Looking for ways to make money with Pinterest? Instead of looking at Pinterest as a simple photo-sharing network, think of it as your own global message board.
There are many ways to monetize Pinterest and as the network continues to grow, so will your opportunities.
Ways to make money with Pinterest
Let’s take a look at some effective ways you can make money with Pinterest.
Follow your passion, build an audience and then sell to them
What are your passions? As long as people spend money in a field that you love (which is in just about any field, from clothing for kids to materials and courses for puns), you can make money.
Let’s say you’re a fitness junkie. You like to be fit and keep fit. You choose a target group: women in their twenties who want to be fit and attractive, because you are probably a woman yourself and in your 20s and you were already pinning about it and looking up information about it.
It’s your passion.
Create a Pinterest account and boards that appeal to this audience.
View followers on your boards and create a mailing list. Some avid Pinterest users have a million followers and more. You don’t need that many followers to sell to your audience, just a few of the right ones who see your material and distribute it to their followers.
If you don’t know what to sell to your Pinterest followers, don’t worry. Once you have a few thousand followers, marketers will automatically approach you with offers.
This way you can get ideas to promote or enter into collaborations with others and promote them.
Make money on Pinterest with affiliate marketing
You don’t have to be an internet marketing expert. You don’t even need a blog to get started with this method. You can start today with absolutely no cost to start.
I’m also a big fan of affiliate marketing (Affiliate Held has a great blog post about it). You can create content that really helps people, with their choice for certain products or with solving a problem they have. This is a perfect way to monetize your blog.
But there’s also a way to do it on Pinterest without even needing a blog, right from your Pins.
Although I recommend using Pinterest to build a blog, even if it is an affiliate blog by sending traffic from Pinterest to it for example to get not only a sales opportunity but also their email address for your mailing list, applying of affiliate marketing on Pinterest is a golden opportunity, especially for beginners.
You can make your first sale as early as day 1, which is what makes this method so attractive.
Affiliate marketing is when you recommend someone else’s products or services to your readers or followers. You get a special link from the advertiser so they can see that you referred the customer, and when that person buys something you receive a commission, a percentage of the sales.
This is how it works:
Affiliate marketing on Pinterest
For the uninitiated, Pinterest is a giant virtual bulletin board. Users search for ideas and “pin” images that they would like to come back to later.
Each ‘pin’ is an image with a link. People can click on the image to visit the site it came from.
We can convert these clicks into money with affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is simply when you promote an item online and get a commission for every sale. You promote the product with your own special tracking link, which is called an affiliate link.
When someone clicks on your link and buys a product, the seller can see that you sent them and you get a share of the sale!
There are many ways to promote your affiliate links and bring in online sales. The most common is blogging. You can also share your links on social media or in emails to your followers (always pay attention to the advertiser’s terms and conditions).
Join Affiliate Programs
You have a Pinterest profile, or further down I also have a step-by-step explanation to start with your business profile. Now you have to find great products to pin. Products from companies that will pay you when you help them sell!
There are many different companies that pay commission to affiliates. Pretty much every major retailer you can think of has its own affiliate program.
You can also find affiliate programs for individual products, such as e-books and online courses. This is usually on the last page/module of the book or course, plus there are networks where you can look for affiliate fees like Tradetracker, Daisycon and Awin.
Some networks or individual advertisers require a minimum number of followers per social network in order to post directly to them. Otherwise you can always work through your own blog or wait until you have more followers. Always read the terms and conditions of each provider carefully.
It is of course best to join different affiliate programs, so that you do not put all your money on just one partner who can change the conditions or adjust the commission so that you suddenly see your income disappear.
With helpful and interesting articles under your arm, you can place the affiliate links, including your own tracking code to track sales, directly into the pin’s link (or as I’d recommend a link in the pin to your blog and so sales and building a network of loyal customers with, for example, an email list).
You must include a disclosure such as “affiliate link” or “#ad” in the description. It’s just spammy if you don’t let your followers know and be secretive about it.
Tip: Use a URL-shortening service like Bitly to manage your links and see which ones are the most clickable.
You can promote all kinds of products on Pinterest. For example, you can promote digital products related to blogging and make money online to physical products such as clothing, accessories and household items.
If you already have a Pinterest profile, I recommend pinning products that naturally complement your existing Pins. So, for example, if you have a lot of fashion boards, check affiliated retailers for clothes that match the kinds of things you’re already pining.
This will keep your profile looking natural and non-spammy. It also means that your new Pins are more likely to appeal to the people who already follow you.
Choose a business you want to promote and ask for a sponsor deal
Create a group and build your Pinterest followers as we discussed above. A bit similar to affiliate marketing, but of course you don’t have to work on a commission basis.
Some campaigns work much better when you help others build their brand by promoting them to your followers. With a collaboration you only have to mention them in a positive way as a recommendation to your followers, not even with a direct link to a sales page.
Select companies that offer products that appeal to your target group, or even better, that you already enjoy using! If you stick to the “fitness” example, you can approach companies that sell fitness equipment or sports drinks that you swear by yourself.
Share your Pinterest account stats with the businesses you approach and ask for sponsorship. Offer them a deal: they can display their brand in your account for a year for a certain amount.
Again, you probably need to have a number of followers to make a partnership worthwhile for the advertiser, plus the more followers you have, the bigger the deal you can negotiate.
Create contests on Pinterest to sell your own products
You may want to sell your own products or services on Pinterest. Consider making matches. They are popular and can help you make money.
However, keep Pinterest’s guidelines in mind:
Contests are a common tactic that companies use to engage people with their brand, and we learned a lot about how they work on Pinterest.
Done well, they can be a trigger to help people think and talk about your brand. But they can also motivate people to add Pins they’re not really interested in, which is why Pins from contests can often feel irrelevant and even spammy.
Pinterest monitors the user experience. This is great because it keeps the network growing. But also make sure that you do not, for example, reach an incorrect target group who only pins for a chance to win the prize.
Driving traffic from Pinterest to other revenue
Do you already have another source of income? Then use the traffic you can generate with Pinterest to drive more visitors to those ways.
For example, you can use relevant Pins to get people from Pinterest to:
- your blog with informative content or news items where you show advertisements
- your videos on Youtube where you earn money advertising
- your Instagram account where you already have more followers and are starting to arouse the interest of a number of large advertisers, with just a little more followers
- your LinkedIn account where you connect with potential customers for your service
Make money teaching Pinterest strategies to others
As Pinterest continues to grow, a small industry has developed around it, with people developing tools to help Pinterest users.
After using Pinterest successfully for a while, consider making money teaching your strategies to others. Create eBooks and courses that teach you what you’ve learned.
Make money by executing a Pinterest strategy for others
Many companies aren’t doing anything with Pinterest yet, and as you’ve learned by now, there’s great potential to get found and market products and services.
After all, you have already done it yourself with one of the strategies above.
In addition to learning these tactics, you can also choose to offer your services to other companies where you do the execution. Many entrepreneurs do not want to learn it, they are already busy. But they do want a good return on investment by investing your time and attention for their campaigns.
For example, you can sell your hours as an executor on everything from choosing the right pins and topics to creating the images for them, or sell your services as a consultant and work out a strategy for them to implement.
So there you have it: 7 effective ways to make money with Pinterest. You’ll also develop other strategies as you become active on the network and discover more and more opportunities to get your Pins and promotions out to people.
Why it’s easy to make money on Pinterest
Pinterest is often referred to as a social network, but the truth is that Pinterest is more like a search engine.
People go to Pinterest to look for ideas and specifically to look for things to buy!
87% of users have bought something they found on Pinterest and a whopping 93% say they’ve used Pinterest to plan future purchases.
This means it’s easy and natural to promote great products on Pinterest without looking spammy, it’s also what people come for on the platform. That’s fundamentally different from Facebook or Instagram where they come to connect with their friends or see inspiring photos. This strategy wouldn’t work there!
Also, your pins on Pinterest will stick around forever. It’s not like Twitter, where your message disappears just minutes after you tweet it out. If a pin is picked up and gets a lot of repins, it will show up in people’s feeds with no further action on your part.
You don’t need a blog to make money on Pinterest. Anyone can create a Pinterest account and start posting affiliate links.
(However, there are certain affiliate programs that require a website, so check with individual programs before signing up.)
And you don’t need hundreds of followers.
Again, Pinterest is a search engine. This means that if you pin great images with good, keyword-rich descriptions, people will be able to find your Pins even if they don’t follow you.
Is Pinterest marketing a real thing?
You may have heard mixed information about affiliate links on Pinterest. That’s because they were allowed and then banned for a period thanks to abuse by spammers. But, since May 2016, they are officially allowed.
Of course you are not allowed to abuse the system and you must be careful not to be marked as a spammer.
Don’t use misleading images or descriptions to trick people into clicking your links. Also, don’t let Pinterest fill up with hundreds of affiliate pins without sharing some other content or sharing content from others.
And be especially careful to follow the rules if you’ve been invited to group boards that may not allow it.
You can read the Pinterest community guidelines for more information. As long as you follow the rules of Pinterest and other pinners you may work with, there’s no reason not to use affiliate links on Pinterest.
When done right, you’re simply helping people find the right products or information they’ve come to Pinterest for.
How can you start monetizing Pinterest?
Create a Pinterest account
First of all, of course, you need a Pinterest account!
If you already have a personal Pinterest account, start with that. You do not need a special account for this. It is an advantage if you already have a permanent account with a number of followers.
However, it is wise to separate your private account from your new business account. You can also do this by placing Pins that you like yourself but have nothing to do with the topic of this account that you want to start in private boards so that no one sees them.
From now on you only want to pin related topics to keep your account, at least outwardly, relevant for your followers.
I also recommend having a business account. You can convert your existing personal account to a business account. This is free and very easy to do, just follow these instructions here.
A Pinterest business account gives you just a few extra features, such as basic statistics and analytics, plus the ability to claim your website. You don’t have to be a business or even a blogger to have a business account, you can always apply for it.
I recommend creating about 10-20 boards on topics that interest you and/or promote products or services. This can be anything from baby clothes to interior design to bodybuilding! You can check in the Pinterest newsroom for an idea of popular topics, but you can actually post about anything.
Then pin at least 20-30 pins to each board. Don’t worry about affiliate marketing or promoting your own products or services with your Pins just yet. Just start with other people’s Pins to dress up your profile and give each individual board some body.
You can also start here with your own Pins that are not of a promotional nature, for example tips that are on your blog or individual tips that you want to use to build your follower base.
Start pinning your promotions
Ok, so you have set up your Pinterest profile and joined some affiliate programs or have your own products to sell or offer services to. The next step is to start pinning images of the things you want to promote on Pinterest!
Write a good description for each pin
When you add a new Pin, you can add a description. Write an accurate, detailed description of your product or service.
Remember that Pinterest is a search engine. Use lots of “keywords,” the kind of words people search for. This will help people find your Pin even if they don’t follow you.
For example, use the suggested search terms Pinterest gives you when you start typing in the search box for ideas or use a paid keyword tool like KWfinder that I love to find ways in which people describe your products and services and what issues they have that you can help them with.
This will help you create a great description that includes the keywords and phrases people might be searching for, including on Pinterest.
Use search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to get found on Pinterest
To make money with Pinterest, people need to be able to find your Pins and Boards, so use SEO strategies. You will not only be found on Pinterest, you will also be found via the major search engines, such as Google.
Make the most of your “about” profile. You have 200 characters (about 50 words.) Be clear and descriptive, using the keywords you expect users to use.
Also, use SEO strategies on your Pins themselves. Each Pin gives you 500 characters (around 100 words), so make the most of it by adding keywords and hashtags to your Pin. Include keywords naturally, rather than spammy.
Pin a lot
Pinterest loves people who pin a lot and are active on the platform!
They especially like it when you replay popular pins. Displaying other people’s popular pins keeps your profile fresh and interesting for your followers and keeps you from looking like a spammer.
It also means Pinterest will show your pins in other people’s feeds more often because your account generates a lot of interactions. Pinterest primarily rewards people who share popular things because they know you’re sharing things that people want to see.
So the more you repeat popular Pins, the more other people will see your own Pins and the more clicks you get!
Try to pin different things throughout the day. The Pinterest app on your phone is great for this.
Also, remember that not every pin will earn you money. Some Pins take a while to be found and some are never shared. You can’t just pin one random thing and expect to get rich overnight.
You should share new Affiliate Pins, Product Pins or Informational Pins or whatever you want to promote with your account every day (preferably multiple Pins!), experiment with new Pin designs and eventually you will see the commissions or sales coming to make real money on Pinterest.
You can also get your Pins out to a wider audience with group boards. These are especially important for newer accounts that don’t have many followers of their own!
However, it can take some time to do all of the above by hand, especially since you have to remember to pin a few times throughout the day to see the growth.
Helpful tools for Pinterest
Fortunately, there are tools you can use to automate the process and see faster results.
My favorite pin scheduling site is Tailwind. With this tool, you could only work for Pinterest one day a month and schedule all your Pins in advance. This way you have fresh content for your boards for a month.
It keeps your account active even when you take a break or vacation. It also has great analytics so you can see what works best for you.
Golden rules for making money with Pinterest
There is a lot of information in this article, but here are the most important things to remember:
- Don’t spam
- Write good descriptions
- Declare that you are using affiliate links
- Repin the Pins of others
- Repurpose popular content (and again)
- Be consistent
- Don’t give up – pin a lot, and give new Pins the chance to reach their potential
Your Essential Pinterest Toolkit
As I mentioned above, anyone can use this method by simply manually pinning a few times a day, but it may take a while to see the results. If you want to take this practice seriously, here are a few tools and resources that will help you:
Affiliate marketing course with Pinterest
How to make your first affiliate sale in 24 hours with Pinterest – this short online course was my introduction to affiliate marketing on Pinterest. I made my first sale within four days!
It’s a super simple, easy to follow course. I set everything up in one afternoon and then started making money on autopilot, and the amount of the course is already there with a few sales. A great way to start with this.
Tailwind for scheduling
The Pinterest planning tool I use. It gives you great control over your pin scheduling and useful analytics. I can schedule a month’s worth of Pins in a few hours with Tailwind. Get a one month free trial when you sign up with this link.
Canva for beautiful images
The image editor I use to create my Pins (and all other images on this site). They have a free version and a paid version with additional features. The free version is more than good enough to make great pins.
What’s stopping you?
There you go! This article only covers the basics of affiliate marketing on Pinterest, but I hope it’s enough to get you started. This really is such a cheap, easy and fun sideline to play with.
Joost Nusselder is The Content Decoder, a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new tools en tactics. He's been working on a portfolio of niche sites since 2010. Now since 2016 he creates in-depth blog articles together with his team to help loyal readers earn from their own succesful sites.