How to Use Pinterest as a Fashion Blogger
In episode six I’m talking with Jo-Lynne Shane about how to use Pinterest as a fashion blogger. Jo-Lynne has been a positive force in the mom blogging community since 2006. She shares wearable outfit ideas and practical fashion solutions for moms, as well as occasional beauty tips and her family’s travel adventures.
From Mommy Blogger to Business Woman
When Jo-Lynne began her blog back in 2006, there was no Pinterest, Twitter was just getting started, Facebook was in the infant stages, and Instagram hadn’t even been launched. She began blogging for the same reason many moms started blogs back in the early years – as a way to keep family members who lived far away up to date on what her family was up to.
But as brands began taking notice of mommy bloggers, Jo-Lynne realized that there was a business opportunity. While she had always incorporated her love of fashion into her blogging, she decided in September of 2015 to go all in on the fashion aspect. She currently blogs on fashion for women between the ages of mid-thirties to early fifties.
Deciding on the Fashion Niche
As a lifestyle blogger, she was blogging on several different topics; fashion, beauty, recipes, crafts, etc. But as other bloggers in her community began to niche down, she started feeling overwhelmed trying to write about everything and still be excellent. Fashion seemed to really resonate with her audience, and it was a personal passion of hers, so it seemed natural to niche down to fashion for her blog focus.
What were the results of niching down? When she decided on her niche, Jo-Lynne was afraid to commit to it. So she decided to do a “30 Days of Fall Fashion” special series of posts. What happened next surprised her. Her traffic doubled quickly, and she now finds herself sometimes posting twice a day because she has so many post ideas! Her affiliate income began booming right away as well. The trial run was so much fun that she decided to publicize her new niche. She is currently running 22 days of summer fashion.
How did her audience react? Before making the changes, Jo-Lynne had noticed that her blog comments had decreased, and she felt her blog posts were less personal. The whole thing began to feel very stagnant. After niching down to fashion, life was breathed back into her blog. Reader engagement went back up, and she was enjoying her blogging again. She felt increased energy toward her blog, and the audience engagement told her she was doing what they wanted.
Read more about how to know and understand your audience.
What Part Did Pinterest Play?
During her 30 Days of Fall Fashion series, Jo-Lynne’s Pinterest traffic exploded. She actually was not an early Pinterest adopter. She only began because she kept hearing at conferences how important Pinterest was for bloggers, for growing blog traffic and your business.
At first, she was mainly pinning food posts. She got a lot of great traffic from those, and even though she was blogging about fashion, she didn’t always post pictures of herself in outfits on her Pinterest page. She currently has a near equal division of food and fashion Pins.
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How to Get Pinterest Worthy Photos of Yourself
Jo-Lynne does pin fashion photos of herself now. So how does she get photos worthy of a fashion Pinterest board? Here are her best tips:
- Get a good quality camera. (Jo-Lynne prefers a Nikon DSLR)
- Invest in a high quality fixed lens. (Jo-Lynne likes the 85mm, but a 50 mm is also great.)
- Learn basic photography skills.
- Have a basic understanding of lighting.
- Have someone else take the photos of you. Husbands can be great photographers, as evidenced by this hilarious video on Instagram Husbands.
Getting Re-Pins and Traffic
While Jo-Lynne hasn’t quite determined whether there are certain poses or types of photos that make people click on her Pins, there are a few things she has figured out.
:: Key words are key. The terms that someone puts into the Search bar are always specific, for example, “How to Wear Ankle Boots”, or “How to Style A Blanket Scarf”. Learn more about keywords and SEO and Pinterest.
:: Use certain phrases consistently. For Jo-Lynne, the phrases “Fashion over 40” and “Fashion for The Modern Mom” have been a way to grab more Pinterest traffic.
How Niching Down Affected Her Monetization Strategy
As a lifestyle blogger, Jo-Lynne’s blog appealed to many different brands, and she had no lack of sponsored posts. When she niched down, however, her sponsored posts dropped off quite a bit. But her affiliate income has gone way up. How has she used affiliate marketing?
First of all, every piece of clothing that she is wearing in her posts has an affiliate link to it. She doesn’t even purchase clothing that she can’t use an affiliate link for. She does an Instagram post every weekend that contains affiliate links. Every post on her blog contains links.
Because Jo-Lynne knows her readers so well, she has a good idea of what to link to as far as style, price point, store brand, etc. She does not link to items that she doesn’t wear herself. She has found the sweet spot for her readers, and she takes full advantage of it.
Affiliate links on Pinterest
Since Pinterest has recently made it possible to use affiliate links in your pins, I asked Jo-Lynne how she is using this to her advantage. She gave a specific example of a current sponsored post on her site, and while there are a few steps that she followed, it is not difficult. For this post, she linked directly to the site using her affiliate links. Normally, she links back to her blog, but with Pinterest’s new policy on affiliate links, she decided to go ahead and try it out.
Since Jo-Lynne already has a great revenue stream using affiliate links on her blog, adding affiliate links on her Pinterest page could open another stream of income. However, she doesn’t see herself switching over to using affiliate links on Pinterest very often. Why? Because her readers want her input on items they are considering purchasing. Direct links on Pinterest take away the very personal level of having someone tell you why they use a product and why you might want to.
Why Collaboration Is a Great Idea
When Jo-Lynne met Cindy Spivey at a blogging conference, she didn’t know then that they would be working together in the future! Cindy started her blog much later than Jo-Lynne, but she was niched down to fashion from the beginning. When Jo-Lynne saw Cindy’s blog growing rapidly while her own blog began to flat line, she decided to take Cindy up on her offer to work together. And that is how Jo-Lynne got involved with the “30 Days” series.
Having a friend who is facing the same challenges that she was facing has been a huge benefit for Jo-Lynne. She and Cindy have been able to meet for weekends together, and chat on the telephone. When they are together, they can strategize, try to deal with the challenges they both face, and answer questions about what direction they want to go next.
While she could potentially see Cindy as a competitor, Jo-Lynne has seen the benefits of working together, rather than independently. Together, they have been able to build a community that benefits them both, rather than working against each other. From a group Pinterest board, to a Facebook group that they run together, to their 30 Days series, they are seeing success from collaborating.
“When you work with others, and when you engage with your community, you build a certain level of trust with your readers, that then makes them feel comfortable purchasing through your affiliate links.”
Affiliate marketing allows Jo-Lynne to share more about the ups and downs of certain products. When using affiliate links, she isn’t necessarily saying that every reader will love a product. She can talk about anything that she didn’t love, or if something had flaws. And her readers can make their own decision about whether to purchase.
It is so important to develop a relationship with your readers. They need to see you as a “real person”, not “just a blogger.”
Tips for New Fashion Bloggers
:: Practice. It can be scary to think of putting yourself out there! This is why practice is so important. Practice with the photography. Remember that everybody, even the biggest fashion bloggers, had to start somewhere! You will have plenty of time to tweak things and change what needs to be changed.
:: Invest. It is going to take time and money to get going. You have to be willing to invest in a great camera, invest in the skills needed, perhaps even hire a photographer. You need someone with real photography skills to get Pinterest worthy pictures.
Wise wisdom from Jo-Lynne,
Just start. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to be in process. It’s okay to be really crappy when you first start. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Reach out to others. Find someone you can collaborate with.
Looking for more Pinterest inspiration? Listen to other episodes from the Simple Pin podcast.