Isn’t Pinterest just a place where people share pictures of stuff?
Like a big digital scrapbook.
I mean, nobody wants an account on yet another social network that serves no real purpose.
Or is there commercial intent going on in the background?
Yes, there is.
Affiliate marketing on Pinterest is very much a thing.
The obvious question on your mind now is – “Can I use Pinterest as part of my affiliate marketing strategy?”
You’re about to find out.
Pinterest describes itself as a “…visual discovery tool”.
A tool used by 420+ million people every single day.
The truth is that it’s actually a powerful search engine in its own right.
But it’s one with built-in social bookmarking.
So not only can people search Pinterest for content, they can then bookmark and share it with their friends.
But here’s the really cool bit.
89% of Pinners use the platform to help make purchasing decisions.
That makes this social network a potentially powerful marketing tool for both beginners and experienced affiliate marketers.
Pinterest also doesn’t throttle organic traffic.
That means you can open an account today, build your target audience, and make money from them in a matter of weeks.
It’s just a case of building a following and presenting them with the right offers in your affiliate posts.
Done right, Pinterest marketing can also drive millions of visitors to your external blog posts.
What is Pinterest affiliate marketing?
Pinterest affiliate marketing is when you add affiliate links for products to your Pins. And if your Pinterest followers then purchase that product, you earn a commission. Another form of Pinterest affiliate marketing is where you redirect your followers to your external affiliate website.
The key difference here is that you’re leveraging the power of a social network to make those sales instead of competing for organic traffic in Google or Bing.
So there’s a lot of scope here to earn passive income from free traffic.
Let’s look at ways you can do that.
Ways to make money on Pinterest
The traditional way to make money with affiliate marketing is that you build a website, create engaging content, get backlinks, and then wait.
It can be a time-intensive process.
In fact, most new affiliates don’t see significant income for at least the first 12 months.
So you need to take a long-term view of where your site will be a year from now.
But you can hack that timeline by using Pinterest traffic while you’re waiting for your own organic rankings to grow.
There’s two ways to do this.
1. Add affiliate links to your posts
This is the easiest approach to Pinterest affiliate marketing.
You simply add affiliate links to your Pins, add your FTC (Federal Trade Commission) affiliate income disclaimer tag, and you’re done.
The easiest way to do this is by simply including an #affiliatelink or #afflink tag in your post.
You’ll then earn a commission if any of your followers clicks on an affiliate link and buys something.
Here’s an example of a Pin affiliate linking directly to a product on Amazon:
But you can also promote affiliate programs that exist outside these networks.
Here’s an example of a Pin linking out to the eBay Partner Network:
Here’s an interesting example of an author piggybacking off the “prepper” niche to promote his survival book:
And finally an affiliate Pin in the outdoors niche, just to prove it’s not all geeky stuff that gets featured there:
Just make sure it’s an affiliate program that falls within their ToS i.e. no adult content, promotes violence, etc.
The problem is the platform is full of people building dozens of boards and posting affiliate links on Pinterest all day long.
So there’s zero value in that type of content for followers.
It’s literally a case of hoping that if you throw enough marketing crap at your Boards that some of it will stick.
But splattering Pinterest with affiliate Pins isn’t a marketing plan.
That’s why you should never build your entire business on a platform you don’t own.
It is commercial suicide.
That’s why “…making money without a blog” rarely works out how people expect it to.
Drive traffic to your external blog
This approach to affiliate marketing on Pinterest means each Pin and Board has a single purpose – to get your followers to visit your website and/or blog posts.
Once there you can present them with a full review of the product they’re interested in.
Which also just happens to include an affiliate link.
Your conversion rates should also be way higher because you’ve added a lot more content and context around the product.
Or you can ask your followers to sign up for your newsletter, so you can build an email list.
Redirecting your followers to an intermediary landing page with an affiliate offer or email list sign up form is another option.
You could even just bring them to a blog post that’s monetized with display ads for truly passive income.
The important difference is that you’re in control of the user “journey” here – you’re not at the mercy of Pinterest.
But you have no control over what happens if they ban affiliate links.
So you’re achieving two key goals when you bring your Followers to your website:
- You are making more affiliate sales than you probably would just on Pinterest itself
- You are building your brand in the minds of your followers i.e. recurring traffic to your site
Here are some examples of how you can send traffic from this social site to your website.
This one is for a DIY projects website:
And here’s another one in the fitness niche:
One final point on Pinterest and affiliate links.
The prevailing “wisdom” is you can’t use an Amazon affiliate link within a Pin.
So I reached out to the Amazon Associates support team for clarification:
“If using Affiliate links on Pinterest, you may use text links only and you cannot pin to others pages. These are the permissible options that fit in with our Operation Agreement. While you can use Associates links on Pinterest, there are restrictions. You can only use Text links and they cannot be ‘pinned’ or shareable/shared on other pages.”
Basically, “Yes” you can use Amazon affiliate links in your Pin descriptions, but only text links, and the Pin can’t be shareable.
No more speculation required, dear reader.
Step-by-step process to make money on Pinterest
I’m going to assume that you already have a niche you want to work with.
If not then go check out our list of over 80+ profitable niches for you to choose from.
And that you’ve set up a free Pinterest account.
Should you use a Business or a Personal account?
A ‘Business’ account includes data analytics and the option to run ads – but you don’t need one right now.
Plus, you can always convert your personal account to a Business account later on.
So we’ll start with a personal account because it’s ideal for beginners.
Once you’ve entered some basic information, it’s time to tell Pinterest what you’re interested in:
You need to choose at least 5 topics to get started.
Pinterest then creates your default feed which looks like this:
And now for our next step.
How to create a Pinterest Board
Click on your Pinterest profile icon and then the “+” sign to create a Pin or Board.
Then just give your Board a name and click ‘Create’:
Pinterest does a pretty decent job of finding some suggested content for your new Board.
In this case, I can already see there are other Boards that feature Star Wars collectibles.
Fee-fi-fo-fent, I smell commercial intent.
Save a few of the suggested Pins to populate your Board and click ‘Done’.
Well done – you’ve just created your first Board.
Now it’s time to add some Pins and learn how to use affiliate links in them.
How to create your first Pinterest affiliate Pin
Now let’s create an affiliate Pin to add to your board.
Click on the “+” sign from your profile page and then create a Pin.
And then simply fill in the blank fields:
- The title of your Pin
- Your Pin description
- Tags for your Pin
- Your affiliate link or link to your website
- Save (Publish) your new Pin
And that’s it – you now have a new Pin on your Board:
And just to expand on the fields you need to complete when you create Pins:
- Title – Pinterest is a search engine, so make your title keyword-friendly.
- Description – Do Not keyword stuff but do add a relevant keyword or two here
- Tags – 5 to 6 of these is enough and 20 is the maximum
The long and short of this is that you definitely should not stuff keywords into the Pin Title, Description, or tags.
It might have worked years ago, but Pinterest is ban-hammer happy when it comes to perceived affiliate spam.
So, make the tags for each Pin relevant and use them sparingly.
Note: Don’t worry, we do cover actual Pinterest keyword research a little later in this article.
Also strongly consider adding an affiliate income disclaimer tag to each post.
This is as simple as adding #ad or #sponsored as the final tag in your description.
Images for your Pins
Think of your affiliate Pins as book covers.
They either grab the attention of a potential follower in the first few seconds…or they don’t.
Pinterest is a visual discovery tool.
So the images you use can make a whole lot of difference.
That’s why I use Depositphotos for my paid stock images – they have enough variety and quality for pretty much any niche I can think of.
Another way to create engaging and original affiliate Pins is with Canva, especially because it comes with Pinterest templates:
Even if you don’t want to use the Pinterest templates provided by Canva you can take advantage of the thousands of free images they also provide you with.
You’ll also notice that each of the templates use a portrait (vertical) aspect ratio.
That’s because Pinterest uses the same layout in their app.
So using a landscape or square layout for your Pins will be jarring.
Pro Tip: Never, ever use Amazon images in your Pins. Ever.
You’re probably wondering how you go about finding tags for your Pins.
Well, Pinterest used to have an autocomplete feature when writing your ‘Description’ to help you do this.
Which they then disabled for the desktop version of the app.
And now it no longer works on their mobile app either.
Which is bizarre.
I’m not sure why that’s the case, but knowing Pinterest they could change their mind on this a few months from now.
So you’re going to have to do some keyword research to find tags with search or commercial intent.
Keywords are an important part of your overall Pinterest strategy.
You’ll need to include them in the title of each Pin, within the description, and also in your tags.
But the problem is that this platform doesn’t really have a built-in keyword tool, unless you’re using a ‘Business’ account.
Which we’re not.
The good news however is that Pinterest does actually provide you with a keyword tool – it’s in the ‘Search’ bar:
Which is similar to the autocomplete results you get in Google.
You don’t have to put up with the basic results you’re presented with either.
If you type “archery”, insert a space, and then type the letter “C”, you’d see the following:
I have no idea what “archery cookies” or “archery cakes” are, but I now know that people search Pinterest for them.
But what’s also cool is that when you search for a broad term like “archery” the next page of results you see features categories related to your original keyword:
Each of these could potentially be a separate ‘Board’ for your Pinterest archery profile – horse archery is a great example of this.
Or they could become a primary category for your external website.
And you can drill down even further, so if I click on ‘Gloves’ I get the following results:
So there are other categories here I can focus on in terms of my Pinterest content.
But Pinterest also literally hands you a way to structure content silos for your blog.
And the same goes for content ideas – like a review of “left-handed” archery gloves, which is a coincidence because I shoot from the left with my bow.
It’ll take a little bit of work to get the keywords you need for your Pins, but it’ll be well worth it.
Just remember that the money is usually found in long-tail keywords, so focus on those e.g. “Black Series Luke Skywalker Helmet”.
Using multiple Boards
In the above example, my Pin is published to my main board, which brings me on to the next important point to cover.
Working with boards.
The best way to imagine Pinterest Boards is like a corkboard you might use to arrange a large project.
Now imagine that each major task within your project has its own cork board.
Now swap “project” for “website” and “task” for “category” and you have an affiliate structure that works.
Do Not dump all your Pins onto one board.
Instead, have multiple boards, each one focused on a different aspect of your niche.
If we take my imaginary “Star Wars Collectibles” niche I’d create Boards in the following categories:
- Vintage toys
- Force FX Lightsabers
So my initial set of Boards would look like this:
Don’t go nuts though when creating your Boards.
Humans can’t concentrate when presented with too many choices.
The ideal number of boards is actually no more than 7.
That’s just how the human brain is wired.
So now that you have your Boards populated with content, where do you find followers?
Building your audience
So you’ve got your Boards set up just how you like and created some eye-catching Pins.
You need to get eyeballs on your work.
It’s time to look at getting some traffic.
Surge your boards
You’ll need to create a lot of Pins for your Boards for the first several weeks after they go live.
Ideally, 20 – 30 per day for 2 – 3 weeks.
Which means creating 5 – 6 Pins per Board every day.
That’s a lot of initial work to get your Pinterest juice flowing, but it will pay off.
The good news is that you don’t have to do all the Pinning in real-time.
You can just sit down and create them in a burst of activity and then schedule them with Tailwind.
Tailwind comes with a free trial but it’s $10 per month after that.
So there is a cost involved.
If you really want to go hands-off then you do also have the option of hiring a Pinterest VA (Virtual Assistant).
Who now refer to themselves as “Pinterest Managers.”
Anyways, you can find them on sites like Upwork with rates starting at $10 per hour:
Remember, Pinterest is a visual platform.
So your VA doesn’t need to speak or write fluently in English.
Pinterest is no different from other social media platforms in that following influential Pinners is one way of getting their attention.
Repin their content on your own Boards.
Interact with them.
Just make sure you’re not cozying up to competitor bloggers.
So I might find and follow fan art creators for my “Star Wars Collectibles” boards.
Or maybe people creating sci-fi memes.
Repinning their content also usually means you can grab some incidental traffic.
And their popular content is also a free blueprint for you to follow when creating your next set of Pins.
What colors or typefaces do they use?
Do they use stock images, doodles, or videos?
Find what works for them and prove that imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
These are exactly what they sound like – groups of Pinterest users gathered together under a common interest.
Group Boards vary in size from a few hundred followers to hundreds of thousands of users.
And the neat thing is that when you join a Board your Pins are seen by not only the person running it but every other Pinner there.
So if a Board has 100k Pinterest users and you join, your next few well-designed, clever, and engaging Pins (hint, hint) could be seen by tens of thousands of people.
This can be one of the best ways to build your own following.
Now, just before you go rushing out to find Group Boards to join there’s some things we need to cover first.
- The best Boards are invite-only
- Huge boards mean a lot of people competing for attention
- Most of the best Boards don’t allow affiliate links
- Not all Boards are created equal
Finding potential Boards to join is as simple as using the Pinterest search bar:
If you want to get an invite to a specific board you should follow them first, Repinning their content for a week or two.
Then message the Board admin to ask if you can join.
Use paid ads
Okay, nobody likes to hear that you have to pay money to play.
But that’s the route all social networks eventually end up taking over the long term…and their users have to either pay up or bail out.
You’ll need a Business account to use Pinterest ads, which is a free upgrade.
Paid ads are not a requirement to make money with Pinterest.
The Pros & Cons of Pinterest affiliate marketing
So let’s get to the TLDR version of this article.
- Pinterest is a powerful search engine in its own right
- Has an extremely high level of commercial intent
- 400 million users is small enough to still feel “niche”
- They don’t throttle organic traffic to your affiliate blog posts
- You can literally “do affiliate marketing without a blog”
- Simple, intuitive interface
- Can currently direct link to affiliate products
- Using Pinterest is fun – it lacks the narcissistic qualities of Instagram
- The extension for Chrome works really well
- No autocomplete feature for tags
- The app is a bit “Meh
- They keep changing their minds on things like affiliate links
Should you start doing affiliate marketing on Pinterest?
I have a confession to make.
My Pinterest account is almost a decade old…but I never really used it.
But after actually playing around with Pinterest I can see nothing but potential here for affiliate marketers and bloggers.
Both to drive traffic to your blog and/or earning commissions directly from Pinterest with affiliate links in your Pins.
Yes, it’s time-intensive.
Yes, you might need to hire a VA for a few hours per week.
But it would appear to be worth it.
So I’m going to keep this summary very short.
Pinterest should be part of your affiliate marketing strategy.
How many other platforms do you know of that offer free traffic?
And there was no need to buy an expensive affiliate marketing course from a Pinterest “expert” to reach that conclusion.
Now, share this on social media and then go away and get started with Pinterest.