How to use Pinterest as a pattern designer

 

As any business, us pattern designers depend on getting our work out there, wether it’s showing our designs to a company in need of prints for their products, or to consumers looking for unique and patterned stuff for themselves or a friend. Pinterest is a way to do that and has now become the talk of the town in entrepreneur circles.

13 simple steps to create a Pinterest strategy for your pattern design business

Showing your work is actually what we in more professional terms would call marketing, and before I get into the How-to-Pinterest-stuff, let’s do a quick marketing lesson to warm you up for what Pinterest can do for you as a pattern designer.

The purposes of marketing is to create:

Awareness: Build your brand and make sure people start knowing that you exist

Knowledge: Make people understand what you do or sell

Interest: Make them curious about your offer

Preference: Make them see the value of your offer and want it more than other offers

Conversion: The final push to make them give you their money for your product or service

This is the ”marketing funnel”. You start out with reaching out to a mass of people and for each step of the way down the funnel you loose people and at the end you only sell to a few. But it's people who likes what you offer, they think it's valuable for them and caters to their desires and needs. That's your audience and people like that is who you should target = target audience = your people.


The funnel can be explained as an equation where you as a business can calculate how many people you need to reach out to in order to find your people and get the number of conversions you need to stay in business.

The right message for each situation

For every step of the funnel you can create optimised messages to communicate with your target audience in a way that speaks to them according to the state of mind they're in at that stage of the process - and usher them forward to the next step until they reach your end goal, to sell something to them.


The message in every step of the funnel has it's own purpuse; to make the consumer move to the next one.

CTA = Call To Action = inspire them do what you want them to do

And the activities you do to for each step to make your audience go to the next phase is something that in marketing language is called a CTA - a Call To Action. A CTA can be a button, a link or a form for example, that can be tracked and measured for every click or interaction. The ultimate CTA is when someone presses ”place order”.

Mass marketing = shitload of money

You can spend your money on advertising in big medias to ensure you reach masses of people to start out big in that funnel equation. This means you will reach all kinds of people too, both relevant and non relevant for your offer and then you hope that the message will trickle down to ”your people”. This is what big companies do for building their brands for example, but it costs a shitload of money. Think TV, newspapers, news sites, lifestyle magazines, billboards. But in the end, the cost for every converting customer is quite high. But since you start off with a lot of people, in theory your conversions should be more too.

Direct marketing

On the other end you have one-on-one marketing, where you cherrypick the exact type of people that would be typical for being interested (that might be your people) in your offer and talk to them directly, by letter (adressed), email or phone call. This is mostly done for marketing a specific offer. At the end, the cost per conversion will be low.

Marketing for pattern designers

As one-women pattern design businesses we can’t go for the masses - a TV commercial costs more than your house (but wouldn’t that be extremely funny? Imagine yourself in one of those. On TV. I totally could, ha, ha! But I’m a bit of a photo exhibitionist. You have to be as an online teacher…).

There are a lot of other advertising opportunities that doesn’t drain our treasure chests completely: like Facebook and Instagram. But hey, honestly? Have you tried doing that? I did and it sucked. Nothing, absolutely nothing came out of that and I’ve talked to a lot of other people saying the same thing. 

Okey, there are some social media gurus claiming that there are ways to succeed with Facebook and Instagram ads (if you take their courses), but I’m just not that hot for trying that again at this point. What about you?

So what can we do to show our work to the world, make those creative directors and purchase assistants find us (besides sending them our portfolios), or those crazy shoppers come to our web shops? How can we find more people that may like what we do, but just don’t know it yet because they don't know about us and what we can do?

Well, you’ve read the headline for this article so you know what I’m getting at:

Search Engines.

No? Not the answer you expected?


Pinterest is a search engine


Well, Pinterest (yes, this is about Pinterest and I’ll get to that ”this is how you do it”-stuff really soon) is a search engine, like Google or Bing. A lot of people think it’s some kind of social media, but it’s much more of a search engine than anything else. (And search is the no 1 marketing tool you should be working with).

Just think about how Pinterest is used:

You’re looking for a vegetarian mexican recipe. You type the words in the search field and in a second you have tons of inspiration at your fingertips. You scroll through the feed of all those yummy images that makes you long for guacamole and salsa to dip your nachos in. 

The recipes that catches your eye especially you pin to your ”Veggie yum-yum” pinboard for checking out later. A couple of them seem reeeeeeally nice so you click on them and immediately get transported to a place where you can read more about how to make this drool worthy dish.

BAM! Now you’re on somebody's website.


Pinterest is a search engine that can drive traffic to your website, web shop or blog too. It can be an important and impactful part of your marketing strategy.

Do you have a marketing strategy? No? Well, using Pinterest can be a great start.

What’s a Pinterest strategy?

As a pattern design business you can use Pinterest as a marketing tool in a very methodological way. This is what having a Pinterest strategy means.

It’s a way to plan how to make Pinterest work for you to reach your goals, your set ratios. For example x unique visitors to your website, x readers of your blog, x signups for your newsletter, x buyers of your products or services.

Or - why not - improving the odds for a product business or creative director to notice you and your work and reach out for a collaboration. It has happened you know.

For achieving that you need them to come to your website / blog / shop, right?

Creating your Pinterest strategy

As with any strategy it’s always good to start out with knowing what you want to achieve. What’s your goal or goals?

Write down your goals and the ratios you need to reach in order to sell your designs, products or services to your target groups. You can refer to the list above to help you get started.

If you don’t know your business goal or what ratios are, you can read this series of articles on how to make a plan for your business - including a free downloadable workbook:

 

Now to the Pinterest stuff!

13 steps to create a solid Pinterest strategy 

that can:
- make people discover you and your business
- get followers
- drive traffic to your site
- drive conversion (you sell stuff)

 

1. Create a business account

Or if you already have a private Pinterest account you can also change it into a business account.

A business account is essential for accessing analytics and for using promoted pins if you want to. And it makes it possible to use Rich Pins (read more below).

You can create a business account here:
https://business.pinterest.com

When setting up your account, you’ll be asked to pick a category. As a pattern designer, depending on your core business I’d suggest you choose Professional or Online marketplace.


Now it’s time to set up your profile. Let’s make sure your profile is the best it can be, so go to the profile settings by clicking the tiny profile image in the upper right corner.

2. Create a keyword rich name

First you want to create a really sharp and search friendly name for your account. It doesn’t have to be your name and/or the name of your business only. You can also include some words that are connected to what you do and who you are serving (your target audience).

Because the name will come up in searches and the more relevant keywords you have managed to squeeze in, the more you’ll show up in other peoples searches. So you may want to include words like pattern design or pattern designer and other words that describe you or that you think your target groups may search for.


For example, my Pinterest name is:
BÄRBEL DRESSLER | Pattern designer, Illustration- & marker artist at Bear Bell Productions.

Here I have managed to include my name, business and what I am/do. So anyone searching for profiles that are connected to markers and pattern design will see my account.


3. Include a profile image

This is important to enhance the chances for people to follow you. It’s just a lot more inviting and fun to follow someone who seems to be a real person. You can of course use a business logo, but I recommend to use an image of yourself. People rather connect with other people.


4. Write a keyword optimised bio

The bio is the describing text that will show at the top of your profile page, under your profile name and image. Here you also want to include as many searchable, target group relevant keywords as you can, without it being just a list of words. Your bio should describe a bit more about who are and what you’re about so people can understand what to expect in your boards and the pins you’ll be pinning and what they can get out of it. You don’t have a lot of space for this, so it has to be short but inviting.

Here’s mine:
Swedish pattern designer / creative business owner with love for vintage & history inspired art, marketing, teaching & sharing it all on my blog & Skillshare.


5. Connect a website

As a business it’s good to have a website connected to your Pinterest account. It seems a lot more serious, and it’s also kind of the point of using Pinterest because you want to make people visit your website through your own pins and profile. Plus it also opens up the business account features of analytics to see how your pinning is performing and for applying for Rich Pins.

You can for example connect your website, blog, web shop and Etsy shop to your Pinterest account. But you can only connect one web adress.


6. Apply for Rich Pins

Let’s start by explaining what Rich Pins are.

When you’re pinning images from your own, or someone else’s website - Pinterest will include some information that is connected to that image, like the URL source where the image was originally pinned. But Rich Pins offer more information than the standard pin, therefore they’re even more informative and useful in regards of searchability and how they appear to pinners. 

The importance of meta data

To make sure the Rich Pins have all that juicy information you want to be showing in your pin, you have to make sure though that the images you create and publish on your website and then pin to one of your boards has that type of meta data. For example, when you publish an image on a page of your website, or on your blog there is an option that says something like ”description” in your publications settings, that’s where you write a short text on what this image is about and all the info you want to go with it (that's meta data). Another piece of information attached to the image is the image name. This is the text that the Rich pins will include for your when you pin it. If you pin from a web shop the Rich pin will include the facts connected to the product you’re pinning.

If you haven’t put down any meta data of an image, you can edit the pin later, but that’s just a bit of more job. The best thing is to include the image meta data on you site directly when you publish it, then you’ll have it on both places and optimise both you site and pin for search at the same time. Now I just have to go and do that myself...

Rich pins are only available for Pinterest business accounts.

 

You apply for Rich Pins here:

Swedish: https://business.pinterest.com/sv/rich-pins

English: https://business.pinterest.com/en/rich-pins

Other countries: on the page where you register for business account (see adress in the above paragraph) click on ”Get started” in the top menu and select Rich Pins under ”Tools”.


7. Setting up your Pinterest boards

The boards you create for your business are very important in terms of search and relevance.

- They need to bring value to the people you want to attract with your pinning, with cohesive, beautiful and inspiring pins.

- They need to work for you and the messages you want to send out, in a sense that they will be functional for you showing your work and content.

The way Pinterest works is that people are browsing and searching for images by specific topics of their interests. And when they see an image that seem interesting they pin it to one of their own pinterest boards. The images they pin will in turn show up in the feed of their followers, who pins them, and so on. Popular pins will also be featured in other peoples feed by Pinterest based on their pin- and search history.

Since we are relatively organised creatures most of us create pinboards categorised by topics. For example: recipes, dream houses, interior design, kitchen tables, retro, my wardrobe, and so on. So people who likes colourful stuff for their home may create a pinterest board called Patterned stuff and then browse around for inspiration. Whenever they find an inspiring and interesting image they pin it to their pinboard to save it for future reading or as a mood board. Same goes for pattern designers looking for inspiration, education or other useful resources, or creative directors of product companies and brands.

So Pinterest is a search engine, which in it self is a marketing tool. Ok, Pinterst is a little bit of a social media too, since we can follow each other.

Clear any clutter - or start from scratch

If you’ve been pinning on Pinterest for your personal life before and now have turned your Pinterest account into a business account, you may have to rearrange and clean up a bit among your current boards, because you want your account to be optimised for your business and not cluttered with all of your personal hobbies and interests. Your visitors and followers should not have to be all confused or get knocked out by a crazy mix. The risk is that they will feel you’re not relevant for them and just leave and not follow you or pin from the boards that are relevant to them.

This is what you can do:

  • Create a completely new, clean slate business account and start building your boards from scratch.
  • Turn your private account into a business account and make all boards that are not relevant to your business non-public (or delete them). You can do that by clicking on the little pencil icon for each board and change the setting from public to non-public.

Use smart keyword board names

To optimise your Pinterest strategy you want to create a line-up of pinboards of different areas and names that will be inspiring and relevant for people you want to attract. So be smart when you name your boards. Let the names be crystal clear and easy to grasp what they’re about. For example it’s not very smart to name a board for geometrical patterns ”Crazy ass stuff”. Unless that’s what people interested in geometrical patterns will use when searching for them… So don’t be witty, be on point.

Be specific and work Cross categories

When you set up your range of pinboards, start out by thinking of all kinds of categories that you think your audience could be interested in. And be specific. You can create a lot of boards in different subcategories. Instead of having one single board called Patterns, you can have different boards dedicated to different types of patterns. This way you can include search friendly and optimised keywords into the board names and their description.

For example: Indian Floral patterns, Toile de Jouy patterns, geometric patterns, abstract patterns and so on. And then you enable yourself to pin the same pins several times, but to different boards, because every pin may be suitable for more than one category/board.

You can also have different boards for diffferent types of products - why not the categories of products that you sell in your web shop; art prints, pillows, tea towels… That way you can pin beautiful and inspiring images from others within this category - and mix it up with images from your webshop. Smart, huh?

So instead of only having a board named "Printed stuff" you can divide this into more specific sub categories.

By doing this you maximize the usage of searchable keywords = more exposure for you!

Show-your-own-work boards

Then you should also have a couple of boards that are dedicated to your work only, so that people visiting your profile can get a grasp of what you do. So with all your boards you usher pinners towards your profile, perhaps they will follow you and best of all, click on the links in your pins and explore some more.

And I recommend you create several specific boards for pinning your own work. The you-specific boards can be:
- Pattern designs by [enter your name] (here you can go all in, dividing into sub categories too).
- [Your name] on Instagram (where you’ll pin the images from your Instagram feed and create a freeway to more pinners finding you on Instagram as well).
- Artwork/Illustrations by [your name]
- Articles on [topic] by [your name]

and so on...

It can be in any niche you want to be profiled and associated with.


Do a little bit of thinking and plan the categories of boards that can work for you and maximize your pinning.

8. Create your own pins

So this whole Pinterest strategy thing won’t work unless you have images of your own to pin to your boards. It’s the center of it all. So how do you create the best types of pins and where do you place them?

The best pins are the ones that get most attention. That stands out from the feed of other pins that run down the page as you scroll. It can be anything from colors, graphics, words and objects that will capture your eye. But a good start when creating your own images - to publish on your site/blog/shop and then to pin - is to create so called ”tall pins”. 

Tall pins

Tall pins will get more space in the feed, compared to wide or square. Because that's how the feed is layouted. And the taller, the more space they'll have, the more visible they are.


A good size for a tall pin is 700x1200 pixels. But you can go even taller in some cases.


Include your brand and website

If you're creating a pin that's showing one of your patterns, I recommend that you include your name/brand and also your website somewhere, for example at the bottom of the pin. That way it’s always there if someone would edit a pin they share and delete the URL source and description.

Be consistent

Also, come up with a cohesive style or concept for your pins so that they are easy to recognise as your brand, your pins.

Phase 1 of the marketing funnel: Creating awareness, building our brand.
Phase 2: Knowledge - is also about making them remember and recognize you.

Attract with copy and visuals

If you’re creating a pin to promote a blog post or article; create an attracting caption using beautiful fonts, colors and graphics.

Here are some examples of pinnable images I’ve created (feel free to pin them :-D):

Pattern design "Ethnic" by Swedish pattern designer Bärbel Dressler at Bear Bell Productions.
Pattern design "Virginia" with palm leaves and exotic birds. By Swedish pattern designer Bärbel Dressler at Bear Bell Productions.
Read about how Swedish pattern designer Bärbel Dressler creates her motifs and patterns by "painting" in Illustrator.
Pattern design "Wings & Tails" with birds and blossoming branches, made with watercolor by Swedish designer Bärbel Dressler at Bear Bell Productions.

Then, when you have created great Pinterest optimised images - you publish them. On your website this may mean that you create a page with samples of your patterns, or images of products with your patterns on them. Or you include it in a blog post. Or publish it in your web shop. And remember to:

Do the work, include the meta data

If you are creating a pin to promote a product; include all the relevant, keyword rich information in the meta data that a potential customer would like to know. Or, some info about the image and you, the creator. The meta data will show up when other people pin an image from your site, and n that way you ensure that the caption will be captivating.


9. Pin away

Once your pinnable images are ”live” you can pin them to one or several of your Pinterest boards. And voila! You have added new interesting pins to Pinterest for the rest of the Pinterest world to see in their feeds and to show up in searches  - and that leads to your site. 

So the key to your Pinterest strategy is to have pins of your own to pin to different types of boards in your profile, that in the end (hopefully) will drive traffic to your different sites when people click on them.

There are different ways to pin images from your website: 

  • Include a social icon plug-in or widget on your website that promotes the visitors to share your content/images to their social media and Pinterest.
  • Or you can hoover over an image and a Pinterest badge/icon will appear that you click on and a pop-up window appears where you select the board you want to pin to.
  • Or you can install a Pinterest browser button that will be visible in the menu bar of your browser, on the top right.

You can get a browser button here:
Swedish: https://about.pinterest.com/sv/browser-button-confirmation-page)
Other languages go to this page: https://about.pinterest.com/ and click on Save in the top menu.


If you have a webshop like Tictail or Etsy, you can also pin images from those and drive traffic to them.


10. Sir Pin-a-lot

In order to have an impactful Pinterest strategy that will start driving traffic to your site, you also have to start pinning in a cohesive way, not just a pin here and there. You should start pinning at least 10 pins a day to get good traction.

The really savvy pinners pin between 20 and 100 pins a day (!). That’s amazing and I don’t understand how they have the time to do anything else, even if they use a scheduler (more about scheduling later).


11. Create a curated mix

But here’s the thing, you don’t want to only pin your own stuff, your own images of patterns or products to your boards. This won’t get you very far marketing wise, and will probably bore/scare away a lot of pinners. The best way is to repin some from others (on Pinterest or other websites) and pin some of your own - either by pinning from one of your websites, or repinning images you’ve already pinned before, that got repinned a lot.

I’ve heard a lot of rules about how you should mix up repins and your own pins. For example the 80/20 rule, that 80% of the pins you pin should be from others and 20% from your own. But I’d say that as long as you mix it up you’re good.

And also remember; You don’t have to just repin. By that I mean pin other already existing pins you find in your Pinterest feed or on other pinboards or from your own websites. You can also pin from other websites and in that way bring new, fresh pins to the table.


Repinning or sharing means that you pin something that’s already on Pinterest, vs pinning new images from external websites.

The images you repin from other boards or your feed can help you gain a following roughly explained by providing interesting content, and the images you pin from your website can make that following go to your website.

But the main focus you should have when finding pins is your audience. Is this pin relevant and interesting to them? Is it going to make them want to come back for more, or even start following you or some of your boards?


Only pin stuff that you think your target group will find interesting, inspiring, useful, valuable.


12. Using a scheduler

A scheduler is an app or service that will help you mass pin and schedule them so that they will be portioned out evenly over the day/week/month. So instead of sitting at your computer for hours trying to find good pins to share and then just pinning them right away one by one, you can select a large number of pins at once from a feed, board or webpage and direct them to a service like Tailwind that will put them into a schedule to be pinned automatically at specific time slots.

That way you can sit down for a pin-session a couple of times a week, or just for a few minutes a day, gather and select pins from different sources that you think your audience will like and have use for, schedule them and then let the app do the work pinning them to your boards while you do other things. 

I totally recommend it. I’ve used Tailwind myself now for a couple of months and have increased the number of followers and repins from my boards a lot already. 

As I’m starting to pin more and more and especially of my own pins I’m also seeing the traffic from Pinterest to my website go up. Still in on a very humble level, but it is definitely moving the needle in a visible way.


If you want to try out Tailwind I have a referral link that will give you a month for free - and give me a little kickback in reward at the same time:

<< Try Tailwind for free for a month and start pinning like a pro >>


13. Use group boards

Another way to help spread your work is by participating in Pinterest group boards. A group board is actually an ordinary pinboard, created by someone who then also lets other pinners pin to her board. You can search for relevant group boards and apply to become a pinner for that board.

The way group boards works is that each pinner of the board can pin images from their sites/blogs/shops etc relevant to the board theme/topic and in that way contribute with interesting, beautiful and inspiring content/pins. In return they have to share/repin the images from the that group board to their own boards. 

Usually the rules are that you can only pin a limited amount of your own pins a week, and that for every pin, you have to share/repin one or more.

That way the pinners of the group board help spread each others pins and increase the exposure to other pinners - who may end up on your website and buy something from you.

Create your own group board

You can also create a group board yourself, based on a theme or topic and that’s relevant to your target group.

1. Create a new pinboard on you profile.

2. Name it something smart and keyword relevant.

3. In the board description write what type of board it is and also the rules that apply. Typical rules are about what topics to pin, how often you can pin, only tall pins, to repin 1 for every pin, etc. Also include information on how to apply to become a pinner for your board. For example to email you.

4. On the bottom of the board settings you can start inviting other pinners to pin to your board. You invite them by entering either their Pinterest user name (it’s the one you’ll see as their URL-slug when on their profile), or the email address connected to their Pinterest account.


So, that's it folks.

Here’s the shortlist summary of how to create a Pinterest strategy:

1. Create a business account
2. Choose a keyword rich account name
3. Include a profile image, preferably of yourself
4. Write a keyword rich inviting bio
5. Connect a website
6. Apply for Rich Pins
7. Set up smart pinboards
8. Create content with pinnable images
9. Pin images from your websites to relevant boards
10. Pin a lot - 10-20 pins a day
11. Create a curated mix between pins and repins
12. Use a scheduler to automate your pinning
13. Join group boards


Last but not least I have to share a really great class on Skillshare about how to use Pinterest for your business, especially designers and artists. It’s a class by Jules Tillman, and it goes into details and explains even more the things I’ve included here.

If you’re not a Skillshare member yet, you can read more about it here and get two months for free of unlimited access to this course, all my courses and thousands of others with this link.

Hope you learned something useful, and feel inspired to start pinning like a pro.

xo / Bärbel

Oh, I almost forgot... Here's me on Pinterest >>