Saturday, 3 January 2015

Pinterest Update & Thank you to all you Pinners!

Dear all,

First of all to those of you who may be reading this from my Pinterest account pin: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2015 is here but before I move on to new projects I wanted to take a moment to thank all of the people that have contributed to my Pinterest page. I meant to do this a long time ago but my to-do list just got longer and longer…

I joined Pinterest in August 2012 and the first photograph I took was of my small three tiered bookshelf because I had no idea what I was doing really! Now, over two years later that board has over fifty thousand images and my account has nearly thirty thousand followers. I have embedded some recent images from my, 'Bookshelves & Reading Places' board and the caption shows the URL where you can go to find out more details about where the images came from. 


Over the last few months I have had more and more people asking me how I grew the page and I thought I would take this opportunity to share my process with you but please note, there are no secrets here! I do nothing out of the ordinary so please don’t be disappointed when I explain the very basic steps I follow. There are accounts out there with hundreds of thousands, even millions, of followers so I am not in that league by any stretch but I guess because it is just me doing it on my own people are curious as to whether I have done something different to them.


The truth is I have no idea how I have grown to this number. I promise I have never used any paid services on any of my social media accounts to increase followers. I don’t think people who do are necessarily doing anything wrong, I understand why they want to establish themselves quickly in order to look professional and reputable but first and foremost I never wanted to spend any money so that was always out! Secondly, the downside is the obvious…you just do not know if you are getting people following you that are a) real and b) are interested in what you do. For me, there was never a point in investing in just numbers. You can check out this recent article from the BBC regarding Instagram’s recent cull of spam accounts:

That’s not to say I don’t have spam followers. I know I have lots. I report them when I can but it is not always obvious and sometimes takes too much time to investigate properly. Accounts with links that don’t work, names made of jumbled letters, photos that are obviously taken from the internet are some of the more obvious clues you can spot but often there are accounts that look like they could be real but have something ‘odd’ about them that you just can’t put your finger on. Anyway, I am sure Pinterest does its best to deal with that sort of thing so all I do is carry on as normal and block where I can.

The most basic thing of all is that I check my account every day. It’s not always possible of course, we all have lives (don’t we?), but if you can you should because it is good to keep clean, neat and tidy boards. I like to make sure I spot any issues quickly so that people don’t get annoyed at me. I don’t like people to think I don’t look after my accounts. So when I visit my page I do the following:

  • I take a few minutes to like some new images. That is sort of linked to the above point about fake followers or just having numbers. The reason I like images is because, erm, I actually like them! I am interested in what people pin and it is great to see so many different images. It’s nice that people take the time out to pin on other people’s boards so it’s nice to like them when possible although again, when so many get uploaded you can only do a little bit.
  • I delete multiples if they appear close together. It is unavoidable on boards with multiple pinners but it is not the worst thing in the world. I have a huge number of multiple copies of the same images and they keep turning up time and time again but the thing is, for the new people joining or viewing the board, that may be the first time they see them so it’s good that popular images keep being pinned. If you join a board with fifty thousand images you are not going to spend a few hours trawling all the way to the beginning and start working your way up (I think?) So, from my point of view as long as the images are not too close together (say, three or fours scrolls of the screen) then I am happy for them to stay. If one gets too popular then yes, delete a few of them but I think it is nice for new people, or people who only visit irregularly to see them. It may be a bit annoying for daily visitors but I hope they understand why they are still there.
  • I delete images that are not appropriate! This one has taken me a while to get good at because for a long time I was too scared of offending people by removing the images they took time to post. However, over the last year or so it has become a necessity and now I am very strict! The thing is, put yourself in the place of a visitor to your boards. If it does not immediately contain what the title says it should, or has a whole jumbled lot of all sorts, then why bother staying? There are so many boards for every single topic you can think of that unless it stands out as a clean and appropriate board, people will just move on…be as specific as you want, and there will be a board for it! So, there is no need to allow images that are not suitable because they will be suitable for another board and people just have to accept that. For instance on my boards, I only want images, not text. If someone posts a textual image then I delete it, even if the subject matter is relevant. The reason is there are tonnes of ‘sayings’ or 'quotes' boards and if someone wants to look at sayings or quotes then they can very easily go and find them. If an image has a bit of text on it as well as a great image then maybe it’s okay but it depends. As of today, I have to be very strict because of the numbers so please don’t be offended if you have your images removed, it is nothing personal, I am just keeping my boards as squeaky clean as I can.
  • Listen to comments. I made a board for people to contact me, generally because they want to request to pin, but also they can sometimes say that they have found a pinner who is pinning inappropriate material, or is making rude comments, etc. I check that board every time I log on so that I respond to people as quickly as I can.
  • As I said above I check daily, but actually only once or maybe sometimes twice. In between those 24 hours lots of images can get pinned so I may miss some but visitors get the general idea that it is regularly maintained.
  • I invite as many people as I can to pin. I only have three public boards, all the rest are boards only I pin to, or are public boards I have been invited to pin on. Of the three that I invite people to I try really hard to invite every day but of course the sheer numbers mean I am quite a way behind. I never invite people twice (I think you can’t now, but you used to be able to) because I don’t want to be seen as a spammer and if people accidentally delete the invite or press the wrong response they can always contact me directly.
  • I always follow people back. For the most part people who follow me do so because we have shared interests. There are the odd occasions when I look at a persons page and they have boards that I feel are unsuitable for my interests and I don’t want people to see that I follow such a person. This is purely my own opinion and is not based on anything other than what I feel as an individual. One example I don’t mind giving (there are many but for time's sake) would be semi nudity. If people have boards with lots of lingerie images, or sexy calendars and that type of thing I do not follow them and I do not invite them to pin on my boards. I am not a prude and as long as they are not breaking Pinterest’s own rules on nudity then I do not have an issue with it, but I do not feel that having those sorts of images connected to my account are suitable for my business. I want people of all ages (and I get some very young followers) to be able to access my account without any risk of seeing inappropriate images. For instance, if they like an image on my site, click on the pinner to see what else they have, thinking it will be of a similar type, and then find themselves confronted with boards containing nudity, I think that is hugely unfair. I don’t want to risk that so I don’t follow or invite. However, people can have hundreds of boards so again, I do my best to check but I am sure many get through and there is nothing to stop people creating those boards long after I have invited them so really, there is not a huge amount I can do other than regularly check the boards and delete and block where required.
  • I experiment with new boards here and there but if they don’t feel right I delete them because I don’t want to clog up my page with inactive or dull boards. Sometimes a good idea just doesn’t come off so there is nothing to be gained by leaving empty boards up. Just delete and try something new another time. Always try and keep a clean looking page. Use the secret board option for this, it’s very helpful for trying out ideas before having to commit and make public.
  • I use very basic hashtag keywords in my titles and descriptions. There is nothing new about this, all social media sites utilize them. #ebook for instance. It is a very basic thing to do but there we are. Use a simple, to the point title and description, with hashtags. I feel like I am insulting you by saying that, sorry.
And that, is that.

Honestly, that is all I do. I keep a daily check and follow and invite as many people as I can, I keep tidy boards and I am lucky in that people find them interesting and decide to follow me.

There is one last thing.

This is something I haven’t yet done but I am working on it. I really want to be able to thank the people who regularly pin on my boards and make it what they are. There are several key followers who take the time out to pin really great stuff and I don’t really have a way of saying thanks. What I would like to do in the future (in case you didn’t know I was living in another country last year so although working on my writing I was having a very different experience and not focusing one hundred percent on the business) is contact those individuals and offer them a free back catalogue of the books we self publish or our next to be released book. That isn’t much mind, we have only just started so have a long way to go, but it is the only ‘tangible’ way of saying thanks and so once I am more established I’ll happily email over digital files of our ebooks.

Actually, sorry, there is one more thing on top of my previous one more thing.


I have a business account, yes. However, I started using Pinterest because I enjoyed it and I am not about to go into full selling mode overloading my boards with constant images and links to sell our books. First of all, as I have said many times, we are at the start of our self publishing journey, we are extremely proud of what we have done so far, but I am not going to ruin that by pushing our stuff in front of your faces every second of the day. I want my sites to be a place where people enjoy visiting because they are not bombarded. I really do not see the value of risking being seen as too commercial when we are only just starting! As a user and as a customer I know I don’t like it when I see the same thing being pushed in front of me and I know I have turned away from sites like those, so why would I want people to do that to mine? I have a board with our company’s books and I also have a board for self published books in general and I put our books on those. I don’t put them on every board I have access to just because I can.

Now, yes, Pinterest has huge sales potential and I am not going to ignore that. In the future I will have to be more active in using the site for publicizing my books however I am not there yet and when I am I will not do it in a way that ruins what I have done so far. I will not pin my books to the top of every board every day so that I am the first one to be seen, yes it makes business sense but it annoys people and is unfair and I block people who do that on mine and I fully expect to be blocked from other people’s boards if I start doing that. I have to make sure that full and proper descriptions are on my pins (I also have not yet fully utilized location maps and rich pins so that is another step yet to be taken) so that if they do get repined correct and working links are there for visitors to click on that takes them to a sales distributer. That is essential, putting weak descriptors or broken links is criminal. I haven’t decided as to whether or not it is worthwhile putting my company logo on my images as a watermark, I have to think on that. Putting my name and website of course is.

Now, I know what a lot of people reading that last paragraph will think: AMATEUR! Well, you would be correct. I am an amateur and I have never hidden that. I have a long way to go in learning how to be a successful self publisher and when it comes specifically to Pinterest I have lots more to do, however I am not in a rush. I want to do things in a way that, should I be a visitor/customer, I would feel comfortable with. That’s not to say I won’t do the big sell now and again, but for the time being I am happy building up my followers, enjoying their pins, enjoying creating new boards when they turn out successfully. I have a lot of writing to do, you know! The difference for me is that our content is not that frequent. For instance, I am not publishing a recipe a day, you can work a lot with new content that way, but our books will be maybe once a month (this upcoming year that is, not last year of course!) or even maybe one new book every three months so that is why constantly pushing old content is annoying for people. Seeing new stuff is great and if you publish a new image every day for three moths people will engage but if I push the SAME image under your nose for three months you’ll be cursing me in no time.

I think I spend at the very most an hour a day on Pinterest, that’s at the absolute most. For all those that were hoping there would be a special cheat (remember when we used to use the word pokes for the old computer games) that got you followers quickly I am sorry to disappoint. You do a quick Google search and put in ‘get more Pinterest followers’ and you will be inundated with sites to look through. I am sure some are very worthwhile. There are also several key social media influencers that have excellent websites and blogs that offer advice and tips on social media development including Pinterest that is more specifically 'marketing'. They will show you how to maximise the analytical tools Pinterest offers and work with the technical functionality to increase your brand awareness and sales potential. At this stage, I cannot offer any of that advice, sorry. Please go to the experts! I have listed quite a few on the right hand side of my blog under the 'Writing & Social Media Development' blogroll section. 

Just to clarify one more time, I am no expert, no guru, no one special at all. This was only for the interest of those who have emailed me to ask how I did it. I could have saved myself 3000 words and just said – ‘I don’t know’. I hope my ramblings helped in a little way however but it is in the main pretty much common sense. As always, I will be trying out new things this year and doing my best to promote the writers I am working with and of course trying to self publish the work I have been undertaking (my year away was great but as you can imagine now very good for the word count) so I have no idea what new techniques, boards, pins, etc. will work or not but feel free to keep in touch with me and follow me on my social media sites and I’ll be happy to update you on progress.

Take care,


Please join me on all my social media pages:

YouTube 1:   (Personal Channel)
YouTube 2:  (Company Channel)

And Author Profile Pages to keep informed of the latest releases:

Amazon UK:  (Click 'Add to Favourites’ under profile photo)
Amazon US: (Click 'Add to Favourites’ under profile photo)
Apple:             Author page not available yet - search R.G Rankine

Kobo:              Author page not available yet - search R.G Rankine