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Filtering by Category: using pinterest for good

five things i really want etsy sellers to know about pinterest

liz lamoreux

UPDATE March 2015: I wrote this post at a time when all these tips were accurate. Pinterest has changed a bit since then (hello algorithm! but many of these tips are still good ones). I'll be updating this soon with a few more tips in a new post. Stay tuned. But my most important new tip: Be really specific in your description when you pin because people are using Pinterest like Google these days. So don't just write, "New cute zippered pouch." Instead be sure to write the name of your shop and a good description of the product (along with a bit of a story like I share below). 


For the last year, I've been spending quite a bit of time on Pinterest finding inspiration, pinning, and learning a lot. And somewhere along the way I found myself with more than 4 million followers. And in the last few months, this is what I've come to believe:

I really want to use Pinterest for good.

And one way I'm using it for good is by sharing what I'm learning with you. (Read previous posts here.)


I believe that Pinterest is becoming a game changer for Etsy shops. Most articles I've read about what people are pinning indicate that Etsy is one of the top five (usually in the top two) sites people pin from. For the last year, I've been actively using Pinterest to promote my Etsy shop and my business has doubled. With that in mind, here are a few things I really want you to know.

Note: I've written this assuming you are an Etsy seller who has a pretty good understanding of how Etsy works. If you are new to Etsy, you will have to explore the seller features and play a bit to understand all these tips.  

1) So this one applies to almost all small businesses who are pinning business-related things to Pinterest. You really want click throughs more than you want repins. Click throughs = sales. Repins = people who think your product is pretty enough to repin or it inspires them in some way and they want to remember it.

What this means: Keeping this in mind will help you learn more about how Pinterest is or is not working for your business. Think about the way you use Pinterest. You might revisit DIY or recipe pins. But when it comes to a product, do you scroll through all your jewelry pins to find that one bird necklace you pinned a year ago? Or do you impulse buy when you LOVE something or see the perfect gift for someone? 

Bottomline: Your photo + description on Pinterest need to tell enough of a story that you get people to click. Repins are good. It gets your item out to more people. But we really want people to click through. For most small businesses, getting our products in front of people with a clear way for them to purchase is more important than name recognition alone. Name recognition is good for bigger stores and brands, like Pottery Barn or Nordstrom. We want the click throughs.

2) Sometimes the image that gets people's attention on Etsy might not be the same one that gets their attention on Pinterest. When they are on Etsy, they might already be in a buying mood or are searching for something specific, so unique photos work because they are already looking at "necklaces with big beads" or "zippered pouches" etc. On Pinterest, they are more likely to be looking for inspiration (or passing the time).

What this means: Can people tell what your item is when they are just looking at the first photo without any context? (The first photo is more than likely going to be the one pinned.*) If not, they might scroll right by it on Pinterest. If your item is a necklace, you want people to be able to see that. If your item is a card, make this clear BUT also be sure they can see your gorgeous artwork so they will click through to see more. If they can just tell it is a card, they might not click through unless they are searching for a card. Most people aren't searching for specific products on Pinterest. 

Bottomline: Consider experimenting with different types of photos - close-ups, unique angles, clear full product shots - and see what happens when you pin them.

*When pinning your own item, you can actually upload any product photo to Pinterest and then route the URL to the product page on Etsy. You have to first upload + write the description + pin. Then go back and edit the pin and add your product's URL.

3) When you pin your own items, be sure to add a description that explains what your item in and tells enough of a story that people will click through (see #1). But when you pin from Etsy, the default text in the description will be the title of your product plus your shop name and the price.

What this means: For example, when people pin this locket, the text says "i am brave . a whispered hand stamped soul mantra by lizlamoreux, $40.00," which seems like pretty good information on Pinterest. However, when the name gets longer than about 50 characters, it gets shortened, so this description is missing the word locket. If the person pinning your item (who might be you!) doesn't pay attention to what the description says when pinning, other pinners might be confused or your items might not come up on Pinterest searches or your item description might not even make sense if you use a lot of "key words" in your product name.*

Bottomline: Use the description on Pinterest to tell people about your product. Telling a story gets the click throughs. Don't write a lot, but enough to get them thinking about how they fit into the story. (Here's an example that usually sells well for me.)

*I'm not recommending you change the names of your products! In fact, if your items are already on Pinterest, you won't want to change them after reading #5. Just keep this in mind when you are creating new collections/adding new things to your shop. 

4) When pinning your own products to Pinterest (which is a good idea!), spread out the pins. Consider one in the morning and one in the evening. Pin a variety of products. Or once a day at varying times throughout the week. Consider creating a board just for your products. And feel free to pin the same item again to the same board because your followers change and people need to be reminded or the item goes on sale or you just have one left etc. Just spread out the pins!

What this means: Think about it. When you pin five items (or more) from your shop at once (or the same item at the same time every day), you are kind of spamming your followers with a lot of the same thing in their feed. You wouldn't do this on Facebook, for example, so avoid it on Pinterest too.

Bottomline: People are on Pinterest throughout the day, but especially in the morning, late afternoon, and evening. You will get different people looking at your items if you vary your pinning. And you will avoid people unfollowing you because you pin too much of your own stuff at one time.

5) Pinterest now sends out notifications when something you've pinned goes on sale. I don't know if this is in every instance, but it is happening. My guess is that they are working with a handful (maybe a large handful) of companies, but Etsy is for sure one of them.

What this means: I've been putting one item on sale each weekend for a few weeks now. When I do this, at least some people who have pinned this item receive an email from Pinterest letting them know that the item they pinned is now on sale. The email takes them to the pin. I'm still experimenting to see how many people are buying, but this is a really interesting new feature to me, especially going into the holidays.

Bottomline: From what I can tell, you shouldn't change the name of your item. For example, when I put something on sale, I often add "SALE" in big letters at the beginning of the item's name. When this happens, Etsy changes the URL of your item, which means it might no longer be linked to your pin. The listing number on Etsy stays the same, but the URL changes to reflect the new title. (You might want to create a new photo though that shows it is on sale. Picmonkey.com is your friend!)

UPDATE 6/2/14: It has been a while since I've received one of these sale emails from Pinterest, so I don't know if they are still doing this. Here's what I recommend: Do what works for your shop. If add "sale" to the name helps people find your sale items, do that. I think tagging your items with "sale" is a good idea too (when they are on sale). Pinterest tries new features out all the time and this one might be one they did for awhile but aren't doing anymore. 

+1) And one awesome way that Etsy sellers could use Pinterest for good.

Etsy sellers (and others who have small businesses on other sites) could come together to support one another on Pinterest. Consider gathering a group of friends who all have Etsy shops and commit to sharing each other's work with your Pinterest followers. Let your friends know what items you want to highlight this holiday season. Work together to spread the word that buying handmade is a very good thing.

In the comments: Feel free to share how you are using Pinterest with your business. If you are an Etsy seller and have had other experiences, please let us know! These are my observations and I'd love to pool our knowledge. And if you have any questions about Pinterest, I'll try to answer them in a future post.

charity: water

liz lamoreux

In my quest to "Use Pinterest for Good," I'm trying on this idea of what might happen if I invited a few million strangers who follow me on Pinterest to change the world in small but meaningful ways. This fall, I'm partnering with charity: water to help give clean water to people living in India and I'm hoping you will join me.

During WDS (a conference I attend each July in Portland) in 2012, I was deeply moved by the work charity: water is doing in the world.  

And I couldn't stop thinking about this: Imagine if you had no clean water. Imagine walking hours to the nearest river to collect water for your family - water that’s not even clean. Imagine giving that water to your kids.

Although this might seem unimaginable to those of us sitting in our corners of the world enjoying a cup of coffee brewed from clean water that flows through our kitchen tap, it's a reality for 800 million people in developing countries.

800 million people.

Join me in a deep breath as you think about that for a few seconds.

I'm joining in with charity: water's September campaign to help them bring water to 100 villages in Orissa, India. Here's a video with more information about why they are focusing on India and what they will be doing with the money raised.

You might have found your way to my blog from my ::YES:: board on Pinterest. There are about 4 million people following and connected to one another through that board. Imagine if just 10% of us each gave $1. Imagine if each of us did.

100% of the money we raise will go directly to water project costs, funding long-lasting clean water solutions for people in need. When the projects are finished, charity: water will show us the exact communities we've helped using photos and GPS coordinates. This means each of us will get an email directly explaining where all the money we donated went.

$45 gives one person clean water.

$450 gives clean water to an entire family.

I can't wait to see what happens when the people who read my blog + a group of a few million strangers come together to help provide clean water. My goal is $4500, which would mean clean water for 100 people.

Every $1 helps.

And even if it sounds like a cliche, I really believe we can change the world. Together.


Thank you for sharing your light.

Learn more about charity: water's September campaign and donate here.

five ways we could make pinterest an even better place.

liz lamoreux

For the last year, I've been spending quite a bit of time on Pinterest finding inspiration, pinning, and learning a lot. And somewhere along the way I found myself with more than 4 million followers. (Oh honey that is a story best told over wine + cheese + really good music by our side.)

And in the last few months, this is what I've come to believe:

I really want to use Pinterest for good.

This principle guides me when it comes to the pins I share and the ways I use Pinterest in my day-to-day life. From trying recipes to getting inspiration for a new quilt to spreading love through quotes and other good things on my YES board, I'm seeing it as a place to remind myself and others of how I want to live...how I want to see joy even in the midst of the tough stuff...how I want to fill my life with beauty and make some real crazy, gorgeous memories with those I love.

With all that in mind, here are five things I share when someone who just wants to use Pinterest for fun says, "So give me some tips on using Pinterest." 

1. Pin from the source. I know there has been a lot of talk about this (I especially appreciate Kal Barteski's Link with Love campaign), but I am still surprised daily by the number of pinners and independent artists and magazine editors and other well-known folks using Pinterest and they aren't pinning from the source.

This is what I mean: Before you repin, click the pin to make it bigger and then click again to go through to the website where the pin originates from. You should then see that image or at least be taken to a site that puts the pin in context. Otherwise you and the people following you won't be able to find the source for those boots you love or that recipe for quinoa bars or the DIY for that garland or where to by that piece of art made by someone who deserves credit for bravely putting her work in the world.

I know it takes some extra time, but really, it will make Pinterest a much more beautiful, friendly, supportive place to hang out. Here is a GREAT article about finding the source from Bonnie of Going Home to Roost.

(And if you don't have time to find the source, consider putting it on a private board so you can come back later to look up the source OR just click "like" so you can save it and then come back to it to find the source later.)

UPDATE: I've learned a super easy way to use Google images to find sources. This works with Google Chrome, let me know if it works in your browser of choice. You can open Google Images in a new window and then literally drag the image from Pinterest (or the Tumblr page etc it is on) onto the Google Images open window and drop it in the search box. Google will then search for possible sources. Try it!! Super easy.

2. Use the comments for actual real connection. This is one that a lot of "power pinners" and "using Pinterest to market your business" articles might roll their eyes at, but I still think it is possible to make actual connections with people on Pinterest. When you are touched by something someone shares, let them know. If you have an idea or another pin to share, do it! If you own the product shared and love it, let the person know it works or is comfortable. If you have an idea that might work better, share. For example, last year tutorials for ways to "write on a mug with Sharpie markers and put it in the oven to make it permanent" were everywhere. One day I came across a pin by someone who basically said, "this doesn't really stay permanent if you wash it a lot but it will if you do this" and linked to another tutorial. Super helpful! 

And try to resist being snarky or sarcastic. Pinterest can feel "less connected" than other social media sites because it feels like you aren't commenting on someone's "wall" or "feed" but in reality, you are. And even if you don't "know" the person you follow on Pinterest like you "know" your friends on Facebook, when you write negative comments, it is a bit like walking into that pinner's kitchen and looking at what she has up on her fridge and giving your commentary.

If you don't like what someone is pinning, just unfollow them. This doesn't mean you shouldn't have an opinion or share helpful product advice like, "I bought this but it fell apart after two days," but take a few seconds to think before you comment. And remember that another person is on the other end of your words. An every day person who is pinning and repinning and trying to find inspiration and make recommendations just like you.

3. Use private boards. Private boards are a great place to gather ideas that you want to remember but you don't necessarily want others to see. You might literally not want others to see the pins, for example, if they are Christmas present ideas. And you also might not want to just fill your followers feeds with all the possible paint colors you are thinking about for the outside of your house. You can also have private group boards if you are planning a surprise party for someone. I have a private board for ideas for retreats that I'm still thinking about and another for gift ideas for my friends and family.

4. When you feel yourself falling into comparison-itis, step away from the computer. My hope for you is that Pinterest is a place to find inspiration, to look up a recipe to make for dinner, to get ideas for a bedroom makeover, to create a board of outfits to wear this fall, and so on. It shouldn't be a deep hole of despair and comparison. Limit your time if you need to. And maybe even brainstorm others ways to use it if you find yourself just mindlessly scrolling through wishing for stuff instead of actively creating the life you want. 

5. Have fun. Like A LOT OF FUN! Create boards for things that make you happy from unicorns to Converse All-Stars to cameo pendants. Create boards for cookies you want to bake and words that make you happy and old album covers you remember. Pinterest is your place to dive into a visual world of goodness. It can really be whatever you want it to be.

More posts with ideas about ways to use Pinterest coming soon, but for a few suggestions today, check out these Pinned it. Did it. posts.

In the comments: Share how you are using Pinterest these days. I'd love to hear your thoughts, advice, or even your questions.