I remember reading Noah Kagan’s article about Pinterest’s viral capacity.
It astounded me.
I was doubly astonished when I encountered Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s income reports.
Her blog was/is making over $1 million a year and her traffic comes almost entirely from Pinterest.
The more I investigated the platform, the more I discovered bloggers experiencing spectacular success on the platform.[Never mind that every single one of these bloggers was a female and all were in a handful of niches]
My conclusion was that I needed to be on Pinterest.
One Critical Rule that Pinterest Taught Me about Marketing
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize (till recently) one of the immutable laws of marketing.
It doesn’t matter how good the marketing platform is – if your target audience isn’t on it, you won’t have success.
This can be difficult for the aspiring pro-blogger who may not know exactly who his or her target audience is.
But generally, your target audience’s demographic matches your own demographic.
This is how Tim Ferriss defined the target audience for his nutritional supplement company that he describes in The 4 Hour Workweek.*
20 – 40 year old tech savvy males primarily on the coasts in New York and San FranciscoTim Ferriss on his target market in The 4-Hour Workweek
So if you’re a cash-strapped millennial male who hangs out on Reddit and Twitter, your blog’s target audience is likely a similar crowd.
Or if you’re a mom trying to stay fit and feed your family healthy meals, then other moms trying to do the same are probably your blog’s target audience.
Though this isn’t always the best way to find your target audience, it’s a helpful guide that usually works.
And it’s a great starting place for the blogger who doesn’t know where else to begin.
Pinterest Demographics: What Content Works best on PinterestAs you can see from the graphic, Pinterest is an overwhelmingly female platform.
So unless your target audience is female, it’s unlikely your brand will thrive on Pinterest.
Pinterest is different from other platforms in this way.
There are many brands with primarily male audiences that thrive on primarily female platforms like:
James Altucher on Facebook
Gary Vaynerchuk on Instagram
But I’ve yet to find a blogger with a largely male audience who has built an engaged audience on Pinterest.
Even social media mogul, Gary Vee doesn’t have a big Pinterest presence.
Because his target audience isn’t primarily female.
So we know that you need to have a primarily female target audience for Pinterest to work for you.
But what niches work well on Pinterest?
- Food & Drink
- DIY & Crafts
- Home Décor
- Holidays & Events
- Hair & Beauty
- Film, Music, & Books
- Health & Fitness
How NOT to grow a large following on Pinterest
I’ve experienced a ~2.5% follow back rate on Pinterest.
And Pinterest allows you approximately 200 actions a day.
So if you follow the maximum allowable every day, you’d add about 5 followers a day.
But in my experience the more top-heavy your following/follower ratio becomes, the less likely people are to follow you back.
Also, Pinterest’s notifications don’t prioritize showing you who has followed you.
This is probably why Pinterest has such an abysmal follow-back rate:
because people you’re following don’t usually see that you followed them.
The follow-back method that’s so effective on Instagram and Twitter isn’t effective for growing your audience on Pinterest.
Check out the next section to find out.
How to Exponentially Increase your Reach on Pinterest with Group Boards
If you’re unfamiliar with group boards on Pinterest, you’re missing out on Pinterest’s secret sauce.
Creating and joining group boards are the key to growing a massive Pinterest following.
And they’re the key to generating reliable traffic to your blog.
Like I mentioned above, group boards have enabled Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents to literally make millions from her blog.
So what are they anyway?
Group boards are boards curated by several Pinterest users.
There’s one board owner (the creator) who defines the rules of the board.
They might list these rules in the board description like:
“No more than 3 pins a day.”
“No recipe posts, please.”
The board owner also adds other contributors (or allows contributors to add other contributors).
Group board content usually revolves around sub-niches in a given category.
Group board examples might include:
- dessert recipes
- six pack ab exercises
- budget date ideas, etc.
Joining group boards is so effective at growing your reach because they allow you tap an audience you didn’t grow yourself.
Within days of creating his profile, Nick Loper of Sidehustle Nation increased his reach to over 80,000 Pinterest users by joining group boards. (source)
Imagine how much longer it would have taken him to grow his own Pinterest followers to 80,000+!
Interesting NoteAlthough Nick did have great success joining group boards, as a male content creator, his target audience is likely predominantly male as well. His traffic data seems to confirm this. Although his female readership increased, here’s what he said about this traffic: “On average, visitors from Pinterest spent less than half the amount of time on the site as other visitors, viewed fewer pages per session, and had a higher bounce rate.”
But group boards can also grow your personal profile followers as well.
Anyone who wants to join a group board must follow the board creator.
And anyone who wants to follow the group board usually follows the board creator.
So you can imagine how many people follow group board creators not just because they want to follow the group board but also as part of their outreach effort to be added as a contributor.
Just check out Joy Cho‘s Pinterest profile as an example of someone who has amassed an enormous personal following by hosting great group boards
So you may want to create your own group board to grow your personal profile’s following.
How do you Discover Group Boards on Pinterest?
pingroupie.com keeps a list of group boards that you can search and filter based on various qualities.
This website is a great place to start hunting for potential group boards to follow or join.
But you can also reverse engineer the success of Pinterest all-stars by checking out the profile to see what group boards they contribute to.
You can tell apart group boards from standard boards by the image of the contributor(s) beneath the board.
Fair warning:Usually the group boards that Pinterest all-stars are a part of are no longer accepting contributors.
Because other Pinterest users have figured out that their group boards drive serious traffic.
And they have tried to become a contributor too.
And the influx of contributor requests has overwhelmed the group creator such that (s)he’s no longer entertaining them.
Sometimes the board owner will put in the board description that they are no longer accepting contributors.
But I recommend you still try to join “closed” group boards if your content seems like a good fit.
At worst, the board owner will say no.
And there’s always the possibility that they will accept you despite the fact that they say the board is closed.
Some group board owners have added me to “closed” group boards simply because I asked.
It’s always worth a shot.
Most group boards are constantly growing.
And as they grow, many of their owners stop accepting new contributors.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to join the largest group boards on Pinterest to have success.
You probably won’t be able to join them because they’re closed.
Just join as many quality, relevant group boards as possible.
You never know which ones will grow into boards with massive followings.
(Two group boards I joined early in 2017 have since tripled their following and are no longer accepting new contributors since I joined them).
How do you join Group Boards on Pinterest?
Sometimes the board owner will write something in the board description about how to join their board like:
“Comment on my most recent pin on X board for an invite.”
“Send me an email at email@example.com for an invite.”
The latter is better than the former.
I don’t think anyone has ever added me to a group board because I commented on one of their pins.
It’s such a low barrier to entry that there’s usually a mountain of requests sitting on the group board owner’s personal pins.
My guess is that they simply don’t get to them (or at least don’t get to all of them).
Sending them an email is your best bet for getting in contact with them.
I send them an email when I can even when they recommend simply commenting on a pin saying something like:
“I did comment on one of your most recent pins.
I’m just sending you this email to make sure my request doesn’t get lost in the shuffle!”
But sometimes, the board owner doesn’t put their contact info in the board description.
Or they might not have a board description at all.
Here’s what to do if that happens.
Using Hunter.io to help you successfully contact Group Board Owners
The first person’s profile image listed on a group board is the board owner.
So if they don’t have any contact info on the group board, head to the board owner’s profile and see if they have any contact info there.
Oftentimes, this person will list their personal blog or other social media profiles.
If they list their blog, you can copy the URL and paste it into the free e-mail finding tool, Hunter.io.
This tool scrapes their website to find the most likely email address for the website owner.
If it finds one, you’re in luck!
In my experience, hunter.io usually comes up with accurate email addresses.
If it doesn’t, I’d still recommend checking out the website to see if you can find the owner’s email address yourself.
Hunter.io isn’t perfect.
It often misses when webmaster’s put their email in a format to avoid web scraping tools like Hunter. (like when someone puts abc (at) xyz (dot) com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you still can’t find the owner’s email address on their website or social profiles, you have one last option.
You can always message them through Pinterest.
I haven’t had any luck getting a response when messaging through Pinterest.
But it’s worth a try.
How to Make your Group Board Outreach Process Effective and Efficient
Group Board outreach success is a game of numbers.
As long as you have quality content, appealing pins for that content, a well-made profile, and well-curated boards, some group board creators will make you a group board contributor.
You just have to find which ones will.
And like I mentioned above, you do this by sending tons of outreach emails.
N.B.Unfortunately, according to Pinterest traffic queen Rosemarie Groner, there’s a natural suspicion of males asking to join group boards. So if you’re a male, your success rate might be lower than you think.
I sent about 100 group board outreach emails asking if I could become a board contributor.
And from those efforts, I became a contributor to 16 group boards.
The email add-on, Streak, really helped me with this outreach process.
Streak is a free CRM gmail plugin with a myriad of features designed to keep your outreach efforts organized.
I use it for its most basic features: scheduling email sends and tracking email views.
And I sent a follow up email to anyone that viewed my email according to Streak but didn’t respond after a week.
If I hadn’t sent these follow up emails, I probably would have only been invited to contribute to about 8 group boards.
So follow-up is key!
Once you get your group board invite, you’ll find it in your message inbox here:
And now, all you need to do is post great content regularly to those group boards.
How to Create the Perfect Content for Your Pinterest Group Boards
One of the reasons Pinterest is such a powerful platform for bloggers is that blog posts are primarily what’s shared on Pinterest.
This is different from other social platforms where video is increasingly becoming the main form of content shared (like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and of course YouTube, etc.)
That said, you still need to focus on creating some original content creation to promote your posts.
Specifically, you need to create spectacular pins (long images) to promote your posts.
I like to think of pins as billboard designs for your posts and group boards as the actual billboard where they will be featured.
But unlike physical billboards of today, Pinterest pins need to be portrait in orientation.
Like all social media platforms, the ideal Pinterest pin image size is fluid and changes regularly.
But you can check out this always up-to-date Google sheet to see the most recent pin dimension recommendations.
I recommend Canva for actually creating these pins for your blog posts.
It’s a free and intuitive online graphic design tool that features incredible preset designs.
And Pexels is one of my favorite places to find great stock photography.
If you need inspiration for how exactly to design your pins, try finding someone who’s extremely successful on Pinterest in your niche and imitating their aesthetic.
In my case, I noticed that Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s pins feature large text in many fonts over a nice stock photo with a click-baity title.
So I’ve started creating my pin images with these qualities in mind.
How to Schedule Pinterest Pinning
It seems like most of the Pinterest pros use Tailwind to help them manage their Pinterest profiles.
With Tailwind, you can schedule pins, add posts to boards in bulk, and so much more.
But if you’re just starting, I recommend Board Booster.
Board Boaster uses a freemium model where you only pay if you pin more than 100 pins a month (and I have yet to pay for anything using it.)
It’s definitely not as sophisticated as Tailwind, but you can still use it to schedule and loop content to whatever boards you want.
So if you’ve joined a group board and you have 30 relevant blog posts you’d like to pin to it every month, you can use Board Booster to automatically pin those pins for you at pre-defined times.
For instance, for most of my group boards I schedule one pin to publish once a day at 10:00 PM.
Why You Should Loop Your Pins on Group Boards
Looping content (pinning the same pins over and over again) is not only acceptable on Pinterest, it’s a good idea.
Group board audiences are constantly changing and growing.
So there’s a good chance many of the people who follow the group board now didn’t a month ago.
And many of those who were following the board a month ago didn’t see your pin when you pinned it a month ago.
So you want to pin your posts to group boards over and over again to continually direct new audiences to your website.
Of course, you need to adhere to the group board owner’s rules in the board description.
Sometimes the board owner will say something like: “No repeat pins in the same month!”
And even if the group board owner doesn’t say anything about looping content in the board description, you still want to be careful with how you do it.
Basically, you don’t want to be “that guy” who pins the exact same pin over and over again and annoys the other board contributors and followers.
If you abuse the priviledge of contributing to the group board, there’s a good chance the owner will remove you from the board.
So my rule of thumb is that I don’t post any repeat pins in the same month.
Of course, you don’t want to have to manually pin your posts each month over and over again.
This is where Board Booster can seriously help.
Here’s how it works:
How to Use Board Booster to Automatically Loop Your Pinterest Content
Board Booster creates “secret” or non-public boards for you.
These secret boards link to a public board on your profile.
You pin whatever you want to your secret boards whenever you want (and no one on Pinterest can see any of this activity).
Then Board Booster pins from your secret board to your public boards at specific frequencies and times.
You can tell Board Booster to pin one pin from your secret Bloggers board to your corresponding Bloggers group board at any frequency:
several times a day, once a day, every two days, every nine days, etc.
And you can also tell Board Booster to start over once it has pinned every pin on the secret board, thus looping your content.
So with some simple math you can figure out exactly how frequently to set Board Booster to pin to your group boards.
You can learn how to set up looping your content to group boards in the video below:
I rushed into Pinterest marketing without properly considering if Pinterest’s demographic matched my target audience.
And as I mentioned above, Pinterest’s almost entirely female user-base doesn’t match my male target audience.
So my results from Pinterest have been less than impressive.
As you can see from my past couple of month’s Google Analytics traffic report, Pinterest users have very low session duration (they spend very little time on my site).
And I’ve put immense effort into my Pinterest marketing.
Conversely, I have driven significantly more traffic from Twitter to my website without nearly as much effort and a tiny following.
I believe this is because there’s a better demographic match for my target audience on Twitter than on Pinterest.
Even so, I wanted to share all that I’ve learned about Pinterest marketing in the past year.
And even though my brand hasn’t had stellar success on Pinterest, I’ve used these tactics to help my wife’s brand thrive on Pinterest.
Using these tactics, I helped grow her Pinterest reach from a few hundred followers to over 500,000 through group boards!
Why has she had great success when I haven’t?
Probably because she runs a travel blog whose target audience is primarily female – a perfect niche and target demographic for Pinterest.
Do you use Pinterest?
Let me know what you’ve learned about successful marketing on the platform in the comments!