Essential Pinterest Tips for Travel Bloggers
A LOT of bloggers ask me for Pinterest Tips. The question I get most is why they even should use Pinterest in the first place. They see it’s visually appealing, but they wonder how they get any practical use out of it.
I’ve been having fun with this social media platform for a while now, so I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned so far. I hope you find these Pinterest tips useful!
Warning: Pinterest is a heavily addictive social media platform that can inspire & teach you, it can organize your business -with additional risk on increased website traffic and conversion. Just so that you know what you get yourself into!
Pinterest Tips: What Is It & Why Use It?
In short, Pinterest is a visual discovery platform that organizes images by topics on pin boards that you can create yourself -and share with others.
You can compare it with those cork memo-boards you’ve probably had (or still have) at home, to pin on inspirational images from magazines, quotes, recipes and other things you want to remember or look at. (Shiver down my spine, I loooove ripping out pages of magazines. It’s not you, it’s me.)
Popular Topics On Pinterest
Pinterest is very popular for images with the following topics: Photography, Recipes, Home Decor, DIY & Crafts, Planning, Fashion & Design, Health & Beauty, Cars… and of course Travel.
And NO, it is not only for woman (but we all know who eventually packs to suitcases, don’t we).
Inspiration and Planning are two of the most important reasons why people visit Pinterest and that’s why Pinterest can be a perfect match for travel bloggers, or anyone else publishing content about travel.
Pinterest and the 5 Stages of Travel Planning
If you’re looking to use Pinterest specifically for the travel industry, then the 5 stages of travel planning can take the following form on Pinterest
- Dream Stage (be visual and inspirational – bucket lists do well as well all know)
- Planning Stage (offer your readers practical tips on what to see, do, where to eat and where to stay)
- Booking Stage (point readers to landing pages where they can book, don’t forget using affiliate links on those pages)
- Experience Stage (give travellers access to your boards and let them share experiences on-the-go)
- Sharing Stage (start a permanent photo and article collection for future travellers)
Visit my boards on: pinterest.com/thetraveltester
Setting Up A Pinterest Account
Ooooohw, this is so easy.
Your Pinterest account exists of single pins (image or video), arranged on boards with a specific topic. Here are some of my top tips when setting up your account:
- Make sure you select the business account, not the personal. This will let you verify your website and that way you can use analytics as well.
- When adding pins to a board, you can do this either from your pc (don’t forget to add a URL to your website), from another website (by using a browser extension) or from Pinterest directly (a so called ‘repin’).
- You can follow an account in its totality or you can follow a single board. A user will only see their followers count go up when you follow all boards. You can also follow all boards and then later un-follow the boards you don’t want in your stream after all, so you get updates on any new boards of that user.
- Be careful deleting boards, because some of your followers might only follow that specific board and nothing else, you will then lose those followers!
10 Ways to get more website traffic using Pinterest
Are you sitting comfortably? Let’s get into the good stuff.
- ABSOLUTE NUMBER ONE: Use high quality images on your blog. Preferably vertical. Only pin photos that make you feel excited, that you would want to share yourself as well. I see so many average photos (to dark, to small in size, not sharp, to boring topic) on Pinterest, but they just WON’T get re-pinned, sorry! And no, you don’t have to go through your last 700 posts to optimize every image. Maybe start with a single image on a popular blog and take it from there.
- ABSOLUTE NUMBER TWO: Don’t limit yourself by only re-pinning images! Around 80% of the images on Pinterest are shared, so be the 20% with unique content. Tip: You can create multiple images for one blog post and just upload them from your PC (or Mac, don’t want to get too political here) onto different boards (one with text, one without, with different text, in different language (although English seems to be leading language)…). Don’t do this all at the same time though, spread it out or you’ll drive your followers mad.
- ABSOLUTE NUMBER THREE: I already mentioned this, but I think it’s important enough to say it again: Put text on your images to create a tease and make people click through to your site. Text is a clear Call To Action for your readers to click. A lot of people on Pinterest are planning something, so they love photo’s they can favourite/re-pin ‘to read later’. Don’t forget your website/name on the image, to maximize your branding and get more exposure. If you can make your image stand out by rounded corners, almost a ‘button’ like feel to it, it might be less aesthetic, but will get clicked more.
- For your boards, use narrow topics and go deep. Don’t create a ‘Spain’ board, but maybe a ‘Designer hotels in Spain’ board. If you become an authority on a specific subject, people will find you.
- Adding onto point 4: think outside your niche. This is vital for Pinterest. Where Facebook is great for profiling your brand, Google+ for showcasing your awesome content and Twitter for Networking, Pinterest is really all about expanding your brand and finding connections out of your Niche. Think about what your readership might also like to see on your boards, what is their lifestyle? You can show your personality a bit more and it’s really easy to connect with your readers and letting them participate. Have fun with it! A ‘Mustaches found in Rome’ board might not be your niche (if it is, I will follow you), but if you blog about Italy and often share beauty tips, it can be a fun broadening of your brand.
- Make it easy to share content from your blog. Encourage readers to share and provide a sharing button under the image, when they hover over it or on the top or bottom of the post. Later, I’ll share some of the best tools for that with you. Ex-cell-lent.
- Make use of the power of your community. Invite guest pinners for example! Click on ‘edit board’ and start typing a name of someone you want to invite to pin to that board. They will get an invite on their page and if they accept, your board will show on their account too (=more exposure). You can also pin for other boards (Direct message the pinner and just ask them if you can pin for them, for example through twitter/email. The boards you pin for, will show up in the overview of all your boards too, so you don’t want to accept all invites you get if they don’t fit your brand). Use the search function to find new pinners / readers and built your network also on Pinterest.
- See Pinterest as a visual search engine and be thoughtful about SEO and use popular search terms / keywords. Use those in your bio, board titles and board and pin descriptions. Apply also for rich pins!
- Promote individual boards (on other Social Media sites or in a blog post) instead of your entire Pinterest account, as people prefer to follow specific subjects they are interested in.
- Outsource, if you can. Let someone go through all images on your blog to pin them in intervals on different boards of your Pinterest account. Also update images on old blog posts to make them pin-ready, like I mentioned earlier. You don’t need to be on Pinterest all the time, but to keep up I would suggest at least 5-10 minutes every day (…and then you get all excited and inspired and dream away for 3 hours, so the rest of your work day is ruined, so be careful with it!)
Our Mappin Monday Travel Community on Pinterest
Pinterest Tips on SEO & Branding
For the best SEO results, you have to optimize your profile and make it align with your brand as well. Here are some tips for that, because I know an optimized Pinterest account when I see it:
- Choose a username that matches your other brand profiles on Social Media, preferably the same.
- Use a personal photo (not a company logo when you’re a blogger, to make a more personal connection to your readers) that also aligns with other photos you’ve been using online.
- Verify your website (very important): go to ‘settings’ and check to ensure you’ve listed your website, then click the verify website button. Follow the steps (you will have to add a file to the root of your website, so if you don’t have access with an FTP client ask your web designer to do this), but it’s quite easy to do!
- Go to settings and make sure that you’ve set the ‘search privacy’ to ‘no’, as your page will otherwise not show on Google (say whhaaaat?!)
- Use keywords in the profile (bio)
- Use keywords in the board names and description of the board
- Use keywords in the description of the pins (apparently descriptions of 200-300 words work best, but I like to keep them short most of the time, about the same size as a tweet)
- Add your website URL to the pin descriptions as well, just more reasons for people to *click*click*click*
- Make sure that any pins you upload have a keyword-sensitive file name (not ‘DCM1245.jpg’, but ‘market-in-bangkok.jpg’, but you already did this on your site as well, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU?!)
- Use ALT-tags (Yes Mom!!) on your website correctly, as these will be the pin descriptions by default.
- Place your best boards in the top row (think of it as a supermarket with the most important products on eye-level), you can even re-arrange this according to current/timely events (put your ‘Christmas markets in Germany’ board up high a couple months before, when people start planning their trips)
- Hashtags don’t really work on Pinterest. Focus on a good pin description instead!
- Put your boards in the right category for better search results.
- Make sure your photos link to your individual blogs (not home page), even though links are not do-follow anymore (booh!), they still give you traffic to that one post.
- Verify your Twitter and Facebook account so you can share content between them.
- Link to and from your other Social Media platforms as well. You can pin images from Instagram, pin videos from YouTube (it gives the still frame a nice play button on it, so people know it’s a video straight away), and you can tweet or post images directly via Pinterest. I wouldn’t set Pinterest to automatically post all your pins to Facebook or Twitter (people won’t like you after a while), but the occasional cross-share can be valuable!
- And don’t forget to ask people to click on the link, or to share your content as well
And then the most popular question: When is the best time to post on Pinterest?
I can only answer that with: when your readers are online and pinning actively. What I do to track that, is keep an eye out on the little red speech box in the top right corner of your page, and at the ‘xx new pins’ on top of the main Pinterest page. If the number goes op quickly, people are active, so that’s time to jump in!
Essential Pinterest Tools
Please note: affiliate links below
PINTEREST FOR MOBILE
Pinterest for Android App (official Pinterest app – FREE)
Pinterest for iPhone App (official Pinterest app – FREE)
PINTEREST DESIGN TOOLS
Canva (easy online photo editing tool – FREE + paid stock photos & other design elements)
PicMonkey (easy online photo editing tool – FREE + paid ‘Royale’ features)
Infogr.am (easily create infographics – FREE + paid ‘Full Power’ features)
Pixabay (FREE royalty-free stock photos)
Depositphotos (royalty-free stock photos, vector images and videos – subscription)
Shrink the Web (take full-length screenshot of a website – FREE + paid ‘Pro’ features)
Pinstamatic (create website snapshots, quotes and much more – FREE)
PinWords (instantly add text to images – FREE)
PikToChart (infographic creator – FREE + paid features)
PlaceIt (product mockups and videos – FREE + paid features)
PINTEREST SHARING TOOLS
Pin It Button (invite people to Pin things from your website – FREE)
Follow Button (invite people to follow you on Pinterest from your site – FREE)
Pin Widget (embed one of your Pins on your site – FREE)
Profile Widget (show up to 30 of your latest Pins on your site – FREE)
Board Widget (show up to 30 of your favorite board’s latest Pins – FREE)
Flare by Filament (social media sharing bar – $9 / month)
OTHER PINTEREST TOOLS
Business Account (get access to analytics- FREE)
Rich Pins (add extra details to your Pins to make them more useful – FREE)
Pinterest Browser Button for Chrome (click to Pin content directly from websites – FREE)
Create Pinterest RSS Feed or – FREE)
WiseStamp Pinterest Email App (show your latest Pins and link to your profile in your emails – FREE)
WiseStamp Pinterest Follow Email App (Pinterest follow button in your email signature – FREE)
Google URL Builder (generate custom campaign parameters for your Pins – FREE)
PINTEREST WORDPRESS PLUGINS
jQuery Pin It Button For Images WordPress plugin (highlights images on hover and adds a Pin It button over them – FREE)
Pinterest Pretty Pins WordPress plugin (show off images, captions, and links from your latest Pinterest activity – FREE)
Frizzly WordPress plugin (allows you to add share buttons where you need them: over images, in post content or widget areas – FREE)
PINTEREST SCHEDULING TOOLS
Ahalogy (free – currently wait-listed)
BoardBooster (from $5 / month)
Robovy (from $5 / month)
MassPlanner (from $9.95 / month)
Tailwind (from $9.99 / month)
Buffer (from $10 / month)
ViralTag (from $12 / month)
Curalate (from ? / month)
Piqora (from ? / month)
ViralWoot (from ? / month)
Like any social media platform, there are a couple unwritten rules that will give you a bit more digital karma, so here you go:
- Do not only promote yourself. Although Pinterest is a bit of your portfolio and adding fresh content is the way to go, be social and share great images/articles from others too (if they allow it, directly from their site, but of course with credits!).
- Pin directly from other websites (with the toolbar pin-it button), not only re-pin! Be the 20% that adds something to the discussion instead of repeating it. Also great for bookmarking posts you really liked in an organised way.
- Don’t forget to also ‘like’ & comment and to keep the conversation going. Secret: I personally use the like function on Pinterest to save pins for re-pinning later, as I’m too lazy to put them into a secret board first, but hey, we’re not all saints here :)
- Don’t pin everything at once, but spread it out a bit more (5-10 per time). Pinterest can actually pin-block you if you pin too much and Pinterest-jail is not a good place to be.
- Stick to one clear topic per board. If you make your boards to broad, people won’t know what to do with it and they’ll go somewhere else.
Successful Pinterest Campaigns
There are some people that have gone creative with Pinterest, but I think there is still a big void (and a huge opportunity) for creating Pinterest campaigns. Here are some that have been done already (that I know of, if you have more examples, let me know, so I can add them!)
Bridgette from Earmark Social and Beth from Beers and Beans have created this live chat on Pinterest to talk all things travel. More on FB en TW. It’s very fun to participate and I’ve also been a co-host once and that’s been a great traffic boost at the same time. Check it out!
300 bloggers from the UK were gathered to share their Pinterest boards and stories about what inspires them and how Pinterest is a part of their personal passions.
Pinterest is a great platform for contests, and many have been done. I don’t have experience organising one, but from what I’ve seen, I would try and remember that Pinterest is all about people discovering things that inspire them. Don’t just use the contest to get extra ‘followers’, but also to sort of ‘reward’ loyal followers/customers with a giveaway and to let them engage with your brand.
Reward quality pinning over quantity, make it easy to get involved with clear and simple instructions and whenever you mention the name ‘Pinterest’, read their anti-spam and copyright guidelines to keep your contest in line with their brand too.
Pin-Up Live Campaign, live chat/contest/travel inspiration all-in-one!
Original Board Ideas
If you’re not up for setting up an entire campaign, you can still initiate great things by just a single board. They key is to be creative and think about what your readers are interested in exploring. Here are some brand that I feel have done a great job:
- Southwest Airlines > Vintage Archive Photos
- Visit Savannah > Sint Patrick’s Day in Savannah & Street Style in Savannah
- EQUIPnTRIP > Tiny RVs & campers
- Michael Hodson > Amazing Time Lapse Videos
- Mario Cacciottolo > Someone Once Told Me
- Generator Hostels > Girls Friendly Hostels
- Jodi Ettenberg > trees that look like broccoli
- Her Packing List > 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag
- Budget Traveller > Luxury Hostels of Europe
- Skimbaco Lifestyle > Texas – It’s like a whole other country
And one not travel related, but totally, utterly brilliant (just showing how much fun you can have with this platform!)
- Tiffany Beveridge > My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter
Wow, ok, that post got a lot longer than I initially thought it would be. But I hope it can help you set up some amazing boards and get something positive out of it. I can suggest starting with about 10-15 boards and really get them filled up with quality content before moving to more boards and losing track that way.
And, just as with any website, your focus as a business should be on creating remarkable content and a strong community around your product, services, and brand. If you put your strategy towards that, you should have a great time on Pinterest.
If you have any other questions about using Pinterest for a travel related website, please leave a comment. If you have any additional tips, I love to hear them as well! Let’s help each other!