If you’re active as an affiliate marketer, or even if you’ve been busy trolling for information on affiliate marketing but aren’t quite ready to take the plunge, then you’ve probably stumbled across some articles on how Pinterest began stripping out affiliate links in February of 2015 as they started rolling out more ways for themselves to monetize their site traffic. Who could blame them? There were no doubt countless angry bloggers and affiliates who were vocally upset at the action that Pinterest took. After all, they did the work of putting up all of those pins, and carefully crafting descriptions and hashtags to create relevant content and drive traffic. But let’s face it; Pinterest is a business and they have every right to make that business profitable.
At that time, many affiliates lost a substantial source of income – some losing thousands of dollars per month. Many walked away with a sour taste in their mouths, never to return to Pinterest affiliate marketing again. Others began thinking of ways to continue to capitalize on this high quality source of traffic, and some succeeded. In this article, I’ll reveal one method for driving affiliate traffic with Pinterest that still works. It incredibly simple, and at first it may not come across as any sort of profound secret marketing technique. It’s also a lengthier process than simply posting images and links, but it can be more effective than the old method of linking directly to the merchant’s website with a tracking link.
Create an Ecommerce Website
This may sound like a lot of work, but you can start small and add to your site organically over time so that the project becomes much more manageable. If you have a bit of budget, you may also opt to hire a professional ecommerce web design company. Just make sure that they have experience with affiliate marketing and understand your project requirements in full.
For those of you who do not have the budget to hire a professional web developer, you will first need to choose a platform. Two of the most popular free, open source shopping cart platforms are Magento Commerce (Community Edition) and WordPress, ecommerce enabled with Woocommerce. If you’re a seasoned developer and have a modest budget to work with, then Magento may be a viable option. You can purchase a Magento extension for a few hundred bucks that allows you to upload affiliate products and links as if they were part of your online catalog. I love Magento for ecommerce website development, but for an affiliate project like this I would highly recommend Woocommerce instead. It’s easy to install, it’s free and it already has the functionality to enable you to upload affiliate products to your catalog with ease.
Setting up an affiliate shopping website with WordPress and Woocommerce is relatively simple:
Pick a Domain Name
I wouldn’t recommend selling every product under the sun on a single website. Instead, pick one niche that you plan to explore in depth. Let’s say for example that you’ve signed up for a baby gear affiliate program. Purchase a good, simple domain name that’s immediately recognizable as a baby website.
Host Your Website
You really don’t need an expensive web hosting package to get started. You can spend as little as $10 per month on hosting – or less – to get started on this project. After your traffic increases, you can upgrade to a larger account. Until then, just make sure that the hosting account you sign up for has at least one database included. Even better, choose a host that has one-click WordPress installation. It’s a huge time-saver and you’ll be up and running in no time at all.
Install WordPress and Woocommerce
Install WordPress on your hosting account. After you’ve got a working blog, add the Woocommerce plugin. This is what will transform your blog into a fully enabled ecommerce website. Since you’re selling affiliate products, you won’t need to worry about configuring things like shipping and tax rates, since all of that happens on the merchant websites that you redirect your traffic to. I’d recommend installing Yoast SEO and Wordfence Security plugins, too. Yoast’s SEO plugin will enable you to customize meta titles and descriptions, among other things. The traffic we’re targeting is from Pinterest, so SEO isn’t a primary concern. However Pinterest does like to pull meta data from your pages when you post new pins, so you might as well include and populate these fields on your website.
Start Posting Affiliate Products to Woocommerce
There are many online articles that explain the intricacies of uploading products to Woocommerce. If you’re familiar with WordPress as a CMS (Content Management System) then you’ll find much of Woocommerce’s functionality to be intuitive. The most important thing to remember is that it gives you an option for Product Type as a dropdown when you create a new product. It’s typically defaulted to Simple Product. All you need to do is change this to External/Affiliate Product and you’ll see some fields change so that you can upload your affiliate link and other content.
You can follow best practices to determine the taxonomy (i.e. categorization) of your website. Since your traffic comes from Pinterest, think more about your users and how they might navigate the website intuitively, and less about the right keywords to use for SEO. You’ll probably accidentally create an organizational structure to your website that also happens to be good for SEO if you do it right, but that shouldn’t be your goal for this project unless you plan to supplement your Pinterest traffic with other sources like Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Create a Pinterest Board and Start Pinning
The rest of this process should be self-explanatory. Create a relevant board on your Pinterest account and start pinning images from your new website, and linking to its pages directly. When a user lands on your page and presses the “buy” button, they’ll be redirected through your affiliate link to the merchant website. Until they press that button, the user experience will feel more or less like any other ecommerce website experience, so that by the time they do click through, they’ve already developed enough interest in the product to add it to their shopping cart.
Advanced Techniques to Drive Pinterest Affiliate Traffic
At this point, you’ve got enough information to get started, and should be able to generate some income using this very simple technique to drive affiliate traffic using Pinterest, while abiding by their new terms of service. After you’ve built your website and get the hang of pinning all of your products in this way, you can try a few advanced techniques to drive even more traffic.
Create & Pin Banners With Compelling Headlines
I’m not talking about the traditional advertising banner that you might download from your merchant’s profile page in an affiliate network. I’m talking about finding a compelling image that’s representative of the product you’re trying to sell, and adding a catchy headline that makes people want to click it. You’ll add this headline directly to the graphic, and then support it further with some text and #hashtags in the image description. The purpose of this headline is to first make your pin pop out when people search for related keywords using Pinterest’s search function, and second to make people click through to see the follow-up. Just make sure that your landing page is relevant to the headline you’re promoting. Using our example from before, let’s say you’re selling a Dallas Cowboys baby carseat cover. You might just take a swatch of the product image that has the Cowboys’ logo on it, and add a headline like, “Youngest Cowboys Fan Ever,” or, “Dallas Cowboys Cover-Up.” The user clicks through and hopefully shares in your sense of wit about the purpose of the product, and its relevance to the headline. You can of course be more creative as long as your content is relevant to what the user expects to see after reading your headline.
Follow Other Boards & Repin Their Content
After you’ve got 50 or more pins, start searching for similar profiles and content to your own. Follow these users and repin their content to your own boards. Just make sure it’s relevant. Do this enough and you’ll start to find that many people will return the favor.
Start Importing Data Feeds
After you’ve learned the process for uploading products manually, you can consider installing a plugin that allows you to import data feeds from numerous affiliate platforms into your website. For example, DataFeedr is a relatively inexpensive plugin that allows you to do just that. It’ll save you a lot of time with your initial upload. Just make sure that you continue to create your pins on Pinterest by hand, and keep everything relevant so that your account doesn’t get flagged.
Paid Traffic to Monetize Pinterest
As an affiliate, you may not earn enough commissions on your average sale to justify pay-per-click traffic. But if you sell high ticket items as an affiliate and to earn a high commission on each sale, then you may be in luck. You can try paying for some Promoted Pins on Pinterest to see if they drive traffic and produce sales. Or, you can try some retargeted advertising, either by creating a remarketing campaign in Google Adwords, or by using a 3rd party service such as Adroll, which also gives you access to Facebook and other places where Google ads do not generally appear. That way, when users come to your site but decide not to buy anything, you can start serving them ads in the hopes that they come back and make a purchase.
Monetizing Pinterest to drive affiliate traffic is still very straight-forward. Try this technique and if you spend the time to choose the right niche, organize and design your page well, and take the time to produce creative pins, I’m confident that you’ll succeed in generating great traffic that turns into sales in no time.