Looking to make more money as an affiliate marketer? Pinterest is a social media platform you should look into.
Even better: 40% of Pinterest users earn an annual income of more than $75,000—beating the 28% of Snapchat users, 29% of Facebook users, and 20% of TikTok users who break the income mark.
That’s great news for affiliate marketers looking to earn extra income with a high-ticket affiliate program. With some graphic design knowledge and interesting products to share, you can drive affiliate sales through the platform on autopilot. This guide shares how to do it.
Should I use Pinterest for affiliate marketing?
Pinterest is a social media network-cross-search engine where users find new things. Content is formatted as a “pin”—an image attached to an external link. People save these pins to their own boards, acting as a virtual mood board for ideas, products, or inspiration.
As an affiliate marketer, you can use Pinterest to drive traffic to your affiliate content—be that blog posts, affiliate landing pages, or YouTube videos. After all, the more people who see your link, the higher chance you have of generating affiliate sales and earning commission.
“I've been able to grow my Pinterest following to almost 50,000 and get 50% of my blog traffic from it.”
Pinterest should reach the top of your priority list if you’re an affiliate for visual-heavy products. Research shows that the most popular Pinterest categories are visual. Home décor, health and beauty products, and sporting goods are frequently pinned to a user’s board, making Pinterest a valuable channel for marketers who join affiliate programs to promote those products.
9 Pinterest affiliate marketing tips to earn passive income
Opening the Pinterest app for the first time can be overwhelming. There are pins, pictures, and links galore.
If you’ve decided that Pinterest is a marketing channel you should invest in for your affiliate marketing business and you’re unsure where to start, here are some tips on how to make money on Pinterest as an affiliate marketer.
Table of Contents
1. Know the rules
The beauty of Pinterest is that most of its content is evergreen. Spend time doing the work upfront and results will pay dividends over time. You’ll be rewarded with a steady stream of new website visitors—and therefore, affiliate income.
“Where our strategy really aligns with Pinterest is that most of our content is evergreen. While on many other social networks, there needs to be consistent content production to gain traction, with Pinterest, we have pins from years ago still generating traffic, and therefore, affiliate revenue.”
That’s only possible if you know the rules. Get caught out a few months into your strategy and your hard work will go to waste.
Before we go any further, familiarize yourself with the rules of affiliate marketing on Pinterest. That includes:
- No cloaking. Many affiliate marketers disguise their affiliate links with redirection tools like Bit.ly or Pretty Links. Pinterest’s community guidelines state, “We encourage you to follow a ‘no surprises’ principle—Pinners should be able to reasonably anticipate where your link will take them.”
- Disclose affiliate links. TheFederal Trade Commission (FTC) has strict rules on disclosing affiliate links. Err on the side of caution by labelling any affiliate content as “sponsored” or “affiliated” in both the pin description and on the landing page you’re directing people to.
- Only operate one Pinterest account. Some marketers try to game the system by repinning content from a selection of accounts. This is against the platform’s guidelines: “Don't operate multiple accounts or coordinate with other people with the purpose of manipulating the Pinterest platform.”
2. Create several pins per post
It’s unlikely that Pinterest users will engage with one specific type of pin. Take a look at the search results for your industry. Chances are, there’s a range of visual content on display, from black and white photos to colorful graphics.
There’s no rule on how many affiliate pins you can create for a single piece of content or link. The key to a successful pin is a high-quality graphic that will stand out from the crowd. So, use DIY marketing tools like Canva and experiment with different pin templates, including:
- Vertical versus horizontal images
- Colored versus black and white photos
- Stock imagery versus graphics
- Text heavy versus visual only
“You can also use the multiple-pin strategy as an opportunity to go after a wider variety of keywords. For example, if you have a post on making money, you can create a pin optimized for many related keywords that match the search intent of making money, for example, side hustle, earning extra cash, etc. … This can all be driven back to one page on your site, which can help reduce the amount of new content production needed.”
Creating new pins can be time consuming. Bryan Maniotakis, owner of Minimal Goods, is one affiliate marketer using automation to speed up the process.
“I’m currently using Placid to automatically generate a Pinterest banner whenever it detects a new article on my site,” Bryan says. “You can set this up however you’d like though, including automatically generating images from Dropbox, Integromat, Airtable, or a few other services.
“Overall, it saves me a ton of time every single month, because I no longer have to generate these Pinterest assets manually!”
3. Schedule pins in advance
Speaking of automation, ditch the mental reminder to share new pins by scheduling them in advance. Tools like Tailwind, Later, and Hootsuite exist to take this job off your hands. Set a custom schedule and add new content to your queue. It’ll automatically get pinned to your board when the time comes.
The best part? Scheduling pins in advance maximizes the chance of reaching users when they’re online. The Pinterest algorithm shows new content in a user’s feed. That could be 7 a.m. for some users and 5 p.m. for others.
By scheduling content at various times throughout the day, you’ll naturally increase reach and awareness by appearing in the feed when your audience is online.
“If your niche site and/or Pinterest account is relatively young or non-existent, then starting slow is a must. Don't expect to be publishing two articles and 30 pins per day at an early stage. Instead, strive to publish one to three articles per week, with three to 30 pins per week.”
4. Enable rich pins
Rich pins are more descriptive than standard images you’ll see on the platform. They show extra information in the pin description itself, demanding more attention on a crowded feed—and therefore, increasing your chances of driving traffic through Pinterest.
Enable rich pins for the following types of content:
- Products. Show up-to-date pricing and availability in your rich pin.
- Recipes. Show cooking time, rating, ingredients, and serving sizes in your rich pin.
- Articles. Show the headline, description, and author in your rich pin.
The process for enabling rich pins is a bit complicated, but you only need to do it once. Follow this process and all future pins will be rich pins (if they qualify).
- Add rich meta tags to the pages you want to use rich pins for—such as a blog post review of your affiliate product.
- Use the rich pin validator to check the tags have been uploaded correctly.
- Select the option you’ve used to add rich meta tags: HTML, oEmbed, or Shopify.
- If everything looks good, hit Apply now and wait 24 hours for your rich pin application to be approved.
5. Pin to group boards
Not all Pinterest boards have to be an individual’s mood board. Group boards exist to help multiple users share content to one board. A natural byproduct of this community-style board is greater awareness. Users promote pins to each other’s audience.
Find relevant boards in the niche your affiliate products fall into using tools like Pingroupie. If you’re an affiliate for beauty products, for example, the “group beauty, hair, nails” board would be one worth contributing to.
Read the group board description for guidance on how to become a contributor. Many require you to follow the creator of the board.
You’ll also find terms for posting new content to a new group board. Some admins don’t allow affiliate links directly to product pages. Work around that by using blog content or YouTube videos as the landing page.
6. Optimize for SEO
Earlier, we touched on the fact that Pinterest isn’t just a social networking site. It’s a search engine people use to discover new content. Reach people when they’re actively looking for something you’re an affiliate for by optimizing your profile for SEO.
“Don’t think of Pinterest as a social network. Think of it as a visual search engine. People who use Pinterest are seeking information. ... The secret is to employ all of the usual SEO best practices when writing your title and description. Pick your keyword wisely and you can go viral in a matter of hours.”
The Pinterest algorithm connects pins with keywords. So, start by finding the keywords your target audience is searching for. Keywords Everywhere is a browser extension that shows the monthly search volume alongside suggestions based on one seed keyword.
Matt Lally, founder of MattyAds, shares his process of discovering lucrative Pinterest keywords: “Sign into Pinterest Ads and find keywords that have between 10,000 and 100,000 monthly volume. You want to use the main keywords often in your Pinboard, as well as in your pin creatives.
“Take your keyword and search it on Pinterest. Find what style of content ranks well and produce four to six separate variations.”
Once you’ve got your keywords, there are three areas to play close attention to when implementing Pinterest SEO:
- Pinterest profile. Include relevant keywords that tie into the overall theme of your content within your account bio. If you’re promoting health supplements, for example, include terms like “women’s health” in your account description.
- Pin description. Get more granular with the keywords related to each individual pin. If you’re sharing a pin for a tutorial on how to tie shoelaces, for example, use the “how to” keyword in your pin description.
- Board description. Boards are more specific than a profile, but not as targeted as a pin. Use middle-ground keywords in your board title and description, such as “shoe tutorials” or “women’s health tips.”
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7. Build an email list through Pinterest
“Pinterest can be tough for affiliate marketers because people use the platform aspirationally,” says Monica Lent, founder of Affilimate. “Most pinners aren’t looking to solve an immediate problem and make a purchase to do so. They’re planning for the future—long past the expiration date of your affiliate cookie.
“That’s why the best Pinterest affiliate marketing strategy is to capture readers’ email addresses. That way, you can promote affiliate products through drip email campaigns that take the time to educate readers and warm them up to your offer.”
The simplest way to do this is by including an email opt-in on your landing page. Invite Pinterest visitors to join your mailing list by giving an incentive—such as a lead magnet, discount code, or other type of freebie.
Once they’re on your list, build an email campaign that continues to nurture them once they sign up. You’ll have a direct route of communication with them; potential commission isn’t lost forever when a Pinterest user exits your site without purchasing an affiliate product.
8. Analyze pin performance
The more you know about your pins, the better you can fine-tune your Pinterest affiliate marketing strategy.
Set a reminder to investigate pin performance each month using Pinterest analytics and any scheduling tools you’re using to stagger new content.
Create a custom Google Analytics segment for people who’ve visited your site via Pinterest and find out what happens during their visit.
Finally, consult your affiliate dashboard to see how many people purchased items you’ve shared on Pinterest. After all, that’s the end goal of your affiliate marketing strategy.
Metrics that should be top of mind throughout this evaluation include:
- Click-through rate. What percentage of people see your pin and click it? Do specific pins get more clicks? Do pins with an endorsement from a well-known blogger or influencer drive more traffic than those without?
- Time on site. How do Pinterest users differ from visitors from other traffic sources? A high time on site and low bounce rate indicates your pin matches the contents of your landing page.
- Conversions. Pay close attention to those you’ve heavily promoted with minimal product sales, or items you’ve not promoted with high conversion rates. Balance your content strategy with this in mind.
9. Promote high-performing pins
There’s no doubt that sharing affiliate content organically on Pinterest works. But if you’re pushed for time and would rather see immediate results, put some cash behind your pins to reach more people.
Research shows that one in two Pinterest users have made a purchase after seeing a promoted pin. Define your target audience and have your promoted pin appear more prominently in their feed.
The cost for advertising on Pinterest varies depending on the content, pin style, and industry you’re operating in. Benchmark your results against these averages:
- $2 to $5 CPM
- $0.10 to $1.50 per engagement
- $0.10 to $1.50 per website visitor
Improve your chances of success—and, therefore, make advertising cheaper—by promoting high-performing pins. Those with high click-through rates are already proven to drive more traffic, making them a good foundation for your Pinterest advertising strategy.
Use Pinterest to make money online
Pinterest marketing is a valuable asset for many online businesses—affiliate marketers included. Just make sure your audience is active on the platform before investing time in it.
Use these tips to create pins that stand out, are optimized for SEO, and do their job: driving traffic to your affiliate content. There’s no reason why Pinterest can’t become an evergreen source of commission with a little upfront investment.