Is Pinterest a Legit Source of Traffic?
In case that's your first question, yes! Pinterest is driving LOTS of traffic to sites all over the web.
Here's a screenshot of my traffic refers according to my JetPack stats for this past Sunday (Friday and Saturday were pretty much the same):
Pinterest sent more traffic to my blog than Facebook, Twitter or StumbleUpon!
Important side note: It's worth noting that a high percentage of my readers are female and otherwise similar to the demographic of Pinterest. If you're after a different demographic entirely you may not get the same results from Pinterest. Know your ideal reader and go where they're at.
Start With Your Profile
Get signed up with Pinterest (if you need an invite, leave me a note in the comments and I'll send you one) and fill out your profile including your website and social networking profile links. You can also add a short bio.
Think "Pinnable" Images
Which images catch your eye on Pinterest? What kind of images can you create for your blog posts that are likely to not just get looked at, but clicked on to visit the source?
If you look at the image on top of this post, it's intentionally designed as an image that will work on Pinterest to share this post and get clicks back to my website (because people want to see the answer to the question).
Watermark Your Images
Lots of images are shared without a link to their original source. Make it obvious where people can find you by adding a watermark to your images with your URL.
If you're using WordPress, you can install the free plugin "Watermark Reloaded" and choose the font, size and color to add a watermark to any images you upload to your blog. See that small "michelleshaeffer.com" in the corner of the image above? That's how I did it.
Add a "Pin It" Button
As Pinterest has soared in popularity, many of the popular social bookmarking plugins have added a "Pin It" button you can show. Check your plugin's options and activate the Pinterest one.
This is important, especially as copyright concerns swirl. Let your readers know that you're okay with them sharing your content on Pinterest by adding that button.
Now, the Ninja Tips!
Got the basics down? Great! Go check out this awesome article from the ever-fabulous Copyblogger for 56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest.
Oh, and Yes, You Can Promote Yourself
Here's the scoop on what's okay as far as promoting yourself on Pinterest, straight from their Etiquette page:
Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion.
So you can share your own stuff, just take it easy, like you do on any other social network. Remember to shoot for 80% other stuff / 20% your stuff, or better.
And do go check out that Copyblogger article because there are ways you can "promote" yourself without being "promotional." For example, I'm sharing a recommended reading board--that's not promoting me, but it is helping to establish my credibility as someone who's doing my homework and keeping up with my industry, growing my own knowledgebase, etc.