If you are a travel blogger (or any type of blogger for that matter) and you are not on Pinterest, stop reading this post right now and go set up your profile. I mean it. It is the single biggest mistake I made as a blogger and I am absolutely kicking myself that I did not take this absolute goldmine seriously from an early stage.
If you are looking to increase blog traffic I suggest you forget Twitter, forget Instagram, forget Facebook and you can even forget Google (for a few weeks at least!). Pinterest can quickly become your number one traffic referral within one short month and increase your blog traffic by 1000’s if you can just follow a few simple steps. Don’t believe me? Check out Drew Binskey from The Hungry Partier who maintains that despite a grand total of over 35,000 social media followers, Pinterest is his number one source of traffic. Sylvia from Heart My Backpack believes so strongly in the power of Pinterest to drive blog traffic that she has created a Pinterest video course for bloggers to help them get started. Heck, she knows Pinterest so well she is even charging just short $90 to share her Pinterest tips with the world.
Pinterest is still not my number one referrer (that would still be Facebook!) and I would not dream of charging you to read about my tips as I am no expert, but I would like to share with you how I grew my following from 0 – 1,200 and increased traffic to my blog by over 4,000 unique hits in just three short weeks. Hopefully it can work for you too.
Step 1: Start fresh
Right, first I should probably give a little background. I joined Pinterest ages ago and never used it. Much like the majority of most of my Facebook friends, it would seem. Back in December, December 21st to be precise, I decided to start all over again. I deleted all my old pins and boards (they were not vertical pins…more on that later!), unfollowed all my (dormant) friends and started from scratch. I was getting about 10 hits a month from Pinterest but knew I could change this pretty fast based on what I had read on other blogs.
Step 2: Create vertical pins for all blog posts
This is still a work in progress. As my blog is over 5 years old (I started it in 2009 and took many long breaks in between!) there are over 450 old posts to work my way through. Essentially what I am doing is creating a Pinterest graphic for every blog post on my site using Canva (they have Pinterest image templates which make life so much easier!) so that when people land on the post they will be encouraged to ‘pin it’ after they have finished reading. If the pin is vertical (a portrait image rather than a landscape image) it will be more visually appealing to other Pinterest users who will then start to share it by re-pinning to their own boards and large group boards. According to research, the taller your image the more likely it is to be re-pinned!
Once you have created an image for your new blog post, click the share icon and pin it to your blog board, which should be named after your own site. On my Pinterest, for example, the first board you will see is ‘Journalist On The Run – Travel Blog’ and this is where I start to pin all my vertical pins. I pin them in other places too, but that’s a little later.
Step 3: Follow your target audience
I started off with no followers and felt like such a fraud. I’m supposed to be a professional travel blogger with a large social media following and here I am with about 10 Pinterest followers. This needed to change quickly! I decided to zone in on potential followers by searching ‘travel blogger’ or ‘travel writer’ in the search bar. I decided to only follow people who looked to be active, so people with many pins and a decent following. This was I know my followers will be interested in my content and I will be following people whose content I will enjoy and be happy to re-pin. Within a few days, I realized that I could easily follow up to 200 people every day (Pinterest has a cap of 300 per day so best to steer clear of that!). It could take anywhere between 30 minutes and one hour each evening but I knew the payoff (in traffic!) would be worth it in the end so I stuck to this routine for almost 3 full weeks and it helped me increase my following to over 1,000 in just 21 days.
Step 4: Find and join big group boards
I think finding and joining as many group travel boards as I could was the real key to my success so far. Group boards are boards with a specific theme. While they have one owner (the person who set the board up) there are often hundreds if not thousands of contributors who have been allowed to join the board and share their own pins. There is normally a cap of about 10+ pins that you are allowed to pin on each group board per day to stop spamming and different boards (and owners) all have different rules about how to join the board as well as rules on adding friends or strangers to the group board. Take for example the Awesome Views group board: there are over half a million pins, 5500 collaborators and over 77,000 people follow the board. Pinning to group boards means your pin has a much bigger chance of being seen and shared if pinned here rather than on one of your own boards.
Here are some great group travel boards to check out and join:
Awesome views – 77,600 followers
What a wonderful world – 37,500 followers.
The best travel pins – 22,200 followers
World travellers – 21,500 followers
Favourite images – 19,100 followers
Travel Inspiration – 19,500 followers
Pingroupie is a great tool to find group boards that are looking for Pinners. You can search by category and then click through to the owners profile to either send them a message or leave a comment on one of their pins asking to be added to a certain board.
Step 5: Create your own boards
It’s really important to have 10+ of your own boards that people who come to you page will find interesting. If someone follows me and I go to their page only to find one lonely board and minimal pins, I will most likely not follow them back. If you have interesting boards, with eye-catching names or colorful (and extra long) pins, the likelihood of new followers checking out your pins and re-pinning to their own boards is a lot higher. I have decided to do a series of boards called, “The perfect road X trip” and am slowly building up new boards for the countries I have done epic road trips and for all the countries I hope to go to (such as a road trip across the USA.) If people see you are an expert on a certain subject rather than just a fan of many broad subjects, they may be more inclined to follow you. You should also put your best boards, the ones you want people to share from, at the top of your profile.
Step 6: Keep re-pinning to group boards
I first pin to my own personal Travel Blog board, as explained in step 2, and then re-pin from there to all the big group boards I am a member of. I wait about a week and then re-pin all my most popular pins into the group boards again, and I will continue to do this for as long as it continues to send me lots of traffic! You can also keep an eye on your notifications to see which pins are getting re-pinned the most and try to work out why that pin is getting so much attention. Often it is simply to do with the design and colours used to create the pin rather than the content itself.
Step 7: Join Pinterest groups on Facebook
To help kick-start your Pinterest referrals and help build your following, I suggest you put some time aside each day to get active on one of the many (and I mean many!!) Facebook groups out there to help you achieve travel blog success. When I first started blogging in 2009, I didn’t even have a Facebook page. Now I can hardly keep up with the amount of new Facebook support groups popping up in my feed each day. Many of these groups will help you grow your following and also run daily social media sharing threads which will guarantee your pin will reach much bigger audiences than your own followers, in return for you re-pinning the other bloggers pins on your boards. Everybody wins!
Here are best Facebook groups to join if you are just interested in Pinterest:
Step 8: Get Scheduling
I have started to use Tailwind for scheduling my pins as, let’s face it, us travel bloggers often have much better things to be doing (like exploring a new country) than spending hours in front of the computer at random times throughout the day just to pin some pretty pictures! I am just on a free trail at the moment but if it goes well I will probably end up forking out the $9.99 a month up upgrade to Tailwind Plus. Tailwind will analyse your account to see what times throughout the day you get the most engagement and will then encourage you to schedule pins at those times throughout the week.
Luke from Next Level Travel Blogging has a really great post about automating and scheduling pins to help drive traffic from Pinterest and goes into a lot more detail on this front that I do. I highly recommend checking out his post for a more in-depth guide on how to use these automation tools.
Finally…watch you Pinterest traffic soar!
…and every month