Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pinterest Tutorial "Dear Pinterest, I'm Worthy of Your Trust"

photo of: Pinterest Tutorial 101 at RainbowsWithinReach

Dear Pinterest,

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am thrilled to announce that I have amassed 125,000 followers under your Pinterest banner. Let me begin this lengthy epistle with the honest-to-goodness truth. You have changed my life and I am grateful. 

I am a visual learner. I am very grateful to you and all the Pinterest-Pixies for conceiving of your fantastic format to share visual images that lead beyond to the captivating content. I am not a 'tech-person' ~~ in fact, I'm a 'creative.' With delight, from the very beginning of our relationship I 'understood' your design and layout. I didn't need to consult any cheat sheet to get the concept. I didn't have any friends or neighbors to show-me-the-way. Your user-friendly format is the first 'intuitive' concept that I have ever been able to intuit independantly. You see things you like? You click on them (pin) and put them where you want them (on your drop-down pinboard collection.)  Oh happy day! I got it. On day one. Right out of the gate.... and that's sayin' a lot for this cave person. 

Follow Me on Pinterest

{FWIW: According to my records, I joined your ranks on Aug. 17th of 2011. 
I am nearing my two year, card-carrying member celebration. Not exactly a cutting-edge early adopter, but a tad bit ahead of the growing masses. Get the cupcakes ready! I think a party is in order.}

Last summer about this time, there were a bunch of us children's blogger, educational-pinner-types who all had between 10 and 15,000 followers. I was right in the midst of my peers. We were all shoulder to shoulder, I was happy. Then one day we all awoke to find that several in the pack had jettisoned to 
HALF-a-MILLION P-followers over night!?!? Alas. I was not one of the chosen. 
I was not one of the favored. I felt left in the dust. I tried VERY hard to keep my composure and wish-well those fortunate, zooming strato-leaping cyber friends of mine. Honest. I tried. Truth be told? Pinterest. Your showcase spotlight has real power. Lottery-like power!

My new mantra during that chapter? 
"Comparison is the thief of joy, comparison is the thief of joy, comparison is the thief of joy, comparison......" well, you get the idea. 

Life went on. At that time last summer, Pinterest, I tried to get your attention, by making this graph above and writing an entire article about how your site had forever changed my blogging. You had given me an audience and I was genuinely appreciative. That was the summer of 2012. You made all the difference in the world for giving me visibility. You directed people to my creative efforts. I was grateful. I was humming along in the tens-of-thousands of p-followers. Big things were happening. People were 'finding me' and returning! 
YEAH. Then my first big milestone!

Summer turned to fall. I hit a million pageviews on my blog in November of '12 and I created the screen shot above! I thanked you profusely in the article as we prepared for Veteran's Day and children were making turkey projects. To the best of my knowledge I was hovering around 70,000 P-followers (though I admit my documentation for that number is non-existent ~~ but it's a kinda-sorta, fairly well educated guess) and I really was gaining some traction with increasing readership here under my rainbow. Life was good. I was grateful. I kept saying 'thanks Pinterest.' Soon it was turkey-time indeed. I had resolved to quit comparing my efforts to my peers in the strato-pin-osphere. I was even periodically successful with that resolution.

photo of: Fine Motor Development: Girls vs. Boys via RainbowsWithinReach
Is that image just toooooo stinkin' cute or what? Wanted you to smile in this marathon!

It took me 4+ years to reach my first million pageviews and just last month? 
Barely over 6 additional months to reach my second million!
Shakin' my pompoms!!! 
Guess who got all the credit, when I made this next glitzy graphic? 
You bettcha. 
I thanked Pinterest! 
Are you starting to see a theme here? 

photo of: Blogging Milestone: 2nd Million at RainbowsWithinReach

Pinterest, dearest, I have been trying to get your attention 
with my screen shots and my graphics.
I've been attempting to garner your favor through sweet appreciation. 
I've been quietly saying thank you, thank you, thank you. 

PINTEREST, YOU'VE FORCED ME TO RAISE MY VOICE. You've forced me to shift gears in my courtship of your ubber-favor. It's time now for me to be more overt. It's time for me to shift gears and kick-it-up a notch. 

I think that its high-time I give you an actual, gen-u-ine 'demonstration' of why I am worthy of receiving your awesome algorithm of jettisoning super-power MASSIVE, followershipness from your nod of overnight quantum, strato-increase squared magic wand. I can be trusted. I will use your super-duper quadruple, vested-in-me pin-power for good. I promise.


Let me show you just some of what I know. 
Let's start with the basics. The real basics.

1. CURATION. I have, from day #1 of my pinning, understood that my 
p-contribution to others is to act as a CURATOR of images that are 'meaningful' to me and therefore 'meaningful' to them. My pinning images into categories of my design and organization is my further 'added value' gift to those of my ilk, my sort, my type, my tribe, my clan, my kin, my followers, my association, my den, my pride*, my people. Pinterest you have given me the latitude to create my very own 'Debbie-decimal' system of information and inspiration retrieval. Thank you.

photo of: Lion art project on paper plate, jungle animal art project for children
*Yes. I have been called the "Lion Lady" as a result of this miraculous, true story

My entire pin-collection, from the absolute beginning was conceived as a way to support excellence-in-education. Early education to be specific. My pin boards were designed from their inception as a library vault for the ECE community ~~ Early Childhood Education. Free and open to the public. Available around the clock and around the world. 

I travel to a LOT of schools making my 'music-lady, author-illustrator' visits. I document all the incredible images that I see on my travels. Teachers LUV bulletin boards. So I share a lot of bulletin boards around here. I'm passionate about children's creativity, so I showcase that as often as possible, too. I am a creative-type so I share my process as well. Everything here resonates to the visual, which is to say that it plays well on Pinterest. Lucky-ducky me. 

photo of: "Calamity Sam" Bulletin Board and Writing Project at RainbowsWithinReach
"Calamity Sam" is from my original cassette tape of songs, now on CD!

ALWAYS from my immediate commitment to you Pinterest, I also knew this was my way to support the 'real life' followers of the original songs I record for children. We in the ECE world tend to be visual peeps. So of my current 103 p-boards I have 46 that correspond DIRECTLY to one of my songs. One p-board for each of forty-six songs that lend themselves to visual ideas and presentation. Bulletin boards that teachers have directed their students to create in response to my songs? Oh-be-still-my-heart! Perfect pinning fodder!! Pinterest, you are like manna from heaven for the ECE world. 

{Too brown-nosary? The manna image? I'm going for broke today. "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead." BTW: I didn't swear, that's a direct quote. Using manna and torpedoes in the same mini-paragraph? Perhaps I need an editor? I'm just so tickled you're still reading. Get a cuppa-cuppa, 'cuz we're just getting started.}

So that's my unique 'hook' for the majority of my boards. The ideas that I pin are organized around songs that I've written and recorded, picture books I've gone on to illustrate to the lyrics of my songs and even one p-board for "Kweezletown," the nationally award winning DVD created as a visual montage of my very first songs. Get it? It's good to have a hook. It's good to support your fanclub with extra added value. READER. What's your hook? How are you different? What sets you apart? Tap into that. Pinterest is good. Pinterest rewards novel. Pinterest gushes all over unique. 

If  WHEN I am a good CURATOR and find great IMAGES with meaningful CONTENT and have a helpful SYSTEM to keep them organized, I will be am rewarded with followers. Bazinga!

photo of: Pinterest as Easy as Pie from Pinterest 101 Tutorial at RainbowsWithinReach

***That eighth P.I.E. is the pie that I'm after.
That could be the tagline of my blog: 
Excellence-in-Education, as shared on Pinterest.

I have witnessed from day #7 that the number of my p-followers drives the traffic to my blog. Pinterest you continue to be the number one source of traffic to my blog. You beat Google nearly 8-to-1. I do not blow smoke up your proverbial skirt. You can see the evidence for yourself.  [Folks, that's just me. Cuz despite my best efforts, I seem to be SEO kryptonite. So I'm not kidding when I say I am dependent on my Pinterest prowess to have any eyeballs to talk to, from my blog.]

I have understood from day #2 that traffic to my blog effects my legacy. More immediately, it also effects my bottom line. As a 'company-of-one' with a clever, slick primary marketing strategy that had previously been 'word-of-mouth' driven, to me, Pinterest, you are the greased lightening I've longed to harness. Shazam-in-a-click. I have been determined since day #9 to focus and attract additional p-followers. So my quest continues to woo and court the people-of-the-pin.

My Pinterest Profile with Website Verified  plus connections to Twitter and Facebook Account 

Back to my demo of basics and my worthiness of your Voodoo-Validation. 
My p-profile includes my picture with a zippy description filled with exclamation marks about who it is that I am in real life and what it is that I do. I've had my website verified and I have a Pinterest business account. If I read that profile description screen shot above, I'd want to meet me. I am indeed interesting and put that right out there on the front doormat with an invitation that says 'lets be friends.' In a world of plain vanilla, I want to stand out for the polka-dot phenomena that I am!

*Yes. I tell everyone that will listen, that if they are at all pinning from an entrepreneurial perspective they are required to have a business account. Yes. I tell my teacher-blogger friends and my mommy-blogger friends and my Artie-blogger friends alike: GET THEE A BUSINESS PINTEREST ACCOUNT! Yes. I know its scary to change over, but change over you must. The p-terms of use require it. Do it. Nothing changes to the outside world looking on. Honest. Take a deep breath and go business. You don't lose any pins. You don't lose any followers. You just join the properly pigeon-holed. Hold your breath and switch over. Promise? 

My "Top 5" Pinterest Boards in Order of their Appearance

3. THE FIRST ROW OF BOARDS. I totally get from a basic marketing 101 perspective that the top pin-boards in my first row of display boards are the most valuable real estate possible, that I have available to me. Ocean front. Beach view. Sand between your toes mentality. I continually display the most critical-to-me and specific-to-me boards on the first row. I know that the new visitor has a nano- second to see if they wanna become friends and follow. 

I want new onlookers to follow 'me-me-me' and I want to show them my best. I want it to look unique and original. {Well, duh.} So I have organized the first row of boards on my wall, the ones that set the tone, to showcase my highest priorities. How are you different than your peers/competition? Give that some thought. Then showcase your uniqueness. Best foot forward. Rah-rah. 

For me? Of the first five of my boards I start with my .com board, which is the one where I will pin-post each of my blog articles moving forward. My #2 board is for pins from our collaborative blog, "PreK+K Sharing", of which I am the editor. Then #'s 3, 4, and 5 are designed to support each of my 3 picture books. I am scouring the earth to *find* Art teachers and librarians -- in addition to my core of ECE followers. These are folks who could benefit from learning of my existence. So I want my boards to be bright, colorful and appear 'child-friendly' since that is what I have to share (insert 'sell.') I want those first boards to indicate that I am comfortable, at ease and immersed in the lives of children. 

It goes without saying that having an attractive 'cover' pin image is critical. 
Like gravity. Don't take it for granted. Choose wisely. YOU have the discretion to select each and every one of your board's public face. That face has value. Just like real estate is: location, location, location? Pinterest is: eye-catching, eye-catching, eye-catching! Choose carefully. Have a strategy for your board covers: seasonal or otherwise, but optimize all board covers with your best image possible! {Is it demeaning to point out that your choosing an image from YOUR blog/website as the cover image for your board, is an easy boost to your own work? That image stays static, until you change it. Make the most of that available 'advertisement.'}

Speaking of things to optimize: of course EVERY board should have a snappy title, an appropriate categorization and a delightful and insightful description. Another one of my rules of thumb? Never ever let a board languish with fewer than five images. If its important enough to open a board, its important enough to get that board's cover collage image filled with the minimum five thumbnails. Then ask yourself, why do I have a board with 'just' five pins? YAWN!

Is there a magic number of boards to have? Good question. What works for you and your organization, with your hook? Some with HUGE p-followership have 'just' a couple dozen boards, while others with equally massive following have several hundred boards. My own feeling is that if your boards are stocked with great images + proper links, THAT'S what your followers are looking for.  Whether you set your boards up by themes, projects for letters of the alphabet, or by color, season, months in the year, holidays, is up to you. How many? I don't think there's a magic number. What is easiest for you to navigate? What makes you happy? How can your collection SUPPORT your followers? So many choices. Go with what makes sense to you and then? Follow through. 

{And thanks for making it so easy to rearrange the boards, Pinterest. I LUV how we can just shuffle them around at will these days. Remember the olden days? Wow. What an improvement!}

4. THAT CRITICAL FIRST BOARD. Absolutely, I understood from the very beginning that THE first board is ALL about MOI and my blogging efforts that share ALL about MOI. It is in essence my P-calling card. It is indeed named for my blog and my dot com enterprise. I am TRULY putting that board as priority numero uno. "Look at me." I am not trying to hide my light under a basket, with an aww-shucks demeanor, even if that is my family-of-origin orientation. I am not trying to be mysterious or play coy. If this is social networking then I want to be social. I am saying, 'This work is worthy of your limited time. It's my own work. You'll like it. You don't have to hunt for it. I'm giving you a head's up. Start here. Let's get acquainted. Let me extend my hand as a way of introduction and welcome.' KaPOW. Gotcha.

[I will readily admit to my own willingness to continually learn from the best, when it comes to P and adapt after reflection. I am following a 'new-to-me' strategy as concerns my approach to my very first board. This new approach is not quite in the basic category and I'll ramble on about that at length later.]

But for basic insight #4? To the novice I suggest: Have your first board be YOU, your company, your blog, your business, YOU. Don't stumble right off the bat and have your first board be all 'Cats 24/7', unless of course you have the secret boutique recipe for cat food and that's your reason for getting out of bed in the morning: to market your cat food to cat lovers. 

If you don't own a warehouse full of cat-paraphernalia perhaps you consider using one of your 'secret' boards to stash that entire catty salt and pepper shaker collection, somewhere beyond the public eye, but in a spot that still makes you giggle. Sort of like sticking things under the bed when company comes. You get the idea. Show 'em what YOU've got, what you're there to market/sell, what you're all about, stand out from the crowd. {I realize I have risked offending an entire strand of pet owners, if you LUV cats, substitute what ever makes you sneeze or wince, cringe or shrug your shoulders.} In any case, if you're not selling cat stuff -- DO NOT LEAD with your 'Cat 24/7' board. Lead with YOU!

photo of: Pinterest Feed: 80/20 Rule Pareto Principal

5. THE PIN RATIO. As a 'curator' of pinned images I have ALWAYS subscribed to the concept of the 80/20 Pareto Principal. I truly pin a minimum of four 'other-people-pins' for every one of my own. It's the right thing to do. Period. No exceptions. Four from others, one from my work. Added value. That's why people will follow you, because you are continually opening their eyes to a WIDER world.

While I'm talking about the 'pin-feed' do I really need to talk about etiquette and common sense? NO one, ever, NEVER wants to see your pin repeated 3 dozen times in a row, in their pin-feed, as you pin it to each of your 36 boards. That is the ultimate in spamming. That would be the ultimate in boorish behavior. Of course if you're following Pareto, you'll be auto-slowed down searching for four additional quality pins from others. DO NOT EVER force-pin your image all over the place to multiple boards at the same time. That's the fastest way to indicate that you don't know a thing about this unique social network. That's the fastest way conceivable to TURN off your potential customers. That's the instant way to get people to UNfollow you. Beware. 

I'd ALSO suggest 'mixing-up' the pins that originate from your own source over the course of any given day. When in doubt? Let it (even a quality pin) breathe. Allow it some space. *Remember, your whole goal is to GAIN followers, not honk them off. The truth of Pinterest, is that many, many of your articles stay 'ever-green.' So you don't have to RUSH to get it pinned all over the place in one afternoon. 

You'll notice that I have pinned over TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND images. I promise you significantly LESS than five thousand of those images are from my blog. That also brings up the concept of 'time-investment.' You can't pin 25K good ideas overnight. It's taken me nearly two years. Pace yourself grasshopper. Look for QUALITY pins, that lead to the proper URL addresses, that your audience is going to appreciate. Training yourself to use P in 3 different 10 minute segments spread over the course of your day, is MUCH better than glutting it out for 30 minutes. {Good luck with keeping it to 10 minutes. Self discipline is a muscle that can be developed. Or so I've been told! Coach yourself.}


6. The Quality Pin! Pinterest, trust me. I have from my first pin grasped the fact that great images drive inquiring minds to want to go to the source. You have made me a better blogger, because I need to create better original images to share, so that those images will be pinned and repinned, so that they will attract new readers, so that people will find me, so that I can share my story, so that I can inspire. So that we can keep the electric bill paid, too. I'm motivated and I'm willing. I'm experimenting and learning in the process. Aren't we all? 

photo of: "You're Wonderful" Picture Book and Pinterest Ideas of Support

Figuring out your pinboard organizational 'hook,' from a marketing standpoint, is no doubt the most important concept once you get beyond the p-basics. I write children's songs. I turn my original songs into traditional children's picture books, using the lyrics for my book text. So that makes me an author and illustrator. We just happen to be the publishers, too. Many hats on my head. No marketing department on our budget. My figuring out P from a 'marketing' vantage point, has garnered me new speaking engagements, school visits and my books getting shipped to new hands -- eve as far as Australia! 

To date I have created three picture books. I have a pinboard for each book, based on the subject of that book/song combo. My first book is called "You're Wonderful" and is a book about self esteem. I made the illustrations in fabric as small, bright, geometric quilts. Whenever I find something in those categories: self-esteem, quilts, bright graphics I pin it to this board. 

I am the CURATOR of all things 'wonderful.' When someone purchases my picture book, to sing my song at their kinder-graduation perhaps, I can refer them to this immediate collection, where 277 complimentary ideas are already cataloged in the vault. Added value. Added value. Added value. I have already done the homework and the legwork to support my own projects. My second book is completely different! Think non-fiction. Think Common Core standards.

photo of: "Tall Giraffe" Picture Book and Support Pinboard at RainbowsWithinReach

My second book is "Tall Giraffe" and is based on the song by the same name that resides on my third album recording, "Debbie's Ditties 3: At the Library." This time the illustrations include photographs of giraffes in Africa. You guessed it. Anything having to do with giraffes: costumes, crafts, snacks, bulletin boards, writing prompts, decorative items -- it all gets pinned into this board's category. {OK. I'm not claiming this is rocket science. I'm just sayin' get your pinboard-strategy in place. Determine your hook. The sooner the better. Your pins are the Rorschach test of what you're all about. The images that you select to save/to pin, are a billboard for what you're all about.} 

On to my newest picture book. The one that won the national award! 

photo of: "Red, White and Blue" Picture Book and Pinterest Support Board at RainbowsWithinReach

This time the subject is old-school American, flag-waving Patriotism. I wrote the song immediately after September 11th. It's entitled, "Red, White and Blue." Think civics for children. I pin anything that has to do with Americiana to that board. The board has ideas for Patriot's Day, Veteran's Day, President's Day, the Fourth of July and more. I'm certain that you get the idea of my approach and the way I've chosen to orchestrate my boards. 

7. IMAGE QUALITY on your blog/website. What works best on Pinterest? Let's go back to the concept of the 'quality' of the image (whether its a photo or collage) that you make available for your readers to save from your blog to their p-boards. There are at least two trains of thought. One is to give a great picture with NO titling, no verbiage, what-so-ever. A picture is worth a thousand words. From the person reading ON your blog, their own direct pin reminds them of the project being saved into their collection. From the person ON Pinterest, it says "COME CHECK THIS OUT!" 

photo of: "Happy Hair: Grass Seed Kindergarten Science" from Kindergarten Rocks via RainbowsWithinReach
Teachers: want to see the original article? Click pic! 

These growing grass-seed head portraits are so cute by themselves, that they really don't need a click through to the source to 'grasp' what's happening. In that case, the image may get pinned and repinned a Katrillion times, but how many times does the pinner actually 'need' to click through from the photo to my site? 

There's a fine line between 'giving' away TOO much in the image and too little. The ideal pin is one that is inviting and clever, but still requires the viewer to click through to YOU and your ton of other resources. In this case, the image is sufficiently powerful that I can 'see' that it has attracted visitors. Simplicity and clarity are rewarded on Pinterest. 

The other opposite thought is to offer only mystery
 and the unknown, by giving JUST the description.
Hoping that your image's text and description alone are sufficient 'bait' to garner the click through.
Yes. I think of every image on my blog as BAIT. 
Tasty morsels.

photo of: 100 Primary Anchor Chart RoundUP and their Organization at RainbowsWithinReach

On the third hand, yet another approach is to give SO much info in the image 
(particularly a great collage)
that the pin-feed-reader can't possibly resist finding out the rest of the story
A collage image always implies to me that there is a LOT to learn at the article. 
Perfect for RoundUPs and overview articles. 
(Yes. I use a combination of Picassa and Picmonkey to make my collages, sometimes going from one to the other and back again.) 

photo of: Quilts in the Classroom: Art Meets Geometry RoundUP at RainbowsWithinReach

As an author/illustrator I LUV seeing how teachers direct their students to respond to picture book illustrations. I had a recent "RoundUP" of children's art created in response to the classic work of Eric Carle. I worked long and hard to create a collage image of oodles of the children's work as my primo-pin fodder. I also included a TEXT heavy version (the center version below) and later still I edited my article to insert the collage image of the covers of the Carle books. Which do you suppose fared better? Pinterest is always evolving. People's taste vary.  What works for one article may not work for the next. Experimenting over time with different approaches offers its own insight. Time is often part of the bottom line. If I have time to create one pin of each type, if the article is deserving of it, if I'm motivated, I attempt to include both. Eric Carle is a classic. Totally worth the time to create pin-bait in each category. 

photo of: The Three 'Pin' Approach to Blog Visibility on Pinterest at RainbowsWithinReach

I place all three of these images above, side-by-side in the collage creating a horizontal image, not because that is optimal on Pinterest, but for ease of your consideration in this tutorial. If I was wanting to create a more Pinterest compatible image I would go with something vertical in nature. Pinterest is a vertical orientation. Build your images vertically for optimization in the feed. ALWAYS. Square or vertical. Avoid horizontal when possible. 

photo of: Three Pins in Vertical Orientation at RainbowsWithinReach

Now how do I know which of these three images would be most pinned and repinned? 

Once your P-account is a business one you have access to their analytics. There's a learning curve with reading all of the new p-graphs, but over time, you begin to sort out which types of images your readers prefer, by their having voted with their pin-it button. You begin to synthesize the information that's helpful. 

It's like one big science project in human behavior. 

Speaking of the charts, the one that I 'get' is the one that tells me, how many people have pinned from my blog of late. This chart above is telling me that I have had on average a total of 58 different people creating an original pin on my blog every day. Have I remembered to thank them? {{{That's a great way to close an article. Thank people for their pin.}}} I can also see that of these average daily 58 people this week, that those that are pinning are pinning MULTIPLE images: YEAH to my dedicated daily 58. Think if that number were doubled! How do you get it to double? By having more people reading your blog of course. By having people that are in a pinning mood pinning LOTS of images while they're hunting around. How do you get more people to your blog? By having more P-followers, by creating better content to begin with and by improving the quality of all of your images! Round and round the mulberry bush! 

I am hoping that this entire article is my way of saying 'thank you for your pin.' I'm thinkin' if you have 100K+ followers on pinterest that makes you something of a P- Princess and sharing my insight is my way of paying it forward, while saying thanks to all of the other bloggers who have helped me figure out intricacies beyond my grasp and supported me in my evolution.  

9. COLLABORATIVE PIN BOARDS. By far and away, the greatest way that I know to increase your followers is to HOST and participate (by pinning your work) on collaborative boards. The healthier and more directed the collaborative board, the more likely for increased activity of your blog's images and ultimately in increases in your follower numbers. Why? Because your work is appearing in additional venues, BEYOND your own boards ON OTHER PEOPLE'S WALLS. Reach out! 

photo of: "Never Underestimate the Power of Collaboration" at RainbowsWithinReach

When you see a collaborative board where you would like to participate, take the time and reach out to the host/originator/owner of the board. You will find that some explain in the board description how to ask for membership. Some detective work may be necessary, but often yields positive outcome. Remember you MUST follow the p-host, in order for them to add you to their board. Collaboration is the new black. It's also a DIRECT route to having more eyeballs see your pins.

Creating YOUR own collaborative board, which YOU host, is a tremendous way to build your following. WHY? because your board will now be on all the walls of the participants. What area are you passionate, knowledgeable and motivated about that could garner a group of folks eager to add their pins to your new collaborative board? Synergy is the best force at work in Pinterest. 

Another GREAT reason to be added TO a collaborative board, is that by being a participant of the c-board, the board is ADDED to YOUR wall. Think of it from a curator stand point again. Think of your role as 'librarian' to your followers. For example, I host a collaborative board entitled "Special Needs" because that is an issue very near and dear to my heart. Let's say that you're NOT a teacher of children with special needs, why become a participant of the board and therefore have it on your wall? Because in the random mixture of people who FOLLOW ALL of your boards, they will see this specific well-stocked board (that you have NOT had to work to build) and it may be JUST what they need. Added value. You are providing a service to your followers. Make sense? 

Another finger-wagging reminder. Being a member of a collaborative board is a privilege. Make note of the owner's guidelines. Pin your own material and then WAIT WAIT WAIT for others to contribute before you add anything else to that board. Collaborative boards remain healthy when there is a collegial mixture of contributions from a variety of pinners. Some collaborative board 'owners' require only one pin-per-day in an effort to develop this collegiality. Respect the guidelines. You DON'T want to look like you're screaming from a soapbox. 


photo of: Pinterest Directories for Educators by Topic with RainbowsWithinReach

Last summer, I was struck with a way that I could contribute to helping other educators optimize their use of Pinterest.  

Starting with the broadest 'Edu-Pinners' and then 
delving in, to narrow the categories. 

I have ALL 9 of those cataloged up-top in my Pinterest TAB.
That original directory continues to climb my Top-10 list of all time! 
It is currently in the number 3 slot with additional readers returning daily. 

This is what I mean by an 'ever-green' article. Always in style. By following other educational-pinners in your niche, you have access to material of interest to you and to your followers. Your experience on P is only as rich as the people that you follow. By following a broad selection of other high-quality pinners in your niche, you will expand your influence. 
Pinners Welcome
The directories that I created are totally self serving. I have sub-directories for all of the categories of folks that I want to follow me! Art teachers, librarians, preschool, Kindergarten, primary..... by my following THEIR p-accounts -- of everyone listed in the directories, they are more likely to follow me. Win-win-win. These are already fantastic resources to build YOUR p-following. Some rainy day this summer go have fun following all of your peers. Then go cruising their boards. 

11. Systematic PINNING from YOUR blog

photo of: Pinterest Tracking Chart from Pinterest Tutorial at RainbowsWithinReach

OK. Let's get down to brass tacks. This is where the rubber meets the road. This brilliant one dollar investment pictured above is worth its weight in gold. This is me, pulling back the curtain so you can see into my 'system' of making this all work. This is the 'strategy'  driving everything we've laid the groundwork to create up to this point.

What you see above is a dollar store polka-dot (of course) 'blue-book' sized notebook. What I have done is divide the page into 14 columns (cuz that's how many I can get to fit across the page.) In the top grid across the page I have listed my top 14 p-boards by their name. The first column is labeled RWR, which is my own #1 p-board, the one where ALL of my initial pins from my blog are housed. The next 13 columns are organized left-to-right by the number of their followers. Yes, this includes the collaborative boards to which I am entitled to pin. 

On the far left hand side of the page are my quick descriptors of MY images that I am pinning from My blog.  For example, if you look closely, you can see that the first pin in question is one I've labeled: "Art Pinner" and you can see that I first pinned that to MY RWR pinboard on 5/26. *REMEMBER: YOU want to have the original image from YOUR blog pinned BY YOU into YOUR #1 pinboard which is dedicated to EVERYTHING from your blog. 

Here's a close up of what I'm talking about. I did an article entitled "Top 10 Reasons that RHYME is Important." I initially pinned it on 6/2 to my own personal RWR #1 pinboard. My little dollar store tracking system reminds me where I have pinned an image and where I STILL need to pin it. The following day, on 6/3 I repinned the original pin to the board that has the highest number of followers, where it just so happens to be a good fit. A day later I repinned that very first original pin to the next board where it was a good fit. And so on. Over the course of five days, I personally slotted that original pin (remember, it always points back to MY #1 RWR board) into an additional 4 boards. You already know that every time I pin from my material, it is 'offset' with a minimum of 4 pins that direct to other authors. 

OBVIOUSLY: not every image fits on 'every' board. I have a pretty wide variety of things that I write about. Obviously today's tutorial does NOT belong on my "Children's Art" board. Period. Having a system like this allows you to judiciously, over time continue to redistribute your original pin to other of your boards where it is appropriate. This avoids the spam appearance. Gets your image out repeatedly over the course of a week. By placing it into the pin-feed at different times over different days, you're going to have different people getting exposure to the image and potentially repinning it themselves, cataloging it within their own system and ultimately visiting your site. Does that make sense? It does to me, but then I already knew what I was talking about. 

12. BREATH LIFE into 'old' articles with a better pin
Is you blog over a year old? As you get 'better' at grasping what type of pins attract readers to your blog, it becomes a simple matter to return to your 'old' articles and update them with a 'new' pin-friendly image. Do you have additional images now? Work them into a new collage format and breathe life into your earlier articles. 

This is quite possibly one of the BEST gifts that Pinterest delivers to the blogger. For example. There is never a time when a Dr. Seuss article goes off duty. Of course the interest in such inspirational material heats up just before "Right to Read Week" but a good pin can bring interested readers year round. Your image may be catalogued in your follower's own board for 6 or 8 months and then BINGO, just when they need that insight, they pop through their pin to your article. Think of every pin as another seed planted. You are cultivating FUTURE readership -- sometimes seasons after your initial pin. 

image of: Pinterest Marketing Tutorial at RainbowsWithinReach

Personal case-in-point. Days after this article went to press, I came up with this 'better' image above to promote this effort. I just made this at Picmonkey and think its a stronger graphic than anything else above. ***Do you agree? IF so, please, pin this one! Pretty-pin? So I just insert it after-the-fact and breathe new life. I LUV that one of my followers has described this article as my "Manifesto!" 

13. Miscellaneous
  • Keep your pin-feed interesting, follow good people.
  • Say 'Thank You' to your pinners: yup I said that already, just checking to see if you're retaining all this! Thank them from your site/blog. 
  • When repinning: Double check to see if the pin goes to the proper address/URL. There's nothing more frustrating for your follower, than getting to the blog at hand and being unable to find the specific DIY tutorial that they're searching for. Vet your pins. Are they directing to genuine sources? 
  • The more YOU find ORIGINAL articles to share with YOUR ORIGINAL pin, the more you're ADDING to the Pinterest experience for your followers. Dig around. Be a sleuth. Find good material to share/pin. For every single REpin that circulates from your original source pin, YOU will in essence receive credit for initiating the pin. A GREAT WAY FOR PEOPLE TO FIND YOUR P-ACCOUNT. If you continually add fresh material (pins) to healthy collaborative boards, you will be followed. I promise! 
  • Close your blog articles with a CTA that includes an invitation to follow you on Pinterest (call-to-action) EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.
  • Pin in 'smaller batches' but more frequently through the day. 
  • The busiest times on P are said to be during 'coffee' time (before and after work).... getting your pins into circulation at those prime times, or just prior to them, is optimal for eyeballs.
  • Pin images that speak to you and therefore to your audience/customers.
  • For Pete's sake. Be nice on your p-comments. "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Just like in kindergarten. If its my pin and you've been nasty, I won't hesitate to delete your comment. On the flip side, what an incredible way to strike up a conversation with a potentially new goodness, gracious cyber friend. Spew nice things whenever time allows! Leave gracious comments on pins you adore. Make it social! 
  • Likewise if your pin doesn't 'belong' on my collaborative pinboard, I don't hesitate to delete that either. Just like baseball, three strikes and you're out. Please don't make me go there. 
  • Focused pinning of a blogger you appreciate is the kindest way to give back to them for their efforts on your behalf: Another certain way to cultivate reciprocity and support.

  • to be continued............................................................. 
PEOPLE of Pinterest, in the HEADQUARTER Building! 
These are my Top 12 suggestions for your newest inductees. I'll bet I continue to refine this article and add additional insight over time. Hopefully you can see my diligent use of your cyber tool. I would be so honored to receive your shining spotlight. I would use the power for good. Honest. I'm ready for a quantum leap of followers, that I believe comes from your headquarters. 

It would be awesome if you'd grace me with your focused power before Monday morning, July 15th at 5:30 a.m. Las Vegas time. I would be so tickled to announce that I've gone viral to my Kindergarten followers during my OPENING KEYNOTE. Timing is everything. You can see that I'm patient. I'll keep asking if you somehow miss this request. Going from 10K to 125K in a year is pretty sweet.

READERS: Hopefully this article has added to your insight. I'd be so grateful for your pin. Will you be part of my 58 today? While you're here, dig around and pin a couple of other oldie but goodie images and I'll be extra appreciative. 

-- Debbie --
Follow Me on Pinterest
I'm now at 125,021 followers!     
Click this link to go there directly! 
Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth -
Now at 428 followers!


  1. This is amazing. I'm still cracking up over the "Debbie Decimal system". So much great info. here; I'll have to take it in in small bits!

    1. You made me giggle over your appreciation of my 'Debbie Decimal system'.... so glad that you 'got that' cuz I thought it was pretty crack-up-able myself.

      Thanks for stopping by, dear.


  2. This is an absolutively, posilutely wonderful blog post! I plan to put this to use in my little world too! Thank you for this insight into what works!

    1. I'm so glad to have taken the time to write it all out in one place, Maggie. Giving you a boost after all of your support gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.


  3. WOW! I couldn't stop reading your article. You have me all excited and focused on reinventing myself on Pinterest. This is by far the best article on how to effectively use Pinterest and gain followers. All I can say is Thank You for putting me back on track. :). ~pam

    1. Awwwwww, Pamela! Thanks so much for the feedback. You are oh-so-welcome and I'm glad to have given you some insight.


  4. Wow! This is an AMAZING post! This will be an anchor post for me and I will go back and back to it!


    Carmen Zeisler

    Exploring Elementary
    Fourth Grade

    1. TeeHee. Carmen, it really is a bit much for one sitting, isn't it.

      I'll keep adding ideas as they come-to-me, so by all means check back. Thanks so much for leaving me some comment-LUV.


  5. Wow, Debbie! Congrats and GOOD FOR YOU! Thank you for sharing some tips along the way!


    1. Mariaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I always LUV seeing your precious smile. You are quite welcome. You know the big-dogs over there at Pinterest. Can ya hook me up? Hahahahahahahahaha.


  6. What a thorough post, Debbie!! Thank you for putting so much time into this post. I learned quite a few new tips!

    EduKate and Inspire

    1. The time was well invested if you were able to learn something new, Kate. Thanks so much for expressing your appreciation.


  7. You AmAzE me! Thanks for the comprehensive tutorial.


    1. You are so welcome, Barbara. YOU are the AMAZING wonder. Not everyone gets the chance to walk away from a head-on collision. You are destined for greatness in these extra innings of yours. I'm so glad that you found the article comprehensive. That's what I was going for: wink-wink!


  8. This is such a fantastic resource! Thanks for taking the time to write it. You are an inspiration!

    1. You are so welcome, Stephanie. Glad to be of help. Your work is so glorious and it certainly deserves to be seen by more fans. This is the way to go, since you're so VISUAL, too.


  9. What a fabulous tutorial! Thank you for sharing with us! I've just sent you invites to our spring and summer projects group boards and would love if you'd like to join. :)

    1. Mama-mama! What a sweet heart! What a kindness!! Thank you.


      It's so funny. Since I wrote this article, I haven't had a minute to get over to Pinterest...... I keep going back to edit it and add some more. LOL. Don't tell the people-at-P!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. OK....I am going to have to read this about 10 times to get it all down!! Whew! It is packed with info!!!

    1. ****LOL**** Well, as long as you only have to read it 10 times, J! I really do believe in what I'm telling you. It's not snake-oil and mirrors. It will work!


      LUV seeing you here, BTW. We simply have to get our act together this year and connect the dots for me to walk into your school. Enough talking about it. Let's "git-'er-done" as my friend would say!

  11. Thank you so much for this gem of a resource! I have been working my my way through the steps today and know this will help me grow

    1. Melissa, YOU are the gem. Thanks for letting me know that its helpful and I can't wait to hear of your increasing success. You deserve it!


  12. Thank you for this information! I just pinned it (along with a few other things from your blog).

    ~Diving Into Learning

    1. THANK YOU! Thank YOU!! tHaNk yOu!!! That's what it's all about. Supporting each other!!


  13. Wow! This is a wealth of fantastic information. I need to reread it a few times and then put into practice! I have a hard time marketing myself and I need to be reminded it's the way to go!

    1. Self marketing is indeed the toughest tightrope to walk. There's a line between being a nutty egoist and sharing your work with pride. I'm still hard at work figuring it out. Let's work on it together.


      Thanks for your support, Kerri.

  14. Congratulations Debbie! You truly deserve all the Pinterest success that has been sent your way! You are such an awe inspiring pinner! I will definitely be pinning this as well as taking your tips and applying them. I have definitely been slacking in the Pinterest department and it is such a powerful resource today that it cannot go to waste! I plan on bulking up my game this summer all thanks to you! Not for the numbers, but because it is such an invaluable resource for ECE! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy life to teach us all! I appreciate it!

    The Polished Teacher

    1. It is indeed a POWERFUL resource. The better you get at the 'curation' concept the more rewards will be yours, with increased followers.

      You are very welcome, Ash and I appreciate your kindness in taking the time to leave your thoughts and insight.


  15. Fabulous information Debbie! I really need to look over the organization of my boards and the covers. I never really look at them but totally do when I am going to follow someone else. Big duh moment there!


    1. Isn't it funny how we go, "DUH" and then the lightbulbs light up -- next it's off to the races. Happy to be of help!


  16. This is amazing information. I will tweet this for sure. I am just beginning into Pinterest and am going to go back and fix my boards to follow your instructions.
    I am an artist, writer. I have written the award winning book Tadeo Turtle. Now I just have to learn how to promote.
    I do Creative Saturdays and am working on more colourful creative images.
    Love your art, your enthusiasm.

    1. Nice to meet you, Janis. To think that we owe our introduction to Pinterest. Just proves my point, of course. Networking!! Glad that you have some new thoughts on how to harness P for YOUR efforts.


  17. Amazing, Debbie! And very inspiring! Thank you so much for all of these helpful tips! You have opened up a whole new world for me! I had no idea that there was so much to it.
    I finally finished up the school year and I am hoping to join your collaborative blog. I'll be in touch with you soon, now that I am finally catching my breath!
    Heidi Butkus

    1. YEAH, HEIDI!!!!! It's not really that there's 'so-much-to-it' as once you start being strategic and focused, you really can harness the power and direct it in such a meaningful direction.

      Wishing you all the best for the summer season. Let's get the dots connected, for REalZ!!! COLLABORATION is the new black, indeed!


  18. This is an ebook, put it on Kindle! Really!

    1. Carolyn, You ALWAYS have the best ideas! Now. If I just knew how to do that?

      ~~ Debbie ~~

  19. Wow, Debbie! Congratulations and thank you so much for sharing this tutorial! It's just a treasure trove of fantastic information!

    I'll be at the I Teach K Conference in July and am really looking forward to your keynote and getting to meet you!

    Thank you again!

    1. I am so happy that this has been helpful insight and so appreciative of your feedback, Linda! I'm starting to count the days till VEGAS. I still have a lot of preparation before we meet! Can't wait!!!


  20. So, so, SO helpful, Miss Debbie!!!! You are FULL of amazing tips and I am so grateful to you for sharing your HUGE wealth of knowledge. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the tips and the smiles along the way (Debbie Decimal System; your comparison mantra; boy-girl fine motor development and just your way with words).

    I have dabbling with pinning my blog posts and such, but with total randomness. Love your notebook and deliberate approach, along with the ratio! It will be easy for me to stick with that ratio for sure!

    Hugs of gratitude - Lisa
    Growing Firsties

  21. I am inspired with the exceptional and instructive contents that you provide in such short timing.Thanks for your brilliant effort.
    website design

  22. Thanks Debbie for this wonderful information! I learned some new tips and insights and can't wait to put them in practice. You are very creative, supportive, and great person to follow on Pinterest. Thanks again for the wonderful insights! I am sharing these great tips with my followers now!

  23. Very awesome tips! I really like the simple way you described traffic etc.. What if my product would be an info product, like blog training, video marketing training etc and does not have any images to pin other than if I do a video, and use the thumbnail.. I blog about a lot of stuff, sometimes it is tageted, with the end goal being- showing people they can make money blogging about their passion. The images on my blogs I grab off of google because it is not something I can create like your art projects.. I would love your insight into my `problem, or maybe I am just not seeing the obvious answer in front of me!


I LUV to hear from you! Please leave your thoughts so we can interact!!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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