When most professional bloggers sit down to write their posts, they take many key concepts into consideration to sculpt a piece that is both readable and Google-friendly. For instance, they may evaluate past and anticipated keyword performance stats, check out what their competitors are saying on their blogs, see which of their past blog posts seem to have gotten the biggest hits and determine the right call-to-action to add at the end of their post. Usually, the writing comes afterwards and is a method of putting all these considerations together in a strategic way. While this technique of writing a post works, it’s missing one element: the images.
Images have become a huge part of our Internet-based culture, and they can drive sharing in a way that words alone simply cannot. This is especially true when it comes to your blog’s success on Pinterest. After all, Pinterest has been built around pictures. Therefore, if you want your blog to attract Pinterest users, you have to pay careful attention to the images you choose or create to accompany your posts.
If you’re like most bloggers, though, you add an image at the last minute in order to have a splash of color or visual interest. However, research has shown that a more carefully selected image could be worth its weight in gold. Below are some best practices to help guide you as you start to rethink the way you set up your blog posts to make them appealing for Pinterest users.
1. Pick an Image FIRST
This flies in the face of most blog post writers’ methodologies, but it’s a great way to ensure that your words will connect with your image. Look through the Creative Commons images on Flickr, Wikimedia Commons, or any other free image source for images that inspire you. When you find one that seems perfect for the topic of a blog post, let the spirit move you and write away! Your image will have a stronger connection to what you say, and will hopefully glean interest from social media users who are also moved, entertained or intrigued by your photo selection. Be careful to always attribute any images properly; you don’t want to get penalized for theft of an image.
Be sure the image you select will still appeal at a small size. Will your image still look good when it is shrunk down to 238 pixels in width? That’s how small it will be on Pinterest, so make those pixels count!
2. Take Your Own Photos
Even if you aren’t a wiz with a camera, you can take a good shot now and then, especially with today’s amazing smartphones, web cameras and tablets. Make it a point to share these home grown images upon occasion, especially if you can’t find exactly what you want when you look through other image sites. Remember that your photos don’t have to be perfect to be pin-worthy, either. Sometimes, the odder – or funnier – the shot, the more likely it is to be passed around the ‘net.
You can also add your own commentary over top of a free or CC image to make it your own (just be sure to still give credit to the originator!). Use a tool like Pixlr, Canva, Pinstamatic, or Meme Generator to get the job done.
3. Always Add Alt Text to Your Images
If you’ve spent tons of time finding the greatest image possible, you don’t want to lose the opportunity that comes with being able to prepopulate the description that goes with a pin from your site. What you say about it can be anything from your post’s title to a “pull-quote” from your blog post to a witty caption about the image. These descriptions will help encourage people who are reading your blog to repin the image, which in turn will get word out about your post. It’s definitely a win-win.
4. Make It Easy to Pin Your Images
On WordPress, it is super easy to make your images pinnable – just add the Pinterest Pin It Button for Images plugin. If it’s tough for someone to share something, they’re less likely to do it. This plugin makes it simple – when your readers roll their cursor over any image in a post, they’ll be served up a “Pin It” button:
You can also add a blurb at the end of your posts suggesting that they follow you on social media, as well as share the information (and images!) from the post.
5. Grow Your Own Community on Pinterest
Not on Pinterest yet? Get yourself a Pinterest account – pronto! Or, if you already have a personal Pinterest page, you can always upgrade to a business account. This will give you access to Pinterest’s native analytics tool. You will be able to see repins your pins earn, the impressions your pins get, and even the number of people who click through to your website.
Be sure to share generously – not just your own content, but others’ content, too! The more choosy you are about only pinning the best images, the more your account will have the potential to earn followers. These followers will see everything you share to a board or all of your boards (if they choose to follow all of them).
The trick to getting followers on Pinterest is to have a real thematic connection to your boards. Spend some time setting up your Pinterest pages. They shouldn’t just be a slapdash hodge-podge of any image under the sun; there should always be a theme, even if it’s a broad one. If you’re looking for a great example, just look at the type of curation brands like Havahart are doing – they set up lots of boards related to their products and of interest to different segments of their target market, then pinned the heck out of them:
Make sure you don’t spread yourself too thin, though – create clear but broad categories that you can use over and over. Havahart has some boards with hundreds of pins!
6. Choose and Track Images With Specific Color Schemes
Want to get really technical with the images you choose for your blog posts? Start experimenting with different color schemes. For instance, if the background of your blog is blue, you might want to find photos to accompany your posts that have a lot of orange or yellow in them. This will help the image stand out to the onlooker.
Play around with a variety of shades and hues; you may discover that every time you post a photo that’s primarily a certain color, your Pinterest referrals go up.
And hey, maybe you should give blue a try. According to Social Examiner Media Success Summit presenter Jenn Herman, likes on Facebook increase by nearly a quarter if the image’s dominant color is blue. Chances are, if it works for Facebook, it works for Pinterest!
7. Join in on Group Boards
Don’t just create your own boards – jump on board with other pinners by joining a group board. These are crowdsourced boards that allow visitors to add pins to.
I know what you’re thinking – time to pin every one of your blog posts! No. Shame on you. Group moderators can ban you from the board if you are perceived to be a spammer, and it’s a bad practice to do a lot of pinning at once. This is because anyone following the board will see a flood of your updates for a short amount of time, and then your posts will fade into obscurity. Instead, space out your pins and always remember to provide value – don’t just share your own content.
Don’t wait until tomorrow to put these Pinterest suggestions into action! You can start right away by going over your past blog posts and adding great images to ones that are lacking pictures. Have fun with this process, and give yourself permission to be creative. The more imaginative you are, the higher the chance that your blog will hit the Pinterest boards with a bang!
Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and designer who blogs at Design Roast. She is obsessed with blogging and social media, and loves picking apart campaigns and strategies to find what makes them tick. You can get in touch by following @adrienneerin on Twitter.