February 18th, 2015

No More Affiliate Links, Redirects or Trackers on Pinterest

No More Affiliate Links, Redirects or Trackers on Pinterest

edit: This is no longer true, as of May 2016. Affiliate links are back on Pinterest!

Affiliate links are no longer allowed on Pinterest. For many companies with affiliate programs, this is nothing new – Pinterest hasn’t allowed Amazon affiliate links for some time, for example. But now they no longer allow even those few companies they had allowed. The pins won’t be deleted, but all tracking information will be removed.

Pinterest says it’s to improve the user experience, although many suspect that it has more to do with upcoming monetization. Pinterest says that’s not the case, however. Affiliate links and redirects can make it harder for rich pins to work accurately.

Of course, all is not lost if you’ve been careful to keep your affiliate links more on your own site, under your own control. This has always been the most sensible way to handle affiliate links, as it builds your own property and your own reputation. When you build on your own property, your links are valid as long as you’re a part of that affiliate program.

It may be harder to promote through Pinterest this way, as you have to come up with the content, but in the long run it can be a more effective strategy. Pinterest can be a part of your marketing strategy, but your focus should always be on your own properties, with social media marketing as a tool to direct traffic to your properties.

It takes more effort, certainly, to build your own properties and content, but the results can be well worth it. You don’t have to worry that you’ll lose your account on a particular social media site, that policies will change there or that it will lose its popularity. While these things can still happen, it’s less important when that site is only a part of how your promote your own, rather than something you rely upon for your income.

This kind of thing can happen on any platform you use that you don’t control. On your own website, you decide when affiliate links are appropriate. All you have to obey are the rules of the hosting company, and those aren’t at all likely to change in ways that harm your online business – it’s too easy to switch someplace new. But the platforms you use to market your business may change at any time. It’s better to direct traffic from them to your website, then to your recommendations, than to put your recommendations where they can vanish at any time.

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.

February 10th, 2014

Should You Keep Marketing on Facebook When They Keep Changing the Rules?

facebookchangingrules

Having a page on Facebook for your business has been a good strategy for a while now. It’s one more place to let people who like your business know what’s up. The only problem is how difficult Facebook has been making it lately for your content to get in front of the people who like you. First text statuses were better, now they aren’t. Page owners have noticed serious declines views of their statuses. Is marketing on Facebook still worth it?

That’s Up to You

Very honestly, there’s no one right answer right now. Some people won’t find it worthwhile. Some will. It depends on your page. Many people feel that Facebook is now essentially pay-to-play for businesses. Facebook has to earn money, and it appears to many that their choice is to earn from the businesses that have enjoyed the platform and its benefits.

It’s rough right now. It really is. Just Ask Kim reports a reach of just 3% on Facebook. That’s horrendous. Mine isn’t that bad, but I don’t have a huge number of fans. Many people feel that Facebook wants business owners to have to pay to reach their fans, and they resent it. Just Ask Kim has some good tips on how to improve things on your page further down on that same article, and you may find it useful.

Test, Test, Test

The best thing I can recommend is that you test for yourself what works best for your page on Facebook. Post text updates. Post images with the link in the description you like. Use the auto-generated link share image and description. Try different days of the week and time of day. See for yourself what works best.

Over time, you can get a good feel for what is getting you the best response. Do this every few days, weeks or months so that you know you still have it right. Basically, if you think of it, take a little time to test.

What Am I Doing?

Just like any other business owner, I find the changes frustrating. So far I’m sticking with Facebook, but then I haven’t developed a huge following there yet anyhow, so the lower traffic levels don’t hit me as hard as they have others with more fans. I think, however, that I need to pay close attention how things are going and any future change Facebook makes.

Fortunately, there are still sites such as Pinterest, Twitter and so forth available. I haven’t given these the attention they deserve of late, being rather busy with my kids, but I may have to make more time. Where one platform becomes more difficult to use, another may look better.

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.

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.

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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.