I initially had some hesitation to join Pinterest in 2010.
It was an invitation-only site back then, and I didn't really see the value in maintaining another "social network" in addition to Facebook, Twitter and, later, Google+. But Pinterest can be a great way to drive relevant traffic and prospective customers to your website, and since the addition of Pinterest Analytics, you can measure the success of your efforts like never before.
Pinterest is a visual experience by nature, so it's critically important to keep this in the front of your mind as you're developing your campaign. With that being said, there are a few ways to create high impact, click-worthy images for your pins, including various free and paid applications. But my favorite is PowerPoint for a number of reasons, but mainly because the learning curve is relatively simple. There are so many image editors to choose from, including Picmonkey, Fireworks, Pixlr and more. Each of these applications have their pros and cons, and I have used them all to some extent. While the features of PowerPoint aren't as advanced as some of these programs, there are a couple of things you can do with PowerPoint that are, quite frankly, cumbersome on the other platforms.
One of the best examples of a click-worthy graphic for Pinterest is what's called an "instructo-graphic", which was first explained by Colby Almond over at the SEOmoz blog. It was a great post, and prompted me to create a few instructo-graphics for my own websites. I've had some time to hone the process, and think PowerPoint is the best platform to create some really killer graphics for your blog.
I want this post to be as actionable as possible, so let's go through the steps of creating an instructo-graphic for this specific post.
Step 1. Open up Microsoft Paint
Ok, did I lose you? :) You're probably thinking, "Microsoft PAINT? Should I lace up my Air Jordans while I listen to 'Blame it on the Rain'?" As much as I love the 90s, some things are better left in the past, but Microsoft Paint is only going to be used sparingly for the graphic.
First, edit the dimensions to be 600 px by 3000 px. This will ensure enough space to work with as you're creating your graphic, but also entice Pinterest users to click through to see the full graphic on the website.
Step 2: Color the background
Pick a bold color, or something that will make the components of your instructo-graphic stand out.
Step 3: Copy & paste the background into PowerPoint
This is where the magic happens! Once you have that background image pasted into PowerPoint, you can add text and images and rearrange them as much as you want. Before you paste the background in, though, make sure to delete the text boxes, and zoom the window in to 100%.
Step 4: Create an eye-catching title for the graphic
The title should convey the main message of the graphic, and also relate to the content of the page it will be posted on too. Often, you can use the same title for the graphic as the blog post itself, and if you're creating an instructo-graphic, anything titled "How to..." is usually enough to grap people's attention and compel them to click. You can also repurpose the title area to create a pinnable title card to use instead of pinning the entire graphic. This can come in handy if you're planning to pin to more than one board.
Draw a different colored box near the top of the graphic, and apply some effects like shading or perspective to make it stand out. These effects are found in the Picture Tools menu, and then under Picture Effects. As with any graphic, the goal is to draw the eye in and where to go next, so really make the title area pop from the rest of the graphic.
Step 5: Add images & text boxes for each step
Here is the meat of your instructo-graphic. Basically, you're going to be walking the reader through the steps of whatever they're going to be creating, but only highlighting the high level steps for simplicity. Don't worry about spacing between the steps, because you can adjust when all the steps are added. The alignment of the elements in each step is important however, as PowerPoint will superimpose guiding lines to help you determine where to place each element.
Step 6: Check for alignment
The easiest way to check for alignment is to zoom out to see the entire graphic in one window. That way, you can check the spacing between each of the steps, the alignment of images and text fields, and generally see how the graphic will look when it's finished. Make sure there is enough space at the top and bottom sections of your graphic, and ensure the headings are properly aligned too.
Step 7: Proof the graphic
This is a critical step. Make sure you check for spelling errors, factual errors, or any other mistakes that could cost your website credibility in the readers' eyes. Have someone look the graphic over for a second opinion.
Step 8. Copy & paste graphic from PowerPoint into Microsoft Paint
Yup, we're back in Paint again. Once the graphic is pasted, align the top left corner to the paint area. Do this by hitting CTRL + A (which selects the graphic), and moving it into the proper place. See the screenshot below. Next, grab the width selector in the middle of the right side along the graphic, and resize the window to the correct dimensions. Finally, take the height selector at the bottom of the graphic, and resize to the proper height.
9. Save the graphic
Once everything is aligned properly, and you feel comfortable with your work, save the file in Paint as a .png, and in PowerPoint as a presentation. That way, you can come back to the template and edit without having to recreate it from scratch.
Now that you've created this awesome, free graphic, write a blog post and add the graphic to it. Then pin the graphic, and the Pinterest users will land on your blog post for an increase in traffic.
Here are some other ways to promote your new instructo-graphic:
- Add an embed code on your blog post, and invite others to publish the graphic for links
- Write an interesting guest post about the topic, and offer the graphic to go with it
- Submit the graphic to infographic aggregators. (NOTE: some of these sites may not accept the graphic, since it's not a true infographic by nature, but it's still worth a shot.)
- Submit the graphic to instructo-graphic aggregators and Google+ Communities.
Here is the finished product from our example. Feel free to use this on your own website, but please indicate the owner of the graphic is SEO.com.
Once you've built your graphic, I'd love to hear your feedback! Leave a comment below, or post about your efforts on our Google+ Community!