Yesterday, my friend Zac Johnson posted a story about a Pinterest spammer who was making over $1,000 a day off the social networking site. While that isn’t a lot of money, the spammer (who goes by the name “Steve”) got big media coverage. He got so much coverage that he retracted the story and now says it was all a hoax.
Whether Steve’s story was a hoax or not doesn’t really matter. What matter is that it is possible to make a lot of money off Pinterest, and you don’t have to spam the network to do it. Here’s how.
The Pinterest Business Model
Pinterest is ideally suited for affiliate marketers. The network serves a mostly female audience that loves to shop. The way to make money off them is to post, or “pin”, items that would be of interest to these women and link those items with an affiliate link. This is why you see so many pins with items from Amazon.com. Ten times out of ten, that Amazon link will be an affiliate link.
Before you go blasting Pinterest with your Amazon links, you need to do a couple of things.
Cloak The Affiliate Links
If you’re going to post affiliate links to Pinterest, you must cloak the links. Pinterest uses a service call Skimlinks that scans their network for affiliate links, and then change those links to their affiliate ID!
You should cloak your link with a custom short URL. I wouldn’t recommend using a well known service like Bit.ly or Tiny URL. Chances are, Skimlinks have them in their database of links to skim. The best link cloaking service to use is LinkTrackr.
Not only does LinkTrackr allows you to monitor clicks and conversion, you can wrap the links around a custom short URL that will be outside the Skimlinks database. This ensure that your affiliate links won’t be changes to the Pinterest affilate ID, and you’ll get credit for the sale.
In the above pin, you can see I’ve used LinkTrackr to link the GoPro with my own JCLink.me URL that redirects to my Amazon affiliate link. Notice at the end of the URL, I added a “pin” sub ID. This is how I track where the traffic comes from (on my blog, the link is jclink.me/gopro-blog).
Host The Images On Your Server
You should host all the images you pin on your server. Pinterest links all the images back to their source. If you’re pinning items right from Amazon, clicking on the image will take a user to Amazon. Since you can’t link an image with your affiliate ID, it’s best to send the user to the site where you host the image and post the link there.
The Pinterest spammers use bots to automate the process of creating accounts and posting pins. I don’t recommend you do this. Like Facebook, Pinterest will get better at detecting and banning spam pins. You should take a long-term view if you want to make money off Pinterest. Spend an hour or so a day and post pins of stuff you love. Link those pins with a LinkTrackr link and keep building. In a month or so, you’ll have a Pinterest page with thousands of items all with affiliate links, and should make some decent coin from it.