Pinterest is a visual search engine, which makes it a good place to promote an Etsy shop or a handmade products website. But if you don’t use it effectively it might not get the results that you want.
Table of Contents
- What is Pinterest and how does it work?
- Will using Pinterest really help my business?
- Can you claim your Etsy shop on Pinterest?
- Can I promote my Etsy listings on Pinterest?
- Will Pinterest bring me more sales on Etsy?
- What’s “the right way” to use Pinterest for ecommerce?
- Should you have a business account on Pinterest?
- What should you include in your Pinterest business profile?
- What to put in your Pinterest banner.
- Should I use a photo of myself or my logo for my profile picture?
- Tips for setting up boards for a Pinterest business account.
- Should I pin other people’s pins or only my own?
- What is scheduled pinning?
- What is manual pinning?
- How often should I pin things to Pinterest?
- Should I pin directly from Etsy to Pinterest?
- Can I use the Pin It button to pin listings?
- How to make pins to promote Etsy listings.
- Should I send Pinterest traffic to Etsy or my website?
- Are there things that can go wrong on Pinterest?
- How does Pinterest SEO work?
- Where do I find keywords for my pins?
- How should I capitalize on what’s working on Pinterest?
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links that will pay me a small commission if they’re used to purchase something. To see the entire affiliate policy click here.
What is Pinterest and how does it work?
Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board where users can save things that are basically links to blog articles, links to listings to buy, or photos and videos of things that they want to try out. Pinterest has a majority female user base, and the topics that do the best on the platform tend to be things that skew stereotypically female.
However, since Pinterest is a search engine, it’s probably likely that you’ll be able to find information about anything you search for, regardless of topic.
I’ve been a Pinterest user since it started, way back in the olden days of 2010 when you still had to get an invitation to sign up to use it.
Back then it was heavily wedding and mommy-blog related, and a lot of bloggers used it to get traffic to their blogs without having to use Google search to be found.
There are still a ton of bloggers who use Pinterest exclusively for traffic, and they don’t use Google SEO at all, but they’re probably still benefitting from Google without even knowing it.
The reason that you can get traffic from Google is because Google shows pins in image search results, and it also shows individual boards and pins in some of the results on the main search result page.
If you play your cards right, your boards and pins can show up in Google search, and that can get you more traffic to your site or Etsy shop in a roundabout way.
I have a Pinterest class for people who have product businesses, and I go into this strategy in more detail in that. The link is here: Pinterest for Product-Based Businesses
One thing to remember about Pinterest is that it can take 4-6 months to see any consistent traffic, and that’s if you’re pinning regularly.
Will using Pinterest really help my business?
The answer is maybe, but you have to put the time into it and pin things consistently and in a way that gets attention from Pinterest. If you quit too soon, or only pin things in a non-strategic way, it probably won’t work.
Because Pinterest works on both search and what’s basically a browse-style algorithm, (they call it a smart feed,) you can be found based on people searching and also by Pinterest showing people your listings as suggested pins.
If you pin a bunch of things that don’t have good titles or descriptions, the search on Pinterest probably won’t be able to find your pins very well.
And if Pinterest can’t figure out what your pins are about, they won’t know who to show them to in the smart feed.
So yes, Pinterest can help your business but only if you do it the right way. It’s like anything else, you get out what you put in.
Pinterest is the number one traffic source for my website as far as non-Google search traffic goes, so I definitely think that it’s worth it.
Having an established Pinterest account will help your business to be found in Google search because Google indexes Pinterest pins and boards. It will also show customers that you’re a real person who’s put effort into your business, so that’s good for building trust.
Can you claim your Etsy shop on Pinterest?
You can’t claim your Etsy shop on Pinterest anymore because Etsy has uploaded its own catalog to Pinterest. Since individual shops are subdomains of Etsy, shop owners don’t own the website, and we can’t claim our shops.
This was a change in 2022, so articles about this that were written before then will say that you can do it, but you can’t.
However, you can still tag listings by using the Etsy catalog, or by adding links to your pins that go to your listings.
I wrote a more in-depth article about this here: Can You Claim Your Etsy Shop On Pinterest?
Can I promote my Etsy listings on Pinterest?
If you mean can you pin your listings to Pinterest, yes, you can. If you want to run ads to your listings, you’ll need to check with Pinterest directly because you usually have to have a catalog uploaded to Pinterest in order to run ads.
Since we can’t claim our Etsy shops, they might not let you advertise your listings that are on Etsy.
Since Pinterest changes their policies FREQUENTLY (I can’t say that enough) they might have a different way to do this, or not be able to do it, so you’ll need to check with them to see if it’s possible.
But if all that you want to do is pin some images with links to your products, yes, you can definitely do that.
Will Pinterest bring me more sales on Etsy?
Nothing is guaranteed to bring more sales, but using Pinterest effectively can bring you more traffic, and that usually leads to more sales.
You can see your Pinterest traffic in the stats section of your Etsy dashboard under the social media tab.
The image above is from my stats, and I usually don’t pin things that go to my Etsy shop, I generally send everything on social media to my website.
But even though that’s the case, I still get traffic from Pinterest, and it’s because other people pin my products, and Etsy pins my products in their own catalog.
Since Etsy has the entire catalog of listings available to show on Pinterest, your shop can get traffic from there even if you never pin anything. But it’s going to get you a lot more traffic if you make an effort to send it yourself!
More traffic usually translates to more sales, so using Pinterest can increase your sales in a fairly passive way over time.
What’s “the right way” to use Pinterest for ecommerce?
I know that I keep saying that you have to use Pinterest the right way or it probably won’t work, and that’s true. But what does that even mean?
Some tips for getting the most out of Pinterest include:
- Pin things consistently over time, don’t go crazy and pin a bunch of things then disappear and expect to get good results.
- Make sure to use keywords that you’ve researched in the title, description, alt text, and on the image itself if you’re using text on the image.
- Make sure that your profile and boards are set up like a business, not like a personal profile.
- Create pins specifically for Pinterest, don’t limit yourself to pinning directly from Etsy.
- Use a combination of scheduled and manual pinning to save yourself time.
- Don’t feel that you have to pin 100 things every day, but don’t be too inactive either.
- Don’t ONLY pin your own images, include other people’s content to round out your boards.
- Don’t expect Pinterest pins to work right away. It takes time to build traffic.
- Analyze what’s working and capitalize on that.
I’ll get into each of these in a little more detail in the next sections, but since Pinterest changes so often strategy will also change over time. I update my Pinterest class on a regular basis to keep members up-to-date: Pinterest for Product-based businesses
Should you have a business account on Pinterest?
A Pinterest account can be either a personal account or a business account. You should choose a business account for your business, then treat it like a business.
I wrote an article that goes into business accounts a little more in-depth here: Is Pinterest Worth It For Etsy?
A business account will give you access to stats, and it will also let you upload a catalog of your products if you have a website that you own. You’ll also be able to advertise your website listings, which is the main thing they want you to do, of course…
You can’t upload your Etsy listings as a catalog, but Etsy does that already, so you don’t need to worry about that.
If you only have a personal account you won’t have access to the analytics, though, so definitely make your account a business account.
I have 3 Pinterest accounts for my different blogs and businesses, and one for my personal account. Every time I go to my personal account they show me the graphic above, because they want me to convert my personal account to a business one so that they can sell me ads.
It’s annoying, but they know that I use Pinterest for business and have claimed websites on other accounts, so I’ll have to put up with it.
What should you include in your Pinterest business profile?
Your Pinterest business profile that shows on your home page will include the information that you fill out in your Public Profile section. You should make sure to include these basics:
- Your name
- Your business name
- Your website link
- A short description of your business.
- The country you’re located in if that’s relevant for you.
Other than that, you don’t have to fill out anything else, and Pinterest will accept it. Your public profile is filled out when you set your account up, and you can edit it later if you want to add or remove anything.
Here, you can see how I filled out the main information and how it looks on Pinterest:
This is how it looks:
If I had added my address and all of that information in the public profile section, it might show up on my homepage. That would be fine if I had a brick-and-mortar storefront, and I could put that address in, but since I work from home I’m not going to add that.
What to put in your Pinterest banner.
As far as setting up your Pinterest banner and profile picture, you have to decide what to do based on how you want it to look. Pinterest tends to change the banners every now and then, so you might upload something, then realize that it’s showing something else later on.
At one point they had what was basically a banner that included all of your recent pins on it, and we couldn’t control what it looked like. So it’s kind of a crapshoot as far as predicting what they’re going to be doing, and you need to take that into account.
I put a basic listing photo that represents my business in my banner photos, so they’re not really banners, they’re just photos.
You can design an actual banner to have in that spot, and that’s fine, too. That gives you room to include other promotional text and business information, but just be aware that Pinterest might change the format on you without notice!
Should I use a photo of myself or my logo for my profile picture?
Whether to use a logo or a personal photo for your business profile picture is a hotly-debated topic all the time, and people tend to say that this or that is the “right” way to do it. I think it depends on what your intention with the account is, so it’s going to vary.
I put my own photo in the profile picture for my main cake decorations business because I want to establish that I’m a real person who is there to help customers, and not just a faceless brand.
However, for my other blogs (this one, and a dollhouse/gingerbread house hobby blog) I use the logo or a photo from the website, since those blogs are more informational.
And for my personal account I use a photo of myself, because that’s a personal account.
The logic of this can go either way…A personal photo might make people know you faster, which could make them trust you more since they see a real person, but a business logo could make you look more professional.
Personally, I think that using your personal photo is a better choice on Pinterest specifically, but it depends on the intent of your account. If you want engagement, use a personal photo. If you want search traffic and less personal interaction, a business logo works fine.
Tips for setting up boards for a Pinterest business account.
The main thing you need to remember about setting up boards for a Pinterest business account is that they should all be related to your business somehow. You should be able to pin your products to every board that you have, because that’s the point of having a business account.
The boards don’t have to be 100% about the thing you’re selling, but they need to make sense for why they’re on your Pinterest account to begin with.
So for example, if you sell jewelry you could have boards that are for necklaces, earrings, etc., but you could also have fashion boards, boards where you pin things that inspire your designs, boards about how to clean jewelry, and so on.
You could pin other people’s pins to those boards without pinning things from competitors, and you could also pin your own product photos to those boards.
And speaking of pinning other people’s pins, let’s touch on that.
Should I pin other people’s pins or only my own?
You should do a combination of both yours and other people’s pins. Don’t pin directly from your competitors, but you can pin things that are informational or related to your products without promoting the competition!
There’s no proportion that’s perfect, but I pin mostly my own things and occasionally pin other people’s pins. That balance is different in different accounts, though.
In the example in the previous section, I said that you could add fashion pins to a board for a jewelry business.
That’s an easy way to show outfit styles that your jewelry would work with, then add pins that go to those types of jewelry listings that would work with the fashion style you’re showing.
You could pin from other people’s accounts if they sell clothing but not jewelry, and they could do the same for you in a collaboration.
I have a board for the members of my Pinterest class where they can pin their own products, and other people in the class can go to find things to repin. It’s a good way to find things that you know won’t get a copyright strike, too!
Using group boards isn’t as good as it used to be unless the people who are on the board actually share each other’s pins, AND they have the same target audience. That can get tricky, but as long as you limit the pins that you add to your boards to relevant topics, it can work out.
Pins scheduled in Buffer
What is scheduled pinning?
Scheduled pinning is when you use a scheduling tool to post pins for you instead of doing it yourself. This lets you post things when you’re not actually on Pinterest, and it keeps your account active and consistent.
I use Buffer to schedule my pins, but you can also use other scheduling tools, and Pinterest lets you schedule some pins in advance using the scheduler when you create a pin, too.
Scheduled pinning is convenient, but you need to be careful for the schedulers that repin the same image over and over. Pinterest wants “fresh pins,” which is a silly way to say “new images.”
When you create a pin, don’t repin it multiple times, if at all. The second time you pin that image Pinterest sees that it’s been pinned before and it won’t show it to as many people.
So repinning the same image over and over isn’t the best strategy anymore, and you shouldn’t use a scheduler like a spam farm to just keep posting the same thing multiple times.
What is manual pinning?
Manual pinning is when you’re actually on Pinterest and you’re creating new pins on Pinterest, or you’re browsing and repinning other people’s content. The key here is that you’re actually on Pinterest at the time, and you’re not scheduling things.
That’s how Pinterest was originally (in 2010) intended to work, so there’s an argument to be made that they probably like manual pinning the best. That’s not really true, they don’t care whether things are scheduled or pinned manually, but I think that you should do both.
I schedule things to be pinned, but I also create new pins directly on Pinterest, and I’ll browse and pin things every now and then.
Like I said previously, I tend to pin mostly my own content, probably 99% of the time. But I’ll also pin something that could be interesting if it doesn’t compete with my own business, and that’s always done when I’m browsing Pinterest, not through a scheduler.
How often should I pin things to Pinterest?
So with scheduling vs manual pinning, how often should you be pinning things?
You don’t need to schedule a ton of content like people used to do, but it’s a good idea to schedule at least one pin a day, and to create at least one or two Idea pins per week manually.
You can pin as much as you want to unless it’s the same image over and over, which is the one thing that you want to avoid. But you don’t NEED to pin 100 things a day, which is what people used to do when Pinterest didn’t care about repeating the same pin as much.
There’s no definitive answer to how often you should be pinning, but you should be going for quality over quantity, and making sure that your pins have good SEO, good images, and good descriptions. It’s better to have one good pin than ten weak ones.
And speaking of “weak” pins, what does that mean as far as pinning listings goes?
Should I pin directly from Etsy to Pinterest?
You probably shouldn’t pin directly from your own Etsy shop to Pinterest for a few reasons. That’s not to say that you can’t, it’s just that you probably shouldn’t.
First, the image size that Etsy uses isn’t the same as what Pinterest “likes.” The vertical 2:3 format is what Pinterest wants, but Etsy listing photos are horizontal.
Pinterest will still show these pins, but it’s not what they’re looking for, so they might not show them in browse as often.
The other reason not to pin directly from Etsy is the issue of what the link does. When you follow a link that you pinned from Etsy back to Etsy, it shows other listings at the top of the page.
You probably don’t want your competitions’ listings showing up on your listing page, but pinning directly from Etsy will do that.
Having said that, it’s better to pin directly from Etsy than to not pin at all, so if what’s stopping you from using Pinterest is the idea of making pins, just pin from Etsy to get started.
Can I use the Pin It button to pin listings?
Pinterest has a “pin it” button that’s a Chrome browser extension. For a while it wasn’t working with Etsy listings, but it is now, so you can use that to pin from Etsy to Pinterest.
You’ll still have the problem of other people’s listings showing up at the top of the page, but at least it’s convenient.
To get this extension, click on the three vertical dots at the top right of the Chrome browser, go to “more tools,” then “extensions,” and search for “Pinterest save button.”
Adding that to your browser will make the little P icon show up at the top of the page, and you can click it to save any image that’s on the page directly to one of your Pinterest boards.
How to make pins to promote Etsy listings.
To make your own pins, you can use any photo editing software like Photoshop, Canva, or if you want to make your life a lot easier, get PinGenerator.
I wrote more about PinGenerator in this article about reusing social media content: How To Reuse Content For Your Social Media Posts.
It basically lets you create multiple “fresh pin” images in a short amount of time. It also has a scheduler that you can use, or you can download the image to pin later yourself, which is what I do.
To make your own pin images, you should make them in the 2:3 proportions, which would be 1200 (width) x800 (height) pixels or 1000 (width) x1500 (height) pixels. Either will work fine.
Make sure that your pins aren’t just “here’s my stuff,” but that you give people a reason to click on the pin.
Use the listing photo, but add text with a selling feature or a reason why someone would want to buy the item.
For example, this pin gets a lot of clicks because I tell people why they should be interested in this product, I didn’t just put the product photo on it:
Remember that people go to Pinterest to get ideas, find things they can use, or look for things to plan projects and events. If you create pins that tell them why they should be interested, it will get more interaction than just pinning a photo.
Should I send Pinterest traffic to Etsy or my website?
If you have both an Etsy shop and a website, you should definitely link all of your pins to your website. That way you’ll build traffic and authority for your website instead of linking to Etsy.
It will also help you avoid the fees that Etsy charges if someone buys from your shop.
If you’re putting the time into sending your own traffic to your business, send it to your website, not to Etsy.
Are there things that can go wrong on Pinterest?
Pinterest and Etsy don’t always communicate well, and every now and then you’ll see a pin from your shop that says “Sold Out” or “Out Of Stock,” even if it’s in stock. There’s nothing that you can do about that, because it’s something to do with the connection between Etsy and Pinterest, it’s nothing that we have control over.
You could also have your Pinterest account suspended, which seems to happen a lot, depending on what they’re doing at the time.
In general, if you’re not doing anything spammy on Pinterest, suspensions happen when a bot does its job too enthusiastically and takes down accounts for no good reason.
All you have to do is request a review of the suspension through the email link they send you when they tell you that your account was shut down, and in a few days the account will reappear with no explanation of what happened.
To make that less likely to happen, you shouldn’t pin a bunch of things right away, start slow and work up to a consistent pinning schedule that won’t trigger the system to think that you’re a spammer.
Pinterest will also change things as far as how things are displayed, or how you see your pins, pretty frequently. Ignore it, it will probably correct itself or change again soon.
How does Pinterest SEO work?
Pinterest looks for keywords in the title of the pin, the description of the pin, the alt text, and the text on the pin image itself. It also looks for keywords in the titles of the boards, and for that reason you need to think about what you’re going to call your boards to get the best chance at being found in search.
When you’re pinning things, make sure that you’re writing a keyword-rich description that’s naturally conversational so that people can read it, but the search engine can still find your keywords.
Your titles should also include the keywords, but write them like a title, not like a string of keywords.
It’s the same as anything, just include your keywords in your pins and make it helpful for the person who’s going to be reading it, and you should be fine.
You should do some research before writing the titles, though, in the same way that you would research anything else for SEO purposes.
Where do I find keywords for my pins?
The best way to find keywords for Pinterest is to use the Pinterest search bar to find what autopopulates, and then make notes about what other searches they’re suggesting for you. Those are usually more specific, and you might be able to niche down to keywords that are less competitive.
Pinterest suggests search terms that they think are related to what you typed in, so make sure to keep track of those.
A lot of people use a spreadsheet to monitor what’s suggested, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Just make a list of things that come up while you’re on Pinterest that you think would apply to your listings, then use those.
This search for “cat toys” shows more specific terms under it in the colored bubbles. Those don’t show up for every search, but don’t worry, there’s another place to find them.
But if you do click on one of the bubbles, you’ll see that even more come up:
And you can keep going until you run out. Just make a note of different suggestions that come up if you think they would be good for your products.
If you don’t see the bubbles, you can just scroll down the page until you see “related searches.” These are search terms that Pinterest thinks are related to the one that you typed in, so you’ll have them as options to add to your list.
Follow those, and you’ll find even more.
You can also use Google for keyword research since Google indexes Pinterest pins and shows them in search results.
How should I capitalize on what’s working on Pinterest?
If you pay attention to which pins are getting attention and outbound clicks (that means clicks that are going to your website or Etsy shop, not just people looking at the pin,) you should be able to start seeing patterns of what type of pin is getting the most attention and clicks.
Is it a specific design? It is the subject matter?
If you can pinpoint what’s working, do more of that to see if that works, too.
You can reuse the exact same pin and change a color or a font and Pinterest considers it to be a “fresh pin,” so you don’t have to start from scratch each time.
I created a bunch of templates using Pingenerator and some in Photoshop, and I reuse the templates that get the most engagement because that shows that there’s something about the image that’s interesting to people.
I want to use what’s working to model future pin designs so that I can post more of what seems to attract people.
Pinterest is an excellent way to drive traffic long-term, but it’s not a fast solution. You need to put time and consistency into it. Once you get it set up it’s not a difficult platform to use, but it requires consistent effort and patience…Lots of patience.
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