I’ve got a new side hustle to share with you today… And you are going to LOVE it!
Over the last month, I’ve turned my Pinterest obsession into a money spinner.
I’ve been making money with affiliate marketing on Pinterest. This is a fantastically easy and flexible side hustle that anyone can do.
You don’t need a blog. You don’t need to be an internet marketing expert.
You can get started today, with absolutely no upfront costs.
I’ve been experimenting with this method for about a month. I made my first sale in just four days, and I’ve seen results ever since.
Here’s how it works:
Affiliate marketing on Pinterest
So here’s the basic business idea. For the uninitiated, Pinterest is a giant virtual pin board. Users search for ideas, and ‘pin’ images that they love to come back to later. Each ‘pin’ is an image with a link. People can click on the image to visit the site it came from.
We can monetise this with affiliate marketing.
‘Affiliate marketing’ is simply when you promote an item online and get a commission for any sales. You promote the product using your own special tracking link, which is called an affiliate link.
When somebody clicks on your link and buys a product, the seller can see that you sent them, and you get a cut of the sale!
There are many ways to promote your affiliate links and make sales online. The most common is blogging. You can also share your links on social media, or in emails to your friends.
So why I am focusing on Pinterest?
Related post: How to Start a Blog to Make Money
Why it’s easy to make money on Pinterest
Pinterest is often referred to as a social network, but the truth is, it’s more like a search engine.
People go to Pinterest to look for ideas, and specifically to look for things to buy!
This means it’s easy and natural to promote great products on Pinterest without looking spammy.
Also, your pins on Pinterest hang around forever. It’s not like Twitter, where your message disappears into the ether just minutes after you tweet it out. If a pin gets picked up and gets a lot of repins, it will keep showing up in people’s feeds without any more effort on your part.
You don’t need a blog to make money on Pinterest. Anyone can create a Pinterest account and starting pinning affiliate links.
(However, there are certain affiliate programs which do require a website, so check with individual programs before signing up.)
And you don’t need hundreds of followers.
Again, Pinterest is a search engine. This means that if you pin fabulous images with good, keyword-rich descriptions, people will find your pins – even if they don’t follow you.
Is Pinterest marketing legit?
You might have heard mixed information about affiliate links on Pinterest. That’s because they were allowed, then banned for a period thanks to abuse by spammers. Now, as of May 2016, they’re officially allowed again.
Of course, you shouldn’t abuse the system and you should take care not to across as spammy yourself.
Don’t use misleading images or descriptions to trick people into clicking on your links. Don’t flood Pinterest with hundreds of affiliate pins without repinning other content. And be especially careful to follow the rules if you are invited to any group boards.
You can take a look at Pinterest’s community guidelines for more information.
As long as you follow the rules, there’s no reason not to use affiliate links on Pinterest. Done correctly, you are simply helping people find the products or information that they came to Pinterest for.
So, how can you get started?
Related post: 4 Fantastic Ways to Make Money on Pinterest
Step by step guide to making money on Pinterest
1. Make a Pinterest account
First of all, you obviously need a Pinterest account! If you already have a personal Pinterest account, use that. You don’t need a special account to do this. It’s an advantage if you already have an established account with some followers, even if it’s only a few.
If you’re totally new to the whole Pinterest game, I recommend taking this free ecourse. It explains the basic terminology and shows you how to set up a killer profile.
I recommend having a business account. You can convert your existing personal account to a business account. This is free and very easy to do – just follow the instructions here. It just gives you a few extra features like basic stats. You don’t need to be a business or even a blogger to have a business account.
I currently have two Pinterest accounts: one for Boost My Budget, and one personal account. I’ve used both for affiliate marketing and seen some success on both of them.
If you’ve made a brand new Pinterest account for this, you’ll want to fill it out a bit so it doesn’t look empty. I recommend making about 10-20 boards on topics that interest you and/or that you want to promote products in. This could be anything from baby clothes to interior design to bodybuilding! You can get an idea of the most popular topics here, but really, anything goes.
Then, pin at least 20-30 pins to each board. Don’t worry about affiliate marketing at this point. Just repin other people’s pins to fill out your profile.
2. Sign up with affiliate programs
Now you have a Pinterest profile, you need to find great products to pin – from companies that will pay you!
There are lots of different companies that pay commission to affiliates. For example, Amazon, eBay and Etsy all have their own affiliate programs, so that already covers pretty much anything you could want to share.
You can also find programs for individual products such as e-books and online courses.
However, my number one recommended affiliate program for Pinterest marketing is called ShopStyle Collective. This network allows you to pin products from dozens of popular retailers, including Anthropologie, Asos, Topshop and Forever21. Its products are mostly in fashion and interiors – two hot areas on Pinterest!
The best thing about ShopStyle Collective is that it pays every time somebody clicks on a link! Most affiliate programs only pay out when somebody actually buys something, so earning per click is a great deal for you.
With ShopStyle Collective, you’ll initially earn 5 cents each time someone clicks on an image you pinned, and it goes up if people actually make purchases through your links. While that might not sound like a lot, imagine having a pin go viral and getting hundreds or thousands of shares. Then imaging consistently pinning several affiliate links each day, so that over time you have hundreds of these images floating around Pinterest.
You can see how it quickly adds up!
Most affiliate programs will want to know your website when you sign up. Just enter your Pinterest profile here. ShopStyle Collective is very easy to get into and you don’t need a blog. Other programs may vary.
3. Start pinning your affiliate products
The next step is to start pinning images of the products you want to promote to Pinterest! You can pin the image directly from the retailer’s website, or use a free image editor like Canva to add text and other effects.
Just make sure that the link associated with the pin is your unique affiliate link. This means that you will get paid if somebody buys the product that you pinned.
If you use ShopStyle Collective, this is super easy. They actually have a pin button on each product page, which lets you pin images directly from their site with your affiliate link embedded.
This free ecourse has a video showing you how to pin from ShopStyle Collective. It’s actually this course that got me into Pinterest affiliate marketing. I highly recommend it!
Be sure to use the full, raw form of the affiliate link. Avoid link shorteners such as bit.ly or Pretty Link. Pinterest have advised that shortened links don’t always track correctly, which means you could miss out on commissions.
You can promote any kind of products on Pinterest. I have two Pinterest accounts: one for Boost My Budget, and one personal account. On my Boost My Budget account, I’ve promoted a handful of digital products related to blogging and making money online. On my personal account, I promote physical products such as clothes, accessories and home items. I’ve made sales on both within the first month.
If you already have a Pinterest profile, I recommend pinning products that fit in naturally with your existing boards. So if you have a lot of fashion boards, look for clothes on ShopStyle that fit in with the kind of things you already pin.
This will keep your profile looking natural and non-spammy. It also means that your affiliate pins are more likely to appeal to the people who already follow you.
4. Write a good description for each pin.
When you add a new pin, there is space for you to add a description. Write an accurate, detailed description of your product.
Remember, Pinterest is a search engine. Use lots of ‘keywords’ – the kind of words that people search for. This will help people find your pin, even if they don’t follow you.
For example, one of the boards on my personal account is about stationery. If I pin a notebook, a typical description might be something like: ‘This cute pink notebook would be a great gift for a stationery lover, or anyone into bullet journals, bujo, scrapbooking, writing or journaling.’ This covers lots of key words which people might search.
You should also include a disclosure like ‘affiliate link’ or ‘ad’ in the description. Although Pinterest itself doesn’t seem to have any rules on this, regulators like the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK or the Federal Trade Commission in the US usually require a disclosure.
5. Pin lots!
Pinterest likes people who pin a lot!
They especially like it when you re-pin popular pins. Repinning other people’s popular pins keeps your profile fresh and interesting for your followers, and it stops you looking like a spammer.
It also means that Pinterest will show your pins more often in other people’s feeds. Pinterest basically rewards people who share popular stuff, because they know you’re sharing things that people want to see.
So the more you re-pin popular pins, the more other people will see your own affiliate pins, and the more clicks you’ll get!
You should try to pin stuff several times throughout the day. The Pinterest app on your phone is great for this. You can also use a pin scheduler like BoardBooster to schedule your pins in advance. You can try out 100 pins on BoardBooster for free if you sign up through this link.
Also, bear in mind that a lot of pins will not make you money. Some take a while to take off, and some just never get shared at all. You can’t just pin one random thing and expect to rake in the cash overnight. Pin new and interesting affiliate pins every day, and eventually you will see the commissions rolling in.
6. Step it up
Everything I’ve described so far is completely free. Anybody can start working through these steps and start making money on Pinterest, with no special tools or upfront costs.
However, doing all of the above manually can take a bit of time – especially since you need to remember to pin several times throughout your day to see growth.
Luckily, there are tools you can use to automate the process and see faster results.
They are both quite similar but have a few different features. I’m currently playing with both. Overall I think I prefer BoardBooster because it’s easier to use on mobile and I like the ‘campaigns’ feature, but Tailwind has better analytics and you can do more detailed scheduling.
To learn how to use BoardBooster effectively in order to make your affiliate pins take off, I recommend an ebook called How to Make Your First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours. I worked through this book myself and I made my first sale in four days. It might not be the 24 hours promised, but I thought it was pretty impressive for an affiliate marketing newbie like me!
It talks you through the entire process of affiliate marketing on Pinterest, from finding products to designing your own pins to finding group boards for a wider reach. I think the magic really lies in using BoardBooster to schedule to group boards, which is where this book goes into a lot of detail.
The book is very reasonably priced at just $25 and I can tell you from experience that it works!
There’s a lot of information in this article, but here are the key points to remember:
- Don’t spam
- Write great descriptions
- Declare your affiliate links
- Re-pin other people’s stuff
- Re-pin popular content
- Be consistent
- Don’t give up – allow time for new pins to take off!
Your essential Pinterest toolkit
As I mentioned above, anyone can start using this method by simply pinning manually a few times each day – but it may take a while to see results. If you want to take this side hustle seriously, here are a few tools and resources which will help you out:
BoardBooster – a Pinterest scheduling tool which lets you schedule pins to different boards, ‘loop’ boards (great for keeping your profile active while you’re away), and set up ‘campaigns’ to share new pins to different group boards. Get a free 100 pin trial when you sign up with this link.
Tailwind – another Pinterest scheduling tool which gives you a lot more control but can be a bit more complicated to use. You probably don’t need both BoardBooster and Tailwind at this stage, but many people prefer one or the other, so why not test out both and see what works for you? Get a free one month trial when you sign up with this link.
How to Make Your First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours Using Pinterest – this book was my introduction to affiliate marketing on Pinterest. I made my first sale within four days! The book shares the secrets for getting your pins widely shared, which I haven’t gone into in this article. This book will be the most useful for people who are already experienced with Pinterest and are members of a few group boards. Beginners will benefit from it too, but it will just take longer to make money.
Free Course: Pinterest Affiliate Marketing 101 – I discovered the amazing Christina Root after working through the above ebook and looking for more information on Pinterest marketing. Her site is an absolute goldmine of information. It’s great for beginners and people who don’t have a blog. I strongly recommend signing up for this free course which goes into more detail on lots of the points I mentioned briefly above, such as designing a pin in Canva and using Tailwind for scheduling and analytics. You might also want to check out one of these articles for more information.
Canva – the image editor I use to make my pins (and all other graphics on this site). They have a free version and a paid version with extra features. The free version is more than good enough to create fantastic pins.
What’s stopping you?
There you go! This article only really covers the basics of affiliate marketing on Pinterest, but I hope it’s enough to get you started. This is really such a cheap, easy and fun side hustle to play with, and I’m really enjoying it so far.
I will report back on my progress with this method next month, and I’ll share more tips if people are keen.
By the way – not keen on sharing affiliate links directly on Pinterest? Here are 4 other fabulous ways to monetize your Pinterest habit.
Have you shared affiliate links on Pinterest? What are your results? Any questions for me?
I’d love to hear how you get on!