A Freelance Graphic Designer's Guide to Marketing on Pinterest
Freelance graphic designers and web designers often have to get creative with their marketing efforts. Sometimes the budget simply does not allow for outsourcing.
Even more so, freelance graphic designers simply do not have enough time to spend on marketing. This is why social media is such an excellent method of marketing for freelancers - social media is free and can be updated regularly without a huge, initial time commitment.
For freelancers in the graphic or web design fields, Pinterest is just as important as Twitter or Facebook, or even more so, simply because of the nature of the site. In fact, it is now considered the third largest social media platform online.
Pinterest users search sometimes hours a day for inspiration, crafts, blog articles, and much more. When they find something they like, they repin it. This means that all of their friends can see this new pin and repin it too. Images and graphics are very popular on Pinterest, hence the connection with graphic design. You can almost think of Pinterest as a freelance graphic design resume of sorts.
While you may not have yet jumped on the Pinterest craze, as a graphic designer you may want to seriously consider getting involved. To make the most of your Pinterest marketing efforts, you'll want to take some necessary steps for ensuring success.
The following is a complete guide to marketing on Pinterest for freelance graphic designers. However, with a little focus, any freelancer can benefit from the 14 points that follow.
SEO Your Account
Make sure to optimize your actual graphic design Pinterest account so that your pins will pop up when users are searching for your specific type of pins. In your About section, write an informative description of your freelance graphic design or web design/development business. Be sure to use your top keywords, your website URL, and end with a main hashtag or two.
Be sure to use your top keywords, your website URL, and end with a main hashtag or two.
If you want to give a more personal feel to your business then consider using a profile photo. In an article by Tehmina on the JeffBullas blog, she suggests using your own photo as the profile pic. Many freelancers like using this technique because it differentiates them from the big competitors. However, using your logo as your profile pic also increases brand recognition. Really, it is up to you to determine which type of image is best for your business.
Finally, make sure you place your most popular and recent boards at the top of the page. According to Tehmina's article, this is where users look first when viewing a Pinterest page.
Make Sure Your URL is Attached to Your Pins
There are two ways you can make sure your website address is attached to your pins. First of all, you can simply post the image first on your website and then click your own Pin It button that you have attached to each image on your website (explained more below). This ensures that your URL is permanently attached to that pin, no matter how many times it is repinned. You can also simply pin your image on Pinterest and include your website URL in the caption.
Add Pin It to Your Website
Do not let an opportunity to easily build backlinks slip away. Make sure to add the Pin It button to every image on your website so that viewers can easily share it on their Pinterest accounts. This ensures that your image still has your website URL attached, meaning that your site gains backlinks with each pin.
SEO Your Captions
The caption area of a pin is another area in which to focus on SEO. Keywords related to the pin, in the form of a hashtag, help searchers find your pin when they are looking for this specific type of information. However, just as with any other SEO ploy, do not stuff tons of keywords into your caption. Make it readable and informative so that viewers know what it is they are looking at.
Use a Watermark
Create a watermark that you can easily add to every image you put online. This helps protect your intellectual property whether it's on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, or someone simply shared it via email with a friend. Consider including a watermark that includes the copyright symbol, your URL, and the year. To avoid annoying Pinterest users, keep the watermark along the top or bottom of the image.
Yet, do keep in mind that if you are trying to protect your graphics, an IP thief could simply crop out the watermark. A more aggressive move is to apply a transparent version of your logo over the center of your graphic.
Add Humor and Inspiration
People love to be inspired, especially if that inspiration comes with a good laugh.
No matter your genre specialty, you can probably come up with some humorous or inspirational designs specifically for Pinterest quite easily. While, yes, you still want to pin some examples of your regular work, inspiration and humor get repinned the most. Just make sure that your design matches your talent in some way. For instance, if you specialized in mostly dark fantasy illustration, create a dark humor piece that shows off your skills.
Do a double whammy by creating a piece that is both inspirational and humorous. People love to be inspired, especially if that inspiration comes with a good laugh.
Pin Content Your Target Audience Wants to See
Humor and inspiration aside, you have to market to your target audience. If your ideal customers are businesses needing marketing collateral, then make sure that many of your pins are advertising materials, such as posters, brochures, or business cards.
Of course, not all of your pins need to be of only marketing materials, to keep using this example. However, your ultimate goal in using Pinterest is to drive the right kind of traffic to your website to increase conversions (a fancy marketing word for sales).
Pin Blog Posts or Tutorials
If you have a blog (and you should) on your website through which you post tutorials or other informative design articles, then pin the best ones on your Pinterest account. Just be sure to include an awesome image with the pin for best results; after all, Pinterest is all about images, not text (unless the text is done in a creative font and design). Your caption should be optimized as suggested above, but also include a good preview of your style of writing and what the blog post is about to better encourage viewers to visit your website.
Pin Sales or Discounts
Let's say that January is your slowest month of the year for business. Consider running a discount special for business cards, postcards, and brochures, or whatever your most popular product is. Then pin this information on your Pinterest graphic design account. Just be sure to create an awesome design for this special so that no one thinks twice about repinning it.
Use Inspiration Boards
Pinterest has this awesome feature that allows you to create a themed collection of pins. These virtual inspiration boards can help you as a freelance graphic designer in three ways: grouping pins of a certain theme together for better organization, using as a mood board for clients, and crowdsourcing projects.
Grouping images together that all fall under a specific theme is a great way to show off similar work.
Grouping images together that all fall under a specific theme is a great way to show off similar work. This way, if a potential client is scouting you out, they can get a better idea of your specialties, not to mention it makes you look like quite the organized freelancer.
Think of boards as acting like a movie preview - the longer you watch the preview and continue to be impressed, the more and more you want to see it RIGHT NOW. Inspiration boards can create a snowball effect on a prospect, one that impresses them enough to visit your website.
Before beginning a project for a client, you can gather ideas and inspiration for the client to approve and pin them in an inspiration board. The only drawback to using boards as a mood board for clients is that it is public. However, it can be a great way to see the public's general opinion of a design and give a business client an idea of the success of certain design choices.
Crowdsourcing on Pinterest
The third way to use inspiration boards is to crowdsource a project or an idea for a project. Now, you may risk a client seeing you crowdsourcing their work, but if you keep the project anonymous, they probably will never notice. If you break the design up into several pieces and crowdsource each one, it's even less likely that a client will guess the crowdsourcing is for them.
If you are a good freelancer, then you know you will more than likely have to revamp most of the design anyway, so even if a client does guess the crowdsourcing is for them, your final design will be SO MUCH better than what you chose to go with.
On this note, you can also just crowdsource the ideas for a project. If you are completely stuck with a project, not sure where to start or what direction to take, you can always ask for some ideas. Just some quick pins that people find and throw up with some suggestions. This saves you the time of researching for hours on your own, giving you a bigger bang for your hard-earned freelancing dollars.
Use the Gifts Section
If you do a lot of spec work, you probably have some projects that have not yet been picked up. One way to help get rid of these is by posting them for sale on your website and then pinning them in the Gifts section on Pinterest. The reason why you want to still keep them on your website is that Pinterest does not have an actual transaction feature. To make sure your images appear in the Gifts section, simply place a dollar sign in front of the price in your caption.
Repin a Variety
Repinning other's pins helps you to build a community and create relationships within Pinterest, similar to reposting on Facebook or retweeting on Twitter. Mainly, of course, you do want to repin items that are of interest to your target audience. However, occasionally repinning items in a general category, such as Food or Fashion, allows you to also market to a more general audience every now and then.
You can also repin well known graphic designers on Pinterest, but you will want to make sure that your area of expertise is not in direct competition with theirs. Repinning other graphic designers' works is a great way to build relationships and create a strong network in the graphic design community.
Turn Off Facebook and Twitter
Don't get this tip confused with linking to these sites. You still want to make sure that you link to Facebook by going to your Settings and making sure the "Link to Facebook" button is on. However, turn off the button labeled "Add Pinterest to Facebook Timeline" to prevent an update on Facebook everytime you pin or repin something. Also, when pinning an image, do not check the Facebook and Twitter checkmarks if you do not want this pin to be posted on these social media accounts. Every social media platform has a different style, so automatically tooting to your friends and followers everytime you pin something may result in lots of unfriending and unfollowing.
Jump on Pinterest
For any freelancer, Pinterest is an excellent way to market your business and to use as a secondary freelance graphic design resume. For graphic designers or web developers, however, marketing on Pinterest is especially important to use since pins are so heavily based on images.
If you haven't yet created a graphic design Pinterest account, you should definitely consider it. This highly valuable form of marketing is an excellent, free way to gain exposure, build relationships, and display your talent.