From Pin to Profit: How These 4 Founders Built a Hugely Successful (and Profitable) Business Via Pinterest

Pinterest. It’s one of the most popular platforms for finding inspiration but it’s not just for wedding planners and craft lovers (although we absolutely support that too), Pinterest is a mecca for business ideas and growing valuable audiences to grow your new brand or product.

Why? Well, it’s a matter of volume. Enid Hwang, culture and community manager at Pinterest told us that more than 300 million people visit Pinterest each month for ideas when planning things big and small—everything from what to eat for dinner to what products to buy. That’s a huge opportunity for people and brands to connect with an audience in an authentic way.

“We see tens of millions of people using Pinterest to further their hobbies and passions, take their side hustle to the next level, get logo or branding ideas, or even save character inspiration for the next big best-selling fiction series, so it’s a lot of people across many different business types,” Hwang tells me. You might think that it’s purely a place for inspiration, but it’s so much more than just pinning a pretty dress. Hwang says tens of millions of searches happen every month around business cards, business ideas, business plans, tips for starting a business, and even motivational quotes. Even more, 72% of trending business search terms are related to finding inspiration for starting or building a business.

Searches for ‘small business tips’ has risen +46% and 59% of small businesses on Pinterest use the platform to collect inspiration, interesting articles, and do work-related research. “People also come to Pinterest to find ideas; we’ve seen 3.5x as many searches on ‘business ideas’ than searches on ‘business plan,” she says. “Specific types of businesses have also gained popularity.”

Here are a few examples of the most popular business topic searches:

-Craft business +206%
-Salon business +98%
-Cake business +97%
-Lash extensions business +86%
-Consulting business +76%
-Jewelry business +72%
-Car wash business +65%
-Online business +58%
-Baking business +42%
-Social media business +41%

A great place to start is by searching Pinterest to find things you personally shop for, are interested in, or need. “When it comes to specific searches that could help spark an idea, we see that ‘business motivation’ (+199%), ‘business mindset’ (+108%), ‘business startup checklist’ (+39%) and even ‘business motivation quotes’ (+54%) are popular with Pinners,” outlines Hwang.

So, to find out more, we connected with four Pinfluencers to understand how we can better use Pinterest to not only spark a new business idea but grow a profitable audience there and build a successful brand in the process—keep scrolling to the end for some exclusive tips from Hwang on how to grow your audience on Pinterest.

Oh Happy Place

Noelle Bryant, Founder, Oh Happy Play

Pinterest profile: Oh Happy Play

When Noelle Bryant’s husband proposed, she started using Pinterest to plan their wedding. “I had boards for every part of the day and found so much joy in browsing spectacular wedding ideas,” she tells me. Eventually, she started a blog by the same name and returned to Pinterest again for promotion and inspiration which she is “very thankful” she did because now Oh Happy Play has 402,000 monthly users and counting.

What tips do you have for building an audience on Pinterest?
“The most important tip for growing an audience is to create eye-catching content. Go above and beyond with quality photography to show off your project. Pinners have only have a second to catch your image while scrolling. It’s also very important to stay relevant. By relevant, I mean to think about the things you search for as a mom (or relating to your own niche) and try to help solve those ‘problems’ for other moms. I knew I wanted to create a floor bed for my daughter and after searching for one, I realized there were very few options. I solved my own problem by getting creative. The infamous trundle bed I created has catapulted my blog to where it is now. I solved a problem that other parents may have been having too. That’s what it’s all about.”

When did you realize your Pinterest interest could be a profitable business?
“It’s funny because for a while, I was still approaching this as a hobby. Mom life can get busy and I had my doubts. But after talking with a friend in the same business, she was blown away by my content and the people who seemed to rally around me. She gave me the push to start charging for my work. Blogging was the new ‘all-for-one’ for businesses and it has only grown since. A brand can hire me for a third of the cost they’d pay to set up a studio, photograph their products, and place the ads they create. They can do the same with me and put their products in front of a target audience. The only thing is that I have to love their products too. I promise myself and my readers that I won’t promote anything I don’t love. My readers’ trust in me is the most important aspect of my business.”

How do you use Pinterest to grow/promote your business now?
“I use Pinterest every day. I try to push Pins that are relevant to current events (like back to school) as well as some classic, or evergreen, ones each day (like baby must-haves or floor beds). There’s a strategy, but ultimately, my goal is to be the answer for people who search for any topic I cover on my site. I want moms to turn to ohhappyplay.com for any and all things motherhood.”

What advice do you have for other women looking to do the same?
“Be authentic. Be you. Create content you believe in and the rest will come. Think about topics you know a lot about and start with those. It will come naturally and you can be a true guide for others. Help solve someone else’s problem.”

The Growing Candle

Cyndi Hileman, Founder, The Growing Candle

When Cyndi Hileman started using Pinterest in college to plan things for her life, little did she know it would turn out to be a successful business venture, Hyggelight—The Growing Candle. “My husband and I used Pinterest to figure out the look and feel for our website and social media channels,” she says. “Pinterest is one of my favorite search engines because it makes it easier for me to find a bunch of information. I pin what I don’t have time to read at the moment so I can come back to it later.”

Now she has built a thriving audience there and continues to use the platform to inform the direction of the business from creative ideas to audience development. “Today, we use Pinterest for ideas about creating a zero-waste company,” she explains. “We’re not completely zero-waste yet, but proud to share we send just one household garbage bag to the landfill every three months.” 

When did you realize/know your Pinterest interest could be a profitable business?
“We were excited about The Growing Candle when we searched Pinterest, Google, and Etsy and saw that no one was selling a similar product yet or at least not well. We knew this business would be profitable when we attended a couple of craft fairs and saw how mind-blown people were by our product. Most would ask if they were going to see us on Shark Tank while they were buying candles for their whole family.”

How do you use Pinterest to grow/promote your business now?
“We do our best to keep up with our Pinterest account. Pinning, creating new boards, and new content our followers will love is one of my priorities. With how busy our small business gets right now, especially during the holidays, it becomes difficult to find the time to promote our business. Most of the press we have received these last two years has been organic, which has been unbelievable!”

What advice do you have for other women looking to do the same?
“My advice would be to find a problem and solve it. If it’s something you’re struggling with, it’s likely others would love a solution that makes their life easier too. Once you have a prototype, make a few products to sell, book a few events to attend where you think your demographic will be and see if they get as excited about your solution as you do.”

Mitzi Dulan—Simply Fuel

Mitzi Dulan, Founder, simplyFUEL

Pinterest was just a place for Mitzi Dulan to share healthy recipes and to find yummy new ones that she wanted to make in the future. Now, the mother-of-two has 549, 000 monthly viewers on the platform, has authored a book called The Pinterest Diet, and appeared on Live! With Kelly & Michael, The Dr Oz Show, CNN, and News.com.

What tips do you have for building an audience there?
“Regularly share valuable, helpful content. Consistently sharing content such as workouts, recipes, and other tips helped my Pinterest following grow.”

When did you realize/know your Pinterest interest could be a profitable business?
“I realized I could make money on Pinterest when I got a lot of followers.”

How do you use Pinterest to grow/promote your business now?
“I share my products on Pinterest, which links back to my Shopify store. There's a lot that businesses can do, and I’m still trying to figure out the best way to leverage Pinterest to help sell my products.”

What advice do you have for other women looking to do the same?
“I’m very fortunate that I grew my Pinterest following at the beginning. My advice is to create great content that others are looking for and then to figure out how to monetize it.”

Erin Pelicano Jewelry

Erin Pelicano, Founder, Erin Pelicano Fine Jewelry

Pinterest profile: Erin Pelicano Fine Jewelry

It was in 2011 during a regular check-up at her doctor’s office when Erin Pelicano first learned about the social platform that would change her life. “I was chatting with a nurse who knows me and told her about how I wanted to evolve my career from engineering to start a jewelry business,” explains Pelicano. “She asked if I’d heard of Pinterest, which I hadn’t. Her daughter had introduced her it, and she told me how much fun it was to create different boards.”

In the beginning, Pelicano had a mix of personal and business boards but eventually, she learned how to harness the business capabilities and grew her monthly following to 630,000. “I believe we’ve evolved with Pinterest, as it has changed quickly to offer more and more opportunities for small businesses to grow and flourish,” she says.

What tips do you have for building an audience on Pinterest?
“You need to be authentic to who you and your brand are. Taking the time to be active on Pinterest daily, weekly, and monthly is important. This goes well beyond just pinning your own content; I believe it’s important to interact with Pins and Pinners that are cohesive with the customers you’d like to attract. The second part of it is pinning and offering content that your audience loves, not necessarily your own content. That’s what’s amazing about Pinterest, you can create your entire profile using a mix of the best content that speaks to your brand and the audience you are looking to grow.”

When did you realize your Pinterest interest could be a profitable business?
“We launched our Pinterest account fairly early and it took a few years. In 2013, our business had a very rapid growth period, which was primarily driven by Pinterest. Our jewelry collection suddenly went viral on Pinterest and as a small business, it was nothing short of thrilling. Our sales grew and we could see that the traffic was coming directly from Pinterest. Now that we know the power Pinterest has to help us find our customers, we spend time each year working to bring the best content to moms and brides.”

How do you use Pinterest to grow/promote your business now?
We’ve found the best strategy for our Erin Pelicano Jewelry collection is a hybrid of regular, organized Pinterest strategies combined with some paid (promoted) Pins. Our business experiences large sales volume leading up to both the holiday season and Mother’s Day season, and we’ve found that paid promotions work best during these times. We have a plan for our content each day and month for the year and we think a few months ahead to start pinning relevant content for upcoming seasons and holidays.”

What advice do you have for other women looking to do the same?
“Have a plan, but don’t overthink it. When you start a collection of new boards, create them in the secret board’ mode first. As you grow your boards, make them public. Start with a business account, and use all of the Pinterest business tools: a complete profile, links to your business, stats. And make it fun. In my opinion, Pinterest is, hands down, the most fun platform out there.” 

BONUS: How to Grow Your Audience on Pinterest

Optimize for Search

Write search-friendly titles for your Pins. Then spend a little bit of time writing descriptions for each of your Pins: These should include important, relevant keywords in a couple human-readable sentences. For instance, if it’s a recipe, include the key ingredients, type of preparation method, or any dietary notes people might search. For travel, you’d want to include the town/city, country, or maybe even continent or type of travel, ie: Adventure, romantic, or budget-friendly. You can even add a handful of relevant hashtags to echo keywords that would help your content get discovered, ie: #Vegetarian would be better than a hyper-specific #veg4life.

Pin High-Quality Images and Video

Popular Pins are usually high-resolution and high-quality, while busy shots (or graphics) don’t resonate as well. It’s also important to get the size and aspect ratio right so your pins don’t get cut off. Video Pins also help grab attention—the sweet spot is anywhere between 00:50 seconds to 2:00 minutes.

Time It Right
People come to Pinterest look for ideas before an activity or event, so it’s helpful to keep ahead of the curve—pinning about a month in advance is a good rule of thumb. As examples, we’re already seeing increased searches for back-to-school and Halloween.

Tap Into Business Tools

Pinterest has helpful tools just for business owners, such as mobile ads, a business profile and metrics, the following tab, and promote button. Be sure you claim your other accounts on Pinterest too, like Etsy and Instagram.

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