Pinterest for Photographer Marketing and Ideas

Pinterest Tips for PhotographersPinterest.com is the latest social network taking the photography community by storm. It takes the vision board concept (poster board with goals, ideas, and styles) into an online gallery where people save images to be shared, rated, and commented. Think of it as a visually-based social bookmarking site with thumbnail images. The opportunity for clients to organize what they find online into a personal photo gallery of ideas is HUGE for marketing a photography business.
Pin It

The Pinterest concept

If you don’t have an account yet request an invite from pinterest.com or a friend like me (contact me with your email address and I’ll send you an invite).

A person can have multiple boards, each with multiple pins. Each pin is a saved image that links to the original webpage showing the image, and a description set by the person who pinned it. Pins are organized by boards – a simple way to connect pins together under a single topic or theme. For example, I have 3 boards, and one of them is called Photographer Pinterest Ideas:

Zach Prez Pinterest Boards

That board has multiple pins inside that link to the original webpage, each with a description set by me.

Photography Pins

People can follow other people, or follow individual boards. Following someone allows you to tag them and their pins will stream through your Pinterest homepage – the same way it works for Facebook and Twitter. Follow me at http://pinterest.com/zachprez/ to see stuff I post about Pinterest and about photography marketing.

You can also stream someone’s content via RSS by clicking the little RSS icon underneath their name. Cool if you want to keep an eye on someone’s pins through an RSS reader (I do this via iGoogle).

What do people use Pinterest for?

Now you know the concept of Pinterest… let’s dig into reasons why people might use it.

  • Inspiration – scan images for recipes, room ideas, cool quotes, beautiful photography
  • Web bookmarks – save something cool for later
  • Entertainment – browse photos and comments for fun
  • Networking – foster relationships with people who have similar taste/interests
  • Sharing – post something others will like, make and/or receive comments
  • Organization – categorize ideas

How will you use Pinterest for your business? My favorite example comes from Rachel Durik, who saved elements of life (like a fortune cookie) then used them as props and poses during a session. Read Rachel’s blog post about her inspiration board for a photo shoot. Her use of inspiration boards could be an inspiration board!

Have your clients make an inspiration board for their session. Use it for ideas of color, style, and themes you know they’ll love. You can make your own boards as well that gathers great ideas about props, backgrounds, locations, etc that will come in handy later. For example, Nancy Steele emailed me to say:

“Love Pinterest, currently just using it to show clothing ideas to clients. That has been a HUGE improvement for clothing consultations, cutting down on time since it’s such a visual. I have yet to create my own boards of my work but it’s on the new years list!”

How does this happen naturally? This post intends to leverage Pinterest for marketing: grow your business, reach new people, and get your photography shared.

Ideas for marketing via Pinterest

Encourage others to pin you

Does your website encourage people to pin your images or follow you on Pinterest? Grab goodies like a Follow me on Pinterest button for your website, gallery, or blog. Anywhere you would normally promote your Facebook URL or Like button, add your Pinterest URL or Pin button. For example:

  • Pin It button in my blog posts
  • Follow me on Pinterest button in blog sidebar
  • Follow me link in email/forum signatures
  • Email newsletter

Showcase your boards

Add a module that shows your most pinned pages or images. Create a blog post of your favorite pins. Send out an email with pins from your board. Essentially, get your boards in front of potential clients so they’re inspired and want to Follow you.

Follow, comment, re-pin

The default settings email you whenever you have a new follower. Chances are you’ll check out this new person who followed you and you may even follow them back. Following a lot of people gets you noticed. Adding existing Facebook and Twitter connections is easy (in fact too easy, during my setup I accidentally followed all my connections, over 3,000). The cool thing was people reached out to me on Facebook, Twitter, and email saying they were honored I followed them. That’s great relationship building!

Re-pin and comment others’ pins as another way to get noticed. Kind of like Retweeting. You’ve had the excitement of posting something that got a million comments – give that excitement to someone else. I have thousands of connections, but I know a handful by name because they share my stuff consistently. Try and find profiles for your clients. Every time you comment on one of their pins, your name and image get in front of them as a reminder to schedule another photo session.

Embed a pin on your site

The next section has a pin embedded in the post. It’s a non pushy way to remind people of your profile and follow one of your boards or re-pin you.

How to make your pins STAND OUT

Use text in photos

Text in an image adds another dimension that may help capture a pin from another user. People love to save cool quotes and it’s easy to find cool ones. Sometimes text adds more value to the image through inspiration (a quote) or explanation about the webpage the image represents. Either case increases likelihood of getting noticed on Pinterest. I like the below examples: one is use of text on top of an image (added after the photo was taken) and the other incorporates text into the photo in a cool way (with chalk).

Source: Uploaded by user via Zach

Watermark photos

People’s attention go to the photo and not the link. Insure you’re watermark is on every photo from your site. I quickly noticed my error when I saw some of my blog posts pinned. My posts used generic images (like a photo of the ocean for my post about Splash pages) with no attribution or description. I started using @zachprez as the watermark, leading people back to my social media profiles. I felt this was cleaner and better than trying to put photographywebmarketing.com in the photo.

Be popular

Stuff goes viral fast, especially when a pin hits the pinterest.com homepage as a popular item. Just 10 minutes ago I saw the same recipe appear on my page about 10 times because everyone was re-pinning it at that time. The key to popularity is consolidating response in a short time frame. 100 re-pins in one minute makes your item HOT (100 over a year does not). On rare occasion, you may have an image or page that could make it viral. Coordinate the promotion to happen at a set time, and explicitly ask as many people as possible to help you promote it.

Have a catchy description

Pins show only two things: a thumbnail image and a description. Make that description count with eye-catching text that add more value to the image. Use calls to action (text that tells someone to do something) like Click me to view the entire cool gallery about XYZ. I’ve seen photographers use links within the description to try and achieve better click through… not sure if I am a fan of this quite yet.

Amie Reinholz said:

“I had someone call me once to book b/c they found me on pinterest…crazy! I keep a board of my work and I always put ‘engagement portraits’ then #Amie Reinholz Photography and several have been repinned. I also have inspiration boards for poses, etc.”

Create cool topic hubs

There’s a million boards out there on the same topic – what makes yours unique? Why would a potential client want to follow your board? Make your boards interesting and valuable for clients by gathering information they can’t get elsewhere. You’ll probably need to aggregate ideas from other businesses to do this. For example a board of wedding planning ideas from many sources is more beneficial to a bride than a board of wedding photos only from you. Essentially, build a board that someone else would want as their own that leverages a range of ideas and topics.

Ideas from smart photographers

Julie Clegg photographs a dog a day in her board Dog-A-Day for Canine Cancer. The regularity of photos and pins keeps her consistently front of mind for clients, while also promoting a wonderful cause. Attaching herself to a larger mission makes her photography more visible to people she wouldn’t otherwise reach. She says:

“Every day I get to remind people how big canine cancer has become. I want to put this together in a one-a-day calendar or book and sell it to raise funds and awareness for Canine Cancer. I made these digital calendars from a few of my favorite images for peoples desktops. Then put it on Pinterest as a place to share and download. Again, download page goes back to my site. Added bonus if they use the calendars, my logo and pictures are in front of them and friends/office mates etc all year long.”

Heidi Casey told me about her boards for What to Wear and Hair.

“I love the use of Pinterest for business purposes. Its an amazing tool to help organize my creativity. I have a board (What to Wear) that is purely for linking to clients to help them when they are deciding on their colors and outfits for the session. I love to be super involved in that decision since I believe it can take an ordinary session to the next level just by adding cohesive and bold color choices. I also use pinterest as a source of posing. Who need posing guides anymore when you have pinterest. Of course I never want to copy a pose but I like to get inspiration and then make the poses my own. I have only ever pinned 2 of my own images because I know the rules on pinterest are not to use pinterest as a self-promotion of you or your business. I do however post images from other photographers that I am friends with in hopes that they will return the favor and post my images.”

Denys Kelley has a board for fun photo gifts. Photo gifts create a need for more photos, and will ultimately share the photography with the recipient of the gift (your next potential client). Note: to add a price to a pin, type the $ or £ symbol followed by the number amount in the description.

Amy Hoogstad blogged cool photos showing kids holding a canvas print of their own photo. The unique photo style created buzz in the Pinterest community and send lots of traffic back to her blog, even a year after it was originally posted. Learn two things form this: unique photography does great in social media, and social media can drive considerable website traffic even when you don’t expect it.

J Nicole has boards for each holiday as well as photography beauty tips and one called my equipment. I think every photographer can benefit from similar boards – clients love seeing this sort of content. She told me she plans to work on her photography session clothing recommendation boards and include them in emails to her clients pre-session.”

Cynthia Piekarski had a good idea to blog a pic a day and pin that post.

Molly Doan had an idea for contests: “There are a lot of great contests on facebook, most of the photographers are giving you an extra entry if you ‘pin’ one of their photos to pinterest! I just started doing this too! Seems to be working out okay!”

StudioTrainer Kate offered one of my favortie suggestions, which was to build a Facebook tab using a Pinterest board.

“A lot of people mostly don’t utilize pinterest to it’s full advantage. It can build visibility for your business and widen your market, you can build a tab on your FB page for your boards, and so much more, increase readership for blogs, etc.”

How do you market with Pinterest?

Use the Tofurious Pinterest plug-in (affiliate) for WordPress allowing you to easily create a Pin It button for each image.

If you liked these Pinterest marketing ideas then you’ll love my ebooks. Browse ebooks for marketing ideas about search engine optimization (SEO), blogging, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Comments

  1. says

    I am just getting started and have only one board, with a small collection of photographs that inspire me personally. Check it out here – http://pinterest.com/seshu/ – Now, having read your post and see how much more I can get out of this new social network, I am going to give it another go. Thanks, Zach!

  2. cassandra plummer says

    I have watched food photography blogs use pinterest to pin their own photos which in turn allows for re-pins and more traffic sent to their blog. Do you think this could be applied to portrait photography? For some reason it seems weird to pin pictures of my own clients.

    • says

      @cassandra plummer Good question. I would not recommend pinning all your images, especially if your followers would not be interested in re-pinning the photo. I like to let other people pin me first, then I might repin it. Here’s an easy way to see everything pinned from your site pinterest.com/source/your-domain-here.com Better would be to select a handful of your best works and post them to a best-of album (for people who come across your work and may want to hire you). Or select photos that have unique poses, props, or settings and create an album of “ideas” (for people who have an upcoming session).

  3. aaron_babcock says

    Great post. I’ve been surprised by the number of new followers on this (about 95% women for me so far). I was just was trying to get a better feel for it this morning when your email came through. Definitely will be keeping a close eye on this. Based on early demographics, this could be a very useful tool for photographers.

  4. JenniferGilbert says

    Thanks for this great article. I’m always going back and forth about pinning my own work. I don’t pin everything but I do pin images I really love. I see it as a marketing tool rather than being vain. What are your thoughts on using this as a marketing tool?

  5. YolandaLockhartHowe says

    Your article could not be more timely. I was searching for some concrete how-to’s on this subject yesterday, and revamped by blog with Pin It buttons and a “recent pins” badge in my sidebar. I have actually found it easier and faster to attract followers on Pinterest than on Facebook. But whether these are strong potential clients, I’m not sure. As of yet, I have not pinned any of my own work. But since one of my niches is children’s parties, I was thinking of creating boards around themes from my clients’ parties and pinning related images as well as my own (i.e. A Toy Story Party board, A Pumpkin Party board, etc.)

  6. juli_lynch says

    Love this post! I have just been thinking of how to use Pinterest for business building and already starting using it for photo concepts. Thank you! 🙂

  7. NataliaMartinez says

    Great post Zach! I am wondering if there is a how-to somewhere on how to add a Pinterest tab to your Facebook page, since my personal profile is somewhat more private, it would be more beneficial to have it on the page correct? I especially liked the part about adding copy to images, I did it with this one a little while back and people seemed to love it, plus it showcases our work: http://pinterest.com/pin/222646775297832765/

    Thanks!

  8. LisaBurgessTog says

    I like to follow my clients (brides) boards to get an idea as to what their big day may look like, and their overall style. Helps me get to know them better. I also created a photobooth board where I invite my brides who want a backyard style photobooth to pin things they see that they like. Keeps us on the same page until their wedding day.

    http://pinterest.com/lisaburgess

  9. StudioTrainerKate says

    Zach, I’ve also added a Static iFrame tab that you can direct to a url, that allows you to direct to a board or your general pinterest URL. While at the moment it’s not totally customizable for width adjustment and maybe not beautiful, it does the trick 🙂 Anyone who wants more info is welcome to come ask!

  10. NataliaMartinez says

    Hey Zach,

    I am really curious as to what you think of this blog post I came across and whether you would advise photographers (and other creatives) not to upload or pin their own artwork. http://www.virtualmoxie.com/2012/02/why-pinterest-is-no-longer-of-great-interest.html

    Honestly, I am on the fence and I don’t know where the line is, I was terrified of posting any images to Facebook because of their copyright terms, and now I am wondering whether I should remove my own work from my Pinterest boards, we currently have pin boards dedicated to our work. Granted, I always credit what I find and pin, and all my artwork is watermarked, but I wonder if that is enough to justify having it on there considering the terms and conditions and other fine print I’m ashamed to say I neglected to read before I created my boards. I love Pinterest, I still want the exposure, and I still want to share our work and see/pin amazing work from other photographers, but as many creatives are, I am terrified of it getting stolen and used/modified without permission. What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts as well as everyone else’s.

    Thanks!

    Nat

  11. says

    I have read several articles this past week about Pinterest and it’s terms of service. It states that Pinterest can sell your images. Under its TOS you are granting them the rights to sell, alter etc. your images. Since reading not just one but several articles about this I took down all our original content. I still have our account and just have the fun “stuff” on my boards.

  12. Cowbelly says

    According to Pinterest’s Terms of Use:

    You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.”

    So essentially anyone pinning any content they don’t hold the copyright for is: 1) in violation of pinterest’s own ToU, and 2) committing a copyright violation

    Additionally, their Terms of Use say this:

    “Member Content

    We may, in our sole discretion, permit Members to post, upload, publish, submit or transmit Member Content. By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services. Cold Brew Labs does not claim any ownership rights in any such Member Content and nothing in these Terms will be deemed to restrict any rights that you may have to use and exploit any such Member Content.”

    The terms ‘Site’, ‘ Application’, and ‘Services’ are defined in the TOU, but it seems to be they could modify these descriptions at any time, thereby enabling themselves to use your content for whatever they please at any time in the future, so long as it’s on their Site, Application or Services.

    As a professional photographer who makes a decent side income on commercial licenses this scares the crap out of me, because if one of my clients finds their photo that I licensed to them exclusively on another website, I could be sued. And my clients are big companies with big money and legal departments, so it’s not a small concern.

    What do you think about their TOU as it affects photographers and copyright laws in general?

    I’m *this* close to deleting my pinterest account and installing pin-block code on my site.

  13. says

    I added the “block” code to the end of the blog post above (it wouldn’t paste in the comments).

    You can hear about Pinterest’s response to copyright issues in this post from BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17111041. I’m surprised the Pinterest response is to provide block code rather than changing its terms! It has me wondering why it is hanging on to its right to re-use/sell your images. Similar to the privacy concerns we’ve seen in Facebook, I think this is the beginning of a long battle in the Pinterest community. My hope is they change their tune, considering how important photography is to its business model.

    But my opinion is to weight the risk versus the reward. What is the likelihood that Pinterest will use your photos in a way you disapprove? What will your clients think when they try to pin your images and can’t? Will other Pinterest users pin your stuff even if you don’t (unless you use the block code and contact everyone who already pinned your work)? Measure that against the gains you may see in traffic, shares, and/or new business. For example 10% of my traffic comes from Pinterest.

    If you want to see how much traffic other photographers get from Pitnerest, take my survey here. I’m collecting anonymous research: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGNPQ1pfcmdickFXS0Q1Q1JaaUZ6YlE6MQ

  14. KathrinStahl says

    Zach, thanks for this great article! Besides from being addicted to Pinterest for obvious reasons 😉 I find it very useful for sharing inspirations with clients. E.g. I will have a fashion shoot for a designer from Switzerland, difficult to meet with in person. Hence, I have created a board to show her some of the hair, posing, lighting etc.

  15. KathrinStahl says

    Zach, I have one question I hope you can answer: I have in fact posted some of my images for the customer to see some of my work. Now, I would like for my website/blog to open once somebody clicks on the picture. How does this work? Thanks a lot! Kathrin

  16. philderksen says

    In case it helps I’ve been working on a Pin It button plugin over the past couple months hoping to make it easier to add to WordPress sites. You can grab it at http://pinterestplugin.com (or search for “pin it button”) in your WordPress admin.
     
    If anyone tries it out I’d love to hear what additional features you’d like to see.

      • says

         @zachprez  @NataliaMartinez I had read this and wondered will they change their terms of use or is he a great marketing knowing she would post this and it would spread like wildfire.  I’ve seen this link all over the place. I would love it if they changed their terms of use. I guess time will tell.

  17. AlexandraMPhoto says

    This is such valuable information!!
     
    Any suggestions for Facebook company pages?  I manage my company page through my personal Facebook. Pinterest only allows linking to personal Facebook pages. Instead I’m connected through Twitter which is not ideal (unless I could be educated otherwise?). Thoughts?

  18. says

    Understanding what to do and the in depth skill it takes when it comes to taking photos is sometimes difficult to comprehend. This is mostly due to lack of proper knowledge about photography. This article will give you a lot of knowledge about photography.

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