First, upgrade your account to a business account if you haven't already (just follow the simple steps on your profile).
You can now apply for rich pins. Rich pins are like normal pins, except they let you add far more text below the image. I have included them here because a lot of bloggers swear by them. I will be honest. I don't have, nor do I want, rich pins. I think the point of Pinterest is that the image speaks for itself. I simply make sure I change the alt text (at the point of adding the post) to the post title so it doesn't read something like img_001.
Create a pinnable imageYou can pin any size image, but the ones that get seen within searches are portrait (the optimum size is 735x1102). A lot of bloggers like a landscape image that stretches the size of the post. By all means use these images, but always have at least one that's portrait. Why not make a collage of your landscape images to form one portrait one, and run it down the side of your post. Don't forget to add the post title (or whatever you want displaying under the pin) to the alt text of the images.
The image needs to be clear, and attractive. The ones that work best are crafts, recipes, drinks, make up/fashion tutorials, or "how to" ones. For "how to", add the title somewhere in the pin. (Use PicMonkey or something similar to easily add text to your images.)
Add the Pin It widget to your blog
You can easily add a widget. Click the little bolt icon from your profile page, choose "make a widget". Copy and paste the code to your side bar, or wherever you want the widget to display. It is now super easy for your readers to pin your images on their boards. I have a share button at the bottom of each post, and I have also installed SumoMe, so I have share buttons at the left hand side of each post for all social media channels.
Choose your approachThere are two ways to approach Pinterest.
What I call the gentle, non serious way. This is the method I use. I like Pinterest a lot, and I like to pin things I like, even if they don't bring in massive amounts of followers/re-pins. You will see a bit of extra traffic, but not a massive amount in my experience.
Then there's what I call the ruthless way. Not ruthless towards others, but ruthless in that you only pin tried and tested stuff and get rid of the rest!
I will share with you how each method works.
The Gentle Way
Set up your boards in categories of things you want to pin, and stick with them. You can add as few or as many as you want. People may then choose to only follow the boards that interest them.
2. Ratio rules!
As a rule of thumb, for everything of your own you pin, pin four posts from others. I honestly think this is only necessary if your blog is massively niched. People might get bored of your pins if they are all about the exact same thing, so mixing some others in can stop this. If your pins aren't too similar, I really think you can get away with it, but its still nice to spread the love. People are more likely to return the favour if you regularly pin their stuff!
3. The frequency of your pins.
People always say pin a lot of stuff - up to 100 a day I have read some places! I think you can go into over kill if you do too many at once. Pinterest will only display so many, so unless people specifically choose to look at one of your boards, they will see perhaps 5% of what you pin if you bulk pin. I wouldn't advise more than 20 in one go, less if you want to. I often only pin one or two at a time.
4. Use analytics
On your profile, click the little bolt icon to bring down a menu. From there, click analytics. This shows you your most popular pins. Try to pin similar things. You can also work out the best time to pin as long as you have a rough idea what time you pinned them.
The Ruthless Way
Remember when Pinterest decided we were all happy so they changed their algorithms? Basically, it seems they decided that the more popular you are, the more chance you should have to become even more popular. So if you have a lot of re-pins, your posts are more likely to be seen than if you don't have as many.
You can hope for the best that you get re-pinned enough to make it, or you can trick Pinterest into thinking you are popular.
Once it thinks you are popular, it will promote you more, which means more people see your pins, which in turn makes you popular.
So, here's the ruthless part (its also kind of time consuming if you have a lot of pins). To make Pinterest think you are popular, you have to get rid of content that isn't popular.
Let's say on average, you get 10 re-pins per pin (it may be less, it may be much more, choose a number fairly close to your average, then drop it a little.) Go through each of your boards, and look at each individual pin. If they have less re-pins than the number you decided on, delete them (see why I said it's ruthless?).
You may even delete full boards at this stage. Remember, you may lose a few followers this way if they only follow one board and you delete it.
Once complete, Pinterest algorithms now see all your pins as getting re-pinned, so they show your stuff more. If there's the odd pin (and I mean the odd one!) that you really don't want to part with, re-pin it yourself to a new board to get it's number up.
Once a month, go through and repeat the process, the number will be higher each month as your popularity increases and more people see your pins.
I haven't tried this method, but I know people who have and they all swear by it!
I wouldn't recommend this method until you already have a good number of followers and re-pins or you might find you have to delete more than you keep. If you want to give it a go and your re-pins aren't high, try deleting posts with none or 1 re-pins first!
If you delete something that has been re-pinned, it won't affect the re-pin. The people who have re-pinned will still have the pin visible on their boards so you won't upset anyone else!
Best of both worldsIf you want use Pinterest seriously for your blog, but you want to pin fun things too, why not have a business account for your blog where you are ruthless, and a personal account for friends and family etc where you pin whatever you want to!
Have you tried the ruthless method? Did it work for you? Any tips to add? Let me know in the comments :)