Pinterest Makeover: 5 Steps to a Kickass Pinterest Profile

I started my blog less than a year ago. Now, I recieve 50k page views monthly. Everyone always asks me what the secret to my success is. Perhaps they expect me to reply with some pithy answer like “follow your dreams and work hard” or “just believe in yourself” but can we get real? Those kinds of answers are useless. Can’t nobody develop a traffic-driving strategy based off of dreams. So let me be totally honest with you. The secret to my blog success is Pinterest. 20k of my monthly traffic comes from Pinterest, as it has for the past 6 months. The rest? That’s all a bonus. I had only been blogging for 6 months when I hit 20k monthly visitors from Pinterest to my blog for the first time. And, as I’ve discovered, traffic from Pinterest lasts – my traffic from Pinterest has been steady for the past 6 months, even though I’ve stepped way back: 6 months ago, I spent an hour on Pinterest a day. Now? I spend an hour on Pinterest a week. In my Pinterest Makeover series, I’ll be sharing all of my tips for driving traffic to your blog from Pinterest. This post will focus on the best Pinterest tips for building an awesome Pinterest profile! Having a kickass Pinterest profile is a crucial foundation for a Pinterest account that drives traffic to your blog.

I receive 20k monthly visitors to my site from Pinterest. Learn how to drive traffic to your blog from Pinterest.
I receive 20k monthly visitors to my site from Pinterest. My Pinterest traffic has been steady for the past 6 months. It’s been the key to my blog’s success.

These Pinterest Makeover tips aren’t just targeted at beginners: a lot of experienced Pinterest users overlook these simple yet important steps! If you’ve been on Pinterest for a while already, challenge yourself to audit your own Pinterest account with a critical eye to identify areas for improvement.

I recommend downloading my free 5-Step Pinterest Profile Makeover checklist to help guide you as you work through each of these steps for fine-tuning and perfecting your Pinterest account. You can also opt-in for a 5 Day Pinterest Profile Makeover Challenge to help you complete it! Psst: or, just hire me to do it for you. Here’s a shameless plus for my Pinterest Makeover Consultation. 

Here’s a rundown of what you’ll find in this post.

 

How is Pinterest different from other social media?

Pinterest is very different from other social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. For one thing, there are no live stories (shocker, I know). For another thing, I can’t figure out how to actually get much meaningful traffic from all of those social media platforms combined – while Pinterest drives 500+ people to my blog each day. But really, the big difference is that Pinterest isn’t a social media platform at all. It’s a visual search engine.

Once you stop thinking of Pinterest as a social media platform and start treating it like a visual search engine, your Pinterest strategy will start to come together. But unlike Google, Pinterest isn’t all about SEO and keywords – although that’s a big part of it. It’s a visual search engine. So SEO and keywords will get you halfway to driving traffic to your blog from Pinterest – but the quality of your visuals will get you the rest of the way! No, you don’t have to be a graphic designer to drive traffic to your blog with Pinterest. But you DO need to have eye-catching, well designed, effective graphics. If you’re the type of person who uses Microsoft Word to edit their photos and you don’t recoil in horror at the sight of Comic Sans (shudder), you might want to outsource your Pinterest graphics to someone else – or at least, use pre-built templates.

Another way that Pinterest is different from other social media platforms? Followers don’t matter as much as you’d think. I’ve had a steady 20k monthly visitors  to my blog from Pinterest over the past several months, even as my Pinterest followers have grown from around 1,000 to 7,000.  That’s not to say that followers don’t matter at ALL, but you’re just as capable of driving big traffic to your blog at 1,000 followers as someone with 10,000 followers.

It also means that building a following on Pinterest doesn’t need to be your main priority. Most of the tips in this post will help you build your following organically, which means free time to focus on other strategies for driving traffic to your blog from Pinterest.

Why does having a good Pinterest profile matter for bloggers?

I strongly feel that a kickass Pinterest profile is a necessary foundation to a highly converting, high-performing, traffic-driving Pinterest profile. It’s kind of like a house, or so I hear from people who aren’t riddled with student-loan debt (*sob*).

Or, in terms that I can understand, it’s like makeup: a gorgeous face of makeup starts with a flawless, blemish-free foundation. Sure, my metaphor may be a bit literal, but I’m a blogger, not a poet, OK?

To me, a polished Pinterest profile is step 1 of a rock solid Pinterest strategy. It’s what I cover with all of my Pinterest Consultation clients before we even start to talk about creating pins or traffic strategies.

So why is your profile so important? Here’s the thing.  With a beautiful Pinterest profile that reflects your blog, not only will you naturally attract followers in your niche, but you’ll be appealing to Pinterest’s search algorithm – which is what matters when it comes to driving traffic to your site.

Here's an example of the Pinterest algorithm at work, serving up suggested boards for me to follow right on my front page. Understanding and appealing to the Pinterest algorithm is a key to success of Pinterest.
Here’s an example of the Pinterest algorithm at work, serving up a suggested board for me to follow right on my front page. Understanding and appealing to the Pinterest algorithm is a key to success on Pinterest.

Let’s drill into on that algorithm thing. Ugh, sounds techincal. Gross, right? 

Y’all, my eyes start to glaze over when someone says the word “algorithm” too.

But in this case, it’s not just a useless start-up buzzword: gaming the Pinterest  algorithm is crucial to your success on Pinterest. Is “gamify” still a relevant buzzword? That was like, THE buzzword when I moved to San Francisco. Then it was being the “Uber” for everything. Now it’s probably all-knowing robot drones. Who knows.

Anyway, here’s why we care about the Pinterest algorithm:

When Pinterest serves up your content in a search result – whether it’s a pin you’ve created, a pin you’ve shared, or your actual profile or boards – they’re evaluating several things:

  • How many of your followers are engaging with the content you pin: clicks, enlargements, follows, “likes,” or whatever brand new engagement magic they’ve come up with in the past 24 hours
  • How many people that aren’t following you are engaging with the content you pin
  • How often a Pinterest user that clicks through to your profile from content you’ve pinned follows you

I couldn’t tell you exactly what kind of secret algorithmic magic Pinterest uses calculates those things – first of all, that’s their secret sauce and if I could crack it, I’d probably be a billionaire, and second of all, that sounds like a lot of math so no thank you – but I can tell you that all of these things are important.

Basically, if Pinterest thinks people like your stuff – regardless of whether it’s your content, or other people’s content – they’ll serve your profile, boards, and pins up as suggestions and search results more frequently.

You want to be sending all kinds of signals to Pinterest that you’re a high quality user who lots of people think is great. It’s like dating, only with a lot less heartbreak and ice cream.

Here's an example of the Pinterest algorithm at work, serving up suggested boards for me to follow right on my front page. Understanding and appealing to the Pinterest algorithm is a key to success of Pinterest.
Another example of the Pinterest algorithm at work. A suggested user or board to follow pops up EVERY TIME you share something on Pinterest. That’s a lot of chances for YOUR profile or YOUR board to potentially be shared and attract new followers.

If you’re familiar with SEO, this aspect of the Pinterest algorithm should sound familiar. It’s the same principal that applies when someone clicks onto your site from a Google search result and then stays on your blog for a long time, doing engage-y stuff like clicking onto other pages from your blog. Interactions like that signal to Google that your page is serving up high quality content, and makes it more likely for Google to return your page to its users. Same principal, only with your Pinterest profile and content, not your blog.

So how does this lead to traffic on your blog? We’ve already talked about how Pinterest is the dark horse of the social media world, a search engine masquerading as a social platform, and followers don’t matter. What matters is search results and suggestions. Ahh yes, it’s all making sense now.

Pinterest is a search engine, so you want your content rank in its search results and be served up as suggested content. If Pinterest thinks the content you share is good, m

Exposure at work: see that 1.1? That's 1.1 MILLION, the number of monthly views our profile & our content is currently getting monthly on Pinterest. Having a lot of exposure is super helpful for getting your content seen and, ultimately, clicked on.
Exposure at work: see that 1.1? That’s 1.1 MILLION, the number of monthly views our profile & our content is currently getting monthly on Pinterest. Does that translate into traffic growth for my blog? You bet it does!

ore people will see it – both followers and non-followers. Those people are searching for questions that your blog answers, who regularly engage with content just like what you post. You need to dominate those search results and suggestions to drive traffic from your blog. And the more people engage with your Pinterest account, the more you’ll show up in search results and suggestions. And the benefits will spill over to affecting content that links to your site.

Put simply: having a good Pinterest profile means more exposure for your content. More exposure to your content means more chances for people to click through to your site. That’s why a good Pinterest profile is the foundation of good Pinterest strategy: it gives your content a chance to get seen.

Does that translate into traffic? Yes – as long as the content that’s being served up in Pinterest’s search results is high-quality, beautiful, and optimized for Pinterest. But that’s another post… which will be coming very soon.

For this post, we’re focusing on the basics: having a really good Pinterest profile that people want to follow.

5-Step Checklist for a Good Pinterest Profile

Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you that having a beautiful, polished Pinterest profile is important for success on Pinterest, let’s talk about practical application. What does it all like, mean?

I’ve got a 5-step Checklist that every Pinterest user should, at minimum, be meeting if they want to grow their blog traffic from Pinterest.

You can download this checklist in its full version, as well as the optional 5-Day Pinterest Makeover Challenge, by signing up below.

Step 1: A high quality, eye catching profile picture.

Your profile picture has a big job: it needs to communicate your brand, your niche, and your personality in about 1 second. That’s not the easiest task.

A lot of Pinterest users will use only your Profile Picture and title to decide whether or not to follow you – and they’ll make that decision in a split second. Lose their interest or fail to ~inspire~ or excite them, and you’ve lost a potential follower, re-pinner, and reader of your blog. Exposure on Pinterest is useless if you don’t have a profile that makes people want to follow you – and your profile photo is the first visual representation of what you have to offer to a potential follower.

Laugh Travel Eat is a fantastic example of a perfect profile photo. It clearly communicates her niche, it's professional, it's clear, and it looks great at any size.
One of my Pinterest Consultation clients, Laugh Travel Eat,is a fantastic example of a perfect profile photo. Her photo clearly communicates her niche, it’s an awesome high-quality photo, and it looks great at any size.

Guidelines for a Good Pinterest Profile Photo

  • Avoid logos. People want to follow other people, not brands. So your profile picture should show who YOU are.
  • Avoid selfies. They’re unprofessional and amateur. How can you tell a ~professional blogger~ on Pinterest versus a regular user? A regular user will have a selfie as a profile picture. Great for them, not great for you. Step up your game and have someone else take a photo of you!
  • Use a clear, bright photo that clearly represents you & your blog’s niche. If you write about food, have a picture of you eating something. If you write about adventure travel, have a picture of you doing something adventurous. If you write about travel, have a picture of you off having a fabulous adventure. Don’t just find a photo that you look “cute” in – your adorable Facebook profile photo is NOT necessarily the best Pinterest profile photo!
  • Use a photo that looks good even when shrunk to a tiny size. Most Pinterest users will see a teeny, tiny version of your photo. So even if it looks good on your actual Pinterest profile, shrink it down to the size that Pinterest will be serving up when recommending you to other Pinterest users to see if it still communicates your personality, niche, and blog (or take a look at the upper right corner of Pinterest when you’re logged in, which shows a teeny-tiny version of your profile photo). This is why photos that have a lot of background don’t really work well – it should be a very clear photo of YOU, without a lot of “stuff” going on in the background.

Step 2: A keyword-rich, personality forward title & description.

Your profile description should clearly state your blog’s niche and contain a little bit of “flair” to show your personality. Make it funny if you can! But make sure crucial keywords like “travel” or “blogger” are in there somewhere too,.

I know it’s challenging to fit both personality and relevant keywords into one tiny limited-character description, but don’t forget: you have both your title, AND your description. So if you state that you’re a Travel Blogger in your title, you don’t necessarily need to reiterate it in your description, too.

It's Five O'Clock Here is a fantastic example of a polished Pinterest Profile. Her profile photo is professional, not too busy, and perfectly reflects her niche and her blog.
It’s Five O’Clock Here, another one of my Pinterest Consultation clients, is a fantastic example of a polished Pinterest Profile. Her profile photo is high quality and perfectly her blog, and her description & title convey her personality and niche.

Remember that actual users will probably only look at your title and quickly skim your description; the Pinterest algorithm  is looking for keywords. So you have to walk that fine line of having the right keywords while also not being boring or sounding like a robot who only speaks in SEO. I think the above example from It’s Five O’Clock Here strikes the perfect balance.

Step 3: High quality boards with keyword friendly titles & descriptions

Boards are a key part of Pinterest success. Your Pinterest profile should consist of boards that are directly related to your blog’s niche – and nothing else. It should NOT reflect your interests personally – your decorating tips, recipes, and hairstyle inspiration pins belong on your personal Pinterest profile, NOT your blog’s Pinterest.

One of the first things I do with my Pinterest Consultation clients is to evaluate their mix of boards. I’m looking for things like:

  • Are there boards that could be combined? More boards is not always better, and having boards that are too specific may run the risk that you won’t be able to find enough content to regularly fill it up. If you aren’t pinning to a board regularly, it may be too specific. Consider rolling it into another board. For example: If you have a lot of individual country boards, why not make a continent  or regional board instead?
  • Are there enough boards to represent the interests of your followers? It’s kinda like Goldilocks: you want to have not too many boards, but not too few boards, either. Otherwise there’s not enough of a draw for people to follow you. Your boards should match the interests of  your core followers (insofar as they relate to your niche, that is). So if you have only destination boards, consider adding boards for food, drinks, hiking, packing tips, or whatever else you write about or that your readers are interested in!

All of your boards should have keyword rich board titles that make it 100% clear what the board is about rather than something cutesy or whimsical. So “Travel in Europe” is a far better  board name than  “Land of Croissants and Cobblestones” or whatever.

Not only is this important for search results and Pinterest SEO, but it’s also important for potential followers who aren’t going to take the .5 seconds to click through a suggested board to actually see what it’s about. They’ll have about 3 seconds to decide if they want to follow your board or not: don’t make them hesitate.

You also want to make all your board names sound like they go together by using similar naming conventions, like a keyword. I use “travel” because I’m ~creative~. 

 And finally, add a keyword rich description to EVERY board that you create. Nobody reads these. Like, ever. They’re pretty much only for Pinterest’s algorithm. So you want to stuff it full of keywords. Don’t even worry about being blatant. Just stuff them in there real good.

Step 4: Attractive, matching cover photos.

Each of your boards should have a cover photo. They should be gorgeous, fit your blog, go well together, and clearly convey the subject of your board.

Avoid making them all look exactly the same – variety is far more visually enticing! Instead, use a variety of photos in different colors (that fit your blog, of course) to add visual interest, plus some text on top with your board’s name in big, clear, easy to read letters. Doesn’t have to be complicated: you’re aiming for pretty, visually enticing, and clear. 

These are Practical Wanderlust's cover boards. I wanted them to be bright, colorful, and easy to read.
These are Practical Wanderlust’s cover boards. I wanted them to be bright, colorful, and easy to read.

A good cover photo is:

  • Super easy to read. Avoid small letters. Avoid anything other than just the title of the board in clear, large letters.
  • Pretty & eye catching. Use a good photo for each of your covers. Don’t worry about copyright issues here – Pinterest lets you select anything that’s on their site to use for a cover photo, so you can use someone else’s photo if it fits.

Step 5: High quality content regularly shared to your boards

You don’t just create  boards with beautiful covers to sit there empty! You’ve gotta fill those boards up with beautiful, high quality content that is relevant to your site’s niche.

Here’s a few guidelines for the content on your Pinterest boards. You’ll want to go through with a critical eye and remove any pins that aren’t up to these standards. Why?

Because the Pinterest algorithm is analyzing your every move! Oooh, creepy. Not really. But they are analyzing the pins on your board and doing things like averaging your re-pins to judge whether your board is good enough to recommend to other Pinterest users.

So every so often – and particularly if you’ve never done it before – you should go through and DELETE all of the non-performing pins in your account. Judge it with a very critical – like, ruthless – eye.

Pinterest Tip: Use the Mass Move tool to prune your boards. You can move, delete, or copy 50 pins at a time. To use the tool, go into your board and look for the icon with 4 arrows. It looks like this:The Pinterest Mass Move Tool is helpful for deleting and moving up to 50 pins at a time.

Once selected, just click on the pins you want to delete!

The Pinterest Mass Move Tool is helpful for deleting and moving up to 50 pins at a time. It's helpful to prune your low quality pins when giving your account a Pinterest Profile Makeover!
The Pinterest Mass Move Tool is helpful for deleting and moving up to 50 pins at a time. It’s really helpful to prune your low quality pins when giving your account a Pinterest Profile Makeover!

Here are the pins you should be pruning:

  • Remove horizontal pins.  Vertical pins are king on Pinterest, and horizontal pins don’t generally get much traction. Remove horizontal pins from your boards.
  • Remove “ugly” pins. You know what I mean. Ugly is subjective, but I’m referring to Pins that aren’t visually appealing or just don’t fit in with the best pins in your account. Judge your account from an outsider’s perspective with a critical eye and remove the ones that aren’t up to snuff.
  • Remove pins with under 10 re-pins. I say 10, but really, whatever number you want to use is OK too – there’s no definitive number. But you want to think about the total average of repins on your boards: if you have too many pins with low repin count, Pinterest is penalizing your board. If you have lots of popular pins with high re-pin counts, Pinterest thinks you have great taste. So maybe you remove pins with under 10 re-pins … or maybe 50!

How many pins should a board have before you make it public?

When you first create a board – with a clear name, a cover photo, and a keyword-rich description, of course – you don’t want it to be available to the public just yet. Why? Because it’s empty. If someone clicks onto your profile and finds a bunch of empty boards, it’s a huge turnoff. They won’t want to follow you. Instead, you’ll want it to be “secret” first, while you add content to fill it up.

When you reach 20-50 high quality pins,  it’s safe to make it public. You want whoever clicks onto that board to be wowed by how beautiful and cohesive it is and follow it immediately – and then pin a bunch of stuff from it onto their own boards, thus building up tons of magical Pinterest SEO juice and sending all kinds of sexy signals to Pinterest that you’re a super high quality Pinterest user!

If you have any boards with under 20-50 pins, I would recommend making them secret – or spending a few minutes finding gorgeous content to fill them up!


You’ve got your work cut out for you. Go forth and make your Pinterest profile as awesome as you are!  And if you have any questions, just leave me a comment below.

Are you feeling overwhelmed with the DIY approach? Let me give you a Pinterest Makeover! Just call me Bibbidy Bobbidy Whatserface, but for Pinterest. It’s a bit like waving a magic wand, only there’s a lot more Skype and  graphic design analysis.

Together, we’ll work through every step necessary to make your Pinterest a thriving, traffic-driving powerhouse. Through video chats and screen-sharing, I’ll answer all of your questions, walk you through each click, talk you through each strategy, and even help you design your first pins. By the end of your Pinterest makeover, you’ll be well on your way to achieving massive traffic to your blog from Pinterest! Spots are limited, so head over to my Pinterest Consultation page and sign up.

Oh and hey, since this post is all about Pinterest, how about sharing this on Pinterest?

Want to drive traffic to your blog from Pinterest? The foundation of a kickass Pinterest account that drives traffic to your blog, is a polished Pinterest profile! Give your Pinterest profile a makeover with these 5 easy steps.

 

Stay tuned for the next installment in the Pinterest Makeover series!

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5 Comment

  1. Elise says: Reply

    This is such a practical, useful article! Looks like I’m going to spend next week making board covers I’ve subscribed, looking forward to the 5 day challenge!

  2. Great post! I look forward to implementing some of these changes soon. One question regarding the board photo. Is a Pinterest user able to upload a photo? I don’t understand how you can make all boards have a unified style when the only option (that I’m aware of) is to set the board photo by choosing one of your pinned articles. Would love your input! Thanks.

    1. Lia says: Reply

      Yes! You can add your own photo. Here’s how:
      1. Click + at the bottom right corner of Pinterest and click Upload a Pin
      2. Click Choose Image and find the file on your computer
      3. Pick a board for your Pin and add a description
      4. Click Save

      Then to set it as your board cover:
      1. Go to the board and click Edit (or open up the board and click the pencil button)
      2. Click Change Cover and pick a new cover for your board
      3. Adjust the picture to the frame by clicking and dragging
      4. Click Save Changes to save the cover, then Save Changes to save the board

      I pulled all that from here: https://help.pinterest.com/en

      Hope that helps!

  3. Clara says: Reply

    Thank you so much for this post! Finally a very useful and practical one! 🙂

  4. Oh my gosh, I am SO EXCITED to update my Pinterest board! I never even thought to create nice uniform board covers. I’ve got a lot of work to do. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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