Pinterest! I love you, I hate you.

This is going to bore the pants off of all but like three of you, so be forewarned. Also this post came out much longer than I intended and I highly recommend a beer or a cup of tea while reading. And if  you are not self-employed, and your gut reaction is to tell me “that’s fucking stupid and a waste of your time,” please keep that to yourself. I know it’s stupid. But I’m locked into it for about six more months because I’ve paid for something, so I’m sticking with it through then.

So. Pinterest. I’m part of this woman’s business group, and I tell you they live and die for Pinterest. Sure, I liked it (as a person) when it first started, and like most of my friends, stayed up late more than a few nights finding really cool things on there. But now with algorithm changes you hardly ever see what your friends are posting (mostly you see what Pinterest sees that you post so it shows you more of the same) and it seems less a giant idea board and more a series of pictures telling you that if you click on it all you’ll get to a blog post or a tutorial or an item to buy that will solve all of your problems. Also, since I was starting to post primarily work things, I had to ditch my personal account and sign up for a business one — I don’t know if they now have a thing for it but at the time you couldn’t change personal to business, and according to their TOS if you were representing a business, even a small/home-based one, you had to have a business account. This also benefits me for a reason I’ll get into in a minute.

So, part of this business group is an exercise that’s supposed to grow your Pinterest followers from 400 to 40,000 (no, really!). It’s a 12-week series where you follow certain practices and doing everything it says is supposed to grow your Pinterest following exponentially. Why do you want a Pinterest following? Well, doesn’t everyone want that? What are you, some kind of loser that you don’t want what everyone else wants? Everyone wants lots of Pinterest followers! I mean, this business group I’m a part of says so! And the Shopify business articles say I want that! And Etsy articles say I want that! And all sorts of blog-based, hand-made, “make your life perfect” articles say I want that! So I must want that, right? RIGHT? Well, I did the 12-week exercise, and this was about two years ago when I first had to start my business account so I was basically starting from scratch… and I went from about 57 followers to … I don’t know, 212? 304? So not exactly the exponential growth that I had been led to expect. Now I have about … let me check… 857. Whoooooo! I’m livin’ the dream, y’all!

Anyway. So. Why do I keep up with Pinterest?

Part of me is not sure. This is fucking time consuming, my most popular pins are not pins of my own things, but pins of pictures of bullet journals that I’ve pinned from Instagram.

But.

Shopify, my web store host, was one of the first online shop hosts to make a deal with Pinterest to have “buyable” pins. That means that certain pins of my HaldeCraft products get automagically uploaded to Pinterest, with certain codes, and people scrolling through Pinterest can buy directly through Pinterest if they see something of mine that they just suddenly can not live without. This is not something “extra” with Shopify that I have to pay for, it’s a free service – provided my Pinterest account is a business one, and not a personal one. It’s not like I’d have to pay if I was still using my personal account, it just wouldn’t work at all. Pinterest only allows buyable pins on accounts they’ve flagged as business.

Pinterest is also a great place for me to store Instagram photos of pottery that I like and/or find inspirational. See, I love Instagram. But early on I discovered that it only saves about the last 200 photos that you’ve liked. I found this out by going back through my liked items to try to find a picture of a home ceramic studio that I really liked the layout of… hahahah! Gone. No way to find it. So if I even remotely think there’s an Instagram photo I might want to go back and look at…? I need to store it somewhere. Pinterest seems as good a place as any.

Plus, my Instagram storing shows up there as me pinning things, which makes me look active, which pushes me to the top of the feeds of people who like to pin the same things I pin. Really, I just pin two things these days, and both are from Instagram. One is that I have an IFTTT recipe set up for whatever I send to Instagram gets automagically cloned to Pinterest in a board I point it to. I call this board “HaldeCraft on Instagram.” I used to have a recipe that would put all of the Instagram photos I liked into a board, but Instagram got possessive of their API and that recipe no longer works… but, I have a workaround!

Here’s where the time-consuming starts. And it wouldn’t be time consuming if I’d just do it every day, it’s only time consuming when I get busy and don’t do it for like a week. On my tablet (you can only do this on a mobile device, it doesn’t work on the web), which is a Note 12 with dual-screen capability, I will click on the three little dots in the upper right of all Instagram photos. If you do this, you get a popup — Report, Copy/Share URL, or Share on Messenger. You want the “Copy/Share URL” option. It will copy an URL to your clipboard. Go into your email client (this is where dual screen ability is invaluable because there’s no flipping back and forth), copy that URL into an email. I’ll do this for about 15-20 photos a day for things I like… usually pottery, but also bullet journals, some gardening photos, and lately, blacksmithing. Then I send myself the email. That’s part one.

Part Two is also kind of time consuming. I then open that email on my desktop computer, click on all the links, and it’ll go to a page that’s only that photo — normally in Instagram on your computer you get everything in a row, and there’s no way to go to just one photo. That’s what all that URL copying and pasting does. So I’ll go to that page with just the one image, and using the Pinterest extension for Chrome, I’ll tell it there’s an image on that page I want to pin. It’ll give me a selection of images on that page (it usually does the actual image, but then also the avatar of the person whose photo I’m trying to save). Click on the image you want to save, write whatever you want as a caption (I usually put something like “The drips on that green glaze! I love it! Photo by – whoever the photo is by -.”), and choose the board you’d like to save it to.

Now, about that saving — you can save it directly to your pottery board, or your puppies board, or whatever; I save it to a board called “Instagram Love”. Because, I have to make things super complicated, and I’ve added an extra step.

I use a Pinterest scheduling app called Tailwind. This is the thing I’ve paid for, and I think I’m paid through… I don’t remember, September, maybe? I use this app because Pinterest will move you up in the algorithm if you pin a lot during the day as a whole as opposed to a lot at once. So, like, you get “better” ranking if you post 20 photos over 24 hours, rather than 50 photos all at once. You don’t get anything counted against you for doing it all at once, Pinterest just really likes you if you’re “active” and post throughout the day. Well, one reason I think I failed so mightily at the Grow Your Following thing I mentioned above, is that fuck me if you think I’m going to come back to Pinterest every couple of hours and post one photo. Just, no.  Who has that kind of time?! Don’t these people ever do any WORK?!

So with Tailwind, I can schedule as many pins as I want during the day, at whatever times. I can set the time, or it’ll suggest times based on the times of day people interact with my pins the most. I do a combo of both.

How do I get my pins on Tailwind? From Pinterest, I click on a pin. If you’re using Tailwind, there will be a button on your pin up next to Save, that says Schedule. Click on that, and a pop-up will come up that will list all your boards. You tell it which board (or boards) you’d like to save it to, and it’ll add that pin to a queue. Right now, because I’ve been trying to catch up after slacking over the holidays, I’m about four days ahead. I’ve been as much as two weeks ahead, and as far behind as to get an email from Tailwind that says my queue is empty.

Ideally, this whole things takes about half an hour. Ten minutes at the end of the day to send myself an email with a handful of things I’ve liked that day, and about twenty minutes in the morning to click on all the links in the email, save them to my “Instagram Love” board, and save them a second time from there to my Tailwind queue. Once a week I’ll also go through my “HaldeCraft on Instagram” photos and put in the queue any I’d like to go to different boards (mostly pottery specific ones). That adds about 15 minutes to that day.

Does this work? Well, my followers on Pinterest have doubled in the last year. In January of 2016 I had about 428, now I have 857. While most of my pins are other peoples pins, as I get higher in people’s pages due to the Pinterest algorithm, more of my own pins show up on their pages. I can see in my Shopify stats that Pinterest is now my third largest social media referrer, behind Instagram and Facebook (in that order). So, people are visiting my site from there. I might be able to get those stats higher if about one a week I repinned my buyable pins to other boards – I just hate pinning the same stuff over and over again (which is one reason most of my pins come from Instagram rather than Pinterest – I don’t like pinning the same pin 5483 people have already pinned).

One thing I’m doing this year is evaluating what works and what doesn’t; previously I’ve just gone along with things in this business group I mentioned because I paid to join the group, I should follow the advice of the woman leading it, right? Otherwise why pay to join? But at this point I’ve been in it a couple of years, I’m grandfathered (grandmothered?) in if there are price hikes, and I’m feeling more like I can take what I like and leave the rest, rather than follow blindly. Some of the things they talk about in the group are definitely not what I’m looking for — I don’t need tips for stationery trade shows, I’m not looking to wholesale my products with Anthropologie (or however that’s spelled), and I’m not looking to just design things and farm out the production (in fact, when I mentioned that to Tim, he could not stop laughing. “You mean, you wouldn’t be the one who slipcasts, throws, and glazes?!?!” I know, right?!) I’m definitely not looking to hire minions. Although I could take someone willing to wind yarn for about two days a month, they’d have to be willing to be paid in yarn because I would rather give myself an appendectomy with an oyster fork than deal with payroll and all the legal issues that come with employees.

So Pinterest and Tailwind are two things I’m evaluating this year… time spent vs. money that comes in due to time spent. I could see me dropping Tailwind if the time I spend using it doesn’t bring in a return. But I can also see me staying with Pinterest at least as a place to store pottery photos I want to come back to, simply because Instagram only saves so many. Unless there’s some kind of IFTTT recipe that will save Instagram photos to, like, Dropbox, and in that case I’ll just store all that shit on my hard drive.

ARE YOU TOTALLY BORED YET THIS IS LIKE 2200 WORDS LONG. Go. Have a beer. You deserve it.

One comment

  1. Great post, thanks for sharing. I’ve shared this with the Tailwind team and look forward to hearing how it goes for you over the coming months.

    There are a couple of new features of Tailwind that you might find useful. We just launched Tailwind for Instagram.

    Also you should be able to use our browser extension to schedule Pins straight from Instagram (although I’ve never don’t it from a likes page it works like a charm from hashtags). And if you use Tailwind for Instagram you could also go the other way and schedule to Instagram from your Pinterest profile, or boards.

    You might also want to check out Tailwind Tribes. It’s in closed Alpha so you’d have to hunt down an open invite (you can google “Tailwind Tribes to join”) Its like Facebook Groups built specifically for Pinterest and folks are finding it useful to find great content from people they trust fast, and get their own content amplified. (Oh, and it’s free).

    Anyway, that’s enough from me.

    Stay candid!

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