Traffic on my blog went nuts the first weekend in March. Absolutely nuts!
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Previously, my average daily traffic was in the neighborhood of 100 visits. But when I checked my stats at the end of the day on March 4th it was clear something was up. I had just gotten 282 visits to my blog in the past 24 hours.
The pace didn’t slow through the weekend (in fact, it picked up!) Saturday brought over 800 visits, shattering Friday’s numbers. Sunday brought another record day! What was going on? What had I done to get all this traffic?
More importantly, was it legitimate traffic, or some kind of spam attack?
To figure that out, I started by asking myself the following question:
I did a little more digging. On Friday, that post got 197 visits compared to 30 visits for the home page (a ratio of about 6 to 1). That ratio stayed the same throughout the weekend, making it clear that that single post was generating all the interest—it didn’t look like a spam attack. It looked legitimate.
But why the sudden in interest in a post that was published months ago and had been only a mild success up until March 4th?
I asked another question:
Where are these visitors coming from?
After checking my analytics, I could see that 129 of my 169 referrals had come from Pinterest that first day. The results were similar each of the following days as well, so Pinterest was clearly the reason I was getting all this traffic.
That told me where the bulk of the traffic was coming from, but not why. Being the curious soul that I am, I followed each referring link to learn more.
Lo and behold, each time I clicked on a Pinterest link, it led me to the “Pin” I had created for that blog post. But the pin was on a different board and/or Pinterest account every time. So I looked at each of those people’s accounts.
And struck gold.
Of the nine accounts I visited on March 5th, seven had over 1,000 followers. The most popular account had a whopping 71,300+ followers!
At the time, my own Pinterest account only had 74 followers so even the least popular of those Pinners had 10x the followers I do. But because ALL of their followers were seeing my pin, I was getting an unprecedented surge of traffic to my art blog.
Here’s how to grow your Pinterest traffic the same way:
I made the original pin last year. It was re-pinned twice from my Pinterest account. Just twice. But it spread from there through Pinterest until it landed in several popular accounts. When it got into enough of those accounts, it reached critical mass.
As spontaneous as all this seemed while it was happening, I did some things with the original pin that contributed to the spontaneity—things you can do, too.
Let’s start with the blog post itself.
1. Know your target audience
My blog targets colored pencil artists. So when I wrote this post, I wrote it specifically to people who use colored pencils. I didn’t write about blending other artistic mediums, or include a section on erasing. . . I kept it simple and to the point.
Getting the re-pins was validation that artists (particularly colored pencil artists) found my post worth saving.
2. Tell a story, explain a process, or solve a problem
This post told colored pencil artists about the only three methods of blending colored pencils that they’d ever need. I solved a problem and answered a very important question: “How do you blend colored pencils?”
People love to re-pin something useful.
3. Make your blog post attractive
This means writing an easy-to-read post with both illustrations AND well-written information. Use lots of white space, separate large blocks of text with headlines to make skimming easy, and break those sections down into paragraphs.
Spending a few minutes on formatting pays off big when hundreds of people are seeing your post each day, and deciding whether or not to continue reading through the rest of your blog.
And what about the pin itself?
4. Use an image that explains the post
The image you pin should instantly tell the viewer something about the content attached to it. In my case, I used a photo of a stack of colored pencils.
5. Overlay your post title on the pin image
If that’s awkward, use the best variation of the post title that you can. Try to include the URL for your blog or website as well. Make it large enough to be read, but not so large it’s intrusive.
6. Use the URL of your post, not your home page
Most blogs show their latest posts on the home page. So if you’re not thinking about it, it’s easy to create your pin from your home page, rather than the specific blog post.
Sure, that’s fine at first, but if you’re like me and it takes a few months for your pins to catch fire and send you a lot of traffic, your home page won’t have that post on it anymore! Your visitors won’t know how to find that post easily, and will probably bounce away again without looking.
7. Copy part of your post into the pin description
Your pin description stays with your pin wherever it goes. If you’ve carefully crafted an opening line, or have a well-written paragraph summarizing your blog post, use it.
It might make the difference between someone scrolling past your pin, and actually clicking on it. (Plus, people use Pinterest search terms all the time, too, so it’ll help them find your pin to begin with!)
In the end, just one simple pin changed my blog traffic significantly, and there’s no reason it can’t happen for you, too.
Even though traffic died down a little the following week, it’s still well above previous daily averages. I’ve also seen more comments and new subscribers since that pin went viral.
So if you’re on the fence about using Pinterest, I hope this story shows you how powerful it can be. . . even if you only have a few Pinterest followers of your own.
Go on—get out there and start pinning!
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