Monday, September 14, 2015

How do you Pinterest?

When I first learned of Pinterest’s existence many years ago, I thought I had stumbled into the most amazing on-line world ever created. I love just about anything crafty, and I was shocked that I hadn’t discovered it sooner. Despite this, I never really embraced Pinterest. Most of you probably don’t know me well enough to understand how truly shocking this was.

I loved Pinterest, but for me it seemed like a never ending rabbit hole of inefficiency. I only created about three boards, and I only had a handful of pins in each board. Feeling disappointed in myself for not becoming an instant Pinterest success, I just stayed off it most of the time. I logged in when looking for something specific, but that’s about it.

Over the last few months, I’ve seen a few blog articles about how authors should be using Pinterest to promote their books. It made sense—it’s an easy site to use and not having a presence eliminates one of the paths for an author to connect with readers. I decided to do a bit of research (because deep down I’m still a data-geek) and see what authors were on Pinterest. Since I didn’t want to fall too deep down the rabbit hole, I decided to take a systematic approach. I opened Goodreads and pulled up the list of books I’ve read. Using that list, I searched for some of the authors on Pinterest. I looked up about 70 authors. Only about 27% were on Pinterest.

The fact that not many authors are using Pinterest to promote could be either a good thing or bad thing. The low percentage could be because it’s not an effective marketing tool, and in that case I shouldn’t waste my time. Or it could mean that it’s an underutilized tool and getting in before it becomes over used could play to my advantage. Since I already had an account, I decided to give it a shot. Over the summer I tackled the task of revamping my Pinterest account, and I’ve outlined my steps here in case you are looking to do the same.

Establish Your Account
OK, so this seems ridiculous to point out, but I’m a fan of complete checklists (so that means including the obvious). If you already have an account set up, then you need to ensure it’s set up to support your business.
  • Are you using your name or a nickname?
  • Is your website information listed?
  • Does the ‘about you’ section talk about your books/writing?

As in many things, research is an important step that’s often overlooked. Set aside some time to go out and look at the Pinterest accounts of other authors. You definitely want to look at authors in your genre, but don’t forget to look at a few outside of it also. You can gain some great ideas for boards.

Determine Strategy
Once your account is set-up, you’ll need to determine what you want the public to see. Here’s where you need to consider the branding you’ve been trying to establish and be consistent. You also want to consider if you want to have boards on your books/writing only, or also include boards that give readers a glimpse into your personal life. Colleen Oaks is a good example of an author who has boards on both her writing and personal life. 

Set Up Your Boards
With a solid strategy in place, it’s time to start creating your boards. I decided to remove my old boards, but you don’t have to. That’s part of your strategy planning. You can create a board for anything. For example, one of the unique boards I’ve come across that I love is by James Patterson. He has a board titled, “My Characters’ Favorite Ice Cream Flavors” What a fun idea! I might have to steal, er borrow, this board idea. Here’s a snapshot of my boards to give you an idea of things you can include. This is just a start for me, and I’ll likely add more as I become more comfortable with the possibilities.

Here are a few things I learned as I worked through the process:
  • I started all my boards as ‘secret’. This meant I had time to make sure everything was the way I wanted it before anyone could see the boards. It kind of took the pressure off!
  • Make sure you have solid names for each of your boards. Each board should have a theme, and the title should make it clear what that is. Rachel Hollis is a great example for how boards can be organized. I admit I kinda fell in love with her organization while I was poking around her site!
  • Make sure you have a good description for each board. You also need to select the appropriate category for what kind of pins will be in that board.
  • If you are a new author, you may want to consider having at least one ‘general’ board. Good examples of this are motivational quotes, recipes, recommended reading, etc. These usually contain pins that others like to repin. The more people repin from your boards, the higher chance people will start to follow your boards—and hopefully that will translate into future readers. The goal for a general board is visibility.
  • Once you’ve decided on all your boards, you can go into ‘edit’ mode and move them around to put them in the order you want them.

Start Pinning
Now that you have boards, you need pins. You can repin from within Pinterest, pin from other sites on the Internet, or you can upload images from your computer/device. A few things to note:
  • If you don’t like the image from a pin through a web link, you can create your own and manually upload. Just don’t forget to add in the web link in the details! I did this for my book review links. When I pinned directly from the review site, the image was usually my book cover. That’s great, but suddenly I had a bunch of pins that looked exactly the same. I created a new image with the cover and reviewing blog’s logo for each and then used that.
  • Make sure you go into the ‘edit’ feature and add a description for each pin. Be thoughtful here—you don’t want it to be too long, yet detailed enough to make people want to click on it. The picture above shows an example of this as well where I quoted part of the review for the pin description.
  • Each new pin you add is placed before the previous pin. Unlike the boards, you cannot reposition your pins within the boards. In some cases this won’t matter, but in some cases it might (such as if you’re pinning blog posts and you want them to appear in chronological order). If order is important, pin the oldest things first.
  • Include some pins with information that your readers won’t be able to find on any of your other sites. For example, in some of my boards I’ve included links to the real life locations that inspired certain parts of the book. Give them a reason to visit your Pinterest site.

Congratulations, you now have a Pinterest account specific to your books/writing! Now it’s time to let people know about it. Besides sharing the news on your social media site and newsletters, dont forget to include a link to your Pinterest account from your website. Oh, and don’t forget to make your boards public if you took my approach and started all your boards as ‘secret’.

As with any online presence, it’s important that you have a plan to remain active in Pinterest. Set aside some time to add new pins to your boards. Have a look at what pins are getting repined the most. And most importantly, have fun!

Are you on Pinterest? Have you seen a clever idea for a board from another author? If you’re not on Pinterest (either as an author or as a reader), why?

Feel free check out (and follow) my boards, and if you’re on Pinterest let me know how I can find you!

*Note: If you are not using Pinterest and want to but don’t have the time/knowledge to put into creating it, check out the options offered by independent services such as Inkstone Strategies.



Brenda St John Brown said...

This is super useful! I have a Pinterest account so I can use it as a consumer (b/c that's one of the things about it I don't love...that you can't actually look at something on Pinterest unless you're registered on the site), but I've not done anything as a writer to establish a presence. However, when/if I'm ready, this is a great step-by-step how-to guide!

Jonathan Schramm said...

I'm a dude, they don't let me on pinterest;) But I might just check it out thanks to your post! Maybe I can come up with a female pen name, like JK Rowling did with Robert Galbraith? I just checked and apparently 85% of pinterest users are women...

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I should do this. I'm so inefficient at Pinterest. I have two boards -- one personal and one author and I only pin to my personal one. I know I'm not taking advantage of the marketing potential.

Mary Fan said...

Cool post! I mess with Pinterest sometimes, but I've gotten pretty lazy about it lol.

Carrie Beckort said...

Thanks, Brenda! I know what you mean about the 'exclusivity'. When I first joined I wasn't sure about that, but I've kind of forgotten about it since then. Most things these days require some sort of registration it seems! If you make the transition, let me know - I'd love to follow your boards!

Carrie Beckort said...

Well, it may be 85% women, but that leaves 15% as dudes! Take it from a female engineer - sometimes it can work to your advantage to be in the minority. You stand out more! And I assume that more than just dudes will be reading your books... Remember, it's all about reaching your target readers! AND since you are going to be writing MG, many times it's the mom who's doing the shopping... Bottom line, get your butt on there! :-)

Carrie Beckort said...

Yes - do! And then let me know so I can follow your boards. Once you get started, it really isn't difficult and it's kind of fun :-)

Carrie Beckort said...

Yay! I just followed your boards. You've got a great platform set up. I like your 'Books Worth Taking a Chance On" board. I've been thinking about adding a similar board but wasn't sure what to call it. I might just 'borrow' that from you :-)

Leandra Wallace said...

Pinterest actually makes me anxious, lol! I see all the cool DIY stuff everyone's doing, and all the recipes, and I just want to do it all, and have my hair look like that, and my house, and every meal look delicious like that- and then I log off and run away. =) I have boards for my books, but they're secret right now. Maybe one day I'll unsecret them, if I'm every published. Kami Garcia, a YA author, certainly seems to utilize Pinterest, you should check her out!

Carrie Beckort said...

I know the feeling! I think you explained it very well :-) I'll have to check out Kami's Pinterest page - thanks for the reference!

Marie Christine said...

The biggest problem I used to face in maintaining my Pinterest account was my irregularity in posts. I started searching for an automation tool, and then I discovered PinPinterest is the right tool for those who are unable to give time to their Pinterest account. All it needs is a five-minute setup, and you are free to go, PinPinterest will take care of the rest.

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