For our latest episode of the Quill Collective Guest Expert Series, we had the honor of talking to Christina Willis of C. Willis & Co. all about Pinterest from the lens of a creative small business owner. Most of us lean heavily on Instagram or other social media platforms to get our brand out there in front of potential clients, but Pinterest can be an overlooked platform to utilize in our marketing strategies. That’s a missed opportunity and Christina shares all about the pros of Pinterest, what to focus on as a new user for your business, and why she loves the platform!
Q: Can you tell us a little about your business and where you’re located?
A: Hery everyone! My name is Christina and I’m a Pinterest consultant based out of Toronto running C. Willis & Co.! I mostly work with creative entrepreneurs, like web designers, graphic designers, and other folks in the lifestyle space are definitely in my wheelhouse. I primarily focus on Pinterest consulting, marketing, and management for clients in these industries and I absolutely love it! And just recently, I started offering Brand Strategy as well for clients. It’s been amazing to add this new offer because I really love diving deep into a person’s “why” for their business.
Q: Tell us a bit about your background as an entrepreneur and how you got to where you are today?
A: So about 3-4 years ago I was a home decor blogger! I jumped into that because my full-time job at the time as a nurse was pretty stressful and I was searching for a relaxing creative outlet. I dove into the home decor blogging world after being so fed up with my bathroom and leaning on some blogs to do the project in my own home! After that, I was all in with my own home decor blog and loved using this as my fun project outside of regular work. On that journey, I began learning about different ways to better optimize my blog and get more traffic to the site. So through my own blogging experience, I learned more about Pinterest and it quickly became one of the main traffic drivers to my site.
Q: Pinterest is vastly different than using IG or other social media platforms for your business. Can you explain how Pinterest acts like a search engine more than a social media channel?
A: Definitely! While Pinterest is still classified in the social media realm, it doesn’t really have its own category and it acts in unique ways from other platforms we consider social media channels. Pinterest at its core is a search engine. Just like Google is a search engine and will pull up images of a description you type in the search bar, Pinterest does the same! This is why Pinterest is soooo incredibly powerful for driving traffic to your website in ways Instagram and Facebook could never do. Very smart algorithms are working hard to bring you results for your search on Pinterest, Google, Youtube, and any other search engine.
While Pinterest can be so amazing for your business, many entrepreneurs face difficulties when coming to a platform like Pinterest because it is so wildly different from a platform like Facebook or Instagram. Oftentimes people try to implement similar tactics from social media marketing to Pinterest and they just don’t work because of the very nature of Pinterest and its primary focus as a search engine.
Q: How does that change the approach for marketing on Pinterest?
A: The biggest mindset shift for business owners, hobbyists, or anyone looking to grow on Pinterest is that you cannot think of it as social media. Although it’s seemingly under that category, it’s a search engine and you have to focus on SEO, search engine optimization, and connecting to high-quality articles on your blog.
Q: How important is it to have an active blog when wanting to use Pinterest? Is it acceptable to pin from Instagram posts or does that do more harm in the long run?
A: It’s really important! I know there are a lot of creatives out there who don’t feel the need to blog and it’s a tedious process. But I would argue the opposite actually! For creative small business owners, especially designers and folks making visual assets, having a blog allows potential clients to get more insight into your head, learn about your processes, and see the value of working with you.
Another really important thing to note is your content will only do better over time. It never goes stale or gets lost in a sea of feed posts on Instagram. Once a blog is out there in the world it opens a world of possibilities on both Pinterest and Google and only continues to grow in authority as a link over time. Once you do the initial work, the content takes the slack and does the work for you.
Q: What is the biggest misconception people have around Pinterest marketing?
A: There are tons! But the most common one is that Pinterest is social media. Another one is that Pinterest is only targeted towards women who like recipes and DIY projects which is absolutely not the case. As of last year’s numbers, 40% of global users identify as men which really shows how that stereotype is far from the truth.
I also hear that Pinterest is a low value channel and they see it as a waste of time, oftentimes in different Facebook groups. Something that I remind people of is if you’re looking to market specifically evergreen content or even build your brand awareness by getting traffic to your website, Pinterest is the platform to do so. You really need to analyze your goals for your website and how or if to use Pinterest to get closer to them!
Q: What sort of tools do you recommend to help automate the process? And additionally, do you prefer to batch work when scheduling Pins?
A: The biggest automated scheduler is Tailwind. I use it for myself and for my clients, and it’s a Pinterest-approved tool which is important! It’s incredible because it works with Pinterest to analyze the algorithm and schedule your content for the best times. Because of those features, Tailwind is definitely the biggest one. There are some folks who are back and forth on Tailwind because of all the changes to Pinterest’s algorithm and new features and how Tailwind adapts to those. But there are a ton of other tools you could use such as Planoly, Later, and many others.
Q: For someone just getting started out with Pinterest as a marketing tool, what would be your #1 tip?
A: So for someone just beginning their Pinterest journey, the best thing you can focus on is figuring out who your audience is. Coming back to the big picture strategy of what’s your unique selling point and your brand why, you really need to determine who you want to market to in order to find success long-term. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, it can be a bit of a waste of time on the platform. Once you know who they are, you can better address their needs and be the person that delivers that solution through your content.
The next thing I would do is to clean up your account and make sure you’re using a business account and not a personal one. A lot of people are on a personal account and mixing it with their brand offer. While it’s okay to love your crafting and cooking Pinterest boards, if they don’t serve your audience you need to hide them from viewers. Beyond that, make sure your account is optimized for best success with keywords, board names, and board descriptions. Once you do those things, you’ll start to see a casual shift in your audience and some changes with your monthly viewers.
Q: What is it that you love most about Pinterest as a platform?
A: I absolutely love the automation! You do it once and then your content can continue to cycle out there in the Pinterest world. Another reason I love Pinterest for personal reasons is that I truly feel at ease on the platform. At my core, I’m an introvert! It’s taken me years to break out of my shell and working as a nurse and becoming an entrepreneur definitely have made me less shy, but overall I still appreciate the fact that you don’t have to be super extroverted to find success. I know many people love Instagram stories and getting on there to talk, but it was not for me at all! Which is why I feel grateful to have found a platform that can work better with me and my personality!
Q: You’ve got an amazing freebie for listeners all about Pinterest. Can you explain more about it and how it would benefit folks?
A: The freebie is a Guide all about setting up your Pinterest account and how to best optimize it from the start. It walks you through some of those topics we discussed of getting on a business account and cleaning up your boards.
Beyond the freebie, folks can find me on [Pinterest](https://www.pinterest.ca/cwillisandco/_created/‘) (of course!), Instagram, and through my website which has more blogs and insight all about Pinterest!
If you haven’t joined Quill Collective yet, what are you waiting for? Become a member today and you’ll not only get access to Christina’s Pinterest Guide but also you’ll be able to watch old episodes from our line-up of Guest Experts!