Last Updated on January 5, 2022 by andrewtk
Are you trying to figure out if Pinterest affiliate marketing is going to be a worthwhile use of your time?
Join the club!
Affiliate marketing on Pinterest can be a tough nut to crack.
Yet there's no end of stories about affiliates generating a ton of traffic from Pinterest.
But does that traffic convert?
And is your affiliate marketing niche a good fit for this extremely visual platform?
I tested it out.
Starting with virtually zero knowledge of how to use the platform, and experimenting with Pinterest affiliate marketing across three different niches.
What Even Is Pinterest?
Is it a social media platform?
I don't think it is.
So what is it?
Pinterest is a search engine, it's just a very visual one.
In fact, they describe themselves as a “visual discovery tool”.
Pinterest has tried to introduce more social features, but its audience generally shows little interest in spending their time interacting with other Pinterest users.
Your average Pinterest user is more interested in looking for visual inspiration, for no end of different reasons, including making better informed buying decisions.
In fact, just under 90% of Pinterest users are using it to make better buying decisions.
That is serious buying intent!
On top of that, 40% of Pinners have an annual household income of $100,000 or more!
And that is serious buying power!
Is this starting to look like an affiliate marketing goldmine to you?
Pinterest Affiliate Marketing – How It Works
You can, if you want, start using affiliate links direct from Pinterest to affiliate offers.
Some people are making these Pinterest affiliate links work pretty effectively right now, but it's fair to say this is not my preferred approach.
My personal Pinterest affiliate marketing efforts focus on driving traffic to my website, by creating pins that get good exposure, and attract clicks to Pinterest-friendly content on my site.
I then link out to affiliate offers from the affiliate links on my own site.
But that's not to say that the direct approach won't work for you.
So there are basically two main ways you can use Pinterest for affiliate marketing…
Pinterest Affiliate Marketing Strategies:
1. Create Pins That Drive Traffic to Your Website/Blog
With this method you are using Pinterest to generate fresh traffic to your boards and pins.
From your boards and pins you then want to try and move that traffic on to your own website or blog.
Here's an example of how you can send traffic from Pinterest to your own site.
It's important to build trust by creating great, shareable links, and not taking every opportunity to try and direct traffic to your own site.
Your link should be through to a super-relevant piece of content about the product they’re showing an interest in.
The affiliate links you want to promote will be within this piece of content on your own site.
Well, to be fair there are actually two ways of monetising the traffic you have brought back to your site from Pinterest:
What we've just been talking about directly above.
This is where your actual affiliate link is on your own site.
Ad sites get paid according to both the number of visitors who see them and the number of clicks on the ads.
Keep in mind that Pinterest users do not tend to fall for spammy tactics and you'll end up driving users away if you are too aggressive in your approach.
Place links sparingly and always make sure they only ever lead back to relevant content.
Do this properly and you will have created a whole new funnel opening that starts with Pinterest.
2. Create Pins Driving Traffic Directly to Offers/Prodcuts/Services
If you really don't want to link to your blog or website, you can simply add your affiliate links directly to the URL box that each pin has.
Pinterest never used to allow placing affiliate links in this way, but now it does.
You simply get your affiliate link from your affiliate program and place it as the link for your pin where it says “Enter a Website.”
Here’s a great example of a pin with a direct affiliate link to a product selling on Amazon:
Don't forget to add an FTC affiliate link disclaimer.
Oh, and be certain to check that it’s an affiliate program that falls within the Pinterest Terms and Conditions…or you'll be kicked out before you can say Click-Thru-Rate.
Once that's all done, you'll be able to earn affiliate commissions each time someone clicks through from any of your affiliate links on Pinterest, hits the products own landing page, and goes on to make a purchase.
But…just because you can…does not always mean you should!
Why You Should Drive Pinterest Traffic To Your Own Website/Blog
Personally, I just don't believe you can expect to consistently make money on Pinterest, over the long-term, without your own website.
If you are going to directly place your affiliate links on Pinterest, sure, you may make some sales. But you are building your affiliate business totally on Pinterest itself, and you have no control over what will happen with that platform in the future.
Pinterest could stop the use of affiliate links tomorrow, and your business would be dead.
If, on the other hand, you build your own site, you have control over the hub of your business.
From there you can leverage various platforms, including Pinterest, to bring in traffic to maybe product review, or blog post on your site.
It is probably worth taking a few lines to bring in all of the current guidelines you're going to have to comply with.
Pinterest doesn’t allow shortening or cloaking of your affiliate links.
They want their users to easily be able to identify where all links are going to take them.
Read the guidelines carefully, especially the parts about how to use affiliate links, and abide by them.
It's not that long since Pinterest only started allowing affiliate marketing on their platform, so I doubt they would think twice about dishing out a ban.
Federal Trade Commission Disclosure Guidelines
Pinterest affiliate marketing is no different to affiliate marketing on any other platform in this regard.
The FTC is pretty clear on what it considers to be proper disclosure of affiliate links, so there's no need for much confusion with this one.
Affiliate Program Guidelines
The terms of most affiliate programs are pretty straightforward about how you can use their affiliate links.
Amazon less so. They have quite long-winded, convoluted terms and conditions. So be extra careful if you are going to be using amazon affiliate links.
But, at the time of writing, the Amazon affiliate program does allow affiliate links direct from Pinterest…just be sure you check out the current detail before doing so.
Structuring Your Pinterest Content For Affiliate Marketing Success
If you want to start driving quality traffic to your site from Pinterest, there are a few things you're going to need to get right.
First up, getting your boards and pins properly set-up.
The pins that you share and post will be categorised into boards.
You determine what each board that you create is about, as well as how many boards you create.
It follows that if your site is split up into different categories that you'll probably want a board for each of the exact same categories.
Aim for getting a minimum of about eight boards up initially.
Depending on what niche your site or blog is in, you may want to soften your Pinterest presence a little in comparison.
What I'm trying to say is, when it comes to Pinterest, don't be all business. Round off those hard edges by going into one or two areas you my not normally go into on your site.
But don't over-do it. Don't start creating boards about all sorts of things you love and sometimes daydream about.
Once your boards are set-up, you have two different options to how you fill-up those boards.
You can fill them up with your own pins;
Or you can fill them up by re-pinning other people's.
A Bit More About Boards
Think of Pinterest as a search engine and try to create valuable resources for Pinterest users.
The first thing I try and get done is to create a board for each category on my website.
After this, I often add boards that relate to the tags on my site.
I would strongly recommend that you only create a board if you see yourself pinning to it on a regular basis.
Pinterest wants fresh pins.
So, re-pinning your own pins to more than one board should be done very rarely.
Re-pinning other peoples is okay when you are starting out.
How Many Boards?
How many categories and tags does your site have?
Start out with a one for each category, and add one for each of your tags as you move along.
What to Name Your Boards?
I name mine in-line with my website categories and usually add a little further detail so that it both softens it as well as makes better sense to Pinterest users.
Don't neglect this bit.
This is where you get to tell Pinterest what your board is about.
Create well-written descriptions combined with well researched, relevant keywords thoughtfully used throughout.
Treat Pinterest the Same as Google
It's a search engine, treat it like one:
- Minimise duplicate content – limit re-pinning your own pins
- Carry out proper keyword research
- Use your keywords in your board and pin descriptions
A Bit More About Pinning
The main upside of re-pinning other people's pins is that you can quickly populate your new Pinterest boards with some quality images.
Whereas the main upside of using your own is that they enable you to get links back to your website.
So it makes sense that you should mostly focus on filling your boards with your own pins, because they will link back to your own site.
Pins vs Rich Pins
Setting up your Pinterest account so that you can use Rich Pins is one of the best moves you can make in order to improve your success on the platform.
Rich Pins are simply pins that have extra information (meta-data) attached to them.
Here's an example of a standard pin:
And here's an example of a rich pin:
You can easily see that the rich pin has a ton more information than the standard version.
Rich Pins are the premium version as they tend to be much more helpful for Pinners.
You can think of Rich Pins as kind of like ad-copy for the content that you are linking back to.
How to Enable Rich Pins
Three easy steps to getting Rich Pins enabled for your account:
- Add meta-data to your site
- Validate and apply for Rich Pins
- Create quality, enticing titles and descriptions for your content
Let's take a look at each of these, step-by-step:
1. Add Meta-Data to Your Site:
If you're using WordPress, the easiest way to set up meta-data for Rich Pins is to use an SEO plugin.
Just make sure that the SEO plugin you choose includes the option to configure with social media platforms…most do as standard.
2. Validate and Apply for Rich Pins
Having carried out step one, your site has all the necessary information for Rich Pins.
Now you will need to apply to activate them here: Rich Pin Validator.
Next, add the URL of one of your blog posts in the validator box and click validate.
Sometimes your blog will be approved straight away, other times it might take a couple of days.
3. Create Quality, Enticing Titles and Descriptions for Your Content
As soon as you have Rich Pins enabled, the images saved from your site will show additional information on the pins.
The description that is displayed in your Rich Pins is taken from the copy you write in your meta-description. If you leave it blank, your pins will show the first couple of lines of your post.
Make sure you use the meta-description to write informative, compelling and snappy copy that will encourage the click.
Choosing The Right Keywords
If you just keep adding new content to your boards, without thinking about the keywords you are targeting, you're not going to see much in the way of results.
You should carry out proper, well structured keyword research so that your ideal audience will easily find their way to your content.
You’ll need to include your keywords in the title of each Pin, in the pin description, as well as in your tags.
So how do you actually carry out keyword research on Pinterest?
Well, thankfully Pinterest has a powerful search bar that acts like a keyword tool.
It works in the same way as Google's autocomplete function, in that you simply type in your seed, short-tail keyword, and it will provide you with a ton of longer-tail possibilities all based around your seed keyword.
But it gets better than that…
You can lead the autocomplete into providing you with more specific suggestions.
Just type in your seed keyword, press space, and then type in a single letter. The autocomplete will now offer you all sorts of suggestions that follow on from your seed keyword, with a word starting with the letter you have typed in.
And that's not all…
When you search for a broad term like “sneakers” or “trainers” the next page of results that you'll see will show categories related to your seed keyword.
Many of these could potentially become a separate ‘Board’ for your Pinterest ‘sneakers' profile.
And some of them could become a primary category for your website or blog.
Plus, if you click on one of the boxes it will drill-down another level and present another round of potential categories for you.
You'll see above that I clicked on “white”, so was able to drill-down another level into white trainers, and I also got presented with further category suggestions.
Growing Your Pinterest Following
Now that you've got the foundations in place, let's start getting some traffic.
This means creating boards, publishing pins, joining group boards and following others.
Creating Boards & Publishing Pins:
The first thing you should look to do with a new profile is create a few well categorised boards.
How many should you create? Somewhere in the region of 7-10 is probably a good starting point.
You’ll need to add a lot of pins to your boards during the first few weeks that they are live.
Ideally, 20 – 30 per day for about 4 weeks.
That translates as you creating say 5 or 6 Pins per Board each day.
I know that sounds like a lot of work (because it is a lot of work), but it will pay off.
The good news is that there are some tools out there to make your life a little easier.
A lot of people recommend a tool called Tailwind.
Tailwind lets you schedule your pinning, which means you can do a week's worth in just one bulk session, and then let the software handle the rest.
For $10-$15 per month, it’s a great productivity booster.
If you're on a tight budget, Pinterest has it's own scheduling tool, which is pretty decent, and free!
Seeding Boards with Re-Pins:
I'm not a massive fan of re-pinning other peoples pins but I will re-pin a small number of top quality pins to a new board.
You will gain followers by re-pinning content that’s already popular on Pinterest.
This is also a great way of letting Pinterest know what your new board is about.
Always remember that Pinterest is a search engine, so in doing this you are clearly showing Pinterest what your boards and pins are about.
All you need to to find quality content to re-pin is search the main keywords of one of your Pinterest boards, and then select from those pins that show up at the top.
Pinterest ranks these pins highly for the keywords you searched for, so they are very relevant to your board, and by re-pinning you will be telling Pinterest exactly what your board is about.
Also, you know this content has succeeded in the past, so it should do well in the future too.
Once you've got a few boards up and have some published pins, you should start following other people in your niche, or similar niches.
The aim here is to build a solid profile as well as to pick up a few followers along the way.
Joining Group Boards:
Group boards are where multiple people can join and all post their pins.
When someone joins a group board, all of their followers also join the board.
If you join a group board, your followers will be able to see pins from all of the other group board members and followers. So you are taking some dilution for your following, but you're getting a ton more people now seeing see your content.
Here's how you will know when you have found a group board:
Before you go searching group boards to join there are a few things to keep in mind:
- The best boards tend to be invite-only
- Large boards mean a lot of people competing for attention
- A lot of the best Boards don’t allow direct affiliate links
It's doesn't tend to be too difficult to get an invite to join a group board you…even the best ones.
Start following them and re-pin their content for a couple of weeks…there's a fair chance that the admin will send you an invite to join.
Designing Your Pins For Success
Great pin design is going to help you get clicks.
It really is as simple as that.
Pinterest is a visual platform and its users generally only respond to stuff that attracts their attention and looks great.
You will win clicks through your ability to pique the interest your target audience with great imagery and graphics, not through text.
Here are are a few pin design essentials that I would strongly recommend you stick to:
#1. Plan Your Design
I used to be the worst at this.
I was always itching to hit ‘publish' as soon as I finished writing a new piece of content. Getting my images sorted just seamed like a hassle.
But now, since starting to use Pinterest for affiliate marketing I've learnt to embrace this stage of the process.
Planning the design of your pins in advance will save you time overall.
If you spend ten minutes or so, considering your design, before you start placing each element onto your document, you will be much quicker every time.
#2. Design Pins that are the Correct Size
Pinterest itself has said that the ideal pin size is 600 pixels wide x 900 pixels long.
So try and stick to this size wherever possible.
If you find that you really need to go bigger for some of your pins, go ahead and do so, just try and use the recommended size for the majority.
#3. Use the Best Images Possible
There are a few different background options open to you for your pin designs.
You can go for white, a solid colour, a pattern, or go for the most widely used option; a photo.
Here are a few tips for finding decent looking images:
- Go for bright colours – Pinners seem to be drawn to them
- Avoid photos with faces – Pinners appear to be turned-off by faces in pins
- Get the sizing right – Get an image that is as close to the size you need as possible, or it's going to look blurry or pixelated
#4. Aim for Visual Consistency
Your pins should have elements of consistency and be cohesive.
Wherever possible, use the same fonts, colours and design elements for your pins.
This example below is a good one. The pins all look different so are engaging, but they all have a commonality of design:
Make sure you use the last 50-100 pixels at the bottom of your pin to include your website name, and/or logo.
#5. Create Unique Fresh Pins
Don't be lazy and create pins that look like everyone else’s.
This is easy to let happen if you are buying templates and using them without modifying them in-line with your styling and brand.
A pin that looks like everyone else's pin will blend into the crowd and will not draw the click.
#6. Add a Call-to-Action
Never assume that your audience will know what you want them to do.
To make clicking your pin as easy as possible, place an obvious call-to-action in the bottom third of your pin.
Make sure you use strong, positive action words like “Learn How” or “Click For Free Guide”.
#7. Craft a Catchy Headline
Your headline needs to tell your target audience, very quickly, what is in it for them and how you are going to improve their situation.
That's marketing 101.
Be sure that your text is super easy to read.
Don't use small or difficult to read fonts.
Go for fonts that people will be able to read easily as they are scrolling.
Most people do not spend anywhere near enough time crafting catchy, powerful headlines, and it is one area that can have a massive impact.
Where To Get Images And Graphics For Your Pins
You're not going to get too far on your Pinterest journey without a reliable source of quality graphics.
You're going to need images, illustrations and/or a graphic creation tool.
Here are a few different options for you in each area:
Free Stock Photo Sites
Paid Stock Photo Sites
Take Your Own Photos
Most modern smartphone's have outstanding cameras that are easily good enough to produce a decent image for your pins.
The main thing you'll need to concentrate on is getting the lighting spot-on. Nothing gives an amateur photo away as much as poor lighting.
If you can take your own photo's to a decent standard, you absolutely should.
Text Overlay & Graphic Layout
Personally I use Stencil at something like $9 per month, but a ton of people use Canva for exactly the same thing.
Pinterest Affiliate Marketing – Pro's & Con's
What I like about affiliate marketing on Pinterest:
- Pinterest is a high-quality search engine
- Users have a proven high level of commercial intent
- Pinterest don’t throttle organic traffic to your posts
- Easy to use and understand
- You can currently link directly to affiliate offers
- Pinterest is actually enjoyable to use – users aren't there to tell you how amazing they are
What I'm not soo keen on:
- The app should, and could, be much better
- Pinterest don't seem to be able to make up their minds on things such as affiliate links etc.
Why dedicate meaningful amounts of your time trying to make money on Pinterest, instead of on say, Facebook or Instagram?
Let's be honest here, Pinterest affiliate marketing is a lot of work, and it doesn't deliver overnight success.
Personally, I believe that Pinterest is the best platform to go for because of these key points:
The buying intent of the average Pinterest user far outstrips the users of other online platforms;
The purchasing power of the average Pinterest user massively outweighs that of the users of other platforms;
Pinterest is not obsessed with grabbing ad-spend form it's users, Facebook just wants your Dollar;
Pinterest is not narcissistic like say Instagram, and therefore it's a lot more enjoyable to actually spend time on and engage with.
For the above reasons, Pinterest is now a firmly established part of my affiliate marketing strategy.
Affiliate Marketing On Pinterest – Rounding It Up
Pinterest is just one potential piece that can contribute to your affiliate marketing success.
If I decide to build sites in any further niches, Pinterest will be the first channel that I will focus on outside of organic Google traffic.
I absolutely recommend adding affiliate marketing on Pinterest to your wider affiliate marketing strategy.
It's not ever going to be the perfect time, and if you keep on waiting for a time when it seems like it is, you will never get round to doing this.
Remember, when it comes to affiliate marketing on Pinterest, valuable content that helps your target audience is king.
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