How to Grow a Pinterest Following in Any Niche (Our Case Study!)

We’ve always heard that Pinterest was a great source of traffic but I’d say that it has blown past our expectations for HPD (Human Proof Designs.) In the latter part of September, we embarked on an experiment and went from virtually 0 visitors per month to 1358 visitors the very next month.

That’s a massive change! Let’s go through what we did.

At Human Proof Designs, we sell done-for-you affiliate sites. Basically they are starter packs for affiliate marketing. Our type of service isn't exactly a niche we thought would do well on Pinterest since we thought it was mostly about finding recipes - but we were wrong.

What You'll Learn Today

  • What Pinterest is & why marketers should care
  • How we grew our own Pinterest traffic by 1358X
  • How to do Pinterest SEO
  • How to Automate your Pinterest growth

We adapted an original case study from Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation and added our own spin to it. Nick’s original interview with RoseMarie Groner of Busy Budgeter was the spark that started this experiment so we encourage you guys to check out both Nick’s case study and also the interview with RoseMarie.

Although our traffic has declined slightly, it’s still consistent.

Pinterest Case Study for Human Proof Designs

First, here's what you should know:

What is Pinterest and Why Should I Care?

Pinterest is a social network that uses the concept of a board to "pin" blog posts. In fact, the great thing about Pinterest is that it's the only social network where people go to seek out content.

Pinterest is a great place to drip out your content and get continual long tail traffic. Facebook is another avenue for this but you'll have to be a lot more of a participant. Reddit on the other hand is a place where you explosive traffic, but only for a few short days. Once you're done checking out this current case study, check out the article I wrote about getting 2,200 page views in 2 days from Reddit.

What is the Appeal of Pinterest to Marketers? 

Online marketers are very familiar with Facebook groups and what makes Pinterest appealing but different from Facebook groups is the fact that Pinterest encourages outbound links. "Pinterest Group Boards" have contributors and the creators of the groups are hungry for new content every single minute. Although I don't consider shares to be very relevant social signals, building and growing a niche site on Pinterest at the very beginning can possibly help get you out of the Sandbox quicker.

Although it’s true that Pinterest’s demographics are largely women. I’d say that’s slowly starting to change with more men coming onto the platform. But most importantly, Pinterest users are well known for having higher disposable income than any other social networks and the niches are endless. From automotive, pets, and almost every category available on Amazon but as a niche on Pinterest.

Let’s go through the exact steps we took to grow our own Pinterest account.

Step 1: Start Your "Secret Boards” 

What is a secret board on Pinterest? It's a hidden board that you can pre-populate with blog posts before making them to the public. Start off by creating 10 secret boards of various topics your site covers and add at least 10 pins inside of each board. This is the exact strategy that RoseMarie taught Nick.

How Should I Name My Pinterest Boards? 

You want to arm your group boards with the highest possibility of gaining natural traffic from Pinterest’s search engine. This is something we adapted from Amasuite’s Keyword Generator concept and instead of generating keywords for Amazon, we’re trying to find keywords in Pinterest.

The concept is simple:

We began by typing in topics into the search bar, such as "affiliate marketing" and looked at the suggestions Pinterest gave us. Then we ran each of the searches separately to analyze the competition.

Click over to the "boards" filter. Look at the first couple boards that show up and click on them. You want to see low follower counts and also low pins from the board.

The thought is that Pinterest is showing the best profiles and boards already, so if you put in more effort into growing your account - you should be able to show up in the first results too.

It’s similar to SERP analysis for low competition keywords in Google.

Pinterest SEO for Pinterest boards

Choose the phrase/keyword with the lowest competition in terms of followers and pins, and use this as your board's name. Repeat the process at least 10 times for the rest of your secret boards and then once you're finished - turn your secret boards public.

Apply this same SEO concept for adding keywords to your profile name and pin descriptions. Treat pin descriptions like meta descriptions for your blog posts. We talk about what you need to do with meta descriptions in our Extra Mile SEO post.

Pinterest SEO for Profiles

Quick Note: You'll Want to Activate "Rich Pins" on Pinterest by following these instructions. This allows Pinterest to show the pins coming from your site in a better format. It really sticks out and is worth activating.

Step 2: How to Get Followers on Pinterest in Any Niche

If you are brand new to Pinterest, the best way for you to gain followers is to spread your site's content. Create a "best of" board and populate it with your most popular content. For example, we have a “Best of Human Proof Designs” board.

You can determine which posts to include by looking at your sites Google Analytics and look at the highest page views. If your sites brand new, then it would make sense to include a lot of your informational articles since these will likely do better than your money posts (reviews and “best X for…”)

Always create custom images for your "best of" pins. Make these images 735 x 1100 since this is the size Canva suggests. You can make the images in Canva as well.

Pinterest is a very visual social network like Instagram, but instead of simply ‘liking’ images - Pinterest users will click through to read a blog post.

Join Facebook Groups for Pinterest

We utilized this Facebook group and this second FB group to join quite a few “Pinterest Group Boards.” These group boards is the core part of this strategy and allows us to share our content with hundreds of thousands of people. Rather than just the people following our profile. Once a contributor joins a Pinterest group board, all of their followers become the followers of the other contributors. So you’re reach can exponentially grow very very quickly.

These Facebook groups specifically are filled with people looking to create brand new Pinterest groups and are thirsty for contributors to join their boards.

Pinterest Groups are really about quantity. You definitely don't want to be a part of crappy Pinterest groups, but there are so many out there in every niche that having as many as possible will give you a leg up in terms of sharing your content.

One thing to note: You may have to add your website to your Facebook profile in order to be accepted into the group. If you are in a niche you aren't exactly proud of, you can always add your personal blog to your Facebook profile until you are accepted into the Facebook groups and then ask to be added as a contributor of your niche site.

The best way to find relevant group boards is to look at the ones your competition is a part of. Read the rules to join and then follow the steps they outline. You can find instructions at the group boards description.

You can always tell which Pinterest boards have multiple contributors by the icon at the bottom.

PInterest group instructions

Automate Your Pinterest Work

In the Side Hustle Nation interview, Rosemarie suggests using Board Booster to automate your pinning. But we suggest using Tailwind since it's one of Pinterest's approved vendors that's connected directly into Pinterest's API.

Tailwind is great, you can basically repost and upload pins that will be scheduled out at a later date.

Two important things to consider about scheduling on Pinterest:

1) You should schedule pins to go onto your group boards but also your own boards.

2) You MUST shuffle your scheduled pins in order for it to look natural. This is one of Tailwinds biggest features.

Step 3: Finding Pinners on Pinterest

We don't have an exact strategy on attracting pinner's but definitely utilizing the fact that Pinterest is an image-based social network to your favour helps.

What do we mean by this?

When you begin to schedule your pins into group boards plus your own boards - double up and create multiple images with different headlines.

There isn't a rule that says you can only use one custom image per blog post. If your blog post can be angled in two different ways, then create two images.

We’ve found that lighter image colours work the best for people to click through.

Often times Pinterest group boards will have rules that don't allow you to post the same pin within a certain period (for example 1 unique pin per month.) The way to get around this is to create multiple images.

Pinterest is similar to twitter in that you need to post lots of times a day in order to get your content to spread. It’s ok to post 30 or more times a day. We are doing about that for HPD’s profile.

How Could We Improve Our Own Profile?

How to sell on pinterest

As we mentioned earlier, our traffic has decreased over the past month. We are pinning lots but Pinterests core algorithm is different now. We believe that Pinterest is placing less importance on Groups and more importance a profiles boards

This doesn’t mean we are going to stop posting on group boards, but we will just need to post our content not only in the Best of HPD board, but also the other relevant boards we created initially. (The secret boards that we pre-populated before making them public.)

One very easy win would be for us to brand the HPD Pinterest profile more by including custom cover images and sharing our own content more on our own boards. We could also start a Pinterest group board ourselves but I'm not sure that would really help us get more relevant traffic. It’s also an administrative task that would require plenty of work.

Again, here are the reason's why we like Pinterest and why we believe you should try implementing this strategy - regardless of niche:

  1. ​Pinterest is the only place where people are encouraged to share their content without looking spammy. There is, of course, a fine line but make sure your images are quality.
  2. Pinterest can be automated with monthly upkeep.
  3. You can use more than one image to spread your best content. Giving it a different angle each time but double the exposure.

As niche site builders, you should always be experimenting. Especially when this strategy can only help your rankings and social proof. Our best post has over 1800 shares on Pinterest alone.

I challenge you to give this a shot and if you have any questions, please leave a comment below. We’d also love to see your results too!

  • Tanya Rita

    Do you recommend pinning from other sites (and repinning from others within pinterest) or are you only pinning your own articles? I have always heard that pinterest looks down on accounts that only pin their own articles.

    I read through your article fairly quickly so if you mentioned this I will go back and re-read.

    • We definitely Pin our own articles plus others. It’s a good mix of both.

      Depending on your niche and if it’s a very image heavy niche (like fitness of something), you can even collect images and compose top lists. That way you have a bunch of images that you didn’t create, but can use in your pinterest posts. Linking back to you.

      Of course, giving credit to the original content as well.

  • We have had good success using pinpinterest for automated followers. I get just under 500 followers in a month.

    • Nice, great job! It’s a good source of traffic – not as good as organic of course but you cant beat the automation.

  • Hi Kelvin,
    Thanks for a detailed post! It was very interesting to read!
    I have a question. Why should the initial Pinterest boards stay secret? Why can’t we make them public from the beginning and populate over time? Does it give some special boost to the pins?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Nadya,

      You can definitely set your boards as public first, but I just prefer to come out with a pre-populated board and then pin from there. It’s personal preference in a way, however I put it into the article so that people would be aware that they existed.

      Hope that helps!