If you follow my work at all, you’ll know I love talking about self-help and write tons of inspirational stuff but every now and then the business side of Iva comes out.
I’ve written my fair share of how to start a blog and how to use Pinterest to grow your business type articles. I actually used to sing songs of praise for Pinterest. Until now.
The Power of Pinterest
When I first learned how to use Pinterest I was amazed by how powerful it was at helping bloggers and small business owners grow their businesses. It was mind-blowing, to be honest.
The recipe was simple, tedious, but nonetheless, simple.
- Make super cool pins.
- Write an engaging copy on said cool pins.
- Share them on boards, yours, and others.
- Schedule them to multiple boards on Tailwind.
- Rinse and repeat.
- Sit back and watch your traffic to your site grow.
I couldn’t believe all the traffic I was getting in my first year of using Pinterest. I was finally able to apply to high paying ad agencies and make some decent money from traffic.
Then after the first year, Pinterest shut me down and suspended my account for no apparent reason. Ouch! What a blow. After a couple of back and forth emails, they apologized profusely “Oops, sorry we made a mistake” and reinstated my account.
Moving into year two, with traffic still growing beautifully, they shut me down again. More emails and another “Oops we’re sorry for our mistake” and I was reinstated yet again.
I soon learned that Pinterest does this an awful lot. What I also found out was not everyone gets their account reinstated. Sometimes Pinterest just says, “Sorry you’re suspended, your account sucks, have a nice life.” Just like that.
They do this to innocent people who are just trying to build their online business and make a living, with no reason or rhyme for their actions. Sometimes they tease you and say “OK you can maintain your Pinterest account but we’re blocking your site because we think it’s spam, so, have a nice life.”
They are notorious for doing that too.
My Glowing Pinterest Account
Back in January of 2018 I dug up my old and dead Pinterest account, bought an ebook on how to use Pinterest, and away I went. I heard so many good things about it I would be a fool not to at least try to see if this whole Pinterest thing will work for me.
And it worked, beyond anything I ever could have imagined. The screenshot below shows how much progress I made in my first month. It was wild.
You can see how I went from zero to almost 100K views in under a month. This lit a huge fire under my butt and I worked Pinterest hard and fast. By May of 2018, not even six months in, this is what my account looked like.
I mean, how could I not love Pinterest??
I played by their rules, I created engaging and awesome pins. In 2019 they suggested we try video pins. So I did and what happened next blew my mind! Check this out.
As you can see I have accumulated half a billion views on my videos through Pinterest. That’s mindblowing — half a billion!
Anyway, as I write this today, I have almost 200K followers, 35,420 pins and up until mid-October of this year I had well over 10 million monthly impressions on all my pins (a vanity metric but using it to give you an idea) and daily traffic to my website was between 6K-10K.
Pinterest has served me and my online business very well. I was making a decent living through ads and the sale of my ebooks on my site. My ad earnings fluctuated between $65 and $100 a day and I was consistently selling around 10 ebooks a week. My affiliate income also was finally starting to take off.
I was wildly successful until this happened.
Pinterest Wiped Out My Account
I woke up Sunday, October 18th and after doing my usual morning routine I went to my Ezoic dashboard to see how well my ads and site did the day before.
I was a little shocked. Clearly, something must be wrong. I’ll give the system time to settle down. I let it go and then checked the next day.
Something was definitely wrong.
On my two biggest ad earning days my numbers were $27.03 and $29.34 (Saturday and Sunday). Ouch. This can’t be right. My traffic numbers were 1,810 and 1,762. Off I went to Google Analytics to find out what the problem was.
Once in GA, I could see that my traffic from Pinterest literally dropped off the face of the earth. How could that be? My account wasn’t suspended. Pins were still going out. I could see my account. What was going on?
A few emails back and forth to Pinterest and nothing was getting resolved. No one had clear answers for me and I continually got the generic response: “Keep creating engaging pins and fresh content for the users.” Well, I was already doing that. This was making no sense whatsoever.
Two weeks into this fiasco my numbers were swiftly dropping until they hit 0. I was literally getting 0 traffic anymore from Pinterest and my daily earnings were now hovering between $7 and $10. Daily. Ouch!
The Beginning of a Nightmare
The first few emails back and forth to Pinterest were frustrating and getting me nowhere. No one was quite understanding the problem, nor was anyone from Pinterest digging deeper to find out what the problem was. In their eyes, there was no problem, “Keep creating engaging content… ebb and flow…algorithms… blah blah blah.”
They just weren’t getting it. Ebb and flows and algorithms do not cause an entire account with over 35K pins to vanish into thin air overnight.
I tried searching my own account through another Pinterest account I run and came up with this.
These were all the pins that were showing up and most of them were stolen. I began reporting all the stolen pins and after they were removed this is what my account looked like.
So I’m sitting here scratching my head wondering where 35K pins and over 10 boards have disappeared to. These are all the pins that come up for my account. Count them. Three.
I did a people search for my name and below is what showed up.
I was nowhere to be found. Yet, I still had access to my own account and all my pins and boards. If you searched for me, you’d come up short.
I sent them screenshots, and still nothing. They positively insist my account is still in good standing, it’s not flagged for spam, and please “keep creating engaging pins and quality content.”
What a slap in the face that was. Suddenly I feel like I’m dealing with nameless faceless operators who couldn’t care less about me or my business, or should I say, lack thereof. It was a business they completely obliterated in the blink of an eye, one night while we were all sound asleep.
Pinterest Stocks Are Rising
In case you weren’t aware, Pinterest went public in April of 2020 and since then stocks have been climbing quite nicely. Oh Pinterest, I’m so happy for you.
According to investopedia.com:
“Pinterest makes its money via advertising, specifically, promoted pins. These promoted pins are ads that look similar to user-generated pins (posts). The company generated $756 million last year in revenue but posted a net loss of $63 million.”
Promoted pins — you want me to pay for advertising. Oddly enough, Pinterest has been pushing creators to do more paid advertising. And if we don’t? They just knock us right out of the search.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally naive. I get Pinterest has to make money somehow, but so do the people who create content for Pinterest.
I’m not the only one this has happened to. In many Facebook groups for bloggers and pinners, this seems to be happening to a lot of creators. Wake up one morning and poof, you’re gone. All your hard work just vanished overnight.
Many businesses lost, many household incomes reduced to almost zero.
Pinterest can’t give anyone a clear answer. Odd. I mean, they are running a business right? They rely on creators to supply their business with inventory for their users. Did I miss a memo?
If it wasn’t for creators like myself, then what does Pinterest have? A blank white screen, like what comes up when you search my name on Pinterest now.
It Could Happen to You
Don’t be naive. Don’t think “Oh that won’t happen to me because I have an account in good standing with Pinterest.” So did I and thousands of other creators that they just pulled the plug on. We all had good accounts, and we all woke up one morning and they were gone.
I played by all their rules and I played nicely. I gave them what they wanted all the time.
Pinterest plays by its own rules and they own you and everything you put out for them. You think you own it, but you don’t. Pinterest is a massive search engine. They can do what they want when they want, and you don’t get a say in any of it.
All they ask you to do is “keep creating engaging pins and quality content for our users” and we do. And “have you tried promoting pins lately?”
Watch Your Eggs
I’m a huge advocate of not putting all your eggs in one basket. I’ve been learning SEO for almost a year now, applying all I learn and staying the course, but the SEO course is a long slow haul.
Thankfully, my other site does not rely on Pinterest for most of its traffic. My organic traffic is over 50%.
Please, learn SEO. There are tons of free resources on the internet, gurus to follow, and free blogs to read. “Income School” on YouTube is fantastic. Pat Flynn is great as is Neil Patel. All of this is free.
Learn it and apply it.
Many bloggers will tell you to have an email list. This is about the only thing you will ever own (besides your website, eBooks, products, etc. you’ve created) as far as a place to promote your products. Remember if you are promoting your goods on Facebook and Instagram (and other social media platforms) you don’t own those either and in the blink of an eye, it could all be taken away.
Build your list any way you can and nurture it.
Create a freebie as an opt-in and grab subscribers. I have a free mini-guide to changing your life, 15 life-changing affirmations, and three free inspirational quote posters printables. I have three different opt-ins and they all seem to do well.
Create and test.
It’s so important to make sure you do not rely on Pinterest or social media platforms for your main sources of traffic. Yes, they are indeed great to have and utilize to drive traffic but for how long? Until the next algorithm update? Until Pinterest decides to delete your account?
Make sure you find out where your potential customers are hanging out. Find them, grab their attention, and get them on your list.
The blogging and online business world is a stressful game of Russian Roulette. Every morning you wake up and you’re never sure if your site has been hacked, if pins have been stolen, if Facebook shut you down or Pinterest suspended you. It never ends. Medium seems to be a safe zone but for how long? No one knows.
You just never know what kind of fire you are going to wake up to.
I honestly wish I had a clearer answer to all of this, and as soon as someone from Pinterest gives me a straight answer I’ll report back. I wish I had some wise words to give you if you are just starting out your blogging business, or your business is thriving because of Pinterest or social media platforms. The only thing I can tell you is to make sure you don’t put all your eggs in one basket, never rely on one thing to drive your traffic and put money in your bank account, diversify, and stay the course.
I’m still fighting with Pinterest to get my account back up and running so I can have my website traffic back. I will not give up. Once I get my traffic back to my site, I have bigger plans for it and none of them include Pinterest.
As frustrating (and sometimes devastating) this whole online business world can be, it also comes with great rewards.
I have to start at zero again and work my way back up. Not anything I’m really thrilled about, but I have a different game plan going back in and Pinterest isn’t part of it. Stay tuned!