That Pinterest Thing for Visual Artists

That Pinterest Thing for Artists

Marketing art on Pinterest


Each week I write another new article for members of our three wonderful art groups on Facebook, The Artists Exchange, The Artists Directory, and The Artist Hangout. This week we take a look at Pinterest because it might very well just be one social channel we should be focussing on to market our art.

I started to use Pinterest many years ago to collate memories of my childhood. I went through a phase of nostalgia that to this day hasn’t really gone away. For a while I was confused by the pinning thing, and I was confused that whilst this was being talked about as a social media network there really wasn’t too much social interaction other than people re-pinning pins.

For a while I really got into it and spent hours looking through pins from everyone who must have shared the same childhood memories. Amassing a huge collection I created a retro board and suddenly I started to see some significant numbers of followers, all of them actively repining saved pins. Suddenly the not so social, sort of social network had a real sense of community.

The reason I say not so social network though is because it really doesn’t have a fit with other social networks in the truest sense. Pinterest is essentially a search engine that keeps on supplying relevant results into a user’s feed based on what that user wants to see.

The Problem with Pinterest...

The problem with Pinterest though is that you really can’t just spend 10-minutes on it. There’s always something that sparks your curiosity to be found and then you end up spending a year of your life decorating Mason Jars and finding inspiration to re-landscape your garden. My Pinterest hobby cost me a fortune in buying a new garden pond and old railway sleepers and I spent the next 6-months recreating the landscape of my garden. Pinterest can be back breaking work.

I stopped using Pinterest as often, the minute my wife mentioned that she would like to redesign the kitchen. But lately (kitchen still not redesigned, and the garden is an ongoing project) I have started to get back into scouring the platform for art, and discovering so many inspirational quotes that I feel I will never suffer with creative block again.

What really brought me back to Pinterest was that I really had started to notice spikes in traffic to this website after I had started to re-pin some of my older pins, and I also noticed on the analytics that you get with a business account on Pinterest that I was gaining more than 10.3k unique views per week across my boards, with my retro board and my ‘art by me’ boards receiving a majority of those views.

10.3k unique views for a pinner who rarely uses the platform seems to me to be much higher than the number of unique views I get from Facebook, a platform I love but also a platform that takes up way more of my time than I can realistically afford to give it. Not that I will be ditching Facebook anytime soon but Pinterest is officially going to be my second social home.

Pinterest requires things to be done slightly differently, there has always been a very different social etiquette on the platform and during my time on there a few years ago I had learned quickly that good quality content really does count. That’s still the case today. 

One other thing I had noticed was that my sales on Zazzle have been consistently good over the past year, a remarkable thing given that I rarely post any new work for sale on Zazzle at all and I market my Zazzle store even less. That’s going to change too. 

I could never really figure out how buyers were finding me on a platform I had been so silent on for a while but looking through the limited buyer information and correlating this to the analytics from Pinterest, there did seem to be some correlation when people repined my older pins linking to my work on Zazzle. 

Why didn’t anyone tell me that I could have paid for that new landscaping just from using those two platforms?

So a few months ago I started to look under the hood, spoke to a number of friends who never gave up on Pinterest and dug down into the analytics available through my account. I even claimed my website so that any pins shared from it get tagged with my branding.

The result was an additional 2k more unique views and hardly any extra work, and those additional views came within a few weeks. Pinterest seems to be the social network that grew up and became a little gem. It’s also a network that has been left out of too many marketing strategies for too long.

Now it’s important to remember that I never really stopped using Pinterest during the few years I gave it less of a focus. I would pin something new every week just to maintain a presence, and every week I would share my new articles for this site. So there is an element of growth which does probably comes from being present on the platform even with a limited presence. 

Over the next few months I will be focussing my attention on Pinterest even more and testing out a few new ideas, maybe introduce a few new boards, and will report back here on my findings. My follower count at the moment is 3,634 so let’s see if I can increase that by putting a little extra effort in. If you want to come along with me on this journey, leave your Pinterest link in the comments and I will give you a follow. You can follow me right here.

Pinterest Pin Code Resources


What I discovered…

Quality pins are the order of the day just as quality posts are the order of the day on other platforms. It’s an extremely curatorial platform so there really is a need to focus on making sure that your pins have a relevancy with your boards, and that the content within the pins is something that will resonate with followers of the particular board you are pinning to. 

Your best boards should be at the top of your profile page because users will see those first and with Pinterest being a visual platform, the visuals really count. Most of my followers follow every one of my boards, but where they choose to only follow one or a few boards, those boards appear at the top of the profile.

When it comes to images and particularly cover images on each of your boards you do have to make sure that they stand out and are relevant to the context of the pin. Using bright visuals helps, and adding clear text for titles will help them to stand out a little more. 

In terms of image sizing there is no consistency with other social media platforms so to ensure that your pins pop, you need to make sure that any images you do post will not be cropped due to being the wrong size. The best image ratios to use for images tend to be 2:3 and 1:3:5 but they do need a minimum width of 600 pixels. 

One thing that you will notice is that the most popular pins tend to have images that really resonate with people so making sure that the image is relevant to whatever you post is key. There’s not much point in adding an image of a Mason jar if the pin relates to something about something else entirely. 

As with all social platforms, use for commercial purposes (the intention to use the platforms for marketing your art) should be done through a business account rather than a personal account. Business profiles can be created (free) from the off or you can convert your existing profile into a business profile and carry over the followers you already have. 

There’s no need to worry that you will have to abandon other social media accounts as Facebook and Twitter can be linked within your profile and those who find you on Pinterest might give you a follow on those accounts too. 

Last time I really used Pinterest the search functionality was predicated on using hashtags but they seem to be irrelevant today, just as they are becoming on other social platforms. Search within social media has generally been refined across the board with most of the search functionality on the platforms looking deeper into the context and content of the post or pin and picking up on keywords within the description or post. Hence one of the reasons why I have been for the past year at least suggesting that adding a story to your post and giving it more context will give it more visibility.

Of course the other issue generally with hashtags is that whilst a single or a couple of hashtags on twitter still seem to be relevant, other platforms algorithms tend to look rightly or wrongly at these posts as spam, and particularly where the hashtag has no obvious (to the algorithm) relevance with the overall context of the post. Some hashtags are used by spammers and these will be good indicators to the algorithm that the post needs to be less visible which ultimately means that the post is unlikely to surface on many timelines. That being said, Pinterest doesn’t penalize you for using hashtags in quite the same way as other platforms or that’s what I have been picking up recently, but they probably only perform when that particular hashtag is being searched for or is trending. 

Descriptions or rather good descriptions to accompany your pins are a must. Make sure that you also include your own username in your pins because most people will share pins from others and won’t change the original description. 

If you have claimed your website and linked it to your Pinterest business account, the pins posted from the site will appear wherever they are repined with a tag linking back to you and your profile image will also appear on the pin wherever it is repined.

Pinterest the home of the Mason Jar


Sharing is caring…

Sharing content on Pinterest isn’t just restricted to images. Videos from the usual platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo can be shared too, but you will need to use the share function alongside the video on the platform, rather than just sharing a link to the site where the video is hosted. 

Video has become increasingly relevant in this new dawn of the Netflix age and this is a great opportunity to drive traffic to your YouTube videos which has been problematic when it comes to monetising YouTube content for the smaller channels. This might even drive enough traffic to those smaller channels to be able to restart their monetising efforts although the smart money at the moment is to look at Facebook Watch because that has some serious potential to grow over the next couple of years.

You can also share other artists (or anyone’s posts) so long as you respect any specific privacy controls the original poster has applied, and you are able to mention their Pinterest usernames in descriptions in much the same way as you would on any other social platform. 

Evergreen content…

With so many pins and the ease of repining it’s easy to just go ahead and pin everything you find but if that content is time-bound and leads to a time limited offer, it’s going to be difficult to find it in order to remove it once the offer has expired. 

This is where evergreen content comes into play. Evergreen content is essentially just content that rarely if ever goes out of date and will always lead to the same end. Creating a pin that describes your latest work should be simply a matter of only ever having to do it once and then going back a few weeks later and repining that pin to keep it in circulation so that it surfaces in someone else’s feed.

Due to the nature of Pinterest, content has a much longer shelf-life than on twitter or Facebook or any of the others. What this really means is that there is no need to spend time dipping in and out and re-sharing your pins. This is great news for those of us who constantly find we’re running out of time to get down to the creative side of our business, it also means that pins have a much longer visibility as they are resurfaced whenever someone re-pins them. 

This is great news too when you consider that most of the impact for a post on Facebook will usually happen within the first few hours of posting and then that post will quickly sink beneath any new content and eventually be forgotten until someone engages with that post again in the future. 

Organic reach doesn’t seem to be an issue at all on Pinterest due to the way that users can view content. Relevancy is the key metric used here to determine what you see based on your interests and the boards you follow. 

This is great in principle for ensuring that you can be reasonably confident that someone who re-pins a pin will be more engaged with what you are pinning and maybe more open to the possibility of being converted into buyers. 

The technical bits of Pinterest…

For those who really want to up their game, Pinterest offers a slew of features that will appeal to those who start using the platform seriously. The analytics platform is rich in data which will give you an idea about the age range and other details of who usually engages with your pins, but it goes further than just your pins too. It also gives you analytics around what is currently popular on the platform and demographic information based on interests. 

You can also access a rather useful widget and button builder and this is where I went when I added the follow me button in the sidebar on this site. From here you can create a save button, a follow button, a pin, a board, or your profile. 

You can also get the HTML code to add to your own webpages too and this will mean that your site visitors can see your latest pins directly on your own website without leaving it. 

Learning about Pinterest is best by using it, testing your own methods out and following what the major players on Pinterest are already doing. Having said that there are plenty of resources on Pinterest to give you a helping hand. 

For those who need some more convincing that Pinterest is relevant to a marketing strategy then the numbers are eye watering. Whilst less than Facebook, users of Pinterest seem much more focussed and engaged. 200million people is nowhere near the user base of Facebook, but how many of the two-billion on Facebook will you be reaching?

More than 50% of the audience is made up from an international audience, 80% of users access Pinterest through a mobile device, and there are 100 billion pins. Yet the takeaway is that even with so many pins, that organic reach is still there. 

Buyable pins and ads are available if you decide to go down the pay to play route, something that you might want to consider initially just to start engaging new followers, but once you do have followers they tend to be a loyal bunch who will stick with you and your boards and re-pin your posts.

Rich pins are available to business users of which there are four types. Rich product pins include availability, price, and where you can buy the product and for those with business accounts who also have a Pixels site, it does seem to work well as I tested a few of my throw cushions shared directly from Pixels and a heap of information came up about buying each of them together with the current price. 

Rich pins are also available for recipes, apps, and articles, and once you verify your account and link it to your website your own branding gets included to each of the rich pins. You will need to validate and apply to be able to utilise rich pins but the process is simple enough and for those with a Shopify account, the process becomes a little simpler. Those who do have Shopify and aren’t using Pinterest could be really missing out with this one.

Promoted pins are essentially Pinterest ads, and they don’t bear similarities to ads on other platforms. Instead they take on the appearance of regular pins. You can select what you want from ads, awareness, engagement, or traffic, and as with many of the platforms you will only pay for ads when you start getting results. 

What else do you need to do?

Most of what you need to do to encourage more traffic, views, and followers is simple social media common sense. Post relevant content that resonates with the audience, but above this consistency seems to be key.

Only post each day what you can realistically pin/post each day forever more. Having sudden stops and starts in pinning doesn’t really help.  The first pins that you post each day should be your most important pins, and according to Pinterest the first five pins are the ones that followers will see first. Pin these to your most followed/relevant boards first.

Consider the time that you post these five pins too, Pinterest essentially resets the playing field every day at 12:00am UTC. What this means is that you need to be posting your best five pins pre-12:00am UTC or post-12:00am UTC. 

Something else which is again similar to other platforms is that you should be focussing on your most successful content and create more content just like that. If that image featuring a sheep in a wool jumper managed to get a number of re-pins more than any other content, produce a few more pins along similar lines. 

I mentioned that I would be looking at my follower count earlier and will try and get those numbers up, but followers really are secondary on Pinterest. They’re just not as important here as on other platforms in part due to the organic nature of how pins spread. 

I have mentioned in other articles that it’s also about the quality of your followers that matters more than the number of followers. Is it better to have 5,000 followers who are disengaged or 50 followers who are deeply engaged? I’d go for the 50 any day of the week. 

In short…

Reviewing my own social media strategy has refocussed me on using Pinterest more. Unlike many of the websites offering advice, I’m not going to say that you can achieve a massive increase in traffic in X number of months, you might very well do that but social media is a funny thing in that you can never quite predict the next trends. 

For me in the short amount of time I have been starting to ramp up my own Pinterest efforts the strategy seems to be working. I’m spending no less time on other social media platforms, I am though having to find a little more time to do this as well, but once I have the results I expect will eventually come I will refresh my strategy again and review where I’m spending the time. 

Pinterest isn’t for everyone but it does have a really good fit with what we do as artists. The appeal for me though is that shelf-life of pins which will cut down the time I need to spend on the platform in the future, and hopefully will get me to a point where I will be able to focus on bringing new pins to the platform and creating more art. If sales on my art sites increase and traffic increases on this site, then whatever time I’m spending there right now will have been worth it. 

Can I say that about other social media platforms? I’m starting to become a little tired of the way algorithms seem to prioritise the stuff I don’t want to see on those platforms. What was once enjoyable is becoming increasingly frustrating at times. The constant updates and introduction of new features on other platforms makes it even harder to know exactly which direction to jump in. 

Having said that, perhaps that’s the point of platforms such as Facebook. They’re more about building engagement with users whereas Pinterest is really about sharing content. When coupled together within a social strategy that takes both of those elements into account it all starts to make a little more sense. 

Patience is still needed, I can’t remember how many years I have had a Pinterest account for and it’s only really now that I am starting to realise what I have been missing out on, but certainly I would expect an audience for a new member to grow considerably and quite quickly if you can find relevant content and pins to post. The fresher those pins are the better.

About Mark…

I am an artist and blogger who specialises in abstracts, landscapes, and seascapes but I create other works too. My work is sold in more than 150 retail locations across the USA and Canada including The Great Frame Up, Framing and Art Centre, and Deck the Walls and you can also buy from Fine Art America or my Pixels site here: https://10-mark-taylor.pixels.com   

Any art sold through Fine Art America and Pixels is put towards to the ongoing costs of running and developing this website.

I also offer some works directly and these come signed with a certificate of authenticity. Please do get in touch if there are any pieces you are interested in owning, I also sell some of my original pieces through this route too and through other retailers. Coming soon! I will be offering selected artworks and designs through Etsy as digital downloads!

You can also follow me on Facebook at: https://facebook.com/beechhousemedia where you will also find regular free reference photos of interesting subjects and places I visit. You can also follow me on Twitter @beechhouseart and on Pinterest at: https://pinterest.com/beechhousemedia 

If you would like to support the upkeep of this site or just buy me a coffee so I can keep on writing hopefully useful articles for you, you can do that right here.

Comments

  1. Hi Mark, This article could not have come at a better time. Thank you very much!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Jane! Let me know your Pinterest username and I will give you a follow! Have a great day!

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    2. I have not been using Pinterest for more than two years not even sure what and how to after so much changes. Here is my username https://www.pinterest.com.au/JaneSeeArt/
      Thanks Mark!

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    3. Done! Look forward to pinning your wonderful creations Jane!

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