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How To Get Your First 1,000 Pinterest Followers – Graphic © WealthPowerBoost. Background photo – Shutterstock (under license)
If you are starting out on Pinterest and want to build a following, this is the tutorial you need! 🙂
If you are a blogger it’s highly advised to give some push to your social media, especially in the beginning – as opposed to just trying to “build it and they will come” – which doesn’t work at all well.
Creating good content is essential, but you also need to promote it. You need to put your blog and your brand in front of people – and if you don’t, you will be all but invisible in the giant “digital ocean”. Visibility is king and social media – done right – is probably the best way to create that visibility!
For bloggers, Pinterest is especially well suited to driving traffic and generating revenue. Many bloggers in fact state that Pinterest is their #1 traffic source and responsible for the majority of their income.
So let’s get ourselves some Pinterest followers! 🙂
I’ve done this process lots and lots of times and these methods still work reliably every time. It’s not that hard if you do things the right way. Whenever I start a new brand / blog I go through these steps.
With all social media platforms, getting the first thousand followers is the hardest, then it gradually picks up momentum like a giant snowball.
So we are going to use a mix of methods and just “gangbuster it” – do a bit of everything we can in order to get that snowball rolling and get to 1,000 safely but in the fastest possible time.
For this tutorial, there will be some steps you need to take before you begin the process of actually getting the followers. Let’s cover those first:
Step 1: Getting Your Pinterest Account Set Up Properly
For this tutorial, I’m going to assume that you have already created your blog and got it set up… If you are really right at the beginning of that process and literally starting from ground zero, that’s ok – I have free tutorials for all of it! 🙂 Start by choosing a good niche: Top 26 Profitable Blog Niches Plus 11 You Should AVOID At All Costs
The next step will be to choose a great name for your blog / brand: How To Choose A Superb Domain Name For Your Blog
[I will link the rest of the tutorials v soon]
If you are completely new to Pinterest and need help setting up your Pinterest account, here is a great video tutorial from Anastasia Blogger. She makes it nice and clear and simple:
Make sure you select the “business” account option, which is pretty similar to the personal account (and still free!) but gives you analytics and allows you to place a clickable link on your Pinterest account homepage. To do this you will need to verify – by adding a small piece of code to your blog or by uploading a small file which Pinterest can read. This is definitely a recommended step.
Step 2: Be Well Branded
Branding is a key component of picking up a social media following. Social media gives a truly great opportunity to create visibility for your brand, but there is a big difference between profile icons and brand names that get clicks and those that don’t. Most people are doing it wrong.
Branding is an in-depth topic but in general you need to be unique, appealing, memorable and “decipherable” – in other words it should be instantaneously apparent what your brand is about, enabling people to “get it” in a fraction of a second and make that spontaneous decision to click and follow. These brand factors will make a big difference to the pickup rate of your following.
Do the best you can, but don’t get stuck here or go off on a massive tangent: One good thing about Pinterest is that you “rebrand” an existing Pinterest account at any time – you can change the name, URL and profile pic of a Pinterest account later. I would counsel however not to change niches on an existing account, because people who are into recipes might not be into gardening, if you see what I mean. Give it your best shot but remember that you can always create more Pinterest accounts later if you come up with new and awesome brand ideas! Note that if you change the URL of your Pinterest account, any existing links to your profile will break and will need to be fixed.
Here’s my tutorial on How To Choose A Superb Domain Name For Your Blog
Step 3: “Pad Out” The Account And Make It Appealing
One of the key factors that makes people follow a Pinterest account is the overall “wow factor” when they land on your main account page. The good news is that this is easy to create! 🙂
Be aware that just creating a Pinterest account and hoping people will follow, will not work. Very few people will follow an empty or “thin” Pinterest account. You have to give them a reason to follow you!
So once you have made your account, you will need to populate it with some attractive boards and pins, so that when people land on it they are “won over” and much more likely to hit the follow button. If people follow, your new pins will be shown to them on a regular basis. We want this!
When it comes to populating the account, I would advise to create 20 to 40 boards and give them appealing names. Each board should have its own topic or theme and I would make these a “mix” of the topics of your blog and topics that will “also be interesting to people who like those things”. Have a look at some popular Pinterest accounts that have a big following to get ideas.
Create some boards that are directly related to the main topics of your niche. A good strategy here is to look at your main content categories and give your boards names that are the same as those. So for example if your niche is recipes, your blog will probably have for example categories for smoothie recipes, breakfast ideas, main courses, light bites, etc. Create boards with those names.
Create some other boards too that are not on the exact same topics as your niche, but on topics that are “peripherally related” to your topic. So for example if your niche is natural health, think about what else people interested in natural health will likely be interested in. Probably beautiful nature scenes, so you might have boards called “amazing forests” and “beautiful beaches” or something. Yes, I did that.
It’s not essential to pin just your own pins. To get things going fast, do a Pinterest search on the topic of your board:
… and then just repin a bunch of images that have the best “wow factor” and that you love the most. Choosing great images will really boost the appeal of the account and it’s not hard to make a really beautiful and appealing looking account quite quickly this way! Pin at least 5 images to each board in total. 20 is a good goal but make things look organic and natural.
Don’t spend forever (weeks or months) on this. The goal is to whip something up fairly fast that looks cool and makes the account “worth the click”.
Once you have an account that you feel proud of, the kind of account that when people land on it makes them think “Oh, I like this!” – then you are ready to start getting followers. 🙂
Now It’s Time To Go Get Those Followers
Quick note on account limits and bans. Pinterest has been known to ban accounts if people go crazy pinning or do something else that could be considered “extreme”. I will explain this in more detail in a minute but the main thing to note is that while an account ban is a pain in the butt, it’s not the end of the world – especially if you only have a small following. You can simply create a new account with a new email address and start over. Even so, we will do our best to avoid this!
Step 4: Linking To Your Pinterest From Your Other Internet Profiles And Pages
If you already have a social media following on other platforms, for example Youtube or Facebook, then you can link to your Pinterest profile. You can also place a button on your blog / website and I like to create a nice big one with high visibility – this will get more clicks and follows.
Step 5: Announce Your Account To Your Audience
If you already have any kind of relevant fan base – either in an email list, contact database or on any other platform – now is the time to pitch to them and announce that you have a Pinterest account. You have a shiny new venture and something worth looking at! You’ll pick up a few followers this way.
Note however that I would recommend not to pitch to your “friends and fam” and I will explain why shortly.
Step 6: Followbacks
Probably the easiest “beginner strategy” to get started picking up a significant number of Pinterest followers is to follow some people. It’s ultra easy but as with all these things, there’s a good way and a bad way to go about it.
When you follow people, you will almost certainly get some followbacks. This is a phenomenon of Instagram, Pinterest and various other sites where, when you follow someone, they will get a notification that you followed them. That notification is a form of visibility! Some of those people will see the notification, some of those will “click you” out of curiosity, and some of those will follow you back when they see how magnificent you are. 🙂
You might be able to pick up hundreds or even thousands of followers, gradually, just using just this simple technique alone!
It stands to reason (via simple maths of course) that the more people you follow, the more will follow you back. But the exact percentages will vary depending on the quality of your content, your branding and your overall awesomeness.
Branding, for these purposes, typically includes how good looking your profile pic is (love it or hate it, it is well established that conventionally good looking people, especially females, get more clicks and followbacks), how good your profile name is, how appealing your logo is and what you have on offer. But regardless, if your profile is well put together and relevant to the people you follow, you will still get some followbacks. And you don’t have to use your own photo if you prefer to remain incognito. Your logo or even a cute kitten from Pixabay will do! 😀 Don’t get bogged down! Just do it! You can always go back and optimize the profile later.
People typically report a 5% to 20% “follow back ratio” on Instagram and Pinterest but your mileage WILL vary. Be appealing!
Now – imagine if you could follow all of Pinterest’s hundreds of millions of users? Couldn’t you get 50 million followbacks? Nice thought, but no, absolutely not! There are strict limits to this. You are allowed to follow “some people per day” – of course – but in order to prevent abuse, sites typically place a cap on how many! You can’t just go crazy clicking on every account you see. Flaunt this and you risk getting banned. You may or may not get a “slow down!” warning first.
With Pinterest the absolute maximum used to be (I think) 200 follows per day and it might now be less than 100. These limits often change and so you will need to do some quick research on up-to-date stats and then aim comfortably inside of those. I would think that 10 to 50 follows per day will probably be fine. Google “How many people can I follow on Pinterest per day” but be prepared for the fact that you might get 6 different answers! Vary and spread out your efforts, don’t do too much too fast and make some effort to “appear natural” – in other words don’t just open up one of the big Pinterest accounts in your niche and follow everone one after another. Do a few here, a few there – a bit like the “normal behavior” of a random person using the platform.
⭐ Pro Tip: Don’t bother trying to get followbacks from huge accounts or celebrities. Like them of course if you like them, but these people may get hundreds or even thousands of new followers and DMs per day and they almost certainly won’t see the notification.
Should you use “follow bots”? A “follow bot” is an app that automates the process of following accounts. This is high risk with regard to account bans and it almost certainly flaunts Terms of Service and so I cannot directly recommend you to do this – however in the spirit of honesty I have to admit that I have done it in the past – it was very successful and I “got away with it”. The best of these bots allow you to unfollow people who have not followed you back – so you can ‘recycle’ and keep going. If you are going to do this, a way to mitigate the risk is to create a Pinterest account specially for it or use an account that is smaller so that you are not risking a high value property. Then simply stop doing it when you have built up the account and start using the account as normal. I had success with Pin4Ever‘s “power follow” tool – great results.
Although it’s tempting to hit this hard, it’s generally advised to not go too crazy. Follow a few people per day and stop or slow down doing followbacks on well-established social media accounts.
A Note On “Targeted Followers”
Important: You should “target” your follows; you want to follow people who have the same interests as those of your page. So for example if your page is about dogs, find existing high quality and popular dog pages and follow a few of the dog lovers on each. Be sure to have a dog-themed brand name and the most adorable dog picture you have access to (don’t steal, use Pixabay!) as your profile pic. These folk are way more likely to follow back than random people! Follow the people who you think will connect with your brand.
Isn’t it great that you can find your fans this way? It’s amazing – and free!
Keep all outreach efforts tightly focused around your target audience. This is actually extremely important for more reasons than the number of followbacks you get. Targeted followers are vital for your enterprise.There are two reasons why.
1) Because they are actually interested in the topic; thus they are more likely to buy, follow, share, like, repin, link or whatever.
2) Because the social media algorithms use weighting. This means that they detect the stuff that gets the reactions and they reward it with much, much greater visibility. The sky is the limit for this visibility but it only happens if the “core audience” engages strongly. Followers who are not interested in the topic are worse than useless, they are harmful!
The rationale behind this extreme disparity of content distribution makes perfectly logical sense: The platforms want to keep people hooked in all day, because then they can display more ads and make more revenue. Showing “everything to everyone” would be a disaster for them because then every single mundane “I had a sandwich for lunch” post will appear and make their platform boring as hell! This is very important to understand. 95% of what most people post on social media is either very boring or just irrelevant to most people. This is a very big part of the reason (let’s not get into conspiracy theories) why they control the reach of posts and dial down all but the most engaging content.
Let’s say you make heavy metal music. If you play your amazing new song to 1000 “random people”, you might get 25 likes. However if you play it to your people – 1000 metal fans – you might get 500 likes and you have a chance of viral growth. The social media platform will recognize that 50% of the core audienceengaged with the post and will give it some distribution to a wider audience.
So if all you did was collect random, untargeted followers who are not even fans of the genre, it creates weak future engagement which is not a good look and will cause the social media site to bury not only the content but bury your entire channel. If your subscribers don’t even care about your content, why would anyone else? So you can see that not all followers are worth having and in fact some are worth avoiding. Find the places that your demographic already hangs out and focus your promotional efforts there.
Step 7: Create Some Really Good Content And Pin It
This is of course the “ultimate strategy” for building a fan base! Having great content and pinning your images will also start pushing traffic from your Pinterest account to your blog, so it’s really the main goal of the enterprise. It would be very slow going to begin with though if this was the only thing you did.
In general, Pinterest accounts with more unique images tend to attract more followers. It’s simple math; the more content you have, the more places your account name and icon appears in Pinterest and the greater your potential slice of visibility.
The “standard” method here, that works, is to create high quality blog posts that are relevant and useful for your audience, and then create at least one “tall” image to go with each blog post. Around 5 images per post is typically recommended. I’ve gone into lots more detail on this in my tutorial How To Make Money On Pinterest (Full Length FREE Tutorial).
Creating images that work well on Pinterest is super important and there is a gigantic difference between an average or mediocre image and a really good Pinterest image. All things considered, this is probably one of the most important aspects of “winning on Pinterest”. A really top Pinterest image can send tons of traffic whereas a poor one might send none at all.
⭐ Pro Tip: “Graphic design for social media” is NOT the same as “regular” professional graphic design and there is a whole layer of nuance in creating graphics and images that drive traffic from Pinterest (and other social media sites). Check out my free tutorial How To Make Pinterest Graphics That Drive Massive Traffic To Your Blog
The better your Pinterest graphics and the more of them you pin, the more your traffic will grow and correspondingly, if you have done things right, the more your blog revenue will grow. If you can get to the stage where your blog income from Pinterest gives you enough to hire someone, you can start getting Pinterest graphics made – and I have done this to scale up and create thousands of images for Pinterest!
I would definitely recommend before you hire someon though, to learn the techniques for yourself first and really understand the differences between images that do well on Pinterest and images that don’t. Don’t assume that the “sacred knowledge” is common – it isn’t and most people are not good a graphics for social media. 😉
Step 8: Pin Button On Your Blog Images
I use a great WordPress plugin called jQuery Pin It Button for Images that makes a Pinterest button appear when people hover over an image on my blogs. Super cool! This encourages people to repin the image, which in turn will help boost your Pinterest traffic and help you grow the following. So it’s an “indirect” strategy but all these “marginal gains” add up and help build the momentum. This is an easy step that is worth doing.
Step 9: Existing Contacts & Personal Outreach (Is It Worth It?)
An important thing to note is that I built over 4.5M social media followers WITHOUT doing any “personal outreach” whatsoever. In fact only a handful of my real-life friends are followers of my business pages! I never “pitched” to them to try to get them to join – and actually strongly recommend you to avoid doing this. Let me explain why, and how this dovetails nicely into the important topic of targeted followers.
Let’s pick a very arbitrary number and say you know 200 people personally. Of those, how many are actually interested in your topic? Perhaps 20.
The rest are people you know through social circles, family and friends. There is about as much point in doing outreach to them as there is in selling embroidery tutorials at a heavy metal concert.
But let’s say for the sake of argument that you go ahead and pitch your “friends and fam” and you get 20 new followers.
Big whoop. As they are your friends, they will expect freebies… and will probably want to chit chat and waste time. Worse: they will not engage with your content in the same way as “real fans”. Social media does not reward polite clapping. It rewards when people go bananas.
Forget it. Let it go. It’s all bad! You can go onto Pinterest and follow some people using the Followback Strategy and pick up 20 targeted followers with minimal effort, within a few days or less! And these people will be people that have already professed an interest in your niche or topic!
By all means dig into your existing contact databases and promote to the ones that are relevant. Thus if you are already in an established business and are building a new social media channel, you should definitely see if you can pull email addresses, business cards etc of all past clients, fans and especially past buyers (the most golden contact list of them all!) and notify them of your new enterprise.
Step 10: Buying Followers / Using Ads
Should you buy followers? I have to be honest and say “hell yes” because this was an absolutely vital component that allowed me to make my first million online! On many social media platforms, buying the first few thousand followers is the absolute best way to get the ball rolling – but there is a right way and a wrong way. Understanding this is ultra, ultra important.
The first thing to note is that just spending money to build a following should NEVER be the only string to your bow. You will need to be delivering ongoing good content to maximize the pickup and sustain the growth of your fan base. So if you don’t have much actual content yet, fix that first. Throwing money at an empty account or one with poor content is simply not going to work – it’s just a waste of money, no matter how big the budget. It is however worth spending money to show people things they are going to love – especially if the popularity of that content has already been validated by the data.
In other words, first make sure your profile, blog etc is getting a good response from people who land on it. Are they sticking? Are they responding positively? Are you picking up fans organically? If so, it may be time to show your brand to more people. In general, if you are going to run an ad, use your #1 most popular post / image / whatever it is that has picked up the best response.
Use The Platform, Not Third Party Sources
When “buying likes” or using advertising to drive traffic to your social media profiles, I consider it a 100% hard and fast rule to ONLY do it via the platform itself i.e. Facebook advertising for Facebook likes.
On Pinterest, there isn’t a direct way to buy followers. Your best bet would probably be to start by creating some content and pins, and then when one “pops” (does really well compared to the others), trying out an ad spend to boost that pin – and seeing how many new followers it picks up. Start with a small budget – 5 or 10 dollars – and if it does well, by all means spend more.
You should absolutely seek to calculate your ROI (Return on Investment) or LCV (Lifetime Customer Value) if you possibly can; these will dictate the policy of your ad spend better than just going by feel. However these are tricky metrics to calculate with a social media following – because the future growth and long term behavior of that following is quite unknown; but do what you can.
Another way to do this is to allocate a percentage of your ad revenue back into growing the audience, thus allowing you to “make it pay” before you scale.
There are lots of third parties offering to “sell followers” on the major social media platforms and I would not touch them with a ten foot pole; not only is it almost certainly against ToS but often these may be either fake accounts or created through some other type of spam. Another reason is because they may not even be from countries where your language is the primary language. And for various other important reasons. Just don’t!
This is worth explaining in a bit more detail. Avoiding buying crappy followers from third party sources is actually extremely important and I learned why the hard way: Back in 2013, when I was still new to social media, I attempted to kickstart a new Facebook page with 5,000 cheap “likes” purchased from some dodgy seller (might have been on Fiverr or somewhere, there are lots of them). I got the likes I paid for… but then watched in dismay as the page completely failed to pick up any sort of traction, no matter what I posted. The followers were low quality, untargeted follows from some random country, quite possibly entirely fake accounts – and, seeing that my content was not engaging my audience, Facebook then buried the content because the algorithm only rewards good engagement with greater visibility!
The fake followers did not like, share or comment, the page tanked and I was never able to get it off the ground – because the fake followers ruined the metrics both of the posts and of the entire page, causing the algorithm to interpret everything I posted as weak. It was hopeless, a lost cause. The only thing to do was delete the ruined fan page and move on – which I did. Lesson learned.
A further possibility is driving traffic directly to your Pinterest profile via some other advertising platform – which is entirely possible and should not be a problem – but I have not tried it.
“Follow For Follow” Schemes (Don’t Do It!)
Don’t ever get involved with any sort of “like for like” schemes or “follow groups”. There are worse than a waste of time for the same reason. Yes you get “likes” but those people don’t have any genuine interest in your content. They are worse than useless followers that will harm your overall engagement scores and literally prevent you from going viral. It’s very hard to recover from this, and again, the only thing to do in many cases is scrap the “polluted account” and start again. The number of your engaged followers is what matters.
Well done! If you have done a selection of the above correctly, you should have 1000 followers. If not, simply rinse and repeat. Make more awesome content and then run through the steps again as appropriate. At this point it’s time to start getting focused on delivering a stream of continual content as it’s pretty much going to be a requirement from here on in.
Check your data using Pinterest analytics. Some of your content probably got noticeably more traction than the rest and some probably got less. This is normal. Figure out why (if you can), and do more of that. 🙂