You wouldn’t believe the number of questions I’ve been getting lately about blogging! I also realized, as I started answering questions, that I’ve learned a lot in my 5 plus years in the blogging world. And decided I would like to share that information with anyone who is interested.
Since Pinterest is one of the largest sources of traffic for me (and many other bloggers), I decided to tackle the question of: how to create perfect pin images (that actually result in clicks).
~~If you’re just starting out on your blogging journey, check out my post “How to Start a Successful Blog: The Ultimate Guide.” It has everything you need to know! Also check out my page dedicated solely to “Blogging Resources for a Successful Blog.”
It might seem contrary to include something that has nothing to do with the image first, but it’s not. You want good content behind that pin. If people click through and find crap (excuse my language, but this is a serious problem on Pinterest), they’re not going to re-pin. And should they click on multiple pins by you and find crap on all of them, you’ve lost their trust forever.
Another reason- aside from trust- is that if you have killer content, they’re more likely to sign up for your newsletter or browse your site further. And that’s what you’re aiming for- loyal readers…not just a single page view.
So, what makes great content?
• It answers a question the reader has or solves a problem. The problem can be as simple as “what to make for dinner tonight?” all the way up to “how can I get out of debt?”. I’m sorry to tell you- no one cares that your kid had a cute moment today. Well, your family might, but the average stranger doesn’t. Unless you can spin that “cute moment” into something that relates to the reader, the reader is going to be disappointed.
• In the case of Pinterest, it makes them want to click through. A lot of saves are good…when people save, it increases the chances Pinterest will show the pin to someone else. And the reader might browse their saved pins and click through at a later date. But it doesn’t get you page views or a loyal subscriber. So- if you can- make it something that the reader wants to click on NOW. Content that provides something they can take away.
Visit “Flight and Scarlett: How to Support a Loved One Who Has Been Raped” to read this article.
This is an example of a “not what you think Pinterest is” pin that is amazing. There is GREAT content behind the pin. It’s not just a good image (though it is that).
Key things to note about the pin:
• It includes people, but not faces. As noted below, pins with faces don’t get as much traffic.
• Text section is slightly above center, mostly following the rule of thirds. It also works “around” the image…you can see the linked hands, which is important.
• 2-3 fonts are used. Enough to catch the eye, but not enough to distract from the message.
Visit my post “Are You Becoming a Lukewarm Christian? How to Overcome It” to read this article.
This is an example of a “want to click now” pin. It isn’t my best (by far), but it does involve a few key elements.
Key things to note about the pin:
• It makes you want to click now. The reader wants to click through to see if they’re a lukewarm Christian and/or how to overcome it. Note there are basically two calls to action in the single pin.
• The background is bright. Bright enough to catch attention and the black font contrasts well.
I’ve included one other point before we get down into the nitty, gritty of creating a great pin image. You can follow all the design rules in the world and still end up with an image that is “blah.” So, in order to create a great pin image, I recommend seeing what works for others. Don’t re-invent the wheel.
One of the best things I can suggest is creating a board of pins that you love. Pin images that catch your attention. You can even make it a secret board if it doesn’t fit in your marketing scheme. But as you browse images, if something is amazing, pin it. You can always go back and use it for inspiration. My “inspiration” board is secret because honestly it’s not always great content behind the pin. And I have a strict rule about only pinning quality content for my followers. Some images are set up wonderfully, but don’t follow the “great content” rule above.
Over time, you’ll notice that they have things in common. Or can provide inspiration for your pin images!
Also consider following people on Instagram. While the photo size is different (and often doesn’t include text overlay), you can see what images are good. You’ll notice the bright, clean look is very popular.
Size of Pin Image:
Basically the only rule is long, vertical images.
***Update May 2018: Pinterest OFFICIALLY said in a call with a major Pin expert that their new preferred is 600×900. The 2:3 ratio holds, but they love that size in particular.
However, the exact size is hotly debated. Seriously…you can visit 20 blogs and get 20 different answers. The only consensus seems to be that vertical images do better. Which I can definitely attest to.
I’ve had various sizes recommended by multiple courses and ebooks I’ve read.
Elite Blog Academy recommends 1,000 x 1,500.
Pinaffiliate E-course suggests: 735 x 1,102.
Another book is read said: 736 x 1,128
I used to use 508 x 1296 because that was the recommended size a couple of years ago and it still works well. As I talk about elsewhere, I have a default that I just copy and then edit. But now I use 600×1260 for longer pins that I need two food photos for.
Or for shorter images (such as the lukewarm Christian pic above), I use 600 x 900 like Pinterest recommended.
However, here is an excellent resource if you want to see EXACTLY what various pin image sizes look like. Click on: “Pinterest Page Best Social Media Share Sizes“…it will have a ton of pins with the exact dimensions shown. They’re all in bright orange. Trust me, it’s an amazing view of exactly how different sizes work.
Wired.com also did an article…computer analysis shows that the best ratios are 2:3 and 4:5.
New Pin vs. Old Pin:
Can you believe this is actually the very same recipe? Seriously. The exact same recipe.
Note the changes:
• The original was horizontal. I can’t believe anyone actually clicked on it (and a couple of people did). The food looks horrible. The background is distracting. And I seriously used Chalkdust font.
• The second is much better. Vertical pin (obviously). The food looks better. That’s not just learning food photography, though that was part of it.
It includes two images of the food- an extreme close-up as well as a plated overview. The text for the food is in the middle and clear…not distracting from the photographs. And while you can’t tell from a single image, this is my main go-to font. No more testing 50 fonts to decide what I like.
Images & Color:
What colors should you use for pin images? Or what images should I use? There are few basic guidelines to follow. Note I call them guidelines, not rules. At the very bottom I have some great examples of violating the rules and still having a great pin image.
• Bright, intense colors or images. You want color over monochromatic. Bright catches the eye. Don’t go overboard, though. Hot pink isn’t the appropriate choice. Extreme colored images get less re-pins then those around 50% saturation. Those with black/white gets the least amount of re-pins.
• It’s a running rule to use warm colors over cool ones. I’m going to note, though, that I often use cool colors in food photography to contrast foods, and haven’t had a problem. In this case, I’m just passing on a “general guideline” that is recommended. Wired.com did some analysis and red or orange color schemes get twice the repins of predominately blue schemes. Of course, with food photography, the blue isn’t the dominant color.
• Use multiple colors. As I said above in food photography, I use blue often to contrast the food, which is often red (meats), white (fishes), or green (salads, etc.).
If you’re using a bright pink background, pick another color besides pink for your text (preferably not red or orange…you want something that contrasts it).
• Clean images. Don’t use blurry images unless you’re going for a special effect or are using it as a background that is just providing color. This is especially important with food photography.
• Consider collages if appropriate. While these are touted as getting a lot of re-pins, it depends on the topic. I personally haven’t had the best luck with collages and I’m seeing a lot less of them on Pinterest. At one point, my feed was full of them. Step-by-step food and DIY projects work well with collages.
To read this article, visit “Embracing the Lovely: 5 Christian Bloggers Share How They Overcome Creative Block.”
Don’t you LOVE the bright colors? How can that not catch your attention?
Note that the flowers in the background are crisp, even with the overlay. Also note her blog branding at the bottom of the image. 2 different fonts…catches the eye but doesn’t overwhelm.
To read this article, visit “Denise Sultenfuss: Grass-fed Beef: Unveiling the Secret Behind the Label“.
First of all, yes, this violates the “longer than it is wide” rule. But despite that, it’s not horizontal, it’s a perfect square. Secondly, the picture is so eye-catching it really doesn’t matter. That cow just catches your eye. You can’t help but want to stare back at him!
It also (basically) follows the rule of thirds. The cow is off to the side, not centered. The text takes up the top third of the image. And the text is in the “blank space” of the image…it’s not cutting into the cow.
Text is VITAL to a great pin image. Text overlay is what gets the reader to actually click. If you’re doing a cute wreath for example, a picture might get re-pinned. A text overlay that says “Easy Halloween Wreath” makes them want to click to see if it’s really easy!
While you may want to go wild with fonts, keep the number of font styles to three or less. You also want to keep your text fairly consistent across your posts. Why do you want to do this?
- It brands your images. Once you start gaining loyal followers, they’ll notice (even if subconsciously) your style.
- More importantly, it’s easier and it saves time. TRUST ME. I used to scroll through and play with 50 different fonts when making a pin image. You can’t imagine how much time I wasted. Now, it’s easy. I have a default pin saved. All I do is copy (so the default is there for next time), add my image, re-write the text to express the content (I use malina font primarily), and save. I can make a new pin image in under 2 minutes now.
You want your text to be large and easy to read. In composition, I’ll point out how you want your image to allow space for text. You also need a compelling headline. Again, something people want to click.
Lastly, use your url somewhere in the image. Even if it’s just a small line of text at the bottom.
To read this article, check out: “All Natural Joy: How to Make Family Meal Time Fun.”
The text in this image is fabulous. She divided the text from the picture, making it easy to read.
Also note the text: the headline is the title of the article. But the sub-text makes you want to click even more with its use of the word “simple” and tying it to actual results (in the word “difference.”).
To read this article, check out: “Embracing the Lovely: 6 Creative Ways to Pray Without Ceasing.”
Note the use of a couple of different fonts to catch the eye. But there isn’t font overload.
And the text has two different reasons people might want to click: the “point” of the article- how to pray without ceasing. But it also includes a note on Bible journaling for those who are interested in that. Basically, it’s two “calls to action” in a single pin.
Follow the basic rule of thirds. If you’re not familiar with photography, a simple Google search will bring up plenty of results explaining the concept.
But basically (from Learn Pro Photography): In the rule of thirds, photos are divided into thirds with two imaginary lines vertically and two lines horizontally making three columns, three rows, and nine sections in the images. Important compositional elements and leading lines are placed on or near the imaginary lines and where the lines intersect.
You don’t want to center the main point of the image.
This actually works really well with the second point: you need to leave space for text. If your image is taking up the first 2/3’s of the photo, the text goes very well in the last 1/3.
If you have a choice of zooming in or zooming out, zoom in. You don’t want a lot of background space around your main image. Unless you’re saving it particularly for text.
Lastly, avoid faces if you can. Images with faces get a lot less clicks and repins than images without.
This image is a great example of a good pin image. Visit “A Virtuous Woman: Encourage Your Kids to Love the Outdoors” to read the article!
• It avoids the face of the person.
• It includes 2 different fonts (no font overload) and is easy to read.
• It has space to read the text. Note the child pictured isn’t centered, but off to the side so you can easily read the text.
• It’s branded with the site’s name. If you visit her website, all her pin images have that same green bar and website name across the bottom.
Visit “It’s My Favorite Day: 9 Questions You Need to Ask to Shop Like a Minimalist” to read the article!
• This is a fairly good example of the rule of thirds. The pot in the front isn’t centered, but rather on the “thirds” line. The text overlay is a just little more than the top third of the picture.
• The image matches the description. It’s a clear, minimalist photo. It’s not cluttered up with junk.
• Again, good use of fonts. 3 different fonts, but they don’t clutter up anything. The “white” box in the background (it’s partly transparent) makes the text easy to read.
• It’s branded with the site’s name. If you visit her website, a good percentage of her pin images have her website name across the bottom (in colors that you can read, but go well with whatever photo she is using).
Having a good description attached to your pin image is a highly ignored part of Pinterest. Pinterest is evolving ever-more towards a search tool. Before, if you pinned something, it would appear at the top of your followers feed. Now, Pinterest algorithms do all sorts of secret stuff and only the best pins show up in the top of feeds. Part of a good pin image is a good, descriptive text.
To attach a description, you put it in the “alt-text” box of the image. Or you can manually change the text image if you directly pin something. Both options are below.
SEO for Pinterest is the same as SEO for everything else. (Yes, I’ll be doing posts in the future on SEO). But if you know nothing about SEO, here are the very, very basics.
- Pick your keyword (or long-tail keyword).
- Do a Google search. See if the top results are close to what you want to rank for or if the results are something completely different. Adjust keyword if necessary.
- Also check the “related Google searches” at the bottom and see if there is anything you want to incorporate.
- Go to Pinterest. In the search box at the top, start typing your keyword. See what predictive keywords start to pop up below the search box. Adjust your keyword if needed.
- After the search results popup, scan the pins. See what images work, what doesn’t. Read the descriptions. See what is eye-catching and what isn’t. Settle on your final description.
- Use that as your alt-text.
(Keyword Finder is an affiliate link. If you purchase through them, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. See full disclosure policy for more information).
Note I didn’t include anything complicated like Google Adwords or Keyword Finder. This is a simple method that works well.
Some classes and ebooks I’ve read say to include something such as “click to find out…”. I do NOT normally do this. I think if you’ve got a great Pin image, you’re already enticing them to click without wasting valuable description space on it.
The best way to make your pin description is to change the “alt-text” box to what your pin description is. The reason is that if anyone pins this image, that is the auto description that will pop up. Ideally, you have your ideal keyword and perhaps your call to action in this box.
You can change the alt-text either in the media library or when you’re adding the image to the post. This screenshot is from adding an image to the post.
Random note: If you found the Halloween Mummies that are pictured above, interesting check out the post: “Halloween Mummies: Strawberry Cake Bites with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting“.
You can also edit the description as you pin it. You just click on the little pencil mark beneath the image to edit it.
The problem with this method is that description is only good for re-pins from that particular pin. In other words, if someone visits your site, clicks on “pin it”, the description that will pop up is the alt-text stuff…NOT the description you manually changed when YOU pinned it.
Almost Every Rule Can Be Broken:
I know, I know. What the point of making a post on how to make good images and then telling you to break the rules? But you need to know this. And you pin more for your inspiration section you’ll see how many pins don’t follow the rules “exactly.”
So, final rule: You can break the rules. I’ve seen dark images that have gotten tons of pins. I’ve seen horrible photos (some of my own!) get lots of re-pins. But I think the common factor is that there is good content behind the pin.
To read this post, check out “A Virtuous Woman: 4 Reasons You Need a Home Church“.
This is an example of a great pin image that “breaks the rules.” It has a dark background. But despite that, it catches the eye. In fact, the dark image is better than a light picture of a church would be.
To read this post, check out “A Crafted Passion: 10 Tips for Adorable Monthly Baby Photos“.
This is an example of a great pin image that “breaks the rules.” It includes faces. But it’s perfect for this post. It’s a post on taking pictures of people! How can you show that without showing faces?
Also note that the font colors match the colors in the photo very well.