If you’ve ever used Pinterest, you know it is a very eclectic collection of images on virtually every topic under the sun. But, at its core, Pinterest is much more than that. It’s a very powerful search engine (think Google) where users can find information on whatever they desire to learn about.
In today’s post, I am going to share with you how to get started with Pinterest, and how to use it to your advantage in building your author brand. So, let’s dive in…
If you have a personal Pinterest account, I personally recommend creating a new account for your brand. This will keep your personal interests separate from what makes you unique as an author and allow you to focus on serving your readers well with what you pin.
Once you’ve created your author account on Pinterest, you’ll want to go to the Settings menu and personalize it with your logo, website URL, and About information. I simply used the Under the Business Type dropdown, select “Public Figure” if your author brand is based around your name. If it’s a specific brand name, choose “brand.”
Also, be sure to “Claim Your Website” so you will have access to the handy website analytics tool. This will give you quick insight into which pins are driving traffic back to your website. Setup notification and security preferences as well.
Choose Your Profile Cover
Pinterest calls the main header image on your page the “profile cover.” Unlike Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you are not able to design and upload a unique profile cover. You are forced to select between your latest pins, activity, or a specific board. This can be a bit tricky if you’re just starting out and have no pins, activity, or boards setup at this point. Don’t worry. You’re not locked in once you make a choice. You can come back and change it at any time.
For those just getting started, I recommend setting your cover to latest pins. It will be blank for now, but we’ll fix that in a few minutes. Established authors are recommended to set theirs to a board with all their book covers. You will need to create this board first in order to select it for your profile cover.
Setting your profile cover is a simple process. Just choose the gray pencil in the upper right corner. A menu will open, and you can select from what’s available.
Create a Few Boards
I like to think of the boards on Pinterest as various folders where you will save related pins. On your main dashboard, choose the “Boards” menu item. From there, choose “Create board” and then add a name for it in the menu box that appears.
The name isn’t super critical but should be descriptive of what will be in that particular folder. And, you can change the board name at any time. You’ll definitely want to create one for your book covers. Here’s ours: https://www.pinterest.com/softpresspublishing/books-published-by-softpress/
Beyond covers, you may also want to create boards for your blog posts, quotes from your favorite authors, or any other topics that relate to your author platform. Once you’ve created a few boards, you can add sections within each board to further segment the various pins you will add. For instance, under the Softpress board for books we have published, there are sections for self-help, cooking, education, humor, etc. Sections allow you to better organize your boards, and also eliminate having too many boards to keep up with.
To add a section, choose the board you want to segment and then select “Add section.” Enter the new section name in the box that appears and click “Add” to save it.
Pro Tip: After you have a number of boards created, you’ll want to sort them to promote your author brand. If you allow Pinterest to do the sorting for you, boards that don’t reinforce who you are may appear ahead of those that do. To sort your boards, choose the “Boards” tab from your main dashboard. In the dropdown to the right of the main menu, select “Drag and Drop.” Now, just drag your boards into the order you desire working from top left, then across, then down.
Add a Unique Board Cover
Once you have a few boards created, you’ll want to add covers for those boards. The cover is the main image that shows up when someone views your boards. If you plan ahead and use a consistent template for your board covers, you establish your branding across multiple boards.
To prevent your board cover from getting cropped when displayed, use a square image size such as 600 x 600 pixels, or larger. Once you have your board cover designed, click the red plus sign at the top right of your Pinterest dashboard and select “Create pin.” Add the board cover image and the URL to the relevant page on your website. The description, in this case, can just be the name of the board itself. Click “Done”
Now, click on the “Boards” tab on your main dashboard. Hover over the board you just saved the image to and click the gray pencil that appears in the lower right corner. Next to the word “Cover” on the window that appears, click “Change” and then choose the cover image you uploaded. Save changes and repeat for your remaining boards.
Start Adding Pins
Now that you have several boards created, you can begin adding pins. The first pins I recommend you create will be unique to you and your platform. Start with your book covers if you have already been published. Here’s a handy article on various pin sizes to use on Pinterest.
There are several ways to add a pin. I usually do it from my main dashboard. Choose the “Pins” menu item, and then click “Create Pin.” In the box that appears you will see a place for an image, a website URL, and a description. Start by adding an image of one of your book covers.
PRO TIP: The website URLs I use are almost always an affiliate link from my Amazon Associates account. When someone clicks the pin for one of my covers, it takes them to the book on Amazon, and I earn a small commission, on top of the royalty, if they end up buying the book.
Your description should be a brief synopsis of the book using language that is compelling and draws in the reader. You can use an edited version of the one posted on Amazon or other platform where your book is for sale. I say edited because studies have shown that a description of about 300 characters will receive the most re-pins. Click “Done” and save the pin to whatever board you desire.
Incidentally, re-pins are what you’re after. When someone re-pins your pin to one of their boards it’s akin to them retweeting something you shared on Twitter. The more re-pins, the more your pin is being shared, and the more likely your book will be purchased.
Pin Favorites to Your Boards
Once you’re done adding unique pins specific to your brand, it’s time to search out and add some favorite pins. In the search bar at the top of your Pinterest page, type in a keyword or phrase. For instance, you may try “classic book quotes.” Or, get more specific by using a favorite author name in the query such as “Harper Lee famous quotes.”
Whatever your search phrase, hundreds of pins will be shown that you can look through and save. When you find a pin you like, hover over it and a red “Save” button will appear. Click this and you’ll be shown a list of your boards where you can save the pin.
Note: If you mistakenly save a pin to the wrong board, you can easily move it to the correct board. From your main dashboard, find the pin where you saved it, and hover your mouse over it. Click the gray pencil that appears. In the box that appears, you can then edit the board where that pin is stored.
Hashtags Are Now Supported
Last year, Pinterest announced it will now support hashtags like on Instagram, Twitter, and various other social media platforms. Using hashtags will allow your readers and potential readers to more easily find your content. Experts recommend using no more than 4 hashtags for a given pin. To learn more about using hashtags on Pinterest, read this great article from Louise Myers: The Surprising Truth About Pinterest Hashtags 2018.
Note: If you have already begun adding pins, it’s not worth the effort to go back and add hashtags. Just start using them with new pin posts.
Additional Pro Tips for Pinterest
I’ve given you the basics of creating your account and getting started using Pinterest. Now, I want to offer a few additional pro tips to help you build your brand and following.
Get the Pinterest Extension for Your Browser
Pinterest has a special button that you can add to your web browser that makes it easy to save creative ideas from around the web. It’s currently available for Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, & MS Edge. To get the button, go HERE and follow the instructions.
Once added, you will be able to easily pin items to your Pinterest boards from websites, other blogs, or wherever you find great content you want to share with your audience.
When you find something you want to pin, click the red Pinterest symbol on your browser’s menu bar and select the image you want to save and then the board you want to save it to. The web URL will be added to the pin, so others can easily find what you’ve shared.
Pin Your Blog
I briefly mentioned above about creating a board for your blog. This is a must if you have a blog. Each time you post, add a new pin to your blog board. Then, your audience will be able to click on the pin and be directed to your website to read the full article. Once on your website, you have a captive audience where you can engage them in other ways.
Here’s the Softpress Blog board on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/softpresspublishing/softpress-blog/
Pin Your Favorite Books
Besides your own books, create a board where you share what books inspire you. Do you have a favorite author or genre? How about books from authors you personally know and admire? Add pins around those as well. If the book is on Amazon, be sure to use an affiliate link. Those pennies add up!
Pin Book Memes
One of my favorite accounts on Twitter is that of Lacey London. She shares tons of funny and inspiring book and writing related memes. You can do the same on your Pinterest account. When you pin these sorts of things, it gives a glimpse into your personality and engages your audience on a different level. Add a few hashtags and you’re all set.
Want even more pro tips for your Pinterest account. Check out this great article from my friend Frances Caballo: 10 Pinterest Tips for Writers.
Much like on Twitter, gaining followers on Pinterest requires you follow others. By following other people, they will get a notification that you followed them and most likely check out what you have on your own boards. If they like what is on your boards, they will usually follow you back.
The key is to find your target audience and then follow them. But how do I find my target audience? Great question! Anytime you find a pin on Pinterest that you like and re-pin to one of your own boards it’s likely that pin has already been liked by and commented on by someone. Go to one of your various boards and click on one of the pins you have saved there. The people that liked or commented are interested in your niche/genre. Therefore, they will most likely like the content you are sharing.
Now all you need to do is follow them. Since they are active users, once you follow them and they see that the content you have is good, they will follow back. Each and every follow is another potential customer.
Be aware of follower limits
When you first start following people and do not have any followers, there is going to be a limit between how many people you can follow before Pinterest prevents you from following anyone for a while. If you hit this ceiling, simply wait 15 minutes to an hour and you should be able to start following again.
It will take some time, but eventually enough people will begin following you back that your following limit will be greatly increased. Every few days unfollow anyone that did not follow you back. This gives more room to follow people who are interested in your content.
Getting started with Pinterest is relatively easy. Getting traction will take time and effort. However, it will pay off dividends as your audience grows and book sales increase. Once your basic account is set up, commit to spending as little as 15-20 minutes 3 times per week on adding pins and growing your following.
Do you have a great Pinterest tip I haven’t covered above? Share it in the comments below.