How to Build a Pinterest Following

I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for months now. I have been using Pinterest both as a casual user and a business entity for a few years, and while overall I feel like I know what I’m doing, I never felt like I had the stats to back myself up. Sure, I could consistently get a few thousand monthly views, but what did that even mean, really? Other people got thousands or even millions of views per month! Why would anyone listen to little old me?

Am I… actually good at Pinterest?

Last week, I started getting a bunch of hits on my blog. Like, a lot more than usual. Lo and behold, I checked my Pinterest analytics, and there it was: a massive  number of hits on a blog post I’d pinned ages ago! It been repinned by a big account, and it was pretty awesome to see the direct connection between that pin’s success and the volley of hits on my blog.

After that, I took a second to look at the traffic on our eBay store’s Pinterest. I was shocked. Somehow, we’d gone from around 60k monthly viewers to 125k monthly viewers–even though I hadn’t touched the account in months. It had quite literally been building an audience on its own. You know, the thing that everyone wants their Pinterest to do? I’d actually done it.

So how did I do it?

This method does require that you do some work. (I know, I know, we all wish there was a magic wand instead.)

The first bit of work? Figuring out if Pinterest is actually the platform you want to focus on. This might seem like a weird thing to say since you’re obviously trying to build up your Pinterest traffic, but bear with me.

Pinterest is, above all things, an image board. If you feed your Pinterest with lots of cool images and graphics that your target audience finds compelling, your Pinterest will grow. But if you feed it things the Pinterest algorithm isn’t interested in, like text or unattractive graphics, your account will struggle to reach anyone.

So before you start diving in to the Pinterest grind, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you already use Pinterest and have some understanding of it?
  • Is it a good fit for your content?
  • Is your audience using Pinterest?

If you’re answering “no” to any of these questions (especially those last two!) then I would suggest looking into other avenues of promotion, like Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, or any number of other sites.

But if it seems like Pinterest is the perfect fit for you and your content, read on below!

Step 1: Visualize your ideal audience.

This is super important! It can be easy to take a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach to Pinterest (or any social media, for that matter). But that’s ineffective and will only waste your time and make it harder to find and retain your audience.

Using Pinterest for promotion works best when you think of exactly who you’re going to talk to. Think of your ideal customer or reader. What do they like? What are they looking for on Pinterest? How is your content or product going to make their life better?

It can help to actually envision an actual person or character and name them. That’s what I did for our Magic & Snacks Pinterest. We wanted to target young women somewhere between 16 and 25 who like anime, kawaii aesthetics, fashion, food and cooking, and Japanese culture because we knew those people would be most likely to buy our products.

Your ideal customer will likely be different than ours. Maybe you’re trying to target young moms, or people who like bowling, or mountain bikers. Step into their shoes and think about what they want to see on Pinterest.

Step 2: Research what your audience likes.

This is closely tied to pinning down your ideal audience. In some cases, your ideal audience might be very similar to you, which makes things easy. Most of the work I do, be it on the eBay store or on the personal Pinterest I use to promote this blog, is targeted at people similar to me. I know what keywords people like me are searching on Pinterest and what kinds of content they hope to find. Even still, though, I’m constantly doing more research and learning about new things my audience is interested in that I didn’t know about. It’s super important to always keep evolving!

If you’re targeting an audience that you’re not as familiar with, then start poking around on Pinterest for things related to your content. If you sell camping gear, look up “camping,” “hiking,” and “nature” and see what comes up and what looks relevant to your audience. Look at what the big Pinterest accounts in your niche are doing well. It can seem complicated at first, but as you get to know your audience and pay attention to what generates traffic for you, it’ll get easier and easier.

Step 3: Curate!

This is the fun part. You can start creating Pinterest boards that are relevant to your niche. (Going back to the camping example, you probably want boards like “Camping Hacks,” “Camping Gear,” and “Campgrounds.”) Give your boards names that make it really obvious what’s in them. Clever Pinterest board names are fun, but they don’t earn you any points with Pinterest’s algorithm.

Naming Boards

If I’m making a board about Japanese fashion, I’m going to call it “Japanese Fashion” so the algorithm understands exactly what is in that board and its contents come up in search results. Calling a board for recipes “Yummy!!” seems cute until you realize the algorithm doesn’t know what to do with it. If you’re making a board about knitting, call it “Knitting.” You can even have really specific boards, like “Plus-Sized Japanese Fashion” or “Easy Knitting Patterns.” At the end of the day, the most important thing is that your boards’ names are simple and similar to what your audience is searching for.

Pinning Content

This will require you searching Pinterest and the rest of the web for relevant content, as well as creating pins for your own content and products. A mix of repins and original content will work just fine, so don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of original content just yet.

“But how do I even make my own pins??”

If you are graphically challenged (a lot of us are), I highly recommend using Canva. I also recommended this site in my self-publishing post, because it genuinely is one of the best sites I’ve ever run into for creating simple graphics. Canva offers boatloads of templates that you can modify as much or as little as you like. It’s easy to use, and you can even make graphics using the Canva app on your phone. They even have templates specifically for Pinterest, just in case it wasn’t easy enough. They do offer some content you have to pay for, but most of their templates and other graphics are free.

You’ll also likely need to provide photos to include in your graphics. For this blog, I tend to use images from Unsplash, which are totally free to use in any context. You can also pay for stock photos from any number of sites, or use your own photos.

Step 4: Pin Consistently

This can be the hardest part, especially for those of us who don’t necessarily use Pinterest every day. Pinterest doesn’t have a built-in scheduling tool, so if you’re not pinning daily, it can mean your content isn’t showing up on people’s feeds.

But even a little activity can go a long way. I usually pin a few things on my commute to and from work. If I could, I would pin more throughout the day, but since I have a day job, that’s not always possible. You don’t have to pin a bunch. Aiming for even 3-5 pins per day can make a huge difference in terms of eyeballs on your content, even if it’s just repins. All pins have the ability to drive traffic to your Pinterest account, garnering you Pinterest followers and clicks on your blog, store, or whatever you’re promoting.

Have more questions about how to use Pinterest? Found a strategy that worked for you? Let’s talk in the comments below!

 

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June 2019 Update

It’s six months into the year and I’m having a very “well, this has been a 2019” sort of feeling. Which is wild considering that I’ve actually accomplished a fair amount this year. (But of course never as much as an over-achiever like me would like.)

This year I’ve:

  • Started a new job with great pay where I’m learning all kinds of stuff about content management and content strategy
  • Written another 1/4 of the webcomic project that should come out later this year (it’s! so! pretty!)
  • Joined the Oakland teachers when they went on strike
  • Almost joined the ISO as a full-fledged member just before their complete implosion
  • Joined a local crocheting/fiber-crafting group and started to learn how to crochet
  • Read some books
  • Actually filled up an entire composition book journal and started on #2 for the year

It’s not the most exciting list, but considering the fact that most of the time I could swear to you that I have never accomplished anything in my life, much less in the past six months, I’ll call it impressive.

Right now, I’m reading A Wizard of Earthsea and agog at how lazy of a reader I’ve become. I’m enjoying it very much, but it’s not exactly an easy read. It takes brain power and more commitment than I’ve been able to muster for a book in a while. But I’ve been soldiering on, reading through a few pages during my commute and at lunch, and I think it’s doing me some good. Stretching my brain-legs a bit.

I’ve also been exploring vegetarian foods a bit more this year, both for health reasons and to try to handle some of my climate change anxiety. I definitely haven’t given up meat, but it’s been fun to revisit some of the vegetarian staples I grew up with (Mom, I’m sorry for hating on your veggie burgers all these years) and also try out other recipes that are completely new to me. A new household stable is pitas filled with spiced roasted sweet potatoes and other veggies along with this really tasty harissa mayo sauce. It’s simple and delicious and satisfying, which is all a girl can really ask for.

With a new job and a longer commute, I’ve also tried to figure out new ways to make my own life easier. I can’t say that any of them have really stuck, but I am still really enamored with things like cleaning schedules and bullet journaling.

I can’t say my bullet journal gets used every day, but I do look at it most days. It’s been a good tool for organizing to-dos and some other things, like writing down books I’m interested in reading or reminding myself what TV shows I’ve started and haven’t finished. For those of you who struggle with focus or get that “I just can’t hold everything I need to remember/do/check in about in my head!!” feeling, I highly recommend it. I’ve used a lot of different methods for remembering tasks and other things, but pen and paper tends to be more accessible and easier to remember for me. If you’re interested in learning how to set up a bullet journal, check out this post by Kendra over at The Lazy Genius. I followed a lot of her advice, minus buying a fancy journal and getting new pens. (I just use ballpoint pens and composition books.)

Also, in a similar productivity/brain management vein, I started using the budgeting tool YNAB (You Need A Budget) and I’m kind of in love? I’m going to write a longer review at some point, but if you’ve been frustrated with other budgeting tools, use the trial. As someone who gets pretty overwhelmed by numbers but who also low-key finds budgeting kind of delightful, it’s my favorite budgeting tool I’ve ever used.

All of this is to say: I’m living the life of An Adult and it’s complicated and deeply exhausting, but I’m still out here getting things done, even if I doesn’t always feel like it.

 

It has been a very long time since I’ve been able to look at the day ahead and know that it is entirely empty. I can’t really remember the last time I was able to wake up whenever I wanted and know that I didn’t have anything pressing to take care of. Each day is my own to do with as I please… for better or worse.

I’m doing my best to enjoy this time and relax a bit. I’ve been playing a lot of Frostpunk (which is genuinely one of the most entertaining, brutal strategy games I’ve ever played) and digging back in to my Baldur’s Gate playthrough. I went out with a friend this past weekend and enjoyed the sunshine. Once I’ve gotten my fill of gaming, I’m going to start going after my TBR pile and fall into all the stories I’ve been missing for so long. I might even do some of my reading (gasp!) outside! I’m also hoping for some time to reconnect with my partner and give back all the attention and affection he’s given me all these years.

I have a whole host of things I want to take care of. A house deep-cleaning needs to happen soon, along with some decluttering. Blog posts need to be planned and written and graphics need to be made. There are stories I’ve been meaning to write that I have had to bury for years that can finally see daylight now. But the break from the pressure to be as productive as possible is incredibly pleasant.

There is a small part of me that is going absolutely insane without extrinsic motivators. Who am I without a seminar to prepare for or a work project to complete? What is my value if I am not actively contributing to society in some way? My answers to these range from the positive and positively anticapitalist (“I am not my productivity.”) to the terribly dreary (“I am nothing.”).  But rather than allowing myself to turn into a puddle of anxiety and existential dread, I’m forging ahead and reminding myself that I am whoever I choose to be. If I want to cozy up to my desk and play games all day with the aim of relaxing as much as possible, I can. If I make it my goal to whirlwind through the house and dust and scrub and spritz until everything is as clean as I want it, then I have achieved everything I set out to.

I am not entirely sure that I am suited to being unmoored like this. But I figure it’s a new challenge and will give me a new opportunity to grow. Let’s hope I can rise to the occasion.

What’s a Spice Witch?

As a kid, I was really obsessed with scents. I have a pretty strong nose and scent is really powerful for me. I picked up books from the library about making your own perfume and even dabbled in making some of my own from empty perfume bottles I’d find at the thrift store or these cute apothecary-style bottles I found at Michaels, some rubbing alcohol, and a variety of essential oils. I’d make my scents to suit the individual I was making it for.

My interest in making these homemade perfumes (which tended to dissipate much too quickly in the rubbing alcohol solution) dwindled over time. But I was still really attached to scent and the thought of being able to make beautiful perfumes. I just wasn’t entirely sure how to go about making those scents stick. I started focusing less on making gifts for others and more on creating a scent profile for myself. Jasmine was my favorite for a long time. All of my products would have that scent. I would wash my hair with jasmine-scented shampoo and conditioner, use jasmine-scented body washes and lotions, and put a few drops of jasmine essential oil on my pulse points and in my hair each morning.

Eventually, I realized that this regimen was a bit overwhelming and all the chemically-scented products were not exactly great for my eczema-prone skin. I relaxed a little and settled for reading Jitterbug Perfume rather than making my own for a while.

Then came college and being simultaneously broke as hell and also sensitive to every product known to man. I couldn’t find a deodorant that didn’t make me itch and burn like crazy and that also didn’t make it seem like I was neglecting my personal hygiene. I tried tons of different products and none of them worked. So, I returned to my crafty, kitchen-focused DIY roots and started digging through different recipes for homemade deodorant. I ended up using this one. It was great. I felt like I’d finally figured out a solution.

Then, a light bulb went off. I had all of this stuff to make this deodorant. Wouldn’t it make sense for me to make extra and try and sell it? After all, I was a broke college kid and every bit of extra cash would make a difference. I could sell deodorant, and maybe even solid perfume! I could get back to my perfume-obsessed roots! I could finally take the time to learn how to make bath bombs and candles and all kinds of fun, naturally-scented things!

It didn’t take long for me to start setting up an Etsy store. But I needed a name.

I needed a name that would describe me and my product. I needed something that was cute, simple, earthy, and memorable. I don’t remember what the first thing I thought of was, but it obviously didn’t check off the “memorable” category. After a few months selling my product, I felt like I needed a new name. My boyfriend and I were discussing the idea of there being different types of witches. I said I thought if I were to be a witch at all, I would be a kitchen witch, focused on bringing in good things into my home and life through food and cooking, working charms into soups and bread dough for good luck, happiness, health and the like. There would also be lots of gardening involved. He said that while that fit okay, there was something missing. After a few moments of thinking about it, he said, “You’re a spice witch.”

“A spice witch?” I was very skeptical.

He explained that a spice witch was someone who worked their magic by combining different scents into specific objects, like bath bombs and perfumes. Spice witches use scents to shape the world around them.

I loved this idea, and ended up changing my shop name to Spice Witch. I felt like it was fitting, and like the Spice Witch moniker could also encompass many of the parts of my identity that I would have categorized as falling under the “kitchen witch” umbrella.

My Etsy shop is closed indefinitely at this point and has been for a while, but I still consider myself a spice witch, and I feel like I probably always will.

How to Edit Your Own Writing Like a Pro, Part 2: Know Thyself

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Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

For part one of this series, “The Basics,” click here.

We all have quirks in the way we write. For some of us (*cough* me), those quirks include long sentences, overuse of commas, and overuse of em dashes. One of my best friends always used to mistype “minute” as “minuet,” not because she didn’t know how to spell the word, but because her fingers tended to jumble up the E and the T. Other people tend to mistype certain phrases – “all of a sudden” becomes “all the sudden,” for example.

Quirks like these are perfectly normal, and sometimes they can even be endearing. Unfortunately, a lot of people’s written quirks are pretty grating and can affect their audience’s experience negatively. Luckily, with some extra attention to detail, most of your more annoying quirks/repeated misspellings/regularly broken grammar rules will disappear.

So, how do you fix things?

The first step to fixing these issues is really analyzing both your own writing and other people’s writing. If you’re a novelist, read some high-quality novels and really take time to look at how they word things. If you’re a blogger, read some blogs written by professionals that have a really strong grasp of English and see how they put things together. Once you’ve done that, go back and look at your own writing. Older pieces will be better for this, as you’ve had some time away from them and they’ll feel a bit more like they were written by someone else. This will help you see your writing with new eyes.

Once you’re looking at your own writing, get really nitpicky about it. Are you using that word correctly? Are your paragraphs and sentences too long? Too short? Are they all one length with little variation? Are you using extra words you don’t need? (“Just” and “suddenly” are often used unnecessarily.)

Identifying these shortcomings can be difficult if you haven’t practiced it or if English isn’t your first language, but it’s a vital part of becoming a better writer and self-editor. Finding out what mistakes you make most often in your writing will help in two important ways. First, it will make your existing writing higher-quality and easier to read. Secondly, it will keep you from making those same mistakes in the future. This will allow you to update old posts and make them easier to read and increase audience engagement in the future by ensuring readers aren’t turned off by easily-avoided errors. With a little editing, everyone’s happier!

How To edit your writing

2017 Wrap-Up and Looking Ahead to 2018

It has now been nine months since I started this blog. My inaugural post was about the beer trap I put together to try and fight off the snails in my community garden plot. Over the course of the next few months, I wrote more about gardening, body positivity, and minimalism. I’m proud of all of the writing I did over the course of 2017. I was more consistent than I expected that I would be and found a way to discuss a broad range of topics. Every time I was running out of ideas, my gajillion lists of possible blogging topics I had squirreled away and my partner helped me figure out something to say. 2017 was a good year for this blog.

I am hoping to improve some things on this blog in 2018. I want to post more regularly and increase the quality of each post. As far as specific ideas I’d like to cover, I would love to make more posts about:

  • cooking!
  • San Francisco hiking, history, and cool places to visit
  • running a small business/flipping
  • financial health posts

I have a lot more ideas, but those four topics are parts of my daily life that I haven’t really tapped into and would like to discuss a bit more.

On a personal, non-blog-related note, I’d like to take a moment to say I’m pretty proud of what I accomplished this year. I finished up my last semester of school, graduated summa cum laude, and was offered a full-time position at a company I really like working for pretty soon after that. I’ve learned a lot of new things at work and am getting better at what I do all the time. I’ve become a better editor and a stronger communicator.

Outside of work, I’ve worked on strengthening my relationship with my partner and also becoming more comfortable being independent. Without school in the picture for the moment, my life looks a lot different and I’m still working on figuring out exactly who I am and what I want to prioritize in my life. 2017 has been the year of having enough space in my life to figure all that out.

I am hoping 2018 will be a year of finding my groove and generating a lot of forward momentum. There’s lots to do and learn and I’m ready for it.