You can use affiliate links on Pinterest again! Learn how it works, how to disclose, and how to get started using your affiliate links on Pinterest to grow a blogging income.
Back in February 2015, a collective curse word filtered through Pinterest when power users were told, “You may no longer use affiliate links on Pinterest.” Cue the sad trombone, friends.
That all changed in May 2016, however, when the big, red P said, “Psyche! They’re back – make money with us again!”
Pinterest now has promoted posts. I’ll bet you one shiny penny THAT’s one of the big reasons affiliate links are back. Coupled with their ability to detect (and have users report) spammy pins and accounts – that last bit is exactly the reason Pinterest said they had a change of heart.
How Do Affiliate Links on Pinterest Work?
I have a lot of people ask me, “Can I really make money with Pinterest?” Yes, because in a nutshell, affiliate links on Pinterest work just like any other pin.
- Something is pinned (with a disclosure stating it IS an affiliate link).
- Pins are seen and recommended (cue the sexy algorithm that is Smart Feed).
- Money can be made by amazing affiliate money-making blogger!
- What Pinterest hopes you’ll do: promote your affiliate pins.
How Do I Disclose Affiliate Links on Pinterest?
The product (digital or physical) doesn’t matter. If it’s not yours and you could earn anything from a sale (or click), you must disclose it’s an affiliate link. If you want to follow the rules of the FTC and Pinterest: you must disclose if you want to use affiliate links on Pinterest.
It doesn’t matter if it’s Share-A-Sale, Linkshare, Gumroad, SendOwl, or that really awesome inbound marketing program. You must disclose if it’s not your product and you’ll get anything from it!
Read on for tips on link-shortening and how I write disclosures to cover my rear end.
Update 9/1/17: Amazon has still not updated their terms of service or operating agreement, so I do not recommend using Amazon on Pinterest.
I know, I know – we ALL have PROOF from their customer service saying we can. But honestly, I’m not going to risk my account.
Update 9/1/16: I phoned Amazon’s Affiliate program support and Samantha told me you can use Amazon links on Pinterest (also confirmed via email). Yay! To learn how to be compliant (yes, there are rules), go here and follow the simple steps.
How to Use Affiliate Links on Pinterest
Step 1: Go. Slow. (Repeat)
Identify what your pinning audience (analytics + your surveys) are interested in buying — and a lot of people ARE interested in buying off Pinterest!
Lightly pepper your feed and boards with a few, select items. Be extra diligent about this because you have the potential to be perceived as spammy when someone checks out your entire board or profile.
If you can seamlessly incorporate affiliate products and services throughout your existing boards, that is ideal! Don’t let that limit you, however. Make a “Books I Love for Interior Design” board and get to poppin’ in some affiliate links. Slowly.
Just remember: what will your audience want to see? Tons of products or a continuation of how you’ve been using Pinterest for years?
Another thing to keep in mind: don’t place affiliate link pins onto group boards unless you have express permission from the board owner(s). Asking before doing is just good manners, y’all.
Step 2: Take Your Own Photos Or Select a Photo
If you have a Doctorate in Awesome Shutter Skills, use those talents. Nothing screams, “PROMOTED!” like a product shot lifted off Amazon. Additionally, you could get in trouble using those product photos from Amazon.
To see this in action, check out this article on how I use affiliate links on Pinterest.
You’ll upload your photo, pop in your affiliate link as the URL and move on to number 3.
If you’re using a photo provided by the affiliate partner, pin the photo and make sure you go back immediately and change the URL to your affiliate link.
Regarding Shortened URLs (pretty links)
A note about URLs: Pinterest will be filtering these pins just like they do all others, so a word of caution using a link shortening service… don’t.
Pinterest dislikes shortened or pretty links. The links are usually ugly and long, but if you want to improve your chances of having your pins seen, use that full link.
Step 3: Write Compelling Copy
Remember tip number 1, “Go. Slow. (Repeat)?” Do that here. Even though it’s a brief description, really try to draw the viewer in.
- What would make YOU click on it?
- What problem or pain would someone face by NOT having this in their lives?
- Can you make it funny or moving?
Be sure to use keywords people will search for (both within Pinterest and Google).
It might have had its own section above, but I’m saying it again here in the copy section: disclose. “This is an affiliate link” will not work on its own, and neither will “aff” or “aff link.” I’m sure we’ll see much more about this in the coming months and really, you wouldn’t want to risk an FTC investigation or an account shut-down from Pinterest.
I get asked a lot why “affiliate link” isn’t enough. The FTC states it the relationship must be clear – a description of the type of link without indicating a ‘material connection,’ is misleading.
You can use “sponsored” because that indicates a relationship, however, you can also choose something like, “This is an affiliate partner which means I will receive a commission.”
Step 4: Promote
If you see it take off, give the promoted pins feature a whirl. It’s relatively quick to get approved, so you can capitalize on any momentum. If you happen to become a featured Pinner – use this feature to bolster the benefit from the increased popularity!
Bonus: Make it Easy for Your Affiliates
If you’re a blogger or marketer who offers products or services through an affiliate program, create a board and educate them on getting creative with Pinterest. If you demonstrate having a board that highlights your affiliate products (or multiple boards to help with organization), it might prompt them to do the same for their products.
You’ll be serving as a resource and educator for your affiliate to sell more FOR YOU, so give them examples.
This quick-start guide on how to use affiliate links on Pinterest will get you started. I’m sure in the coming months, we’ll see much more about terms and techniques once we’ve all had awhile to test out some of our affiliate strategies.