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Why Pinterest is Still Relevant for TPT Sellers Today with Kate Ahl (Ep 43)

How Pinterest works

Have you wondered if Pinterest is even worth your time as a TPT Seller? This episode will cover all you need to know about how Pinterest works in 2023!

Today’s guest is Kate Ahl, the owner of Simple Pin Media, and she has nearly ten years of supporting clients with Pinterest for their businesses. Kate loves teaching others how to add Pinterest to their marketing strategy to see long-term growth without feeling overwhelmed.

In today’s episode, Kate shares why Pinterest is worth our time in 2023, how to approach your marketing efforts as a TPT seller on Pinterest, the mindset shift needed to see success when using Pinterest, and what you need to know about the need to create new pins. 

02:16 Kate shares how she got started with Pinterest Marketing

04:17 Why Pinterest is worth your time in 2023 as a marketing tool

9:35 – Tips for using Pinterest to see results as a TPT Seller

15:45 – What you need to know about creating fresh pins

17:47 – The mindset shift needed when approaching Pinterest as a marketing tool

20:56 – Everything you need to know about Pinterest Ads

how-pinterest-works Kate Ahl is the owner and founder of Simple Pin Media, a Pinterest management and marketing agency. Her company has worked with over 1000 Pinterest accounts over the last 9+ years. Their goal is to help business owners understand how to leverage the platform to grow their email list, find cold leads, and make more sales. Kate is a Pinterest speaker, teacher, podcaster, and strategist.

Visit Kate’s website, connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter,  Youtube and listen to her Podcast.

Kristen
Hey y’all and welcome to another episode of The Savvy Teacher Seller. Today I had the pleasure of chatting with the Pinterest Queen herself, Kate Ahl about what is working on Pinterest for TPT sellers right now. If you’re not familiar with her, Kate is the founder of Simple Pin Media. And let me tell you when it comes to Pinterest, she really knows her stuff. She has almost 10 years of experience managing Pinterest accounts and over that time, she’s helped over 1000 clients, make more sales, get more website traffic and grow their email lists through Pinterest marketing.

Kristen
Now, I know some of you might be thinking, didn’t Pinterest die in 2019. And I have felt that way too. But Kate is here to explain why Pinterest is still worth our time in 2023. We are going to dive into what kind of pins we should be creating and how to get them seen, as well as a key mindset shift we need to make for Pinterest success this year.

Kristen
She also answers one of your burning questions about whether or not we still need to be creating fresh pins, and I think you will be happy with the answer. So sit back and relax. Get ready to learn from one of the best in the business when it comes to Pinterest. And who knows maybe by the end of this episode, you will be ready to dive back into Pinterest marketing just like me. Let’s get started.

Kristen
Hey, TPT sellers ready to see growth in your business. You’re in the right place. Welcome to the Savvy Teacher Seller. I’m Kristen Doyle. And I’m here to give you no fluff tools and strategies that will really make an impact on your sale. Let’s get started y’all.

Kristen
Hi, Kate, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here.

Kate Ahl
Yeah, I’m so excited to be here and chat with you.

Kristen
Me too well, before we dive all into Pinterest, and what it can do for TPT sellers today, even in 2023. Tell us just a little bit kind of about how you got to where you are, and what kinds of things you do

Kate Ahl
Yeah, so I have an agency, obviously Simple Pin Media and it’s all Pinterest marketing. I got into this actually back in 2013 as really just kind of a Hail Mary moment for my family to try to do a side hustle, which I know a lot of TPT sellers can relate to that. And I just dove in and said, Hey, let’s see if this whole Pinterest marketing thing can work because people were moving away from Facebook at the time. And what we discovered was that Pinterest is a super powerful traffic driver.

Kate Ahl
But it also has a totally different ecosystem than all the other socials. And so I spent the last nine years working with clients as well as selling like DIY products for people to do Pinterest marketing on their own, with the entire goal of I don’t want Pinterest to be overwhelming for you. I want it to be something that can be easily added into your business so that it can add another arm of traffic or sales or leads that come into your business without spending all the time that you would spend like on Instagram or the other platforms.

Kristen
Yes. And I love that Pinterest functions a little more like a search engine and a little less like a social media platform. Because I am definitely all about the things that lasts longer. Not those things that have a shelf life of a few hours and only see, you know, a tiny fraction of your audience. So I am really excited to dive back into Pinterest.

Kristen
I know I was sharing with you earlier, I have definitely fallen off the Pinterest wagon a little bit. And so I’m excited to dive back in. But I know one of the biggest questions that we as teacher sellers have kind of collectively had is Pinterest even still worth my time. Because for the longest time, it was amazing for driving traffic to our blogs to our products. And then it kind of just stopped being amazing. A lot of us, you know, our traffic kind of cut in half or even more. And so we’re wondering, is it still worthwhile now? And what do we need to be doing different?

Kate Ahl
Great question and one that I get often right? So I’ll say there’s kind of two things that you want to be thinking about is one, you have to always go back to your data, you always have to look at what are the numbers tell you when you look at all social traffic drivers. And one of the things we know is that new platforms come on the scene. Tiktok is a great example where people were like exploding and followers and they were getting all these engagement. And then the more people that use it, we started to see that truncated and pulled back by the platforms, right? Because they eventually make way for ads and spend and all these different ways that they do algorithms right.

Kate Ahl
So we look at Pinterest over the last couple of years what we’ve seen is high pandemic growth, and then high implementation of short form video because that’s capturing what the trend is within the industry. So with that, we have the introduction of Idea pins, which pulled back on a lot of the traffic for people. Which would felt frustrating, right, like, I don’t want to diminish that at all.

Kate Ahl
But I think one of the things I actually recorded a podcast just today that’s don’t jump ship on Pinterest just yet. And talking about my story of kind of at the end of 2022, looking at everything and saying, This is so frustrating, it’s so overwhelming. We’re just done with all these things. But then in January, when I came up for air, and I pulled all the numbers from the year, Pinterest is still my number one. And for our companies, specifically, we sell digital products to I look at Google, Pinterest and now we’re looking into YouTube as really great places for education, which do still drive traffic. And then I put Instagram, Tik Tok and Facebook in these buckets that drive engagement metrics.

Kate Ahl
So often we say Pinterest is a library, Instagram is a bar, you have to approach them totally different. You approach Instagram, you’re looking for engagement. But when we pulled our data and looked at all the traffic, Instagram, it was like way down the list, right? But it makes us feel good. makes us feel like we’re doing something. But actually, when we pulled back the curtain just last week, we said, we’ve been creating short form video for Instagram. Why are we doing that? Why are we jumping through all these hoops for literally nothing. And we went to Pinterest and said we’re going to start engaging with short form content, we know links on idea pins are coming, we did see our traffic cone in half to over 2022.

Kate Ahl
And this kind of we’ll wrap it up and put a bow on it is look at your data, make an informed decision about where your people are, where they’re searching, and know, it might not feel good. And it might not continue to happen overnight. And I think sometimes I even and I admitted this in the podcast, like I fell for the Instagram trap. And when we looked at the hours we were spending, we were 10 to 12 a week on Instagram, two to three on Pinterest. And when you looked at the traffic numbers, it was completely flopped. It was like what so and all that to say like, I think 2023 with the introduction of IDEA pin links, with the introduction of several ecommerce features coming down the pike, it is definitely not a time to give up on Pinterest. But it’s definitely a time for a reframing of our attitude about it.

Kristen
I love that approach. And when you think about it, you know, I compared Pinterest to more of a search engine, you compared it to a library. SEO is the same way it’s these aren’t overnight fixes. But in the long run, the things that we do when it comes to a search engine of any kind of things that we do last so much longer than those little blips of engagement, the fun stuff that we get off of Instagram, and not that that’s not important. I think it’s really important to connect with your audience and get to know them and have that fun stuff. But the education still has to be there. And those valuable resources for people that we’re trying to send them to are a big piece as well. So yeah, I love your analogy of the library and the bar. So perfect. So when it comes to what is working right now, I know idea pins are coming. Maybe even by the time this episode is out. Do you know when those are coming? I haven’t heard yet.

Kate Ahl
I don’t, I always think it’s actually around this time into February, beginning of March. That’s when Pinterest adds most of the features into new things that they’re gonna do. That’s historically what we’ve seen.

Kristen
Yeah. So it is entirely possible by the time this episode comes out that links will already be there. Because I think we’re probably looking at end of March, maybe beginning of April. Yeah. So definitely possible that those would be there. I can already imagine ways that I could repurpose some of those Instagram reels that I’ve made, and use them as idea pins. But what are you seeing what are you seeing that works for TPT sellers right now?

Kate Ahl
You know, one of the things we’re seeing is when you look at Pinterest overall, you want to look at kind of a diversified approach. So standard pins still do work. So when people are looking for teaching resources, they’re most often going to the search feed, and they’re searching for particular types of resources. The TPT resources are not generally ones that people scroll, and they’re like, Oh, that’s amazing, like a candle or a dress or something like that. They have high intent, right? It’s very much like Google too.

Kate Ahl
So you want to make sure that your keywords we don’t use hashtags. Remove those completely. Yes, just to do the two to three sentences in your Pinterest descriptions. Key words are still where it’s at. Now one of the things we’re seeing too is that images that aren’t so cluttered, are doing a little bit better than the ones that maybe have a lot fonts, photos, hard to see. If they’re searching for something in particular, and they can connect with it right away, they’re really ready to click on it and then go to the place where they can buy it.

Kate Ahl
We’re definitely finding the seasonality. As teachers know, there’s times when people search for things, there’s times when they don’t search for things. So looking at the High Times, and the low times, of when you’re getting traffic from Pinterest definitely helps you want to maybe do more pins during that time. We’re also finding that this is a tough one. But I would say those who do have websites tend to get more engagement because they can pin from two places.

Kate Ahl
So it’s almost like you have the blog post to warm people up, instead of just sending straight to the listing. We still know that you can have the blog post, which leads to the listing, but context for people warms them up. It’s like reading a review for an Airbnb, right? You don’t just look at the picture, and you’re like, Okay, I’ll book it, you want to do more due diligence and learn more about it. So anytime you can have a content arm, it definitely is doing better for people than those that don’t have a content arm.

Kate Ahl
Then when it comes to idea pins, we are finding actually, that the face and the voice are doing well, which is something that we would not have said a year and a half ago, we would said, you know, don’t let your face maybe do you know an over a flatlay, where you’re just like going through it or whatever. But now if you’re doing your face, and you’re making it about the educational element, you’re not making it about your day, those are getting pretty good engagement. So that’s just something to be thinking about. We know not everybody likes video, but Pinterest is saying they are really liking that short form video and prioritizing that.

Kristen
Well. And I think at this point, we probably all need to try our hardest to get used to being on video. It was not my favorite thing for a long time either. But I’ve gotten used to it. Because that is just kind of where people are in general, we like to watch a video we like to see things visually a lot more than we like to read. When it comes to products. What are your recommendations about pinning to our own website versus pinning to TPT. And a lot of us are a little frustrated with the change that happened. I feel like it’s been a couple of years now, where if I pin from my shop on TPT, it will say that TPT is the pinnter, or it will look like TPT is the pinner because it’s going to their website. What are your thoughts around that?

Kate Ahl
Yeah, so I haven’t looked at that lately to see if it still says that. So I can’t confirm any of that. But I would say it’s very similar to what we saw with Etsy. Pinterest is definitely making a big play for E commerce elements, right. And that goes with people who are self hosted. Right, so we definitely see that being the winner. So when it comes to pinning on Etsy or pinning on TPT, it is going to be second, right like it’s not going to be I don’t think distribution is less. But I think the integrations are not as superior if that makes sense.

Kate Ahl
So I think if anybody has, like I just said a website, first pin there, for sure. And then you can also play around with pinning directly to your shop listing and you can see which outperforms the other. But I always think I mean hands down, I kind of can’t refute this, because we’ve seen with so many of our clients, whether it is in the TPT space, or any type of seller space, if you have content that goes along with letter listing, you will do far better than if you just send directly to that TPT portion.

Kate Ahl
So I guess I would say those who are in the boat of not having a website yet and only pinning to the teachers pay teacher’s site, what you’re going to want to do is have a really great Pinterest image, because that’s going to be the thing that hooks people in. And then second really nail it with the key words, because you want to hook people in and get them there what they do when they get there, that’s a little bit tougher, right? Like, they might get to TPT and be like, Oh, where am I? I don’t know, I’m not familiar with this, things like that. So that obviously you can’t control.

Kate Ahl
But you can control these pieces of getting really great images. And what do we tell people to is there is a look to Teachers Pay Teachers images, that they all kind of look a little bit similar. Not all of them, but you want to kind of see if you look a little bit different, like stand apart if you can. So search what resource it is that you sell on Pinterest and see what the sea of Pinterest pins looks like and kind of try to make it a tiny bit different.

Kristen
Yeah. And I would say maybe even look to creating some very different images that don’t look like your product cover because I know a lot of people will just pin their product cover because that’s easy, but if you’re really working on it, then maybe we try coming up with some new images that don’t look like a product cover. That’s gonna be a little more eye catching 100%. And I always encourage everyone to try and make your even your product covers stand out from everyone else’s because there is just a sea of results, whether it’s on TPT search or on somewhere like Pinterest, just a sea of results and trying to make yours stand out and be a little bit unique and different definitely can help grab some attention for sure. What about fresh pins? I know that was a big thing for a while we needed fresh pins for everything. Do we still need to focus on that?

Kate Ahl
No. It’s one of those ones that I know, right?

Kristen
Great news.

Kate Ahl
I know. So really, the fresh pin thing came in 2019. And it kind of took on a life of its own and it has not died a death yet. And really what you want to focus on is the very first pin you pin to Pinterest, it just needs to go to a board that is keyword matched. So if you’re talking about reading resources, and it’s a pin with keyword like reading resources, the algorithm reads all of that, and it wants to know how to categorize it. And a lot of people when it came to this fresh pin idea thought, well, if I can just create multiple images, let’s have one listing on TPT. If I can create 20, 30, 40 different images, those will all look like fresh, different images.

Kate Ahl
Well, we found that that actually didn’t increase performance. It actually it really didn’t do anything but waste your time. So we tell people try two to three. And what that does is allows you to drill down on the image that’s getting the most engagement, and you can rinse and repeat for another listing and another listing. Now this doesn’t mean you can’t pin your pin. Again, we have seen some pins that have been 2,3,4 times those second, third or fourth pins get more engagement than the first sometimes it’s not always the norm. But you can just put the fresh pin thing out of your mind, especially because it just it doesn’t really work anymore.

Kristen
Well, that is good to know. I know everyone’s gonna be happy to hear that. Because it is so much work.

Kate Ahl
So much work. And you know, here’s the thing that I want to say is there are definite elements to any algorithm on any social platform. But we find that Pinterest has less gotcha moments. Like, they obviously don’t want you to pin 100 times a day, because it looks like spamming. But if you pin a pin twice, it’s not like a deal breaker, right? You’re not gonna get zinged for it. They don’t want you to write things like click here. But I think that’s pretty much for every platform. They don’t want you to right click here, right?

Kate Ahl
So other than that, there’s not a lot of holes, if you will, that you could step in to ruin what you’re doing. And I find that people approach Pinterest with this idea of, you know, Instagram puts out an update every Thursday, right of what you should do what you do, and we’re jumping through hoops.

Kate Ahl
Pinterest doesn’t have the hoops, right? Like they do have some. But they’re not as many that change every single week. It’s not like we hear from Instagram. We’re going to do reels this week. And the next week, it’s photo and then then like, it feels very jarring. Pinterest, one doesn’t put out those types of news flash pieces. And then to the algorithm pretty much works the same as it has for several years. It’s just tweaked, and keywords are prioritized and things are changed. So and that sense, it’s the relaxing place to market. It’s not the like, oh my gosh, am I doing this right? Or this? Right? Or, you know, it’s if you’re writing great descriptions that sound like a human, for the human that’s going to be engaging on the other side. That’s a great start.

Kristen
I love that. And that’s another thing my audience will recognize, because I always tell them when it comes to SEO, the same thing you write for people first, all the other things are important and good, but not if it’s not going to be written well for people. I love that. What about Pinterest catalogs? Is that what it’s called? I think that’s what it’s called, where you can put your shop catalog directly on?

Kate Ahl
Yes, so the shop catalog. So this is the shop integration that Pinterest has, there’s a couple different layers of it. You have to have your own website, you can not incorporate your catalog from the TPT store. So third party hosted is the term that you’ll often hear. So if you have your own site, you can get verified merchant status. You can upload your catalog directly, or you can use like their integrations are like Shopify and WooCommerce and those hosted ones. It is definitely a good idea to do it because what it allows you to do is let’s say on those idea pins we haven’t been able to link well now you can link to a product and that takes people off the platform. We are a verified merchant as well. We like the data that we get, we like the tagging that we can do. And we like that our products are updated in real time. So if it’s out of stock, the price changes, that just gets updated.

Kristen
Yeah, I love that option. And I do have my shop set up on Pinterest, I need to do some more things with it. But I do have it all set up and connected. And I will drop some links to some tutorials on that sort of stuff into the show notes for today, too, because I know everyone’s gonna be asking me how do I do this? So I will drop some links to some tutorials. Can we talk to us a little about Pinterest ads?

Kate Ahl
Oh yeah, absolutely.

Kristen
A lot of us are a little hesitant to run ads just in general, because, you know, it’s almost like going to the casino, and throwing some money in and seeing what happens. But tell us how ads are going on Pinterest.

Kate Ahl
Yeah, so I would say that Pinterest ads, if anybody has been running Facebook or Instagram ads, it is night and day. And so you’re gonna go back to that same idea that you’re working with a different ecosystem. So a Pinterest ad takes about two weeks to optimize. And then it takes another like four weeks to see how it performs. We always tell people that they want to do any kind of education or due diligence before they start running ads to know how much they’re going to spend how much they’re willing to put into each day, or what type of ad, we definitely have seen TPT sellers do great.

Kate Ahl
But what happens is that you don’t have the proper mindset going in. And so you’re already kind of feeling this risk, this stress, and then you’re not setting your sights on six months. So we do Pinterest ads for our business and we look and we say, Okay, I want to get people at the very top of the funnel, they have this, like they’re searching for this particular thing, they have very high intent. And it is hard, you have to know that that’s where you’re hitting people, they don’t know who you are, they don’t know how to frame up context. And that when they come to your website, that page has to be really, really built to convert them well.

Kate Ahl
So whether or not it’s selling into a product that you know, is really great. Maybe this is totally new, if it is new for you, I would say I would run just some organic traffic to a landing page or a sales page, just you get the data of are people landing and actually converting? Because you can’t put money behind a broken funnel, that is where you’re wasting money, right.

Kate Ahl
And so I definitely think it’s good for people one if you know you’re a great selling product, to if you know a great selling page that you have. And three, you know, the targeting that you want to do and you know actually how much money. So if you make $10 off this product, and you’re willing to do $2, a click or something like that, to be able to get a conversion, that is going to set you up even better for success. But a lot of people are like maybe this will just give extra lift to me or maybe it’ll give traffic do not do it for that reason, we highly, highly discourage that. We definitely want you to amplify what you know, is already working well. And I’ll say the last part is that you can save pins, you can save ads, and they live forever. So it’s not going away. And people natively save the ads and revisit them later. So it’s just something to think about.

Kristen
Yeah, that’s good to know, too. So definitely, it sounds like we want to be very focused when we are choosing things and spend some time really digging into our data. Looking for those products that convert really well have really high conversion rates. I like to look at a metric called earnings per view, which basically just takes how much you make and what your conversion rate and figures out how much you make per page view. Which is super helpful for me on Facebook ads for figuring out if my cost per click is a good cost per click for that product. And I’m sure that would work on Pinterest, too.

Kristen
I have not run ads on Pinterest, but I’m definitely thinking about it. Where would you say we need to start in terms of budget? is Pinterest somewhere that we have to spend, like 25 bucks a day to see any results? Or is it somewhere we could start small and just kind of test it out and see how it goes?

Kate Ahl
Yeah, we did a podcast on this too. With our ads director, she basically asked the question will $5 a day work and what she came away with was that’s too small for Pinterest. So we have even for us scaled it to $10 a day or $20 a day. So you can certainly start. This is funny. There’s always going to be stories in the wild about how the $5 a day worked. But the important part is that you have to test it for you and your product.

Kate Ahl
So it’s definitely something where you could start with a $10 a day and just really ramp it up from there. But we find actually that people who are really proficient at Facebook ads, their dashboard is so confusing compared to the Pinterest dashboard, which is very simplistic. Also, when you take what results and things you’re getting on Facebook and kind of bring them over to Pinterest. Again, it’s like organic marketing, from Instagram, Facebook to Pinterest, it just doesn’t work. So you have to really think of a Pinterest ad like a Google ad.

Kristen
Yeah. So it really is a change in mindset, especially for those of us who are used to running Facebook ads. And I think maybe that goes back to the library versus the bar. But totally different intent when you go to Pinterest versus when you’re scrolling mindlessly on Facebook, and maybe something catches your attention. The very different intent. So we definitely need to think about it in a different way to accommodate that. And I’ll make sure we drop the link to that podcast episode in the show notes as well, because I’m sure it’s a great one to listen to.

Kristen
I am way behind on podcasts. Such a terrible podcast host. I don’t listen up to date, but I’m sure it’s an amazing episode, yours always are. So thank you definitely have to drop a link in there so that I can check that one out.

Kristen
Thank you so much for being here. I feel like this was such a great conversation and so helpful for me personally, with figuring out where I want to go as I’m getting back into Pinterest. And I’m sure lots of other people feel the same way. I’ve had so many questions from people about, maybe it’s time, is it time to start Pinterest again. So hopefully this will help people kind of know where to prioritize and how to spend their time on Pinterest. Thank you so much, again for being here and sharing all of your wealth of knowledge with us. Before we hop off here, would you tell everybody where they can find you if they want to get connected?

Kate Ahl
Yeah absolutely. So they’re listening to a podcast. So you can just hop over and search simple pin podcast in your podcast player and subscribe. And then we also do on our website, simple pin media, we have a special newsletter. It’s a four part series dedicated to TPT sellers, written by our TPT specialist on our team. So as basically a way to help TPT sellers frame up Pinterest marketing, so we can put that link in the show notes and people can go check that out.

Kristen
Absolutely. We will do that for sure. Thank you so much again for being here. I have loved to talking with you today.

Kate Ahl
Yeah you too. Thank you.

Kristen
I don’t know about you. But I am definitely feeling inspired and ready to give Pinterest a second chance after talking with Kate today. So your action step for today’s episode is simply to take a little time to look over your Pinterest strategy, and make some changes based on what we learned today. And if you haven’t been pinning lately at all, then give it a try. Find a blog post or a helpful resource, create an image for it and give pinning one more chance, maybe even with just one or two pins.

Kristen
Let’s take Kate’s advice and give Pinterest the attention it deserves so that we can reap those long term benefits from that Pinterest library that people like to visit. Now before we wrap up, I have one more important thing to share with you. Kate has created a free email training series just for TPT sellers.

Kristen
Now, as someone who’s taken that training myself, I can tell you it is packed with valuable information and insights from someone who is seeing Pinterest success with clients in our niche now. So if you’re looking to up your Pinterest game, head to the link in the show notes to sign up for Kate’s free email training series. Trust me you do not want to miss it. Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Savvy Teacher Seller. I hope you learned something new today and you’re feeling inspired to take some action and grow your business. I’ll talk to you soon.

Kristen
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you did, please share it with another teacher seller who would also find it helpful. For more resources on Growing Your TPT business. Head to Kristendoyle.co/TPT. Talk to you soon.

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