This post is for all my fellow newbie bloggers out there! Starting a food blog can be daunting at times. It’s now been just over a year since I started Zest and Lemons, and it took me until just a few months ago to learn how to use social media and other networks to drive blog traffic.
With over 200 million members, it’s no surprise that Pinterest is now my number two source of blog traffic. However, it wasn’t always that way starting out.
I started my Pinterest account summer of 2017, just a few months after launching my blog. I was already very familiar with other social networks, but Pinterest was something that didn’t make sense to me at first.
That’s because Pinterest is a visual search engine, unlike Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Rather than share only your content, the key is to share more content from other users.
After starting my Pinterest account, I sat at about 8,000 monthly viewers for a few months. After doing some research, and reading some great articles, I implemented a few tricks that ended up skyrocketing my reach to 100,000 monthly viewers in just under 2 months (however, the whole process took place over 3 months…but you’ll have to keep reading for the explanation)… For a new blog, that reach can really help with driving website traffic. If you are new to Pinterest, or are just looking for some ideas on how to expand your reach, I thought I would share my list of tips and tricks that helped me grow my account. I am by no means an expert! However, I’ve learned a lot from some pretty awesome blogging articles and found success in implementing these strategies:
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Strengthen Your Bio
First impressions are important on Pinterest! They key is to grab everyone’s attention when they stop by, so make sure they know exactly what to expect from your page. Since Pinterest is a search engine, having the right keywords can really help people find you and your account.
Start by enhancing your account name. When I first started, my page just said “Zest and Lemons.” When people stop by, it doesn’t tell them much. They had to spend time digging deeper. It also didn’t contain any keywords that would help people who are looking for gluten free recipes find me. I ended up changing my account name to “Zest and Lemons / Gluten Free Recipes.” This way, people know right away that they should expect gluten free recipes when they explore my Pinterest page.
You can also do Your First Name / Your Blog Name, since adding your name is a little more personal. If your blog name clearly describes the content people will find on your page, then this is a great option. Since mine doesn’t, adding a description after my blog name worked best.
Your Bio description is also important to fill with keywords. It’s another way to add more detail regarding what your Pinterest boards are about, and also say what type of website you have so you can drive traffic. Basically, it tells everyone what you do and who you are. So, be descriptive!
I started with “Gluten free recipes and more.” That doesn’t really tell you a whole lot, does it? Now, my bio says, “Lauren / Food blogger living with Celiac Disease. I share gluten free recipes for any occasion, product recommendations, and restaurant reviews.” Much more descriptive.
As your blogging evolves, you can continue to tweak your bio to reflect those changes.
Strengthen Your Boards
Just like your bio, your boards should be as descriptive as possible. Pinterest likes when you add keywords! Adding keywords will not only help others find your boards, but it optimizes your chances of showing up in search engine results.
When you blog about food, it’s easy to get carried away by naming your boards “Things I love,” “Yummm,” or “Soooo much chocolate.” Other than maybe the chocolate one, there isn’t really any way of knowing what each board is about. If you were looking for gluten free recipes, you probably wouldn’t stop and check out these boards. They might not even show up in your search results.
Likewise, naming all of your boards “Dinner,” “Appetizers,” or “Cakes” may also provide the same undesirable results. They are a little more descriptive, but it won’t let those who eat gluten free know that they can find gluten free recipes on my boards.
I noticed the best results when I changed my board names to be more descriptive. Name them what they are! I did “Gluten Free Cakes and Cupcakes,” “Gluten Free for Kids,” “Paleo + Gluten Free Recipes” and “Easy Gluten Free Snacks.” I also have a board named “Zest and Lemons (On the Blog).” This lets everyone know where exactly they can find all my recipes in one place.
You don’t have to be a gluten free blogger to be more descriptive with your titles (or even a food blogger, that is). Just try adding descriptive titles that are relevant to your niche. This could be anything from “Paleo Brownies and Bars,” to “Allergy Friendly Recipes,” or even “Pinterest SEO Tips and Tricks.”
Check out some of my boards (including group boards):
Casseroles and 1-Pot Meals
Guten Free Brownies & Bars
Easy Gluten-Free Snacks
Soups and Stews
Gluten Free & Dairy Free Recipes
Gluten-Free Dinner Recipes
Board Descriptions & Images
Sometimes, even a board name like “Gluten Free Bread & Muffins” isn’t descriptive enough. Sure, it’s great for search results and let’s people know what to expect… but it’s still a broad subject. I didn’t have enough pins to break everything up into separate boards, so I created one board for them all and enhanced my board description.
Take advantage of this! It’s another great way for people to find your content, as well as let them know EXACTLY what to expect. The original description for my Gluten Free Bread & Muffins board was “All types of gluten free bread recipes.”
Now, here is my description today: “A collection of all types of gluten free bread recipes! Here you will find gluten free muffins, quick breads, bagels, scones, donuts, and tortilla recipes. Learn how to bake delicious gluten free breads from scratch!”
Notice how I didn’t just include the board title. I went on to describe the type of pins I have with as many descriptive keywords as possible. Adding descriptive and more specific keywords to your board descriptions can help your boards rank better in a search.
Here’s another example:
Lastly, make sure your add high quality pins as your board cover photos. You have one chance to grab the attention of someone passing by your board in the search engine, and the cover photo is a great representation of what they should expect when scrolling through your board. I prefer to choose bright and high contrast cover photos that don’t have words on them.
Enhance Your Pins
Creating high quality pins
Sharing high quality pins that stand out will attract the attention of more people. The more attractive and descriptive the pin, the more likely they will get re-pinned.
I use Canva to create my long pins. It’s free, and it has a lot of design options for you to choose from. Choose a template and stick with it for all of your pins, and make sure they look the way you want your blog to be represented! The more consistent you are with your pin designs, the more people will begin to recognize your pins.
Currently, I make my long pins 735 x 2000. For some bloggers, that’s too long… but I like the extra space it gives me. Especially for food pins, this size gives you plenty of space to use two pictures AND have a large enough space for your title or description. Make sure your titles are clear, concise, and easy to read. You can also add your website URL or name somewhere on your pins. This will also help people start to recognize which ones are yours.
Here’s an example of mine:
Descriptions and Rich Pins
Just like your board descriptions, make sure each one of your own personal pins has a description full of keywords that describe your image. I like to add a description, my blog name, and finish with a few hashtags. This will help more of your pins show up in search engine results.
Have you ever noticed when clicking on recipe pins that some show you the ingredients and others do not? The accounts that have pins with the full ingredient list have enabled Rich Pins. You have to set up a Pinterest business account to enable rich pins. Switching to a business account means your website link will be listed in your bio, and you will have access to Pinterest analytics.
Here’s what rich pins looks like when enable for a recipe:
Here’s one of the biggest differences between Pinterest and social networks like Instagram. Pinterest is more about pinning and sharing content from others, rather than solely pinning your own content. About 20% of my pins are my own content and remaining 80% are actually from others. It’s all about providing your followers and others who stop by your page with new content.
Join Group Boards
Group boards are a great way to find new content while also sharing yours with a larger group of people. Not only can you add pins to the board, but so can others. If a group board has 10,000 followers, that’s 10,000 people that your pin is potentially in front of! Make sure you are pinning and sharing mostly content that isn’t yours (depending on the board rules and description), not just self promoting!
Search for group boards that are in your niche. This is a great way to get your name and your blog out there to bloggers and pinners who share the same interests. Read the board descriptions to find out how to join the ones you are interested in.
Pin, Pin, Pin!
Since Pinterest is all about creating and sharing high-quality pins, it’s clear that this is an important one. Whether you pin 50 or 250 pins per day, try to be consistent! I recommend pinning at least 50 pins per day. This gives your boards a good amount of new content on a daily basis for your follower and others to see.
Also make sure to keep your boards active. Pinterest users want to follow boards that continue to provide them with new content. So if you have a board you haven’t pinned to in over a month, add a few pins to keep it going.
Now, something that I’ve learned over the past few weeks is that you need to keep your own pins circulating if you want people to see them. The idea is that it’s better to have a variety of pins in circulation for everyone to choose from. Don’t just pin one image from each of your recipes or blog posts. Pin multiple or all of the photos you used in the post, and save them to multiple boards to expand your reach.
I post all of my photos to my Zest and Lemons blog board, scatter them across my other boards, and also re-pin my content every so often. I noticed the largest spike in traffic when I started doing this, and some of my older pins started driving blog traffic again. Remember, you don’t want to throw all your pins in front of your followers all at once. Spread them out, and continue to pin content from others.
Now, after talking about pinning 50+ times a day you may be thinking… who has time for that? More realistically, who wants to spend their time doing that? Especially if you are in a niche like sharing gluten free recipes! I don’t just click away, I really look at each pin to be sure they are the types of recipes I want to share. So it’s safe to say that spending countless hours searching through pins and boards, trying to find pins you want to re-share, is time-consuming.
That’s where Tailwind can help.
Tailwind is a Pinterest (and also Instagram!) scheduling program that helps you save a ton of time. You can find content, post directly from the website, and even analyze your account. I had read about so many bloggers finding success with Tailwind, it ultimately made me decide to try it out for myself. Let me tell you, it’s worth it.
I generally log in to Tailwind about once a week, and schedule all my pins for the week. What I love most is that it suggests the best times for you to pin, depending on your account analytics, and will schedule all your pins during those specific times. Once you schedule your content, it posts directly to Pinterest for you! So sit back, go on with your day, and let Tailwind pin away.
The best part is, you can try Tailwind for free! You don’t even need to enter credit card info to get the free trial.
If you take a look at my Pinterest account, you might notice I don’t have a lot of followers. My account continues to grow, but it’s not anywhere near the numbers you would expect with 100,000 monthly viewers.
So how did I get that reach with very little following?
I owe a lot of it to Tailwind Tribes.
One of the first things I did when I started the free trial was join a few tribes. Tribes are similar to group boards on Pinterest, and consist of a group of people with similar interests or who are in the same niche. When you join one, you can then submit your own pins for other tribe members to schedule! It’s a fantastic way to increase exposure.
What’s awesome about Tailwind Tribes is that it’s a great place to find new content for your boards. You can schedule one pin for multiple boards in just one click, and Tailwind even keeps track of which boards you have already it pinned to.
About 2 weeks into my free trial, I noticed my account had increased its reach from 8k to about 56k monthly viewers… and that was mostly from the few tribes I had joined. It had also contributed to a 20% increase in my blog traffic.
Here’s what my account looked like before Tailwind (the left side of the graph):
I had been sitting at 8,000 monthly viewers for so long, I became discouraged. People were looking at my pins, but no one was really engaging with them.
See that first big spike?? That’s when I joined Tailwind. Here’s another view of what it looked like just a few weeks after joining Tailwind:
You can imagine how excited I was when I saw that growth! I grew my account to just shy of 100k monthly viewers in about 5 weeks. Crazy!
Now keep in mind, these are my own personal results from using Tailwind. If you would like to learn more, Tailwind does publish the Typical Results of Tailwind for Pinterest Members every year… so in you are interested in what the average growth rate looks like for all of their members, I recommend checking out their article!
I’m sure you are thinking now why I originally mentioned my account growing over the course of about 3 months. See that huge dip in traffic? That’s when I continued to improve my Pinterest account.
At that point, I started implementing all of the tips and tricks I mentioned above. The slight decline was when I stopped using Tailwind Tribes for a while to focus on a few other things…clearly a mistake. Now here comes that big dip: I eventually deleted some of my boards that were not relevant to my niche, re-organized my boards, and improved my descriptions and keywords. It was almost like starting over again, but it was worth it. My reach started skyrocketing again, and just a few weeks later I’m at over 150K monthly viewers and growing!
After that, I realized how valuable Tailwind was and immediately invested in the paid plan. If you try Tailwind and decide you like it, you can get $15 off your upgrade… That’s your first month free!
That’s it! Just remember, you don’t have to have a huge Pinterest following to have a large monthly reach, or even drive more traffic to your blog. I’ve been pretty surprised by the traffic increase these tips and tricks have brought to my blog and Pinterest account. It didn’t happen overnight, but it was definitely worth my time. I hope you found some of these tips helpful! Try them out and let me know your results, I’d love to hear.