December 17th, 2013

10 Tips To Get Started On Pinterest

10 Tips To Get Started On Pinterest

I like Pinterest. I don’t make as much time for it as I should, but it’s fun to use and sometimes drives good traffic. I’ve had a pin for one of my other sites get more than 500 repins so far, which isn’t as amazing as some get, but is still pretty good. Still, there are some things you should know as you get started on Pinterest.

1. Be sure you have permission to pin images on Pinterest.

Many people assume that they can pin just any image they want. That’s really not the case.

If you’re pinning from someone else’s site, check for a Pin It link or other indication that it’s okay to use. It’s kind of a drag when you really want to pin something, but if there’s no indication that it’s okay, you could be committing copyright infringement if someone doesn’t want their images shared on Pinterest.

2. Know if your own images are okay to share.

If it’s a photograph you took or a graphic you created from scratch, obviously it’s fine to use on Pinterest if that’s what you want. If it’s a stock image you got on another site, it may not be okay. Check your license.

There are sites that offer photos and graphics that should be free to use. Just be careful, as you can’t be absolutely certain that the person sharing it on the site actually has permission to declare it free to use. I enjoy using Open Clipart and Morgue File when I don’t have something of my own and don’t feel up to creating something.

3. Share more than stuff from your own site.

As a blogger, you’re probably using Pinterest in part to promote your own stuff. Share more than that – it makes your account more interesting for people to follow.

4. Separate your personal and business Pinterest accounts.

Pinterest allows businesses to have their own Pinterest accounts. This is a good thing. You can make your business account focused on items relevant to your business, while keeping your personal pins to yourself.

5. Use images on your site with Pinterest in mind.

Make sure the images you place on your site are Pinterest-friendly. That not only means using images where you have the copyright issues under control, but that will help draw people to your post when they see it. Make it really relevant, and use text in your images to help people know what it’s about.

6. Pin regularly.

I really don’t do this enough. I just don’t. Admittedly, this site doesn’t do that well on Pinterest anyhow – work at home stuff isn’t the kind of visual or crafty thing that does well there. Still, I like finding relevant pins to share and wish I could make the time to do so more often. Regular pinning of content, even when it’s not your own, can help you build a following so that pins to your site have a chance at a wider audience.

7. Connect with your Facebook and/or Twitter account.

You can use your Facebook or Twitter account to log into your Pinterest account. This also make it easy to share your pins through those accounts.

8. Use keywords.

Use relevant keywords as you write descriptions for your pins. This makes them easier for people to find when they search Pinterest.

9. Make pinboards relevant to blog posts.

A pinboard of relevant content can be a good supplement to a blog post. You can start it simple and make it grow over time. Link to the pinboard in your post, and don’t forget to include any content of your own that relates.

10. Don’t expect immediate results.

As with any other free promotion method, it takes time to see results for Pinterest. You have to build a following and get a feel for the things that do well on Pinterest.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

March 26th, 2013

Have You Checked Your Pinterest Web Analytics?

Pinterest has unveiled web analytics for pinners with verified web sites. It’s a nice tool if you want to see what content of yours is getting the most interest on their site. If you’re serious about building traffic from Pinterest, you need to check this out.

Pinterest web analytics

This tool lets you see how often content gets pinned from your site, how much it gets repinned, how many impressions it generates, and how many clicks. All pretty useful information. You can look at anywhere from a day to a month to see what has been happening.

If you haven’t verified your website with Pinterest yet, it’s pretty easy to do so. Just follow their instructions. Just takes a few minutes of your time. You also need to have access to Pinterest’s new look. After that, you just use the top right dropdown menu to find the Analytics section.

I don’t get great traffic from Pinterest as of yet, although I’m working on that. This site isn’t exactly prime pinning material, since working at home isn’t a huge Pinterest category. Still, there are some things people have found interesting, and that’s useful information for me.

It’s not just what information of mine that’s being pinned that I find interesting. Board names can be interesting too. It’s helpful to know how other people are categorizing your stuff. What they say about it is interesting too.

I’m pretty pleased with this new tool. Are you going to use it also? What do you think of it?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

January 7th, 2013

How Do You Make Sure Your Images Are Pinterest Friendly?

I’m working on including more images in my posts, partly because they look better that way, but also because it’s better for getting traffic from Pinterest. The challenge is to ensure that my images are okay for use on Pinterest.

You can’t use just any image, after all. There are copyright issues to consider when an image is pinned. Make it easy on your visitors, and be sure that these issues won’t get in their way.

Take Your Own Photos

This is the safest way to avoid copyright issues. If it’s your own photo, you can say that it’s safe to pin, so long as there aren’t copyright issues with the subject matter.

I’ve been going through my photos to make a collection of personal stock photos I can use in posts. Some of the kids, some flowers or other nature shots, that kind of thing. They’re good when it’s not so easy to just take a brand new photograph for a post. Not so good if you’re posting about a recipe or craft project where photos showing the steps are more appropriate, of course.

How to Make Your Images Pinterest Friendly

You’ll want some basic photo editing software. I use Gimp, which is free but not as good as Photoshop. Still pretty good and very useful. If you haven’t used this kind of software before it takes some getting used to, but it’s a wonderful tool. You can use it to crop photos, add text or special effects, or even create images from scratch.

Create Your Own Images

I mentioned briefly above that Gimp can be used to create images from scratch. If you’re artistically inclined, this is a wonderful option. It can be really time consuming, but you can make graphics for just about anything if you have the ability and the tools.

If you want a better tool than Gimp, you’ll probably have to pay for it. Photoshop is of course very powerful, and Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 is pretty affordable. I’ve also made graphics using an old version of Fireworks. Find the tool that’s most appropriate to your skill level.

Use Public Domain Images

This is a bit more difficult, as you have to be sure of the source you get them from and that the image really is in the public domain. There are sites that try to have freely available images, such as http://openclipart.org/, but you do need to be aware that sometimes non-public domain images may be mistakenly uploaded to the site.

There’s also a great listing of public domain images from government resources. Many photos taken as a part of a government employee’s job are in the public domain. And of course there are many other websites offering public domain images.

I keep images downloaded from these sites separate from the ones I take myself. If there’s ever a problem, it’s good to know where the image came from, even if you believed it to be in the public domain.

Make Your Images Relevant to Your Post

If you want the traffic from Pinterest to be relevant to your post, the image must relate. You can make this as simple as including the post title in your image (make it look great!), or by having the image be a major component of the post. Infographics can do very well, but they’re hard to make well.

I often forget this part myself, but also consider having your name or your domain name on your images. This way there’s information about the source of the image no matter how it travels, even if it gets separated from any links to the original post.

It’s also very helpful if the title of your image is relevant. Some people pin the image and don’t write their own description. Keep that in mind and have something relevant to go with the image when its pinned.

Add a Pin It Button

If by any chance you aren’t already including a Pin It button on your posts, start doing so. There are plugins to make this easy in WordPress. The easier you make this, the more likely it is to happen. You can even ask people in your post to share it on Pinterest and other social sites. Make sure you test things out yourself to ensure that any plugins or code are working properly.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

November 29th, 2012

Do You Have Your Pinterest Business Account?

I came across an interesting post on Hubspot about Pinterest offering business accounts. If you’re using your Pinterest account for your business, you may want to take a look at this. I’ve had a lot going on family-wise lately, but I finally had the time to look this over myself and make the switch to a business account.

At this point, it’s not really all that different. Just visit business.pinterest.com and click the link to convert your account to a business account, then agree to the business Terms of Service.

What’s New?

Your pinboards won’t look any different as a business than they did when you had a personal account. On the surface, you may not see a lot of changes. There are, however, some nice new tools.

Take the profile or board widget, for example. You can use it to share your recent pins on your website. This could be useful in drawing more attention to your pinboards, hopefully to encourage more shares of your material on Pinterest and eventually drive more traffic to your site. After all, building your traffic is what it’s about if you’re a business.

You also get access to case studies. Some businesses have done quite well on Pinterest, and this makes it easy to take a look.

There will also be access to any future tools they release for businesses. What that means, no one knows yet, but there are certainly tools that would be useful to business owners that personal accounts usually won’t care about.

If you haven’t done it already, you should also go ahead and verify your website with Pinterest. This lets them know that yes, it’s your site. Just go to your Settings page and click the Verify Website button, then follow the directions.

Why Bother?

It may not seem like there’s all that much reason to bother with making the switch from a personal to business Pinterest account. And I’ll agree that the differences are minor… now. I don’t know if that will continue to be the case. There’s also a clause in the personal accounts TOS saying that if you’re using Pinterest for commercial purposes, you’ll use a business account. I don’t know when they’ll start enforcing that, but it’s something you should be aware of.

The big question is do you convert your current page to a business one or start a fresh one for your business? The answer depends on how you’ve been using your pinboards so far.

If you’ve been keeping it pretty much personal, and most of your followers are personal, you probably want to start a whole new account for your business. It may be a bit of a pain logging in and out between them or using separate browsers for them, but that’s something you have to work out for yourself. Getting followers from the old account to the new account may be a challenge.

If you’ve been using it mostly for business, go ahead and make the switch. Odds are no one will notice the difference.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

September 19th, 2012

15 Common Social Media Mistakes Home Business Owners Make

Social media can be hugely beneficial to your home business, but you can also make huge mistakes with it. Mistakes won’t always be serious, but some may spread farther and stick around far longer than you’d like. Offend the wrong person, and your offense may be spread to many other people, and you can’t count on a net benefit from getting your name out there. As much as you can, you should avoid making serious social media mistakes.

I don’t mean little mistakes such as not posting often enough. Most people won’t notice that much if you rarely post – you just won’t get the benefits of posting regularly. I mean mistakes that get the wrong kind of attention.

Mistake #1: Friending or Following EVERYONE

A big list of friends or followers looks nice on your social media accounts, especially if they return the favor. The problem is when you aren’t focused on following the right people. If you just find a list and start following, you’ll probably follow a lot of junk accounts. They might follow you back, but they won’t become customers and will probably just clutter your feed.

Be picky. Follow people who are relevant to your business or are just plain interesting. Your list of followers won’t increase as quickly, but they’ll be higher quality and more fun to deal with.

Mistake #2: Failing to Admit Mistakes

We all make mistakes, but if you make a mistake on social media, apologize or correct it the same way. It might be as simple as an incorrect link, or something more serious such as sharing inaccurate information. Take just a moment to correct yourself so that you aren’t just leaving the mistake out there unfixed. Admitting you’re wrong can sting, but it also can help to build trust.

Mistake #3: Being Rude

It’s easy to be rude online, even unintentionally. If you read much online you’ve probably seen it. There’s no tone to the written word, so a poor word choice can deeply offend someone else.

Then there’s the all too common deliberate rudeness. I don’t just mean the sort trolls use. I mean the rude way some people disagree with each other online. Name calling really isn’t necessary in an argument. You’re better off using facts and relevant opinions about the subject at hand, not harsh and possibly unsubstantiated statements about the person you disagree with.

Mistake #4: Fail to Build Relationships

Social media is about building relationships, not pure marketing. Let your human side show at least some of the time. Reply to people. Participate in conversations. Be real.

Mistake #5: Ignoring Customers

If you want to look like a responsive business, you have to respond. This is really helpful in social media, which many people favor as a way to contact a business or comment about them. Keep an eye out for posts about your business name, and especially for any directed at you. Respond when you can, the sooner the better. This is doubly important when someone has a problem with your business.

Mistake #6: Using Too Many Abbreviations

Abbreviations are sometimes necessary in social media, especially on sites such as Twitter where you have a limited number of characters per post. Unnecessary abbreviations can be annoying, KWIM? They can also obscure your meaning for those readers who don’t understand a particular abbreviation.

Mistake #7: Poor Grammar and Spelling

Most of us use poor grammar and spelling some of the time. It’s all too easy to make mistakes, especially if you have autocorrect on. Read your posts before you send them out to make sure that you’re saying what you meant to say and that it can be easily understood.

Mistake #8: Sharing Other People’s Posts as Your Own

People say and share some really neat things on social media, and being the originator of something interesting can get you some good attention. That doesn’t make it right to take someone else’s idea and pretending you started it.

Many social media sites make it easy to share where you got a particular item from. There’s the retweet button for Twitter, or the RT abbreviation if you want to do it your own way. There’s the share button on Facebook that shows where you got a post from. Pinterest allows you to repin interesting items. All these give credit to the source.

Of course, you can share similar ideas that you’ve seen elsewhere, just make sure that the idea is better and uniquely served in your own words. You can build a great reputation online by sharing the work of other people if you do it honestly.

Mistake #9: Failing to be Relevant

This mistake happens most often either when you’re in a conversation or when there’s something big going on. Perhaps you’re participating in a social media event and you break in with something completely off topic. People aren’t going to appreciate that.

It’s also a risk of automating your social media posting. To a degree, this isn’t a terrible thing, but if it leads to inappropriate posts, you may have a problem. Think about what you’re posting if people are talking about major tragedies or other major events. If you share something online completely irrelevant to it, or worse, disrespectful to those involved, how will that make your business look? Pay attention to what’s going on before you post, and consider pausing automated posts if they might be inappropriate at a particular time.

Mistake #10: Overposting

You may only have so much time each day in which to do your social media marketing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to share all your posts at once. You can use Hootsuite or other services to schedule your posts for later, and check on responses briefly as necessary. A flood of posts from your account doesn’t look as good as you might hope.

Mistake #11: Being Overly Promotional

When you’re using social media to promote your business, of course you have to be promotional. Just remember that the point to social media is to be a person too. Not everything you post needs to be a way to earn money for yourself. Sometimes you should post just to be a person or a good resource.

Mistake #12: Expecting Too Much

Social media most likely won’t be the making of your home business. It can help build traffic, it can help build your reputation, but it’s just one factor in your business, not a miracle.

Mistake #13: Getting Too Personal

The personal touch is a good thing for many businesses, especially when you’re the only person running it, but there should be limits. Keep your personal and business profiles separate. This allows you to share things with family and friends that you don’t need associated with your business. You can still share appropriate personal things on your business accounts, depending on the kind of personality you want to show.

This is especially helpful on sites like Facebook where you’re more limited in the number of friends you can have on your personal page. It’s better to have people interested in your business follow your business page.

Mistake #14: Fail to Make it Easy to Share Your Content

Finally, make sure it’s easy to share the content you have on your website. People will tweet, like, pin and otherwise share interesting content without buttons to make it easier, but more people will do so if it’s easy. Social sites usually provide code to make this easy, and there are plugins for WordPress if you have a blog. Some will even keep count of how many times your content has been shared, a wonderful social proof for your website.

Mistake #15: Using Too Many Social Media Websites

There are a lot of social media websites out there. You can’t participate on all of them, and you really shouldn’t try to. It will take too much time and too many resources to do so.

Instead, focus on the bigger ones and any specific to your niche. See where you get the most return for your efforts. If one site isn’t working for you, another may work better. Be picky. You only have so much time you should be spending on your social media efforts. Use it wisely.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.