How to Use Pinterest as an Indie Author

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 How to Use Pinterest as an Indie Author by Frances Caballo


Boost Your Website Traffic with Pinterest

Winston Churchill once said,

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.

Change is certainly the only thing that is constant among all social media networks. You can’t afford to grow comfortable with the way things are because today’s Facebook may look different next year — or even next month.

The same goes for Pinterest. The founders keep arguing that this website is a search engine, but everyone else keeps calling it a social media network. Whatever you call it, Pinterest has changed as well.

If you haven’t been using Pinterest, this post will help you to get started. If you’ve been on Pinterest for some time, you’ll learn about changes that have recently occurred.

We’re Part of a Visual Social Web

Social media has been trending toward a visual social web for the past several years. Take Instagram for example. It’s entirely visual. Tumblr has transitioned increasingly to a visual media website.

It was rumored when Facebook purchased Instagram years ago that the move was made to compete with Pinterest. And Twitter recently began accommodating large images in its newsfeed.

What’s happening?

Researchers found that colored visuals increased people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. – James Mawhinney,

What the above quote and the research Mawhinney refers to tell us is that If you don’t use images in your marketing, you’re making a mistake. Pictures improve engagement with your readers on social media and bring traffic to your website and dedicated blog readers.

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For example, if you write insightful blog posts, but you aren’t incorporating images into the posts, you may be losing valuable readers who, over time, would purchase your books and retain you for any services you offer, such as editing.

In the same blog post, Mawhinney goes on to say this, “Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.”

The importance of images is what makes Pinterest an essential part of your marketing.

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A Closer Look at Pinterest

One of the beauties of Pinterest is that you can pin images from your website to a dedicated pinboard, and thus enjoy increased traffic to your blog, website or other landing pages.

Take a look at the people who are using Pinterest. Source: SproutSocial

  • As of February 2015, 71% of Pinterest’s users were women.
  • Men are a growing demographic on Pinterest. One-third of sign-ups is now coming from men. “…more men use the platform in the U.S. every month than read Sports Illustrated, and GQ combined.”
  • Pinterest is increasingly mobile. Seventy-five percent of Pinterest usage occurs on mobile devices. 45% of users are from outside the U.S. (September 2015).
  • Users are avid online shoppers.
  • Millennials are avid users.

Other sources indicate that its consumer base is international (think book sales in India), and that is has a broad consumer base of Millenials (those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s).

[clickToTweet tweet=”Content with images gets 94% more views via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Content with images gets 94% more views via @CaballoFrances”]

Pinterest’s growth is further substantiated by an August 2015 study by Pew Research Center. The study noted,

The proportion of online adults who use Pinterest and Instagram has doubled since Pew Research Center first started tracking social media platform adoption in 2012.

This last statistic substantiates the fact that visually-based social media is key.

The most frequently visited images on Pinterest include these categories: home décor, DIY and crafts projects, and style and fashion. The top visited boards make sense since two-thirds of the network’s registered users are women. This is a tremendous improvement since the earlier days when 80% of all users were female.

 How to Get Started

To get started on this network, go to and sign up. Make sure that you sign up for a business account. Business accounts have access to free analytics, and you can have your website verified. (This involves asking your webmaster to insert a code on your website.) When you verify your website, your images have a better chance of standing out in search results, and the verification lends credibility to your website.

[clickToTweet tweet=” 71% of Pinterest’s users were women via @CaballoFrances” quote=” 71% of Pinterest’s users were women via @CaballoFrances”]

Your username should be your author name. In other words, if you use a pseudonym, you need to use that name. Remember, you are your brand, and so you need to use your complete name as it appears on your book covers.

When you describe yourself, include keywords. Whether your genre is romance, erotica, thriller, young adult, or another niche, make sure that you include your genre in your bio.

You’ll need to include your website URL and upload a profile image. Pinterest will ask you whether you want to connect your account to Facebook and Twitter. Don’t do this. It is never a good idea to automate one social media network to another. In the case of linking Pinterest to other social networks, those posts rarely trigger any engagement with readers.

The next step is to add the Pin It Button to your browser so that you will be able to select and pin photos that you find while searching the web and from your website or Amazon. Where you can pin images from Facebook, you can do that with images on Twitter. It will appear near the search bar, as in this example.



The process of adding the icon will depend on which browser you use. However, Pinterest provides easy-to-follow directions. To upload a bookmarklet, navigate to this web address: If you need help, you’ll find answers to your questions here:

On Facebook, you have friends and fans. On Twitter, you have followers and on LinkedIn you have connections. On Pinterest, you will have followers. Here, you can follow other users, called pinners, or you can follow the boards that appeal to you.

Before creating pinboards, follow some of your writing colleagues and readers for a few days. Look at their boards, follow them, and let your ideas about the types of pinboards you want to create germinate.

You can start by creating pinboards for your favorite books, poets, or visual writing prompts. What if someone follows you and you only like one or two of their pinboards? Just select those boards or none at all—a nice feature of Pinterest.

Pinterest’s Taskbar

Let’s take a look at the top taskbar.


Whenever you click the Pinterest logo at the far left, you’ll navigate to the newsfeed. Here, you’ll find all the images pinned by the people you follow.

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Click Analytics to discover how many people are repinning (repins are similar to retweets) your images. Click Ads to create an ad.

Use the search bar to find images. Treat the search bar the same way you’d use Google’s search bar. Are you looking for author quotes? Use those two keywords in the search bar.

When you click the series of lines to the right of the search bar, a dropdown menu of categories will appear.


Click the plus sign and you’ll have a variety of options as noted in the screenshot below. You can pin an image from your blog or website, upload an image from your computer, or create an ad.

Another drop-down menu appears when you click your picture on the far right. You can click My Profile to navigate to your pinboards, access your settings, look at bills from your advertising, request ad support, look for help, or log out.

Look for Images on Pinterest

Use the search bar to explore images by category. Maybe you want to create a pinboard that portrays the type of clothes your characters wear. Or maybe you’re creating a pinboard of infographics related to your nonfiction books.

When you find a photo you like, click the like and repin buttons. If you’d like, you can also click the send button and send it to a friend, share the image on Facebook or Twitter, or obtain the link to manually share the image. If you email the picture to a friend, you’ll need to add an email address. Pinterest will prompt you to add a message as well. The email your friend receives will look like this:

closer look

Once you click repin, Pinterest will give you the option of creating a new board or pinning the photo to a board you already started. Don’t forget to leave a comment.

Categorize Your Pins for SEO

Categorizing your pinboards is an important step to helping your images become discoverable on the network. The founders, as I’ve mentioned, insist that Pinterest is a search engine, not a browser, and when you categorize your images, you’ll increase the chances that other users will find your images, and thus links to your website.

Traffic to your website will increase when you “pin” images from your blog, website and other landing pages, such as a page dedicated to each of your books. Pinning images from your website is part of a search engine optimization strategy you should employ on a regular basis.

Here’s an example. Go to your profile, select My Profile by clicking on your image in the taskbar, and then select a board you’ve created. Open the pinboard and click Edit Board. You’ll want to complete the sections in the image below, using keywords in your description. In this case, I made sure I used two keywords, readers, and authors.

edit board

In the above case, I don’t want the board to be a secret and I don’t need the pins to revolve around a geographic area. Let’s say that you have a condo in Hawaii that your rent. In that case, you would want to ad the map feature.

You might want to designate a pinboard as a secret, in the following situations:

  • You’re uploading personal images to share sparingly with a few friends.
  • You’re collecting images that pertain to your next book. The board may be intended for research.

If you are displeased with the cover of your board, click Change. And if you’d like your board to be collaborative, enter the email addresses of your friends.

As a final note, you can also enhance the chance that your images will be discovered by:

  • Including keywords in your account description
  • Opening a business account and verifying your website
  • Using keywords to assign names to your pinboards
  • Moving your boards with images from blog and books to the top of your profile so other users see them first
  • Using hashtags in your comments

Pay Attention to Image Names and ALT Texts

You can also improve your pins’ discoverability by how you name your images. For example, instead of naming an image BlogArt-1-1-16 when adding images to your blog for pinning later, use keywords when you create the image. Then when you upload the visual to your blog, fill in the ALT Text.

For example, I created this image for a blog post about Goodreads. I used keywords in the image title and the Alt Text. The Alt Text, not completely visible here, includes the keywords Goodreads and authors – authors are my target audience – and my name.

ALT Texts

Now you know how to set up your business account, pin images from the web, and improve your SEO with Pinterest. Next, read the document on applications you can use with Pinterest.


Grab my newly updated, 39-page, and free eBook, Twitter Just for Writers!

Sell More Books with These Tips by Frances CaballoAbout the AuthorFrances Caballo is an author, podcaster and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at She’s written several books including Social Media Just for WritersAvoid Social Media Time Suck, and Twitter Just for Writers, which is available for free here on her website. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writer conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Ask Frances to prepare a social media audit for you.


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  1. Great tips, Frances! Thanks for the post. I’m on Pinterest but am not optimizing with keywords and hashtags…so I’ll get to work on that. 🙂

  2. Some great tips thank you, Frances. The only thing I did notice from your screenshot, which confused me somewhat, is that I do not have ‘analytics’ and ‘ads’ on my taskbar. I do get my Newsfeed from the Pinterest logo, but only ever manage to get to my analysis when Pinterest send me an email and I have something to click on. That’s what comes of being an old ‘technophobe’ you see!

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