If you’re posting affiliate links on Pinterest, you need to make sure that you’re following all the rules. Failing to pin appropriately and make the required disclosures can get you marked as spam, cause you to lose followers, and even get you sued by the FTC.
That being said, pinning affiliate links is 100% allowed on Pinterest, and it’s an easy side hustle that can quickly increase your income. Just make sure you’re doing it right, and you’ll be counting your money all the way to the bank!
Affiliate links defined
In case you don’t know what affiliate links are, an affiliate link is a web address or URL that sends the person who clicks it to a product listing. If the person then buys that product, you get a commission for making the referral.
All affiliate links are not created equal!
Some companies pay a higher commission than others. Some companies allow 30 days or more cookie duration (that is how long after they click your link you will get credit for the sale) and some are as few as 24 hours. Also, if it’s a product many bloggers are recommending, sometimes the first blogger to refer gets the commission and sometimes it’s the last.
You’ll need to read your affiliate agreements to understand how the company whose products you are promoting handles cookies and multiple referrals.
Zazzle has a great affiliate program. You get 14% per sale, the cookies are 45 days, and you don’t need a website to join! They have lots of fun apparel and accessories you can promote.
But did you know that you can pin images with your affiliate link straight from their site? I’ll show you how later in the post.
If you’re searching for affiliate programs to promote on Pinterest, I suggest you start with Share A Sale, Zazzle, and possibly Amazon. If you take a course or buy an ebook from a blogger and you love it, see if they have an affiliate program that allows you to share your link on Pinterest.
Regarding Amazon affiliate links on Pinterest:
There is some confusion about whether Amazon affiliate links are allowed on Pinterest. While Pinterest does not have any issue with it, the current language in Amazon’s agreement does not mention Pinterest as approved social media.
Many Amazon representatives have confirmed that it is approved, however, others have said no. So it’s up to you to decide whether you want to risk your Amazon affiliate status.
I recommend using other affiliate programs (instead of or in addition to Amazon) for Pinterest because Amazon has much shorter cookies and lower commission rates than other programs.
If you do add some Amazon links, make sure you’re using the full link-not the shortened one. Pinterest doesn’t like shortened links.
On to the most common mistakes when affiliate marketing on Pinterest.
Whether you realize it or not, if you’re using Pinterest, you’ve probably already seen and even clicked on an affiliate link on Pinterest. Some bloggers and marketers are absolutely brilliant about the products they choose to promote and how they promote their affiliate links on Pinterest. And they make lots of money!
But others are just randomly pinning affiliate links willy-nilly (or not pinning affiliate links at all!) and wondering why they’re not getting sales. So let’s talk about some of the ways affiliate pinning is done wrong.
Mistake 1: You’re not pinning any affiliate links.
A lot of bloggers write articles write roundup articles with their favorite products and resources. We make pretty pins, put them out on Pinterest, and wait for traffic and commissions to start rolling in.
But you might not have ever thought about pinning your affiliate link directly to Pinterest. Many affiliate programs have images that you can pin straight to Pinterest. It doesn’t have to go to your website or a blog post.
Just use your affiliate link to visit the sales page and pin to your account as you would any other web page. You can also upload an image to Pinterest (use the red + button) and direct it to the sales page using your affiliate link.
Mistake 2: You’re not making original pins for affiliate products.
If your affiliate program allows it, you can design an original pin that leads to the product with your affiliate link. Making pins is really easy. There are many online programs that help you make pins without having to buy or learn Photoshop.
I like using Stencil for making pins because I can pin from my Stencil account directly to Pinterest. That saves a couple of steps, and a little time. Sign up for a free account with Stencil here.
Watch how easily I make a pin for an affiliate product in Stencil:
Here are a couple of pins that lead to affiliate products that I made.
I know of one blogger who made 29 sales in one day by creating her own pins that lead to another blogger’s product. At about $9 per sale, that was a pretty good day!
A note on branding pins: I would normally suggest that you add your URL or logo to a pin before you upload it to Pinterest. However, these pins are not going to my website, and I don’t feel comfortable adding someone else’s website. So I leave the branding off completely.
Mistake 3: You’re not pinning from a business account
Whenever you promote affiliate products, you should make sure that you are following all the rules.
If you plan to make money from your Pinterest account, then you need to register it as a business account on Pinterest. The good news is that creating a business account is free AND you get some pretty powerful analytics so you can tell what is working for you and what is not.
It’s easy to convert a personal account to a business account on Pinterest. Simply log in to your account, hover over the 3 dots in the top right corner, and click ‘switch to business.’ Then follow the prompts to complete your set up and done.
Mistake 4: You’re not disclosing correctly or at all.
According to a recent study by Princeton University, only a small fraction of marketers are complying with regulations for disclosing affiliate links. Here’s a quote from the paper:
Across YouTube and Pinterest, we discovered that 10.49% of all affiliate videos and 7.03% of all affiliate pins contained an affiliate marketing disclosure.
Y’all. We’re supposed to disclose when we make money from promoting products. It’s called being honest, so just do it.
Many of us who do disclose affiliate links use the words ‘Affiliate Link’ in our disclosure statements on pins, but FTC has clearly stated that that terminology is insufficient.
Here’s a quote from their website:
Is “affiliate link” by itself an adequate disclosure? What about a “buy now” button?
Consumers might not understand that “affiliate link” means that the person placing the link is getting paid for purchases through the link. Similarly, a “buy now” button would not be adequate.
For social media, the FTC suggests disclosing with ‘Ad’ or ‘Sponsored’ as acceptable terminology.
Don’t think the FTC is enforcing these rules?
A couple of years ago a blogger was sued by the FTC for failure to disclose and ordered to pay $40 million! So I think it’s worth making sure your website and affiliate links are up to standards with the FTC. Read about that case here.
Mistake 5: You’re pinning too many affiliate links
You can’t just start pinning only affiliate links on your account. Pinterest could mark you as spam if you do too much.
When you’re just starting out, make sure you’re using Pinterest to find interesting articles related to your niche. You’ll be surprised how quickly you increase your reach and gain followers by pinning articles and items related to your niche.
Pinterest likes to see you using Pinterest, not just adding a bunch of affiliate links once a week.
Be careful when pinning affiliate links to group boards that you do not own.
Some group boards do not allow you to add pins that lead directly to affiliate links. So make sure you’re reading the description of the board for board rules.
If it doesn’t say you can’t, then scroll through the board a little. If you hover over a pin you can see the URL that it leads to, and if you notice other affiliate links then you’re good to go.
Also, make sure that the product is relevant to the theme of the board. Think about whether the people who follow that board are interested in the product you are pinning.
And don’t spam the board with affiliate links. Add other pins that the followers of that board would like. Whether that is articles you write or from another website.
Basically, you want to think about how you would want others to pin to one of your boards and extend the same courtesy to that board owner.
Mistake 6: You’re not using hashtags
Since Pinterest gave the green light on hashtags, bloggers who are using them correctly are seeing huge results! When your pins show up with a hashtag search you can get tons of clicks.
Pinterest says you can use up to 20, but I don’t use more than 4 hashtags. I think it starts to look like spam when there are tons of hashtags. The spam bots that steal pins add tons of hashtags so I try not to look like one of those.
If you’re stuck for which hashtags to use, do a Pinterest search for your topic. Take a look at some of the hashtags people are using. Click on them to make sure your pin will fit in with the results. You don’t want to use a hashtag that has been hijacked and the results aren’t relevant for your pin anymore.
Also, don’t use cutesy words or just make up some hashtags. Hashtags should be keywords. People will search a hashtag to find articles and items related to a topic they are interested in.
Try popular hashtags like #shop #giftidea(s) #apparel plus niche specific keywords like #blogging and #coffee to help your pins get seen by people who are in the mood to buy.
Mistake 7: You’re pinning the wrong products
I mentioned this earlier in the article, but you can’t just choose any ol’ product to promote and wait for money to come rolling in. You need to choose things that are unique and evoke emotion when people see them.
Don’t pin affiliate links to products people walk by when they go into Wal-mart. Choose products that stand out and scream click here!
Pick products that evoke emotion in the person viewing them.
Think about why women buy fashion products. They don’t need clothes and jewelry. They buy because they envy the look of the person in the image. Nobody buys a goofy mug because they need somewhere to pour their coffee, they buy because the design makes them laugh or reminds them of a loved one.
Choose your products wisely. Your followers will start to distrust you or unfollow if you’re just pinning random affiliate links and hoping someone clicks.
Mistake 8: You’re not using a scheduler
Remember how I mentioned that you shouldn’t just drop a bunch of links at one time? You will also tire quickly from manually pinning every day.
The answer is to use a scheduler. I use two actually.
I have a Board Booster account where I create campaigns that send my pins out to group boards, and I use Tailwind to drip pins out at intervals. You don’t really need both, but Board Booster is easier to ‘set and forget’ and Tailwind is better for giving new pins a quick boost.
Using Board Booster
To set it and forget it in Board Booster, you first have to sign up for an account. They do offer a free trial period so don’t hesitate to give it a try and see if you like it.
Once you have an account, hover over ‘Pinning Tools’ and then click on ‘Campaigns.’ Click ‘New Campaign’ and select ‘Random Campaign.’ From here you can choose to have BB choose pins from a secret board you create for your affiliate pins OR you can add specific pin URLs.
Next, you’ll choose some boards and a frequency for pinning. The default interval is two pins per day, but that is much too often for most boards. Make sure you look at the board over a few days to get a feel for how often you can pin to it without looking spammy.
With Tailwind, you’ll need to sign up for an account (they also offer a free trial). Make sure you also grab the Chrome extension for Tailwind, too. You’ll need it to schedule out pins directly from affiliate sites.
Watch this video for instructions to add your affiliate link when pinning directly from Zazzle.com. It’s super easy when you use the Tailwind extension.
Mistake 9: You’re only using schedulers
This tip is more about having a healthy Pinterest account so your pins reach more people. So while it’s not directly related to affiliate pins, having success with affiliate sales does depend on getting eyeballs on your pins and establishing trust with your followers.
There’s a lot of talk about manual pinning on Pinterest. Some are saying that Pinterest doesn’t like schedulers, but I don’t believe that is true. Pinterest has even said so, but they do say that they like to see you using Pinterest as it was intended to be used.
That means that you can’t just schedule all your pins or set your campaigns and just forget it. Well, you can, but over time you’ll see that your reach will begin to fall.
And the thing that makes manual pinning so successful is not just that you are manually pinning, you need to be using Pinterest.
So make sure you are also:
- Logging into Pinterest every day
- Clicking through pins and reading the articles before you pin: don’t send your followers to junk sites or spam
- Searching for topics within your niche and finding good articles to share
- Setting up Google alerts for keywords related to your niche and pin directly from new articles
- Following quality accounts that pin topics within your niche
If you’re working on growing your Facebook page, too, you should check out my post for getting more likes and shares from your business page.
What do you find works best for getting affiliate sales on Pinterest?
Leave me a comment below!