Your Pinterest Strategy Isn’t Working
Pinterest got you down? While it might feel like the sky is falling, the truth is that these algorithm changes might just be the best thing that ever happened to your blog–but not for the reason that you think!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been sensing a lot of discouragement and frustration in the blogging world lately. It seems that nearly across the board, traffic is down–thanks largely to big changes in the Pinterest Smart Feed algorithm—and as a result, incomes are low while emotions are high. That surefire Pinterest strategy you’ve been banking on just isn’t working anymore.
And now the sky is falling. Seasoned bloggers lament the fact that blogging just isn’t what it used to be, when traffic came fast and easy via group boards and automated pinning. Gone are the dates when page views were plentiful, ad rates were high, and you just didn’t have to work quite so hard.
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New bloggers wonder why they can’t seem to get the traction that seemed to come so easily to everyone else, and worry that they might be too late to the scene. They worry that they’ve missed the boat.
I wish I had a secret solution to the Pinterest problem, but the reality is that I don’t control Pinterest, which means that wishing and hoping for things to be different won’t get me very far.
Because the reality of this online world that we occupy is that it changes quickly. Platforms rise and fall. And so if you want to survive—and even thrive—in this world, you’ll need to figure out a way to transcend all those changes and build something that will last.
I learned this lesson all too well in my first year of blogging, when I was writing a lot about how to use coupons. In those days—2010—getting more blog traffic was all about SEO, and so I read every book and article I could about the subject. I optimized every page and every post on my site, and in early 2011, all that behind-the-scenes effort paid off big time when the show “Extreme Couponing” burst onto the scene and suddenly everyone wanted to know how to use coupons—the very topic I had optimized my site for.
For a while, life was good. I hit the sweet spot of high-paying ads combined with great SEO combined with a topic that everyone was searching for.
But it didn’t last. Almost as fast as the coupon craze burst onto the scene, it faded away again, as I panicked seeing that I was powerless to stop the inevitable. And while I was thankful to be in the right place at the right time, I also learned that putting all your eggs into a basket you can’t control is never a good thing.
A few years later, I experienced a similar wave with Facebook. For some unknown reason, the Facebook gods smiled upon me, and my page grew exponentially in a very short time, from around 30,000 likes to more than 500,000 in just a few months. Every post went viral. My traffic was through the roof.
Once again, life was good.
And then, one day, as if someone very cruel decided to turn off the faucet, it all went away. Literally overnight, my Facebook reach dropped to almost zero and my traffic disappeared. Once again, I panicked. It felt like my life as a blogger was over. How would I ever recover?
But luckily by sheer force of luck, literally just a few days after this overnight Facebook catastrophe, I attended a conference for influencers and online business owners called Launch. I had signed up for it months before, while my numbers were soaring and I was at the top of the world, but I arrived feeling broken and defeated. I was sure all hope was lost, so what was the point of even trying?
What I certainly wasn’t expecting was for that conference to be the turning point for my entire business. But I listened to the ever-brilliant Dan Miller talk about products, and about how every time he gets asked the same question three times, he creates a product, and I started to get excited. And then I listened to someone else talk about how we all have assets in our business, and the key to success is learning how to recognize and then leverage those assets, and I had an epiphany.
I realized I was chasing stats instead of building a business, and that the path I was on—one completely outside of my control–would never allow me to feel safe and secure.
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And so I started focusing on the things I could control, things like creating more value for the people already in front of me. I stopped focusing on vanity metrics like page views and Facebook likes and instead worked on building my email list and developing a stronger relationship with my audience. This in turn allowed me to create products that could solve the problems they were already telling me about.
Change is scary, but it is also necessary.
It was a game changer, one that transformed my low 6-figure business into a thriving 7-figure business, a business that has more than doubled in revenue every single year since. In fact this year, despite the fact that due to the Pinterest changes my blog traffic is only half of what it was last year, we still are on track to triple last year’s revenue.
But looking back, I realize so clearly that had I not experienced that devastating Facebook crash just a few days before the Launch Conference, I would never have experienced that breakthrough! Instead, I would have shown up thinking I was already doing pretty great—and so why rock the boat? I would have never had the motivation or the humility to realize that what I was doing wasn’t really as great as I thought it was, and that it could go away at any time.
In hindsight, that Facebook crash—the one I thought was the end of the world–was the best thing that ever happened to me.
The truth is that within every catastrophe lies an opportunity, and the difference between success and failure is choosing to look for the opportunity, rather than someone or something to blame.
Yes, the fact that the Pinterest Smart Feed has changed is annoying and frustrating and probably even a little—or a lot-scary, especially if you’ve seen your income drop. It’s also scary when Google makes an update that affects your SEO, or when Facebook reach drops to zero.
But in the midst of catastrophe is also your opportunity to reassess and to figure out what IS working for you, as well as what is not. What hidden assets have you been ignoring while everything was going well? What clues can you find from the questions your audience has been asking? How focused have you been on building your email list and growing an audience that isn’t at the mercy of someone else’s algorithms?
Change is scary, but it is also necessary. And it is also human nature to resist change until you are forced to act. Perhaps this is the universe telling you it is time to try something new.
And maybe, just maybe, a year from now you’ll be talking about how the Pinterest crash of 2016 was the best thing that ever happened to you.
Which leaves me with just one question—what are you going to do now?
PS: In case you missed it, we talked about Pinterest Strategy on Facebook Live. Join Elite Blog Academy on Facebook to participate in future live videos!
I am just now getting into Pinterest. I am new to blogging and hope to learn from you. Right now my budget does not allow me to take your course but hopefully soon i will be able to.
Things do change Ruth and we have to adapt to it for sure!
I started blogging about 5 years ago and had to learn so much every day, week, month and years.
Now I just launched a new site and can’t believe how much work it takes and how many new updates, changes, developments in Social Media are happening and we’ve to keep up with it.
One thing is for sure is that I want to be as helpful, informative and entertaining to my readers and not just chase numbers 🙂
Thank you for your words of encouragement and looking forward to reading & learning more from great people like you!
Thanks for the encouragement, Ruth! I’m so glad I started my email list a few months ago. I’m enjoying connecting with my readers more in that way!
I’ve just had a what seemed like a catastrophe, I have to rebuild my entire site from scratch – and re-upload posts – around 350 of them….I guess it is better now than when I had 1000. The site was built by an experienced web developer who said wordpress was evil and not deserving of a website, but now, by popular demand, we’re embarking on the process of recreating the whole thing in wordpress – I’m very scared, but I guess a little excited, as everyone says it is the thing to go for.
I am very afraid of loosing what I have built, but on a positive note, by continually adding good content (free children’s books) to the site we’ve created a loyal following and this year finally topped the 100k visitors per month level (400k page views). My next goal is 500k visitors – (goal setting also from your book!!!), so I just need to get through this rebuild – and soon as I have, I am following the advice here – keep looking at all avenues, and keep working on providing great content and solving the problems the audience has.
This is thought provoking and what I need to figure out is how to protect my business from hackers. My site was hacked in early 2009 although I now think that it had been hacked much earlier than that and I just didn’t know it.
Anyway, the hacking cost me big. My customer base got nervous about malware hiding on my site and left spreading the nasty word as they did so. I changed hosts but the site was no longer working they way it used to and I just didn’t know how to fix it. This was also during the financial crisis so sales were way down.
Fast forward a couple of years and I manually rebuilt my email database and tried to get back into the market with little success. The old message boards and forums that used to push so much traffic to my site had totally lost ground to Facebook and Pinterest was gaining traction. And again this year my sites, my personal computer our mobile phones and iPads…. ALL of them have been hacked.
So now, I’m nervous.
I will never build a business solely relying on third party traffic sources and want to avoid selling my soul to the devil with excessive ad revenue monetisation but at the same time I know that my personal details have been completely compromised by hackers who are having a heap of fun messing with my every aspect of my life, my children’s too.
What to do in this situation as I really need to generate an income…. I’m lost.
Thank you Ruth for this thought provoking article.