One of the most common questions I get here at Simple Pin concerns images. Everybody wants to know how to create stunning visuals for their page, and so today I have a returning guest here to talk about creating Pinterest images that will get you clicks.
Cassie Johnston of Wholefully joined me on Episode 7 of the podcast to talk about using Amazon affiliates to boost your blog income. But the thing about Cassie is that she has some seriously stunning images on her Pinterest page. For example, check out this smoothie pin that went completely and totally viral, and this simple but amazingly gorgeous pin for flavored water that has been pinned and repinned thousands of times.
Tips for Creating Pinterest Images That Capture the Pinner’s Attention
Using Templates to Create Images
When that smoothie pin went viral, Cassie heard from so many people that had come to her blog for the recipes she was writing about. Many of them told her that they felt stupid asking how to make smoothies, like it was something that people just “know”.
This opened up a whole new market to Cassie, one in which she could create a series of posts on baseline recipes (e.g., overnight oats, infused water, and juicing) to help people eat more healthfully. She modeled new pins after the one she had created for the smoothies since it was so successful.
Including Multiple Recipes per Post
Part of the allure of these types of pins is that the associated post promises more than one recipe. But rather than the reader having to click through multiple pages of the blog to get all the recipes, they are all right there in one post. We talked about this same strategy recently with Melissa from Bless This Mess, who is also using the multiple recipes per post formula to gain long-term results on Pinterest.
The reader feels gratified that they aren’t having to click all over the internet to get a couple of recipes that were promised in a pin. When your reader is happy, they share your content more. The other benefit to both you and your reader is that if they don’t like one of the recipes, the entire post isn’t wasted on them.
Take Cassie’s smoothie post for example. Someone might not care for one or two of the recipes in the post, but if they like the others, they are going to share the post. So it allows you to reach a larger audience just by adding a few more options to a post.
“The one way to beat the Pinterest algorithm is to create great content. The cream always rises to the top.” ~Cassie
Learning to Create Beautiful Images
If you are just getting started with creating Pinterest images, where do you start? How do you get to a point where you can create gorgeous visuals like Cassie?
When Cassie was in high school, she began playing around with graphics. She loved creating images and computer wallpaper for some of her favorite bands, (NSYNC, anyone?) When one of her teachers saw some of her work, she shared with Cassie that it was a viable career option. She did end up getting a degree in graphic design, but she doesn’t want that to scare anybody away from creating their own images!
So while she does have the graphic design degree, Cassie has never taken any type of photography course. She is entirely self-taught and believes anyone can do that. If you have a desire to improve in that skill, you can definitely do it.
Related: New to Pinterest? Start here
What If I’m Not Interested in Learning to Do It?
Let’s be honest though, not everybody wants to do it. I am not creative at all, so I hired out this task fairly quickly for myself. We need to recognize that there is value in knowing which things we want to do and which things are going to feel like “walking through mud”. And we have to be willing to give up or hire out the things that don’t bring us joy or that take us so long to complete that it negates any value that might come from it.
There’s a difference between being excited about researching something and learning it to add to your skill set and recognizing those things that you have no desire to learn and that you will never be excited about.”~Cassie
Favorite Tools when Creating Images
Back when Cassie was still creating those images in high school, she was using Photoshop. Now 15-20 years later, she is still using Photoshop. She admittedly “doesn’t know how to use 75% of what’s in there”, but she uses it because she believes that you have to be ready to embrace professional level software if you want professional images.
Using software such as Photoshop. Lightroom, or Adobe Premiere (for video), will give you the flexibility you need to create the types of images you need to create. Creative Cloud makes the process easier by making all of the software available at one price per month for access to everything. Websites like Lynda offer training for every sort of software you can imagine, so learning to use pro-level image creation tools is truly possible for everyone.
Developing a Branded Style
We have found over the past year that sites that feature branded images get more clicks than those that don’t. The thing is that most bloggers began their blogs as a hobby and realized at some point that they now have a business which needs a brand. Most businesses begin with the brand, but if you didn’t, don’t worry. It’s not too late to get things in place.
Cassie didn’t have a true brand for her first five years of blogging. She was the brand. She had to consider what information she was most excited about sharing and what type of content she wanted to put out. Those decisions are what helped to shape her brand.
“My brand was less about what people wanted or what would get me the most page views, and more about what fulfilled me in my business and what I wanted my business to be about.” ~Cassie
Your visuals should represent what your brand is about. So if you are confident that you want to blog about down-home, country cooking, think about what types of visuals will draw your target audience in (things like distressed wood, warm colors, worn wood props, soft lighting). For example, think about the visual experience that you encounter in a restaurant that serves the type of food that you are blogging about.
Keep in mind that as a blogger, you serve as a resource for people and are likely perceived as an expert in your area. Consistency in branding is key to maintaining that seat of expertise.
The Two Most Commonly Asked Questions About Images
Of all the questions about images we receive at Simple Pin, the most commonly asked question is…
What is the best size image to use for Pinterest?
Cassie uses images that are 700 x 1758. She uses hidden images in her posts so that they don’t slow down her page loading time. But is this the perfect size? Let’s look at what some other sources use to see how different the recommendations can be:
UPDATE April 2018 — Pinterest has now said that images longer than 1260 will have lower rates of distribution. Stick with 600×900 to be safe.
And the second most asked question we get is…..
Do the tall, stacking collages still work better than a single image?
When Pinterest changed from the small, horizontal images to the vertical images, some users began using collage images. A stacked collage is where there is a photo on top, then text in the center, then another photo on the bottom. These exploded on Pinterest and have remained very popular for a while now.
Cassie shared back in Episode 7 that her guiding principle for everything she shares online is, “Is this helpful?” In design school, she was taught to never add something to a design just for decoration. Everything should serve a purpose. So if you have information to convey that would be most helpful by using a collage image, by all means, use it!
Another reason you might want to use a stacked collage is if you have older content that has smaller, horizontal images. You can stack those to make a vertical image. But don’t make collages just to fill space. It can be overwhelming to the Pinterest user and if it isn’t serving a purpose, you don’t need it.
Being Consistent in Font Style
Are you a person who loves variety? Do you have trouble sticking with one thing simply because there are just so many awesome things out there to try? If so, maybe fonts are a sticky point for you. Maybe you don’t understand the need or why anyone would use just one font for all of their images.
Cassie says it should be a priority to choose a font that is easy to read, not decorative, and not visually overwhelming. Bebas is one of Cassie’s favorite fonts to use. It’s a great starter font and it is free.
Keep in mind what we have stated repeatedly: you want to add value to your images, so don’t slap text on them just to have text. Use your text wisely. If you have a recipe post, don’t just put the recipe name on there. Promote your post via your text. Cassie gives some great examples of how to do this in the episode.
Last Tips on Fonts
People go to school to learn typography. So if you have trouble figuring out the best way to use fonts or text, it’s okay! Start simple. You can never go wrong with a simple, sans serif font. Cassie calls it “the little black dress of fonts.”
Be sure your text has margin so it has “some room to breathe”. Don’t cram text in there. The more white space you have, the more professional it will look.
Your #1 goal with Pinterest is to communicate information about your post. If your font isn’t readable, if it doesn’t communicate quickly, then you aren’t hitting that goal. ~Cassie
Connect with Cassie-
Check out Cassie’s image library for her blog
2:20 Using templates to create images
3:30 Including multiple recipes in a post
9:30 Learning to create beautiful images
11:40 What if I’m not interested in learning to do it?
13:50 Cassie’s favorite tools to use when creating images
16:20 Developing a branded style
24:35 The 2 most commonly asked questions about images
36:00 Being consistent in font style
44:50 Last tips on fonts
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