I recently had a pleasant wake-up call about Pinterest.
In my supreme ignorance, I thought that this popular social media site was the haven for dessert recipes, cute animals, and crochet patterns. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a plethora of great writing resources – and writing advice!
If you haven’t invested time in setting up a Pinterest account to promote your writing, I urge you to do so. For a normal person, it should only take about 15 minutes to start a couple of “boards” (translation: themed areas where you post pictures, like your novel covers.)
Being “Abby Normal,” (as fans of Young Frankenstein would say,) I spent about 3 hours getting started, because I created 10 boards and pinned about 175 photos to them. (Yes, Pinterest is addictive!)
If you’re new to the Pinterest phenom, let me give you a few pointers:
Popular Times to Post
According to some Social Media expert (whose name I’ve forgotten,) the best time to pin and get pinned on Pinterest is Saturday morning. Other high traffic times on Pinterest are 2 to 4 p.m. EST. The lowest traffic times are 5 to 7 p.m. EST.
On Pinterest, you have an opportunity to brand yourself and your work, so don’t choose something that will get you fired from your job, or worse, that will traumatize your family years later. (I still wonder at the wisdom of posting naked toddler photos – especially of your own children. But hey. To each his own.)
The good news is: deleting pins is SUPER EASY.
Profile Description and Board Titles
Be sure to make your profile interesting, and include your website URL in your profile. You won’t have many text characters to describe yourself on Pinterest, so your Muse will be challenged.
Apply your wit and humor when naming the titles of your Boards. Also be sure to include a link to your website in each board description. Remember that random Google visitors might stop by one of your boards -- without the advantage of knowing who you are or what you write.
Be sure you write a clever, catchy, or thought-provoking line to describe each photo. Yes, I am guilty of writing, "LOL" and "Hilarious" as my sole description for a few pins. (My excuse? I was a newbie.)
However, I have since learned that a description is like a title. When I get email messages that tell me someone liked my pin, the title of that pin shows up in my email as "Hilarious." (And how useful is THAT?)
So even if you are re-pinning someone else’s photo to your board, I encourage you to add your own witty verbage.
Don't Forget to Add Links
If you want folks to find your book, blog post, or website, include links in the photo description. I discovered that Pinterest won’t take URL shorteners, like Bit.ly (why, I have no idea. Then again, maybe it’s just me being Blonde?)
I also discovered that if I upload a photo from my computer, I have to go back to a photo to add the link in the “Source” area. (If you pin directly from a website, you shouldn’t have this problem.)
Vary Your Board Themes
Provide a variety of boards with different themes. Sure, you want to promote your books and your blog posts. But give your readers other fare – stuff that shows another side of you. (You'll attract new friends and influence more people.)
My most popular boards are Uplifting Quotes and Humorous Quips and Photos. My mind is still boggled by the number of times the calico kitten in the wash machine has been pinned (see photo, left.) As of this writing: that kitten has been pinned from my Humorous Quips and Photos board 597 times and liked 140 times – and I only started pinning 3 weeks ago.
Ironically, I almost didn’t pin the kitten because I thought she was just “mildly” funny! Meanwhile, the cat photo that I thought was HILARIOUS hasn’t been pinned or “liked” yet. (Which just goes to show I know nothing about Cat Humor.)
Invite and Accept Invitations
If you don't live in a cave (translation: if you post on other social media sites,) the invite / accept wisdom should make perfect sense.
I got invited to become a member of the board, World of Indie Writers, which has 5,896 pins as of this writing. This board has been instrumental in helping me reach other writers and readers. The World of Indie Writers board has also provided me with some great resources to share on my own boards, Resources for Writers and Writing Advice from Pros.
Pace Your Pinning Sprees
Avoid pinning a bazillion new images in one sitting, and then disappearing from your boards for a month. Obviously, I offer this advice AFTER your initial pinning spree, in which you set up your account. A bazillion pins, no matter how entertaining, will get lost in the crush. So (to quote yet another hackneyed aphorism) “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Create Pinterest Widgets
A Pinterest photo collage is an awesome eye-catcher on your website. The tricky part about widgets? You must copy BOTH codes that Pinterest provides (the embed code and the Java Script;) otherwise, the widget won't be visible on your website. (I spent four hours figuring this out.) See the Pinterest widget in my right sidebar, "Fantasy Art Inspires My Characters.
Warning: Pinning is Addictive
(And you thought Twitter and Facebook were time thieves!)
If you want to finish that novel -- and get it published -- be sure to set a limit on pinning. After you set up your account, 15 minutes should be plenty of time each day to keep your boards going and promote your novel writing on Pinterest.