate some similar pin suggestions from its other users. I. Love. This. Feature. If anything catches my eye, I’ll pin that as well. Not only does the suggested pins feature make it easier to keep my queue of pins topped off, but it gains more exposure for MY blog. If other Tailwind users pin something related to the content I post, Tailwind will be serving up images from Pumps & Iron in their suggested pins. Pinterest Tips for Bloggers - Tailwind for scheduling pins ($15 discount)

In addition to pinning from the blogs I follow, I’ll also go to Pinterest occasionally (a couple times a month) and load up a bunch of repins into my Tailwind queue. When you’re on Pinterest, you’ll notice a Tailwind button when you hover over images so that you can easily schedule with their tool rather than immediately pinning directly to a board.

Pin regularly, at the right times.

Pinterest Tips for Bloggers - Tailwind for scheduling pins ($15 discount)In general, Pinterest users are more active in the evening after work, so that’s when you want your pins to go live. Tailwind will create an optimized pinning schedule so you don’t have to think about this. You pick how many pins you want to go live each day, and they’ll calculate the ideal times to publish them. When you go to your Tailwind dashboard, you can see the queue and easily drag and drop pins to different days and times as needed.

Pin the same content to multiple boards—but not all at once.

Increase the lifespan of your content by pinning an image multiple times to different boards. Tailwind makes this easy. You select all the boards to which you want to pin the image and then click “Use Interval.” This will allow you to choose how much time you want in between each pinning of the image. I usually go with three weeks to a month in between each pin. Pinterest Tips for Bloggers - Tailwind for scheduling pins ($15 discount)

I should note that I only do this with pins from Pumps & Iron—I don’t repeat post other people’s content.

Speaking of multiple boards, another great way to increase exposure of your content is to join group boards with other bloggers, influencers and business owners in your content area. I admittedly don’t do this as much as I should, but it gives anything you pin to that board exposure to all the other group members’ followers as well.

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Phew. That was a lot of info! If you have any questions or your own Pinterest tips to add, do so in the comments. And if you don’t already, follow me on Pinterest. 🙂

Day in the Life: Recipe Photoshoots

‘Sup fam? Serious question. I’m 29. Is that too old to be calling everyone “fam”? Because I can’t stop. Somehow I work “Come through fam, it’s lit” into a sentence like once a day and I’m starting to think I need an intervention.

Anywho…

DITL posts always seem to be a hit so I figured I’d throw another one at you to show you what a recipe shooting day looks like for me (this was yesterday). I’ve mentioned before that I try to focus on one task category a day because it helps me be way more productive. I’ll go into a recipe shoot day with at least two weeks worth of food content planned. In the winter months, sunlight hours are limited, so I wouldn’t be able to shoot more than that in a day, but in the summer, I am typically able to stretch that to three weeks worth of food content. Clearly some preparation needs to happen prior to shoot days so I’ll start with all that’s done leading up to them.

Preparing for a Day of Recipe Shooting

  • Recipe creation and testing – I’m not a dedicated food blog so it’s not like I need to be cranking out new recipes right and left. I’ll play around with new recipes throughout the week and jot them down in a notebook as I go. If they need tweaking (they almost always do), I’ll leave notes and jot down ingredient changes for the next time I attempt the recipe. Once I have 3-5 keepers with all the kinks worked out, I’ll set a date for a big recipe shoot of all of them.
  • Check the weather forecast – Lighting is EVERYTHING when it comes to taking pictures of your food. With my window setup, I need a sunny day with little to no clouds for the best results (for others, cloudy days might actually be best–totally depends on the direction your window is facing and the layout of the room). I’ll look at the week’s forecast, pick a sunny day, and mark it down on my calendar.
  • Make a grocery list – I then go through my notebook and write down all the ingredients I’ll need for all the recipes in a separate shopping list, crosschecking my kitchen cabinets so that I don’t buy anything I already have.
  • Grocery shopping – I live in a city and don’t have a car anymore so big shopping trips are tricky. I’ll usually break up my list into a few separate trips, going to Roche Brothers a couple days in advance to get the bulk and stock ingredients and then Whole Foods the day before or day of to get all the produce.

Day in the Life

5AM | Wake Up, Walk to the Studio, Panic Attack

I woke up at 5AM, quickly got myself ready and then made the short walk to Btone to teach my morning classes. I spent a couple minutes testing out one of the transitions I had planned for that day’s routine and I’m glad I did–totally weird and clunky. Change of plans! As I got my playlist queued up and waited for everyone to arrive, I realized I hadn’t brought a snack with me to the studio (usually I eat a Larabar or an apple before teaching in the early morning). NOOooOooOoOOOOoooo. I stared forlornly at my water bottle full of stupid water, wished it were edible, then got over it.

6-9AM | Teach

WEARING | Fabletics top & leggings // ToeSox grippy socks

On Wednesdays I teach three back-to-back classes. There are always tons of regulars and familiar faces so it’s a really fun block for me to teach. I know teaching three fitness classes on an empty stomach sounds insane but there’s no downtime in between the classes to even really think about it. Honestly didn’t bother me until the last class ended. Then the hanger hit …

9:30 | Whole Foods Run

I walked from the studio to the Whole Foods at Ink Block, blind with hunger, stumbling off the sidewalk, clutching to chainlink fences as my vision blurred and the world around me spun dangerously out of control. My knees buckle as my empty stomach churns and twists and I hurl myself across the pavement one forearm in front of the other, dragging my lifeless body inch by inch closer to the doors of salvation.

Me? Dramatic? Nahhh.

YOU GUYS. I am a real peach to be around when I’m hangry. That above paragraph didn’t actually happen per se, but it was happening in my mind, ya feel me?!

I booked it straight to the smoothie bar, probably shoving innocent elderly women out of my way in the process (can’t say for sure, I think I blacked out), and ordered a juice and a smoothie and then grabbed a Larabar off the shelf and ate it while I waited for my breakfast. As long as you don’t rip the barcode and hand the cashier your wrapper to scan, I think it’s totally acceptable to eat your food before paying for it at grocery stores … right?

Wow this blog post is all over the place. Focus, Nicole, FOCUS!

I got the remaining ingredients I’d need for the recipe shoot and walked home.

10:30 | Prep for Cooking/Shooting/Life

Joe left the kitchen really clean for me, which was awesome because I could get right to work!

In all fairness, I, too, am a bit of a slob. Before diving into the cooking I:

  • Cleaned the kitchen
  • Got dressed – I’ve noticed that taking a few minutes to put together a cute outfit and maybe–MAYBE–some mascara actually helps me be a little more productive when working from home. It doesn’t happen every day (as my Snapchat followers have probably noticed by now haha), but the past few months I have been making an effort to wear normal clothes more often.

WEARING | Demi Bolo Necklace by Vanessa Mooney c/o Shopbop // RAILS shirt (RAILS is amazing–seriously worth the money!!) // Level 99 jeans

  • Queued up an audio book – When I’m cooking, I either like to listen to informative podcasts on health and wellness or listen to scandalous fiction crime novels with absolutely no educational value. There is no in between. Right now I’m listening to The Crime Writer by Gregg Hurwitz which is good–definitely entertaining–but a little ridiculous. There’s a brain tumor and amnesia involved soooo … enough said.

Now it’s time to cook!

11:30-4PM | Cook and Shoot (and Eat)

As far as my shoot setup goes, it’s about as barebones as it gets. My desk is white and in a corner right by a big window so I just clear it off and use that. Back in my old, dark apartment, I had a whole white poster board wall system to bounce light, but the walls of my desk nook pretty much take care of that for me. I don’t use a ton of props either because I live in a one-bedroom apartment–storage space is far from plentiful.

It looks a bit depressing from behind the scenes but just check out the end result: 

Like what?! Proof that you don’t need a ton of expensive equipment to start a blog.

Whatever the cook time of a recipe is, I have to add on at least 30 minutes when shooting because I’ll stop throughout the process to walk everything into my bedroom and take pictures of it. The in-progress shots don’t always make it into the final recipe blog post, but I find they come in handy when I need pretty stock photography of food for other blog posts and social shares. 

In total, I shot three recipes and then two other food-related things for a client. Since I don’t post more than one or two recipes in a week on the blog, this content will last me until mid-February–score!

4-5:30PM | Emails

My most loathed part of blogging: the ever-exploding email inbox.

6PM | Yoga

(I chickened out taking a selfie at the studio and instead just took one of the mats–so stealth haha)

Monday and Tuesday were intense workout days for me and my body was like gurrrl get yo’ ass to yoga. I went to Slow Flow at YogaWorks with Kate and I seriously can’t recommend her classes enough. Slow Flow is a gentler vinyasa mixed with restorative poses and my body just screams YASSS this is delicious the entire time.

Side note: why is my body talking like a sassy drag queen?!

I actually had one of those emotional release moments in this yoga class that I talked about here. We were laying on our backs with a rolled blanket under the base of our shoulder blades and the stretch was giving me an intense opening through the upper rib cage. Suddenly a wave of intense anxiety came out of no where and I had a mini panic attack. Why am I so anxious? Am I forgetting something I should be doing right now? Did I leave the oven on? But just as quickly as the anxiety rose up, it vanished and I realized it was probably getting released with the stretch–so crazy when that happens!

7:30-10PM | Dinner, Class Plan, TV

After yoga, I showered, munched on some leftover stuffed peppers from the shoot for dinner and settled onto the couch. I planned the next morning’s Btone class and watched some mindless TV before getting into bed at 10pm.

And that was my day! Any crime/murder mystery book suggestions for me? Boston friends–have you tried Slow Flow? Fellow bloggers–what do your recipe shoots look like?

Some links to outfit details are affiliate. 

Most Popular Posts of 2016

Hey there! Remember me? I’ve been on a much-needed social media/blogging break these past couple weeks. With a crazy-busy teaching schedule subbing classes during the holidays and already feeling a bit burnt out, I decided a mini blog vacation was in order. And I must say, a week of eating my food without first worrying about taking a picture of it with optimal lighting was pretty damn refreshing. 😉

My teaching schedule goes back to normal next week and I’m excited to get back in the swing of things with Pumps. Clearly my little hiatus was needed because I’ve gone from feeling totally uninspired to bursting at the seams with plans and ambitions for the new year. Time to get to work!

Before jumping to the new year’s plans, I wanted to look back on some highlights from 2016. These are the most popular blog posts (determined by page views) from this last year. For fellow bloggers, I’ve included my thoughts on why these particular posts performed better than the rest–hopefully it will give you some ideas for strategizing your content calendar in 2017!

Top 5 Blog Posts from 2016

5. Slow Cooker Mexican Rice & Beans

It’s funny. I consider the backbone of this blog to be the workout posts yet they are NEVER the most viewed. Recipe posts do well for me because they’re the most likely to be picked up and shared by list and roundup-style sites like BuzzFeed.

4. What I’m REALLY Thinking While Teaching a Group Fitness Class

Posts like this do well because the title makes you want to click and the content is a conversation starter and relatable. Most of the traffic to this post came from Facebook as fellow fitness instructors shared with their friends and tagged others in the comments.

3. Stitch Fix Review–Help Me Decide What to Keep!

Yumi Kim dress on left also comes in a mini length that’s cute

Stitch Fix posts always seem to be popular, but this one most likely did especially well because of the call to action in the title.

2. Standing Core Workout

The only workout to make the top 5! I think this one did well because of how specific it is. Not just a core workout, but one using only standing exercises. As far as SEO and Google goes, often the more specific you get, the better chance you have of showing up higher in the search rankings. If I generically title a post “Core Workout” I’m competing with thousands of other “Core Workout”s and who’s going to win that SEO race–lil’ old me or a goliath like PopSugar? No contest. Another reason this one did well was because of the great lighting I had that day. I consider the photos in this post to be some of the clearest and cleanest of my workout posts and the result was a pictorial that blew up on Pinterest. Good lighting + solid-colored backdrop + cute outfit = Pinterest success.

1. Almond Butter Banana Chia Seed Pudding

This recipe is delicious! Again, food posts always do well for me as they’re the most likely to be picked up and included in roundups by other sites.

Now a couple other highlights from the year …

Top Blog Post from Any Year: Stupid-Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken

This was my most highly trafficked blog post this year (originally posted in 2015) and it’s a bit ironic because I actually don’t eat chicken any more (I’ll do a blog post elaborating on that eventually).

Most Viewed YouTube Video: 12-Minute Lower Body HIIT Workout

This workout targets the butt and legs and while it’s only 12 minutes long, trust me, you wouldn’t want it to be a second longer. So. Challenging.

Most Liked Instagrams

I love that the most popular photo I’ve ever posted isn’t a recipe or a workout or anything remotely health related. Nope. Just me and my boyfriend dressed up as Napoleon Dynamite and Pedro (LOL). Other highlights included running the Boston Marathon, a childhood diary entry (this one is funny, too) and pretty scenery. 

dress in bottom right is Jetset Diaries – love their long-sleeve boho dresses, too (how cute would this one be with over-the-knee boots?!)

And that’s that! I used to set all these lofty income, traffic number and follower count goals for the blog each year, but I’ve found that just leads to disappointment and a focus on the wrong things. Last year I shifted my goal-making strategy to be more project based. The big one was to get a YouTube channel up and running and while I’ve still got a lot of improvements to make, I’d consider that a success! For 2017, I’m focusing on furthering my own education in the health and fitness fields so that I can then share more with you guys. The only thing I love more than teaching is being a student and I’ve found that I really miss the whole schooling process (cue the nerd jokes). I intend for the new year to bring courses, classes, certification programs, and conferences my way. 🙂

Are you setting goals for 2017? What are they? What were some highlights from 2016?