So I've been kicking ass and taking names on Pinterest since it started and I now make almost $5k/month from Pinterest alone. It increased my monthly earnings by about 60% right away and now accounts for a good 33% three years later since I'm now moving on to other projects as my Pinterest software development comes to a close and my company lifts off this spring. I realize there may be people making more from it, but it's probably because you're completely invested in one website and Pinterest is your main traffic source. If that is the case, then this guide isn't for you. I believe in diversifying my income and automating any method that works so that I can focus on building capitol instead. Automation, to me, includes outsourcing if humans are needed for a method. I've outsourced a lot of my Pinterest work, but have now fully automated it with my own bots. In the spirit of BHW, I've decided to share some of my Pinterest methods to help some n00bs who seem to be stuck making only a couple bucks per day on the social network. There is more than one way to bank, you just need some guidance, so here it is from someone who's gotten to know the ins and outs of Pinterest and how to sustain the income made from it. Keep in mind that some of this you may have heard before, some of it may be new. Please understand that I'm posting this to help people do things properly and simply sharing what has worked for me. Please also understand that I come from a more gray hat perspective where I try not to break the rules too much but bend them to suit my needs rather than extreme measures either way. Extreme never works, in my experience. Attention to detail, persistence and patience are the best simple pieces of advice I could give to anyone starting out in IM. Any positive input is appreciated. [INCOME] CPM The simplest way to make money is with CPM. For n00bs, CPM means "cost per mille", or cost per thousand impressions. There are a ton of CPM ad networks out there, simply do a search for "CPM publisher" and sign up to as many sites as possible. If you already have a website that receives around 200k pageviews per month, you'll be able to get on most networks. Adsense is a CPM network, obviously, and they are Pinterest friendly, so if you already got an account there go ahead and put some of those on your new site.' The great thing about CPM is that you only need the traffic to make the money. That means if you have 10 ads on a page, each making $0.25/1k impressions, you're already making $2.50 per thousand pageviews, $25 per 10k pageviews, $250 per 100k pageviews. How do you get those pageviews? Read on... CPA Pushing specific offers is always difficult until you know your demographic. A CPA offer really only works on a site that looks clean and professional and is centered around the offer you are pushing. This is hit or miss with Pin traffic as the general idea behind the social network is the user sees a pic and clicks to get more information about that pic. Since people hate spam, then obviously you can't post an image of a bottle of weight loss pills that links to a site selling those pills. You CAN, however, link to an article about the dangers of weight loss pills....and convert them from there. AMAZON This is probably the first method people were using to monetize blackhat Pin traffic. People were (and probably still are) cloaking their amazon links so that when you click the image, it goes directly to amazon through their affiliate link. There's a few ways of doing this, and I've never done it because I value my amazon account too much, but if you are someone who burns through azon accounts the same way people do with adsense accounts, then this may work for you. Just remember to test the script first before actually sending it to your azon account or you'll get banned fast and it'll be a waste of time. LEAD GENERATION This is the greatest part about any website with traffic. You can capture your leads, or get twitter or facebook followers, simply by putting a sign up form in the sidebar of your site or in a pop-up div. The pop-up works, despite what people will tell you. But it does turn off some people. It's important to test and find what works best for your particular niche, but I can tell you that it seems to work with every niche I play with. The important point is probably that you don't want too many ads on the site already or it'll look like just another ad. Also, offer value, like free recipes, free travel guides, free coupon codes, etc in order to get them to sign up, depending on your niche. [PINTEREST ACCOUNTS] 1. Buy Pinterest accounts and find someone to add you to their boards. Use one account to add another and chain them. Don't use one account to add a bunch of accounts or you run the risk of getting every single one of those accounts banned since Pinterest has an option to report and remove a user and all the users they added to a board. 2. Female accounts with American names only. I bought some accounts from someone that all had Russian names, it was ridiculous looking. I'm convinced that many got banned just for this. I now rename accounts I come across in my pool that look funny to something normal but similar, so "Agnessa" turns to "Aggie" or "Abbie", "Oksana" turns to "Olivia", etc. 3. Manually build 5-10 of those accounts every day. I cannot stress this enough. I keep seeing people saying they're only making a few bucks and they keep talking about "building my account". It should be plural. Work on these accounts and treat them like gold. These are your "master" or Tier 1 accounts. That means follow other users, comment with contributing thoughts, not "please add me to your board" comments, just normal comments like "that's a beautiful dress", etc. Be sure to like and repin other people's pins. Don't be greedy and use your accounts to only pin your stuff, that will get your ghosted or banned. Try to keep in mind that this network is a give-and-take network, that means: The more you give, the more you get. Sharing other people's pins and kissing their asses with comments will make them love you and give you special treatment over others, i.e. they'll invite you to their boards. 4. Use private proxies only for your accounts, it's worth the money. 5. Speaking of the concept of "proxies", use your Tier 1 accounts as proxies for board-adding your Tier 2 accounts. These are accounts you test with and use for automated processes. (I would call them "throw-away" accounts, but you really don't want to lose them, every account is important. Viewing them as "throw-away" means you're not doing it right.) This way, if something happens to your Tier 2 accounts, you still have access to your boards on your Tier 1 accounts. 6. Follow the rules of the group boards, it's worth it. If you can't follow the rules, then just don't use the board. Usually, though, the boards with more strict rules are going to be the boards with the most traffic. [BUILD YOUR OWN GROUP BOARDS] This is what is keeping my Pinterest traffic alive, hands-down. People seem to be so focused on getting invites to other boards, but it's really more about building your own. It's a basic concept that has gotten me far in IM that you shouldn't ever rely on someone else to take care of you. I'm not saying at all to not use other people's group boards, what I'm saying is that the begging for adds is getting obnoxious and it doesn't work 100% of the time. Building your own board, on the other hand, puts the power in your hands. 1. Create the board 2. Add a bunch of your followers to it 3. Remove a few followers 4. Rinse and repeat You want to keep the number of pinners on your boards low so that the pins show up in people's feed. I'm seeing huge group boards with like 200k followers and 20k pinners and I'm like, really? That's ridiculous. There's no way that all the pins being posted are going to show up in someone's feed. If you see a big board, look first at the number of pinners and the number of repins in the first couple pages of the board. If there's like 0-1 repins, it's a worthless board, don't waste your time. By the same token, once you get a ton of pinners, you can remove a bunch of them and still have their followers. It's a sneaky, albeit cut-throat way of building your board. The pinners may be upset with you, so that is a factor to watch out for -- the compromise is to add them to a new board. If you already got around 5k followers who are following ALL your boards, then any new board you make will have them as followers so when you add pinners to it they'll be happy to have that audience. I only started doing this once I got over 20k followers and 5k pinners to be sure I didn't piss anyone off. [GHOSTING AND BANS] This has been a tough area to figure out, so now that I know, I am sharing it with you all in the hopes that you'll recover your banned accounts and avoid ghosting and bans in the future. All in all, Pinterest marketing is about care of your accounts, so this is crucial info here. * Auto-ghosting happens if you pin too much, I had a Pinterest employee tell me this flat out. * Ghosting and banning happens from people flagging your account. Also had an employee tell me that. * Use the help section to contact them when you get ghosted or banned, they will respond. * No matter what response you get in your email, keep responding to them and work it out in a friendly way and kiss their ass. * Recently I noticed they set up their contact form in this ridiculously complicated way. They do this to filter out questions they don't want to answer. Just treat it like an automated system on the phone where you press 0 to get the operator or customer service. * Always try to recover your accounts. If you keep doing this, they'll make it harder to ban and ghost accounts and it'll reduce the loss on time and money for all of us. [MULTIPLE WEBSITES] It's crazy to me that people try to make money with one site alone. Create multiple sites, cover all the niches, utilize all those boards you have access to. The more, the merrier. Start with one site, record your process in a spreadsheet or notebook and simply repeat the process for another site. I buy at least 5 new domains every week and set them up for Pinterest traffic. If you're not doing this, then you're not getting the full experience to base your judgments on. I had three travel sites and only one of them was getting a lot of traffic. It taught me that my design and direction were all wrong with the other two. Same goes for income sources. CPM may make a couple bucks a day off of a couple thousand visitors, but CPA may make you $50-100/day off of 500. You need to produce multiple sites to run them parallel and see what works best. You should ALWAYS be testing! [TRAFFIC METHODS] Recipes The copyright law regarding recipes is that you can re-publish ingredients but can't re-publish photos or directions without permission. The way I got around this was offering a "report" button for my posts, but it still pissed off a lot of food bloggers. Basically, you're better off not using their photo on your site, only on pinterest. So, 1. find a photo with a lot of repins on the popular or food pages on pinterest 2. use that as your pin 3. link to your blog post 4. have either a different photo on your post or no photo at all and just the ingredients 5. make sure the title of the pin is the title of your blog post to keep continuity Travel This is a little more difficult to get the traffic, you need to pin more, I've found. On your site, you can't have ads for travel agents, which is something I see a lot of. I gotta wonder if they are making any money at all. It may make sense to do, but is too spammy -- people want to see something they are immediately interested in, you need to link to a blog post about the content you shared on Pinterest. So, 1. Create a website around a travel offer 2. post a photo of Bermuda 3. link to your blog post about Bermuda containing a lot of pics of Bermuda remember, Pinterest users are really into photos. No photos means no interest. Fashion This is another heavily saturated niche with a lot of crappy pins and boards out there. If you're making a few sales by pinning handbag pics to a fashion board, then good for you. I guarantee you that you'll never good further than that. Pinterest users want to see stylish photos, not just the handbag. They want to see a model wearing a full outfit. You need that on your site and to have all the items in that photo on your site for sale. So, 1. find a [stylish] photo of a model wearing a full outfit 2. find all those items on amazon 3. build a page reviewing all those items 4. Pin the photo with a comment with the model's or designers name and mention reviews and more photos This works for me. I've increased my amazon earnings significantly just by containing relevant clothing reviews on the page I link to. Also, another important aspect of fashion photos on Pinterest is celebrities and the style of the photo. There are boards dedicated to black and white photos, those are great for fashion pics as long as you are posting a b&w. There are celebrity boards, those are good for fashion. But stay away from boards about handbags and shoes, those are full of bots and very little traffic. Animals and Babies Everyone loves animals and babies on Pinterest. I made a site that just has images surrounded by display ads on it and shared all the images on Pinterest and instantly got traffic. LOLs See animals and babies above. [DON'T SPAM, PERIOD] 1. Off-topic pins There seems to always be some jackasses posting Ugg boots and jewelry images to group food and travel boards. You guys are idiots. Just because it's a large board doesn't mean people will appreciate off-topic pins. I realize a lot of this may be from using bots, but then that means your bots suck or you don't know how to use them. I personally will ban you if I see it on my boards and I see other board owners banning all the time. Get your shit together and watch your automation to ensure it's working properly. 2. Pinning Ads Don't post ads as pins. It just doesn't work. Direct linking to CPA phased out a while ago. 3. Ads on your site Be careful of putting too many display ads on your website if you don't want to get flagged as spam. Even if you're posting something legit and linking to a legit page, if there are too many ads on it people will flag you. Try to make your site as clean as possible. It's a bit of a trade-off, either you make more money with more ads and get flagged, or make less but last longer. [LEGITIMIZE YOUR BUSINESS] A new thing Pinterest is doing is replacing the URL of your pins with the url of the original source of a photo, but only if that source is registered as a business with Pinterest. This is good and bad for blackhatters. On one level, you don't want to lose traffic, but on another you don't want to constantly get flagged by food bloggers who are upset that you "stole" their photo. Once Pinterest started this, I noticed I was getting banned less and still making money. I'm happy about it because my new ventures are much more legitimate and about brand awareness. On that note, building your business is really the long-term goal here, isn't it? Trying not to get banned or ghosted, trying to not to get sued for copyright, trying to increase your traffic all the time... it can be incredibly time-consuming and frustrating and then not make you that much money in the end. If you shift into the mindset of being a small business owner who is contributing to the community, you'll last longer and make more money in the end. The way I've done it is black-hat my way to making a couple thousand per month then use that money to work on original content and original photos for a legitimate business. What's great about this is I have legitimate websites with original content being praised and shared by Pinterest users, and simultaneously being shared by a few hundred accounts of my own. This way the promotion is always being done regardless of new content being posted on my sites. ...................... ..... .. . .. .. . In closing... If I could sum up the one main rule of Pinterest marketing, it would be "nice guys finish first." I know it goes against the grain of the IM and capitalist mindset in general, but that is simply the game you have to play with this social network. It's not as robust as Facebook and it's heavily moderated by both the users and the automated systems set up by Pinterest. They're constantly updating their algo and sniffing out the spam and bots on a daily basis. This means you HAVE to do manual work alongside of your automated work. It's the only way to be sure. That's why I outsource. Hope you enjoyed this! If there is anything I missed, feel free to mention it and I will add it if it makes sense. . .