Ways To Increase Blog Traffic With Pinterest: A Beginner’s Guide

By JoAnne D. | Blogging

Increase Blog Traffic With Pinterest

Pinterest used to be seen only as a platform for DIYers and crafters. Well, they’re still very much at home in Pinterest, but recent developments in this platform has made it clear that there’s room for all kinds of bloggers. In today’s post, I’ll be introducing Pinterest, why you need to have it, and how you can increase blog traffic with Pinterest.

Are you still one of those people who believe that Pinterest is merely a social network for women to share recipes, DIY instructions, and wedding dress inspirations?

Get with the times!

Pinterest isn’t just for those types of pins anymore; it’s the savvy blogger’s best-kept secret.

Let’s get into what Pinterest REALLY is and why it should be part of your blogging arsenal. Next, we’ll get into how you can make your images pinworthy. Then, we’ll get into the main focus of this article, which is how to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog. Finally, I outline some tools to help you implement your Pinterest strategy.

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How Pinterest Works

According to their help center, Pinterest is a “visual bookmarking tool that helps you discover and save creative ideas.” It works like a virtual room with various “boards” where you can “pin” various creative inspirations and concepts you’ve found from anywhere on the internet.

Inspiration Board

Like this, but virtual.
Image Created by Lia Kent | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Much has been written about whether Pinterest is a social network or an image search engine. Instead of worrying about it, it’s simpler to think of it as a hybrid of the best features of both.

Like a social network, it allows you to follow other boards so you see what’s posted on those boards. You can also follow other users so you can see everything that they pin. However, users rarely interact with each other on Pinterest aside from following and repinning. There is a commenting feature, but users rarely use it.

As a search engine, Pinterest has a feature called Guided Search. This helps Pinterest users focus their search from a broad search term to more specific and more relevant results by suggesting related descriptive words.

Pinterest Guided Search, Search Term Blogging

Pinterest Guided Search (Click To Zoom)

Even if users don’t really use the search terms, users can explore popular topics and find that they’re organized into categories and subcategories, making it easier for users to find what they’re looking for.

Why Should You Use Pinterest?

A recent study from Statista concluded that the most popular Pinterest categories are “Art, Art Supplies and Hobbies,” “Flowers, Food, Drinks & Gifts,” and “Home, Garden & Pool/Spa.”

If your niche falls into those categories, then great.

But what if it doesn’t?

Well, Pinterest can still work for you! Here are some reasons why.

  1. More than 200 million people use Pinterest every month as of September 2017. Getting your content in front of this large an audience will increase the chances that people will actually see what you have to offer.
  2. Pins last forever. With social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook, your status updates have to be recent for them to be seen by your target audience. By contrast, if you pin high-quality Pins with great content, users will be able to search for and find your Pins for months, even years down the line.
  3. Pinterest drives 5% of overall web traffic around the web. It doesn’t sound like much, but this means Pinterest is second only to Facebook when it comes to driving traffic.
  4. Google likes Pinterest. Pinterest has strong authority with Google bots. Doing a Google search brings up results from Pinterest. So if you’ve optimized your pins to make it easier to be found by Pinterest search, then you’ve also optimized it for Google search.
  5. People visit Pinterest to either solve a problem or get inspired. Pinterest’s highly powerful search engine makes it easier for Pinterest users to look for specific answers to their questions or look for visual inspiration. Pinterest users expect pins about great content that will help them solve their problem.

Convinced? Head on over to the next part to learn how to make pinworthy images.

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How To Make Pinworthy Images

Designing images that are pinworthy (that is, attractive and intriguing enough to be clicked and saved) is crucial to your Pinterest strategy. Here are some tips to make your pins truly pinworthy.

Use visually stunning images.

Pinterest is a visual platform, and the main factor that will make your pins stand out is if they’re compelling enough to draw users’ eyes to it. Always, always use high-quality and high-resolution images.

Numerous studies have been made to determine what the “perfect pin” looks like. It’s not that they’re unreliable, but different niches have different preferences, and so you’ll still have to experiment with image elements to find what your target audience likes. Here are some image elements you can test:

  • Images with faces versus images without faces
  • Plain background versus background that adds context
  • Vibrant colors versus muted colors
  • Multiple colors versus a monochromatic theme
  • Borders versus no borders

 

Portrait is better than landscape.

Images that are in portrait orientation work so much better than those in landscape because of how pins are arranged in your feed. When you created your Pinterest account, surely you’ve noticed that pins are arranged in multiple columns. Thus, vertical images take up more space and are more likely to grab attention. The ideal aspect ratio for a vertical pin is 2:3.

Portrait versus Landscape

Portrait versus Landscape (Click To Zoom)

For example, Stencil’s Pinterest templates are 735 pixels wide by 1102 pixels high, but graphic designers actually recommend using even-numbered image widths, so you can tweak this to 736 pixels by 1104 pixels, which also gives a nice, exact 2:3 ratio. You can actually go higher than 1104 pixels, but keep in mind that pins longer than 1560 pixels high get cropped.

Add text overlays.

Often, your image may not provide clear enough information on what your blog post is about. You can add the title of your blog post so that it’s clear at a glance what you’re pinning. Also, you should always include your blog URL as text overlay as well that will serve as your branding and your watermark for the image as well.

Add the correct URL to the pin.

All your pins should have a URL where your users should go when they click on your pin. Make sure the URL is correct and that it’s working.

Enable Rich Pins on your account.

Rich pins provide additional information about your pin that is aside from the description. There are four types of rich pins, namely, product, app, recipe, and article pins.

If you’re saving a pin about a blog post, you’ll be using the article pin, which shows the headline, information about the author, and a story description. However, if you’re going to venture out into selling, product pins will be useful for you, as it shows real-time pricing (so if you’re running a sale, the price updates), availability, and how to buy your product.

To set up rich pins, you’ll need to have a Pinterest for Business account. Next, you’ll need to add metadata to your blog and then you’ll need to apply so your rich pins appear correctly on Pinterest. Here’s a detailed guide on how you can use rich pins.

Add a convincing call to action in your description or in your text overlay.

Having a CTA in your description hints that there’s more to see on your blog. Something as simple as saying “Read more” or “Find out more” can make the difference between users skipping your pin and them clicking on it to go to your blog.

If you have a lead magnet or anything free for your readers, tell them right in the image so users are more inclined to click. Tell them about it as well on the description to compel them to click on your pin and go to your blog.

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How To Increase Blog Traffic With Pinterest

Now we get into the nitty-gritty of this post, which is how to increase your blog traffic with Pinterest. Here are some tactics you can start doing today.

1. Get your blog Pinterest-ready.

Upload the image you want users to pin to your blog post.

Some bloggers make their featured image their pinnable image, but a better approach is to create a featured image, and then create a separate pinnable image. Featured images look better as squares, while pinnable images look better as portraits.

When you upload a pinnable image, make sure the image name and the alt text are keyword-optimized. You should already be doing this anyway for all images you’re uploading on your blog, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check. A descriptive, keyword-containing image name and alt text makes it more likely that your pin will be found by search engines and Pinterest.

Hide Pinterest images in your blog post.

The ideal size I gave earlier, 736 pixels by 1104, is long and quite large. It can distract your blog visitors from your content, not to mention impact the loading time of your blog post. For these reasons, a neat trick that a number of bloggers pull off is to hide images in their blog post.

Example of a pinnable image

This is how long your pinnable image will look like in your post.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it in WordPress. It involves some HTML editing, but it’s very simple. And if you follow the steps exactly, you should be able to successfully hide Pinterest images. What happens is that the rest of the images in your blog post still get displayed, but your Pinterest images are hidden and are only shown when you click the “Share to Pinterest” icon.

Using this nifty trick, you can also test different images for the same blog post and see which one gets pinned the most.

Install the “Save” button from Pinterest.

The Pinterest Save button helps users save your blog’s content directly to their Pinterest accounts. When you install this button, a clickable Pinterest icon will appear on images on your blog post so visitors can save pins directly to Pinterest. Plus, you can use Pinterest Analytics to find out which blog posts are more popular with Pinterest users.

Note that this doesn’t work if you hide your Pinterest image, so if you want to use this button, make sure your pinnable image is displayed.

Install “Pin It” buttons using social sharing plugins.

If Pinterest isn’t your only share option (and it shouldn’t be!), you can install a social sharing plugin and have the Pinterest button activated. Different plugins work in different ways, so make sure to study how your plugin works so you can still analyze your traffic. The good news is social media plugins normally work with hidden images.

2. Optimize your pins for Pinterest search and search engines.

Focus on the description.

The purpose of the description, aside from telling users what your pin is about, is to make it easier for users to find it in the first place. To do that, include your keywords in the description in the same way you include keywords in your blog post.

Write a detailed description telling your users what’s in your blog post, but leave out some things so they’ll be intrigued enough to click on your pin and read your blog post. Include a CTA so they’ll be more inclined to take the next step; that is, click on the URL and read your blog post.

Use hashtags properly.

Pinterest supports hashtags, which in the past worked differently from Facebook and Twitter hashtags. However, a recent update (September 2017) detailed that adding hashtags to descriptions of pins will enable users to visit a feed of all the pins that has that hashtag.

When users click on or search for a hashtag, the most recent pins with that hashtag appears at the top of the feed. However, when a user searches for the same phrase but without the hashtag symbol, it will pull up the original search results page from the previous Pinterest algorithm.

Pinterest recommends using not more than 20 informative hashtags that are relevant to the pin. Depending on the content, you’ll want to use around 4 to 6 hashtags per pin.

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3. Make your boards compelling.

Create boards that are relevant to your niche and target audience.

Aside from your blog board, you need to create boards to save pins that are relevant to your target audience. If you don’t know where to start, check your blog categories and use Pinterest search to find out what users are searching for on Pinterest.

For example, if you blog about freelance writing, one of the subtopics you write about will probably be about writing tips. Do a search on Pinterest for “writing tips”

Search for "writing tips"

Search for “writing tips” (Click To Zoom)

Guided search tells us that users search specifically for “novel,” “characters,” “for authors,” and other more specific subtopics. Choose a subtopic that your target audience will be likely interested in. Let’s say your target audience are likely to be interested in writing ebooks. Click on “Ebooks” to change the search term on top to “ebook writing tips,” then click on Boards.

Narrow search "Ebook Writing Tips"

Narrow search “Ebook Writing Tips” (Click To Zoom)

Here, other boards about “ebook writing tips” are shown. As you can see, there’s only one board with that exact phrase on the title. It doesn’t really mean that it’s not worth creating a board around, because the keyword may also be in the descriptions of the other board.

The next thing is to see if the board has many followers. Clicking on the board will take you to the board so you can see the pins, and more importantly, how many pins and followers the board has.

Board Details

Board Details (Click To Zoom)

The board we’re looking at has roughly 800 followers. Time to create a board!

Continue doing this process for various keywords related to your niche. The more boards you have, the better. But retain your blog board, because that one should always be updated every time you have a new blog post.

Optimize your boards for Pinterest search.

Don’t try to be clever when naming your board. Use keywords so that your board comes up on the search results when your target audience searches for that keyword.

This goes for the description as well. Write a simple, concise description of your board using the keyword as well as other related keywords. Again, this is to increase the chances of your target audience finding your board when they use those keywords to search.

Make sure your board cover images are as attractive as your pins.

When you add your first pin to a board, Pinterest crops the pin and makes it the board cover. You can change this once you have at least two pins on your board. Create an attention-grabbing board cover that begs to be clicked, explored, and followed.

The optimal board cover dimensions change from time to time as Pinterest changes how they’re displayed, but as of October 2017, board covers on your profile are displayed as squares. The ideal size, then, is 736 pixels by 736 pixels. Text overlay would work great here such that users can quickly understand what your board contains just from the board name and cover.

how board is displayed on profile

This is how a board is displayed on your profile. Note that the board cover is displayed as a square.
(Click To Zoom)

Board covers look a bit different when viewed from search results, but that’s something that users have little control over, so don’t worry about it. It’s better for your boards to look nice when viewed from your profile.

All the above rules for making pinworthy images should also apply to your board cover. You’ll get a feel for what works best as you browse and save pins, as well as of course, testing out your images.

Start saving pins immediately.

Once you have the board up, you’ll want to save pins to it immediately. Start with 10 pins and then add to this regularly. The reason for doing this is that you want users to perceive your board as having valuable content.

Even if you already have a lot of content to promote, save pins by other users at first. This tells Pinterest that you’re willing to be part of the Pinterest community and not just taking advantage of the free platform to promote your blog.

Save only relevant pins to your boards.

This should go without saying, but when saving pins, you need to make sure that they belong to the board you’re saving them on. When users see that the pins don’t match your board description, there goes their trust in you and your content.

You can’t trick users, and you can’t trick Pinterest. Pinterest’s algorithm will take into account the board name, board descriptions, what the pins contain, and the descriptions of the pins. If the pins and the board descriptions don’t match, Pinterest will know not to display your board and pins to someone searching for a keyword, even though your board name and descriptions match that keyword.

Organize your boards.

Always have your blog board as the first board on your profile. That should serve as the repository for all your blog posts, and it should only be for your blog posts.

As you go on creating boards and pinning and using Pinterest, you’ll have boards that are going to be more popular than others. You control how the boards in your profile are arranged, so aside from your blog board, you should have the more popular boards above the fold.

More followers and more pins make a great impression on users who look at your profile and check out your boards.

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4. Follow strategically.

Follow the influencers in your niche.

Following other users generates pins in your home feed, giving you more pins to save to your boards without having to search for them. However, don’t just follow anyone, even when they follow you.

You’ll have much more success if you first follow the top people in your niche, as they’re more likely to save pins that are relevant to your niche, giving you a lot of relevant pins to save as well. You’ll also want to look at their pins and see what they’re doing right.

Be careful in following other bloggers, though. Some of their boards might contain pins that aren’t related to your topic at all. Nothing wrong with that, but unless you want your home feed cluttered with irrelevant pins, only follow boards with pins that are relevant to your blog.

Find boards that are relevant to your topic.

It’s not only the top bloggers in your niche who can have boards with topics that are relevant to your blog. Search for boards using the research technique that I detailed above, but instead of using the research to create your board, use the research to see who follows these boards. Check out those followers and see if they have any boards worth following.

5. Find and participate in group boards.

Join high-quality group boards.

A Pinterest group board works like one of your regular boards, except that the owner, or the one who created the board, can invite collaborators to pin on their board. It can help you increase your visibility because your pins can be seen by another audience.

When you’re just starting out with Pinterest, joining group boards with topics relevant to your blog can be helpful. There are a number of tools to help you find group boards related to your niche so you can follow these boards, which I’ll list down in the next section (the most popular one is PinGroupie).

PinGroupie group boards

PinGroupie group boards (Click To Zoom)

However, don’t go joining all the group boards you find. You’ll want to look for group boards that have lots of followers, high engagement (i.e., likes and repins), and clear instructions on how to join. Patrick Antinozzi of RapidWebLaunch has a detailed guide on how to join high-quality Pinterest group boards. His strategy does start with PinGroupie but goes beyond that.

The bottom line is, don’t take data from these tools at face value. Do your own research because joining a low-quality Pinterest group board can actually harm your Pinterest reputation.

Beware of low-quality group boards.

Hallmarks of a low-quality Pinterest group board include those that have extreme activity (either too little pins or too many pins), low engagement, or too many contributors. Low activity means hardly anyone is pinning to the group board. If this is the case, then frankly, what’s the point?

By contrast, too much activity means that there are way too many pins, meaning your pins tend to be buried in the avalanche of pins. This can actually be a side effect of too many contributors to the group board, but if there are too many pins by just 1 or 2 users, that’s spamming. Get away from that group board.

Low engagement means hardly anyone is liking or saving pins from the group board. If you pin it on a group board but no one engages with it, again, what’s the point? Pinterest likes to show pins that gets shared a lot, and if it senses that your pins aren’t being engaged with, it decides that your pins aren’t good enough to display.

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6. Develop a pinning strategy.

Install the Pinterest extension on your browser.

Pinterest has their own browser button so you can pin articles right from your browser. This is useful both for pinning your own content and for pinning content found elsewhere on the web that you think may benefit your followers.

Monitor trends.

Observe what’s trending on Pinterest. To know what’s popular, you can click on the menu icon to the right of the search bar and click Popular. This will show you what’s popular on Pinterest at the moment. Then, pin content that’s relevant for your niche.

How to find what's popular on Pinterest

How to find what’s popular on Pinterest
(Click To Zoom)

You can also create content for specific holidays that are coming up, as well as double-check your scheduled pins for potential clashes with what’s trending at the moment.

Pin other people’s content aside from your own.

When you’re starting out and Pinterest is still trying to get a “feel” for your account, post other people’s content more than your own. A good rule seems to be 80%/20%; that is, 80% other people’s content and then 20% your own. To simplify this, you’ll want to save 4 pins from other users for every pin you save from your own content.

This seems kind of self-sabotaging to give free traffic away, but when you’re only just starting out, you want to build your Pinterest reputation. You want to be seen as someone who plays nice with the other kids; that is, you’re a member of the Pinterest community and you joined to provide valuable content even if they’re not yours, not just self-promote and spam.

Once you have lots more blog posts that are helpful, and as your boards become more popular because of all the valuable pins you’re saving there, you can slowly move up to 50%/50%, and then even reverse your initial ratio; 80%/20% but this time in favor of your own content.

Pin at the right time.

You’d want to pin when your target audience is on Pinterest so they can see your pins and engage with them. You’ll need to analyze your data and experiment to find the ideal time of day to post pins.

Use a pin scheduler to automatically pin content.

Using a scheduler will take a huge load off your agenda. There are lots of pin schedulers available, but the hands-down favorite is Tailwind. This is especially convenient when you’re experimenting with different times of day to save your pins, as not all of them will be convenient for you. It’s also useful when repinning your old pins, as well as for scheduling pins from your own blog.

Don’t forget to pin manually, too.

While auto-scheduled pins are allowed by Pinterest, your account shouldn’t be running fully on autopilot. You should still be logging on to your Pinterest from your desktop or mobile app and saving pins manually. Again, this tells Pinterest that you’re actually participating and not just leaving everything on autopilot.

It may seem minor to you, but Pinterest knows where the pins are coming from. They reward users who are actually logging in and saving pins right from their devices by ranking their pins higher on other users’ feeds.

Pin daily.

There isn’t a nice, round, magic number of pins you should post daily for you to get more traffic to your blog. It really depends on how many followers you have. This is one of those aspects that you’ll have to experiment on to discover what’s right for you. The important thing is you have to be active on Pinterest, and that means pinning daily.

Cup of coffee plus daily agenda

If you have to schedule it in your day, do so.

Keep in mind, though, that Pinterest has limits for pins, boards, and follows. To put the limit of 200,000 pins in perspective, if you pin 100 pins daily, you’ll hit your limit in 5 years. If your Pinterest strategy only goes that far, then that’s fine, but if you want to still be active on Pinterest in 11 years, then try to pin around 30 to 50 pins a day.

Pinterest does have workarounds for the limits, like deleting past pins or boards, or creating a new account with another email address. Still, having this limit in mind should keep you from pinning too many pins, which brings me to my next point.

Don’t be spammy!

Pinterest seems to crack down hard on even suspected spammers. So always follow their Terms of Service, and keep in mind the following “Don’ts”.

  • Don’t pin the same image to multiple group boards. If you must post to multiple group boards, allow some time between posts or post different images on different group boards.
  • Don’t pin unrelated content to group boards. Like I said, you can’t fool Pinterest. Keep it relevant or don’t pin it at all.
  • Don’t post misleading links. Misleading links are links that look like one thing but leads to a completely unrelated site.
  • Don’t post links through a URL shortener. Pinterest tends to treat such links as misleading, even though that’s not your intention.
  • Don’t mass follow or unfollow. Mass following is frowned upon because this is one of the techniques that spammers use to get users to click their profiles and follow them back. Mass unfollowing, by contrast, is seen as spammers unfollowing profiles that they were unsuccessful in baiting. Again, if you plan to go on a following spree or cleaning out your home feed, space it out so that it doesn’t look suspicious.

 

Apparently, it’s quite easy for a user to report a website as spam. If this happens, don’t panic. First thing you need to do is go to Pinterest’s contact form and report the issue. The turnaround time varies, but Pinterest customer support does reply eventually.

Make multiple pins per blog post.

Every time you create a new blog post, create at least two pins for it. This way, you can test elements of your pins (e.g., the images, typography, call to action, colors) to see what your readers prefer to pin more. Eventually, you can come up with a “signature” look for your pin.

multiple pins

Multiple Pins (Click To Zoom)

Another reason to do this is so that you don’t have the same-looking pin floating around. You’ll have options when you repin your old content. So even though they lead to the same blog post, they’ll look different.

7. Engage with your followers.

Like and save your followers’ pins.

Remember, you’re not just on Pinterest to advertise your blog. Of course, that’s one of your objectives, but that shouldn’t be your only objective on the platform. Reaching new potential readers will be much easier if you engage with them as well.

If you’re doing your pinning right, users will follow you. And when they do, don’t just ignore them. Go to their profile and see if they have pins worth liking and saving to your boards. Take it one step further and browse their boards. If you find one that has content relevant to your blog niche, follow that.

Pay attention to your comments.

Pinterest isn’t a traditional social network, and that’s evident in the comments. Users rarely use them. This could change in the future, but right now, people are on Pinterest mainly to find answers to their questions and find inspiration, not to actually socialize with other users.

That said, some users still do comment, if only to mention other people to draw their attention to the pin, or to thank whoever created the pin. If you do get comments like these, it’s good manners to reply and acknowledge them.

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Tools For Driving Blog Traffic Using Pinterest

A Pinterest traffic strategy is nothing without the right tools to implement them. Here’s a list of recommended tools to help you plan and implement your Pinterest strategy.

Design and Create Pins

Stencil
Canva
GIMP

Royalty-free Stock Photos

Pixabay
Unsplash
StockSnap

Social Media Plugins

Shareaholic
AddThis
Sumo

Find Group Boards

PinGroupie
BoardBooster’s free tool

Scheduling Tools

Note: Pinterest for Business has a number of approved marketing partners. The following tools are official Pinterest partners.

Tailwind
Ahalogy
Buffer

Pinterest Guides

Pinterest for Business Blog
Resources for Businesses
Widget Builder

Final Thoughts On Using Pinterest To Drive Traffic To Your Blog

Let’s quickly recap what was covered in today’s article.

  • How Does Pinterest Work?
  • Why Pinterest?
  • How Do I Make Great Pins?
  • How Can Pinterest Increase Traffic To My Blog?
  • What Tools Can I Use For My Pinterest Strategy?

 

Before you go and apply what you’ve learned, though, here are some more things to remember when developing your Pinterest traffic strategy.

Pin quality content to quality boards.

You should always put out quality content, even outside your blog. Maybe even especially outside of your blog, where you only have a split second to make a great first impression to a potential reader. So always create quality pins, repin quality pins, and place them on quality boards. Providing value is crucial to gaining trust from Pinterest users as well as Pinterest itself.

Be consistent.

As with any other aspect of blogging, consistency is key to your Pinterest traffic strategy.

Save a pin for every blog post you create, and save pins from other Pinterest users and boards you follow. Pin at the same time every day with the same scheduler. Even your manual pins will work best when you pin at the same times every day. Being consistent is more important than how many times a day you save pins.

Keep an eye on your analytics.

Monitor your Pinterest Analytics to see what’s working and what isn’t. Aside from your Pinterest Analytics, monitor your website analytics as well to see if your efforts are paying off.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Implementing some or even all of these tips can’t guarantee an increase in blog traffic. You’ll need to experiment with your methods to see what works for you and your target audience. The best way to know if your strategy is working is to stick with a technique or two for a month and then review your analytics to see if there are results.

If your current strategy isn’t working, don’t be too discouraged. Just keep being active on Pinterest and tweak your strategy or your pins as much as you want. Also, don’t delete your pins just because they didn’t perform very well. Some pins take a long time to be displayed to your followers and to everyone. So leave it, and see if it eventually gains traction.

Pinterest is supposed to be fun. Enjoy!

If you eventually decide that Pinterest isn’t doing anything for your traffic, keep pinning anyway. Pinterest is home to numerous ideas and inspiration. If you follow the right users and boards, you might just get inspiration for your blog posts.

Smiling woman using laptop

Are you already on Pinterest? Have you been using it to drive traffic to your blog? Did I miss anything in the tips? I want to hear about it! Share your Pinterest experience in the comments below!

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About the Author

JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.

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