How to Make Pinterest Pins That Go Viral

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Virality on Pinterest can be engineered, and we've got it down to a science. Learn how to make Pinterest pins that capture attention, drive traffic, and make you money. These are the tips that get us 50,000+ pageviews a month.

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When I was compiling a post about the most popular Pinterest recipe pins of all time, it got me thinking about how to make Pinterest pins that become massively successful.

Why do some pins go viral, while others get lost amongst a sea of rectangular images? Is it possible to engineer Pinterest virality?

It’s hard to imagine that some recipe pins are nearing or have surpassed a million repins.

When you think about it, it’s actually amazing: a well-crafted little box on a social media network of other little boxes can drive millions of clicks to a website. And behind those clicks are real-life human beings. Human beings that are ready to read your stuff and maybe even make a purchase.

A lot of bloggers read this website. And the number one thing most bloggers would like to improve (besides their income) is their traffic. Tell me if this sounds like you:

You’ve put in a ton of hard work — hundreds of hours even — meticulously crafting your pin descriptions, brainstorming catchy titles, and promoting your content on social media.

And what does it amount to? 48 repins and 390 total click-throughs to your website on a good day. Sometimes not even that.

And then it dies, and you’re back to square one.

Sound familiar?

So what are you doing wrong?

Why aren’t you having the same success that the heavy hitters of Pinterest are having? Why don’t your pins ever go viral?

Well, I’ll give you an extremely simple answer. When it comes to why you’re so bad at making Pinterest images go viral, half of it is your fault…and half of it isn’t. Let’s look at why. 

The 50% That Is Your Fault

You’re repeating the same process and expecting different results.

Odds are you read something along the way and you went with it (and you’ve been doing it ever since). Perpetuating this cycle is that whatever you read probably wasn’t high-quality content to begin with and now you’re endlessly making the same mistakes over and over again. You think if you just keep going, you’ll see results eventually.

You tell yourself that it’s a process.

That things will get better.

Wrong. Stop repeating the same mistakes over and over.

Spend less time doing and spend more time learning. Too often people jump in because they’re too eager to get started.

Stop. Study the success of others. What are these people doing that you are not?

What is it exactly that they’re doing that you’re not?

I’m not telling you to copy others, but at the same time, I am. After all, there is a reason these users have learned how to make Pinterest pins effectively and you haven’t.

What are your competitors doing that you can implement into your own Pinterest strategy? Learn from their success.

Find out what they’re doing and then brainstorm ways you can offer something unique. Something that keeps users coming back to you and not your competition.

Accept that you don’t know it all. That there is probably a better way to be doing things and be flexible enough to change. Accept that what you are doing isn’t working and that you need to learn what does.

The 50% That Isn’t Your Fault

Pinterest has changed.

In fact, it’s always changing.

If it makes you feel any better, a lot of these pins became so successful, in part, due to now-defunct Pinterest algorithms. In years past, Pinterest’s sorting algorithm placed more emphasis on the chronological recency of a pin.

If a pin was saved recently to a particular board that you followed, a user was far more likely to see that particular pin on their feed. It was a positive feedback loop of sorts.

If you pinned a particular pin frequently (or others saved your pin frequently), it was weighted more heavily/was more likely to be shown. As such, group boards expanded the visibility of pins immensely.

Unfortunately, your road to virality nowadays is much more convoluted. Pinterest’s newer “smart” algorithms place a much higher emphasis on the pure quality of a pin.

They want freshly-optimized, high-quality content from proven track-record users (fresh content bias, high CTRs, account history/followers, landing page quality, and domain authority).

Interestingly enough, Pinterest’s recent focus on the freshness of content in their algorithms means that it will actually be harder to reach the top than it ever was before.

That doesn’t mean Pinterest images are dead for driving traffic, it just means you will no longer be rewarded with copious amounts of traffic despite producing low-quality content. You need to learn how to pin with a purpose.

How to Create a Pin That Goes Viral

If you’re just starting out as a blogger or haven’t quite reached the point where you’re ready to hire out work, chances are you’ll need to make your own pins.

To get you started, Jeff threw together a quick, 10-minute video where he walks you through the basic process of creating a pin.

Take a quick break, walk around, and then we’ll dive in:

Now, one of the biggest mistakes we see bloggers make regarding Pinterest is undervaluing pin design.

Throwing together sloppy pins is ineffective and a waste of your time. You can’t just create a pin and expect it to go massively viral without being intentional in your design.

You need pins that are engaging and make people want to click through to read more.

How do you create a pin that makes people want to click?

First of all, you need to answer one all-important question: What’s in it for me?

If someone can’t immediately tell what they have to gain from your article based on your pin, then they’re going to keep scrolling.

A pin captioned “5 Things I Learned While Visiting Italy” might do OK. But a more reader-focused title like “5 Things to Avoid on Your Trip to Italy” will perform much better.

Secondly, if you have to make your own pins, you might as well get good at it. I’m talking pin design. Coordinating texts, colors, images, etc. for optimal engagement and click-through.

I know what you’re thinking — but I have zero design skill!

Trust me, I was in the same boat when I first started out. It took hundreds of tries before I finally cracked the code to creating high-quality pins. But once I did, our traffic exploded.

Once you’ve mastered the art of design, the next step is to create an unshakable Pinterest strategy.

How To Pin More Effectively

If you haven’t already, you need to create a Pinterest for Business account and set up “rich pins.”

A business account gives you access to analytics and insights so you can see how your pins are performing and which ones are driving the most traffic. It also allows you to apply for “rich pins.” This allows your pins to stand by adding more information on what the pin is about.

Once you’ve got your account set up, it’s time to start looking at and applying to group boards.

Yeah, I know I said group boards aren’t what they used to be, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still important. Check out our strategy guide on how to find and join high-quality group boards.

And finally, you need a Pinterest pin scheduler to help carry the load. When you start using Pinterest strategically to drive traffic to your site, you’ll quickly realize that a lot goes into it.

It would have been impossible for us to build up our Pinterest traffic as much as we did without the help of our favorite pin scheduler, Tailwind. It allows us to schedule our pins weeks in advance, which saves us hours of time and allows us to focus on other aspects of our business, like creating awesome content.

Our pin scheduler also gives us suggestions on the best times to pin for the most engagement.

Other tips for improving your Pinterest game:

  • Accept that what you’re currently doing isn’t working OR that you can do better
  • Learn more about what contributes to high title CTR (click-through rate)
  • Focus more on the aspects of a quality pin description
  • Create quality, fresh content often
  • Learn more about human psychology (as it pertains to higher CTRs on pin images, i.e. what colors to include/why people click on the pins they do)
  • Learn about what people want to read about

Related: How to Make Your First $1,000 Blogging

Create a Pin and Start Testing

You need to accept Pinterest for what it is.

Science.

It’s an algorithm.

Pinterest wants to know if other people like your pins, determined by your clicks and shares. That’s how Pinterest decides if your pin is actually good or not.

You can have the highest quality content in the entire world, but if you’re making the same mistakes over and over again, you’ll never see success with Pinterest.

Study the success of others. Emulate it. And always, always test your methods.

Author
Ben Huber

Hi! I'm Ben. A personal finance nerd on a mission to help DollarSprout readers make and manage financial decisions. A quoted contributor for Business News Daily, Business.com, Discover Bank, Moneyish, Student Loan Hero, Policygenius, TechRepublic, and more, I work to help others live their financial best life.

24 comments
Laura
Laura

Good ideas, Jeff. Been looking at highly pinned pins for topic/title ideas, but perhaps need to look at format as well.

Bart
Bart

Good advice. I need to work on making my pins more feminine. At least that’s what my pin guru has told me. Thanks.

Sounds like someone who understands the Pinterest audience! Keep that guy around (if you can).

Belle
Belle

Ouch! The truth hurts. I can’t stand Pinterest with all the constant changes. But, it’s needed. I’ll implement more of what I have not done.

Thanks for Sir

Brittany Quinn
Brittany Quinn

Great post was a great read. You had some great pointers. I love Pinterest. It’s how I stumbled onto your blog.

Susan Velez
Susan Velez

Hi Ben,

Awesome post about getting more pins on Pinterest. I agree with you, it’s important to learn how Pinterest works and why so one is having so much success, while others are not.

Before I got started using it, I learned from people who had been using it. It takes time and I am still constantly learning new things about it, but I am finally starting to see some results.

I haven’t been using it very long about 3 months and now Pinterest is my biggest traffic referrer. Of course after reading these tips, I am sure that I still have room for improvement.

Guess I’ll spend some time seeing if I can improve my pins.

Thanks for sharing and I hope you have a great day 🙂

Susan

Marie - TheBloggingLady
Marie - TheBloggingLady

Good points. Pinterest does seem to make changes that can effect our accounts in ways we would not like. Hopefully I get better at using Pinterest for my blog and business.

Elit SEO
Elit SEO

And of course, if you feel I’m missing a niche or know of great examples of blogs that I missed in the niches below please let me know in the comments.

Owen Kariuki
Owen Kariuki

I normally don’t give a hoot if I have put an SEO-fied description for my pins. And that’s where I have failed. I will look into this. Thanks for sharing.

Jeanette
Jeanette

Needed to hear it and have taken to heart!

Ricky | Money Hero
Ricky | Money Hero

Great post, Ben! Everything that you’re saying is true. It’s tough sometimes to know what needs to change about my pins, but I do think it’s important to study the success of others who are getting massive repins. Thanks for the advice!

Sandy
Sandy

Really great info Ben. Thanks for the suggestions I am currently rebuilding my blog and hope it will do better this time around.

Suzy
Suzy

A brilliant read, factual and helpful tips not found elsewhere. thanks!

Liz | Perfectly Practical Prattle
Liz | Perfectly Practical Prattle

Great list of ideas. I am a very new blogger (about a week) and I am definitely jotting down your stuff. Thanks for sharing!

Awesome, Liz!! Best of luck to you 🙂

maintak9
maintak9

I have taking ton of Pinterest cousre and they all seem to say the same thing and I do what they say and I’m still not seeing result. Does anyone suggest a Pinterest course? I am willing to learn. I can make pins, do the keywords, and all that. I just don’t understand the rest. sry to sound stupid but I need schooled.

Hey maintak9,

There are a lot of courses out there with a ton of misinformation so definitely be wary about where you get your information. We don’t have an explicit course on Pinterest per se but we do have a good article you can read here:

Increase Pinterest Engagement by 115,726.67% in 100 Days

In it Jeff talks about how we took our brand new (0 followers) BTOP account and increased its engagement an incredible amount in the first 3 months it was live.

To be fair, a lot of what Jeff was able to accomplish is because he is REALLY good at making pins. If you’re not getting the traffic you were hoping for so far, it may be because your pins are not optimized/designed to adequately capture the click-through/traffic you were hoping for.

We DO have a course for that:

Pinterest Design 101: How to Create Viral Pins that Drive Insane Amounts of Free Traffic to Your Blog

In it Jeff talks about how he designed (and so can you) the pins we use to drive about 150,000 hits per month to our blog with just Pinterest.

Hope that helps!

Ben

Damjan Markovič | TryToBlog
Damjan Markovič | TryToBlog

Fantastically written, thank you for this – it’s rare to get insights like this, most of the time it’s the same tips, that have been there for like 5 years and it’s great to see someone talking about this! Amazing work, thank you!

Ryan @ResellersiteHub
Ryan @ResellersiteHub

I clearly have some work to do. I am slowly trying to figure out Pinterest as I had never used it before I started blogging. I think I might be pinning too much of my own stuff and not sharing enough of others. Plus I probably need to work on creating pins that others find helpful. Great tips and thanks for sharing!

DEXTER ROONA
DEXTER ROONA

Very useful analysis on what it takes to be a better Pinterest Pinner. I would certainly embrace optimizing pins and using hashtags as we move into 2018.

DEXTER ROONA
DEXTER ROONA

Really useful – Bloggers seem to be good at blogging or good at Pinterest but not good at both.
Regards Dexter

Jennifer
Jennifer

Hey there! I really appreciate your straight forward style. I work a midnight shift and completely worship at the caffeine alter myself. Thanks for sharing your Pinterest expertise, it helped me realize where I need to tweak my Pinterest education.

You’re welcome! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you were able to learn something new 🙂

Craig | Life in 12 Keys
Craig | Life in 12 Keys

My blog is about 3 weeks new. I’m new to Pinterest. Pinterest is just so weird but I’m amazed at the impact its having on traffic. Thanks for this. It takes some of the mystery out of the process.

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