The Science Of Creativity And How To Fight A Creative Block

Can you become more creative? How does your brain create things? What is a creative block and how do you fight it? If you use creativity in any aspect of your life, then these are questions you might want to have the answer to.

Creativity is not only about art. We use creativity almost everyday in our life. And probably in every business out there, creativity is one of the main requirements. In order to be successful in any field you have got to be creative.

But what is creativity and how can you be creative?

Let’s find out.


Jump to:


What is creativity?

Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible or a physical object.

And in the words of a great creator:

Creativity is just connecting things.
When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.

Steve Jobs

What is the science behind creativity?

Did you ever wonder about what happens in your brain when you come up with an idea or manage to solve a problem? How does your brain create things?

It has been suggested in one study that creativity is a twofold process, in which an initial improvisatory phase, characterized by spontaneous generation of new material, is followed by a period of focused re-evaluation and revision.

And apparently, contrary to general belief that there is a specific part of your brain (the right side) that is responsible for creativity, creativity does not involve a single brain region or single side of the brain.

The creative process however involves both sides of the brain. This process is divided into four parts: Preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification.

Graham Wallis, a researcher, explained the four-stage process that goes through the person’s brain when they try to come up with a creative solution to a problem as follows:

1. In the preparation stage, we define the problem or desire, and gather any information the solution needs.

2. In the incubation stage, we step back from the problem and let our minds contemplate and work it through. Like preparation, incubation can last minutes, weeks, even years.

3. In the illumination stage, ideas arise from the mind to provide the basis of a creative response. These ideas can be the entire solution or just pieces. Unlike the other stages, illumination is often very brief, involving a tremendous rush of insights within a few minutes or hours.

4. In verification, the final stage, one carries out activities to demonstrate whether or not what emerged in illumination satisfies the need and the criteria defined in the preparation stage.

The first and last stages are left brain activities, while the second and third stages belong to the right brain.

How can one become creative?

I didn’t know that you can “become” creative. I thought creativity was mainly a gift. Some people are born creative and others are not, and that’s it.

But it turns out there is a lot more to creativity than that. While there is a genetics part to it, creativity is mostly developed through experience.

Creativity is a muscle you develop.

Mark Rober

It all depends on the experiences you have been through and how you train your brain to use the information it has.

Creativity is your ability to bring the most unrelated things and create a connection between them.

If you know hip hop music, then you probably know what freestyle is. Freestyle is a style of improvisation in which unrehearsed lyrics are recited with no particular subject or structure; where rappers use random words that has nothing to do with each other and create a rhyming lyrical content. This is one great example of how creativity works.

A study was made on a number of freestyle rappers in 2012. The scientists asked a number of rappers to freestyle lyrics and scanned their brains while they were rapping those random words, to find a way to figure how creativity works and what happens in the brain during the creative process. You can read more about this study here.

I’ve read a number of articles and watched a few videos on this subject of being creative and one of those that stood out for me was a TEDx talk by Balder Onarheim.

He gave three ways you can practice creativity and I found them quite interesting.

  1. Think of 3 unrelated words while brushing your teeth
  2. Use your dreams to solve a problem
  3. Use Wikipedia’s “Random Article”

Tooth Brush

He asks you to challenge yourself while brushing your teeth, before you go to bed every night, to come up with three words that are completely unrelated to each other. And then try to create some form of connection. This is something similar to being able to freestyle.

This is a way for you to train your brain to find connections between things that wouldn’t normally have a connection, and that on the long run strengthens your creative abilities.

Dreams

First of all, there are four stages of sleep, the fourth and last one of them is the rapid eye movement (REM) stage which is when we are dreaming and this stage takes place every 90-110 minutes, this is how long it takes for a complete sleep cycle.

And if you wake up right after this stage, you will be able to remember clearly what your dream was about.

And, in the video, Onarheim suggests that before you go to sleep, think of all the information you have on a certain problem or block that is stopping you, but don’t try to solve it, only recite the details as if giving raw information to someone else.

Because in dreams there are no rules and no constraints on what can and can’t happen. There is no logic; your mind wanders freely, and so you would most likely be able to find a connection that you weren’t able to see or figure something that you weren’t able to think of while awake.

You may want to read this article about how to use your dreams to solve a problem as it also suggests some ways to help you remember your dreams better.

And here is a number of famous examples where people got their best and most famous ideas from their dreams.

Wikipedia

The third suggestion is if you are stuck right now and need to come up with a solution, you may use something like Wikipedia’s Random Article option and regardless of what this article is about, you must read and find some form of solution out of this article.

I tried this one myself when I was stuck and while it didn’t direct me to the exact idea I was looking for, it did help in the brainstorming process.

There are many more things you can do to work on your creativity, read those other 9 ways to become more creative.

image from mission.org

What is a creative block?

So when you have worked on your creativity and practiced all the ways, and you’ve successfully become a creative person now!

Then all of a sudden your mind surprises you with creative blocks. It is when your mind refuses to let loose and create more. It is the inability to access your internal creativity.

And it often seems to happen when you’re in a desperate need of being creative. Because that’s how life works apparently.

My experience with a creative block this week

This past week, among a few other things, a block was in the way of me writing something new and caused me to be late for the first time to publish my blog post.

I received a call from my father a few days ago and I told him I feel bad because it seems like I will miss this week’s post and when he asked me why, I didn’t know what to say, because when I tried to find a reason, I couldn’t come up with one. And I felt so stupid.

The initial thought I had of the reason I couldn’t create something was because I wasn’t feeling it. I simply thought I lacked the motivation to do it.

But when I put more thought into it, I realized it was because I felt too much pressure. I felt like I had to put something out there that was so well-thought-out, perfectly researched and executed.

I needed to put a perfect article, but I wasn’t in the state of mind to create something this good and I didn’t have enough time, which added even more pressure.

And even though, deep down, I know that done is always better than perfect, I couldn’t make myself publish something that I wasn’t 100% satisfied with.

I have spent four days in a row in a mental fight with myself. And it was something like this:

I need to create something, but I don’t have the energy because there is too much pressure and too little time, and it needs to be perfect, but I can’t create perfect. I suck.

When I finally missed the deadline and couldn’t manage to publish anything in time, feelings of pressure were replaced with feelings of guilt. I was still facing the mental block but I was no longer anxious, I was simply sad.

However, when I was no longer anxious, I was able to think more clearly. And what I learned through this process is to identify what the voices in my head are saying.

I simply lost the purpose of my blog and this is why I felt the pressure and felt that I had to have a perfect article published.

The purpose of this blog was for me to learn something new every week, it is a way for me to document what I learn, this is why I started it.

However, recently this perspective started to shift and I started to think of it as a way to teach people something new.

This change of perspective, though might seem trivial, has hugely impacted my entire process. It was no longer about self-improvement, it has become an obligation towards others. It has become a pressure to put something that matches people’s expectations.

And that was what caused my creative block.

I just had to go back and think and realize why I got stuck in my head in the first place.

Once I realized this, and once I got this initial perspective back, I carried on with my process as usual. I realized that I don’t have to get it perfectly right every single time, not every week’s article needs to be “the best article I have ever written.”

It’s fine to put something that is not my absolute best, and work on enhancing later, or create something better the following week.

No one can get it right all the time. And no has to get it right all the time.

How do you fight a creative block?

I’m sure every creative person has to go through a creative block at one point throughout their creative process. It can cause loss of motivation and a lot of self doubt.

And it can be difficult to get past a creative block, but being aware of when and why a creative block develops can help in avoiding it.

I have read somewhere that in order to fight a creative block, you first need to identify your resistances.

A resistance is whatever it is that keeps you from creating. It is that internal voice in your head that tells you, “don’t create anything today.”

It could be fear. Fear of failure or rejection, fear of judgment, fear of facing an audience.

It could be a voice telling you no one cares about what you create.

It could be your mind telling you there is someone out there who is doing it better anyway.

It could be you comparing your work with someone else’s and feeling you will never match their talent and execution.

There are so many reasons as to why you will have this voice telling you not to create, and to be able to fight it, you will have to give yourself a moment to realize why it is telling you this.

Once you realize your resistances, you can then work on eliminating them.

Think of a creative block like having your brain in a cage, once you know what the cage is made of, you will be able to unlock it.

In my case, it was losing perspective of my process, losing the vision and also the need for perfection. When I identified those things, the resistances, I managed to get my perspective back and realize I was wrong, and that helped me get out of this block.

You may want to check this article that discusses a number of reasons as to why you may have a creative block and suggests some solutions for each one.

It is also worth mentioning that in some cases people can consider several types of therapy to help them with creative blocks.

Click to Pin It on Pinterest.

Suggestions from the Twitter-verse

I asked creative people on Twitter about what things they do that helps them get out of a creative bock and there were a lot of good suggestions, and some of them could be helpful to whoever reads it.

“I make a list of ideas I want to write about. Organization and accomplishment are big motivators for my writing. I also clean when I’m in a slump, b/c I’m more productive in a clean/organized environment.”
The Prepping Wife

“I just have to walk away and do something else. Inspiration usually strikes when I’m in the shower or about to fall asleep.”
Mom of the Moment

“I keep lots of different projects going at once. If i get burnt out on one, there’s usually another style, another topic, that i can write about.”
Kella Hanna-Wayne

“I usually turn on a documentary or series on PBS which slso tends to get my inspiration spinning. I also find cider helps too – a glass tends to help make me more confident and less doubtful.”
Peacoat Travels

“I also find that reading a book unrelated to anything I do helps. I’m a musician and have recently started writing for fun. Reading gets me out of my own head.”
My Unexpected Life

“Visiting a place I haven’t been to before or in a long time.”
Sean Flac 2.0

“I actually play video games haha. Or go for a walk if it’s nice out.”
In Asian Spaces

“A long run to clear my thoughts or a little girl time with friends usually inspires me — especially the topics that come up (some may not be appropriate for my blog, but they inspire none the less).”
LifeTravelStilettos

“I disconnect from technology, social media & the society. So as to reconnect with my soul and my creativity in nature and silence.”
Neha Gunnoo

“Depending on my creativity to keep a roof over my head means I don’t have the luxury of blocks. I dig in & do the work. When it gets tough, I’ll switch projects for awhile, or do something physical. Or shower. I work through tough plot points in the shower.”
Devon Ellington

“Sit down and write out a first draft with as many related words as possible. So if I’m interested in writing about fitness I would think about related keywords and jot them down, this gets the creative juices flowing…”
Underground Fitness

“Watch something on Netflix, read a small book, take a stroll, start writing in a little notebook, listen to some music. Those are all warmups to me.”
M. Lanen-de Vries

If you have other methods you use to fight creative block yourself, please share them in the comments below.

Till next week, happy days!

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Your Guide To Podcasting: How To Podcast Like A Pro

If you ever considered starting a Podcast to share your thoughts, engage with people with similar interests, or as a way of adding a different medium to your blog to increase traffic and reach a wider audience, this post, by Arioch Jackson, will walk you through all you need to know to start your Podcast today.

Listen to a Podcast episode about this article here!
(Warning: Explicit Content)

Before anything, I have to thank Ray for inviting me to guest post on her outstanding blog. Her content is among the best on the Internet, and I will do my best to step my game up to her level.

She has asked me to explain how to begin podcasting. However, I’m going to kind of amend her mandate because starting a podcast is literally as simple as downloading the Anchor app. But this is not a good option if you’re looking to make your podcast truly YOUR podcast.

If you want to start a podcast the correct way, it’s a little more complicated in the short-term.

Please allow me to explain.


Jump to:


Should you use a free Podcasting platform?

There is no shortage of apps for Android and iOS specifically designed to make podcasting mindlessly easy.

The most popular of these apps is Anchor.

  • Download and install the app.
  • Use the microphone on your phone or use an external.
  • Record the content.
  • Edit the podcast in the app.
  • Publish it to all major service.

Insanely easy!

However, there is a catch. Anchor will own your material and will place their ads all over your content. I get it. The service is free, and they have bills to pay.

In fairness too, they will release your content to you upon request. But, the revenue generated from your work will go largely to Anchor. You also will have no control over what they choose to use your work as a vehicle to promote.

I didn’t like that. I do see the appeal though; very quick, very expedient way to get your content on the Internet for listeners to consume. Having said that though, beyond the branding and ownership piece, there is a bit of a quality issue that steered me in a different direction.

Apple’s podcasting service accounts for fully 73% of all podcast traffic. They are the biggest dog on the block. Their service is somewhat selective in what is added to its lineup.

Anchor, however, has a deal worked with Apple. If you work with Anchor, your podcast goes on Apple’s service with no questions asked. Current statistics show that Apple has over 550,000 active podcasts on their service. Anchor claims to be powering over 40% of all podcasts originating since 2018.

What percentage of those podcasts, do you suppose, are worth listening to? How many of those Anchor podcasts are 11 year old girls gabbing about local boys and mall food?

I’d say a lot.

What Anchor basically has done is make podcasting so available that the market is flooded with shitty product.

What makes a popular Podcast?

Herein lies the problem. Just because you can podcast doesn’t mean you should podcast. And just as importantly, just because you can use a free app in lieu of actual recording equipment, doesn’t mean you should.

So, what do you have to do to break out of the noise? How do you set yourself apart? Simply put, you have to sound better.

Look at the top podcasts, as compiled by Podtrac.

Highest ranking Podcasts, monthly audience and global downloads
The highest ranking podcasts as recorded by Podtrac

What does this list tell us?

It tells me that the top ten most listened to podcasting operations are not Bethany and Brittany from The Gap or Vinnie from the pier. The most listened to podcasters happen to be some of the biggest names in news, entertainment, sports, and radio. Names like Will Ferrell, Colin Cowherd, and Joe Rogan, to name a few.

I don’t say all of that to discourage you. On the contrary, a lot of the names on that list began their podcasting careers in relative obscurity. But, look at the list again. Do you know what each one of those names has in common? Impeccable audio production quality.

Choose any one of those podcasts and what you will hear is clear and crisp vocals. You will hear clean and tight production elements. What you will never hear is shoddy recording and less than stellar content.

So, why would anyone serious about podcasting go into it knowing your kit is not up to snuff?

How to make your Podcast stand out

Back to the subject of this post. How to start a podcast. Step number one is committing to producing an aurally pleasing product. THAT is the best way to set yourself apart from 90% of the horses*it out there.

Let’s say I have two podcasts on the topic I am interested in to choose from. Podcast number one sounds terrible. Podcast two sounds great. Podcast two gets my click.

Assuming we can agree that equipment and production quality is important, the next step is to define what the right equipment is.

What are the tools needed to start a Podcast?

Budget is the biggest concern for most of us. Real people simply do not have thousands of dollars laying around to drop into recording equipment.

So, I have compiled a list of equipment that is important and accessible.

Website

Creating a site can be free. But, most of the time, if you want free you will be unhappy with the limitations. Cheap though is possible. I use Squarespace. For around $140 per year you can have unlimited audio storage, hosting, analytics, and whatnot. To know how to add a podcast to your website, you can check this step-by-step article.

There are a ton of services out there that will host your audio, if pure audio hosting is what you’re looking for. A lot of podcasters use SoundCloud for their hosting. I don’t pretend to know how that works.

Computer/DAW

The sky is the limit when it comes to computing. However, the most important thing when it comes to a computer meant for audio editing is RAM. You have to have RAM sufficient to handle the workout it is going to get when editing an involved bit of audio. Most Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) suggest a minimum of 4gb, with recommended 8gb of RAM.

As far as platform goes, Mac and Windows are your only real options. There are web-based apps for ChromeOS, but they are not intuitive and extremely limited in functionality.

Having said that, when I started my podcast I was using Twisted Wave and Beautiful Audio Editor for ChromeOS. Both apps are free, and somewhat functional. All you need is a really good Internet connection.

But as I said earlier, Mac and Windows are the best options. The industry standard for audio production/editing is an app made for Mac. It is called ProTools. It’s the software used by major recording studios. And it is so expensive that I shudder to think of anyone actually buying it for use in podcasting.

The other Mac app that a lot of people are using is Cubase. It has been around for a long time and Steinberg just keeps making it better. Again though, it is kind of expensive at around $400. You know what though? Macs are fu**ing expensive.

The options for Widows are much more affordable, as are the computers. And nearly as functional. Cool Edit Pro/Adobe Audition is a radio industry standard for recording and editing. $200 price tag though.

I use a program called Reaper. It is a full line audio recorder/multitrack editor that can do pretty much everything a podcaster could ever dream of. It comes with a plethora of MIDI effects for changing pitch and adding elements to a vocal. It also has a very good noise isolating plugin that can reduce/eliminate background noise from a recording. $60 price tag was in my budget range.

It is worth mentioning that there is a DAW out there called Audacity. It is a free software suite that is very, very good. A lot of podcasters use it exclusively. I have used it as well in the past. My only complaint is stability. It crashed a couple of times when I was using it. That pretty much ended my association with that program.

Microphone

Again, the sky is the limit when it comes to microphones. You can spend as much as you like. However, do you need a $4000 Neumann condenser? Probably not. There are several microphones you can use that are budget friendly.

I am getting ahead of myself. There are two types of microphones that are used in podcasting: They are Dynamic and Condenser mics.

Dynamic Microphones

Joe Rogan uses a Shure SM7b. That is a legendary broadcast microphone. But, it is also a dynamic mic. With a dynamic microphone, you must have an audio interface that feeds into your laptop. And that is where sh*t gets expensive.

Dynamic mics are also very flat sounding out of the box. So, in order to have a dynamic mic sound full and pleasant you must also buy a mic processor. So, why do people buy dynamic microphones? Simply put, they are better.

Dynamic mics have been around for 100 years, and we are very good at making them. They also are more forgiving. A person doesn’t really have to worry about background noise and pop filters as much with the dynamic mic.

Condenser Microphones

Condenser microphones though, that is a different animal entirely. This style of mic is more along the lines of what you will be in the market for. They are reasonably priced, sound great right out of the box, and plug directly into your computer via USB. That last bit is huge!

No need for an expensive audio interface with the USB mic. For the purposes of this post, I am going to steer you in the direction of the condenser.

A company named Blue makes a line of mics that have become the industry standard for podcasting and YouTubing. They range in price from $60 to $250, based on features wanted and style.

I use the Blue Yeticaster. It retails for $199 and comes with the Blue Yeti, shock mount, and boom. I chose this particular mic because it has 4 settings that can be adjusted based on what I am trying to do. Most importantly though, it has a punch jack for my headphones. This gives me the ability to listen to playback or vocals in real time.

But, I did not always have the 200 bucks to drop on a microphone. When I first got started I was using a small condenser mic I bought from Amazon. It is made by a company called Fifine.

The K669 is a USB condenser mic and retails for $35. It is an outstanding little microphone. The damn thing sounded great and, honestly, performed better than some of the more expensive mics I tested. It is unidirectional, meaning that it hears what is directly in front of it. This is perfect for the podcaster who works in a room with environmental noises.

Headphones

I can go on all day about headphones. It is important to remember though, the point of headphones. I have to remind myself all the time why I need headphones in the first place.

Podcasters/broadcasters use headphones to simulate what their work is going to sound like to the average listener. That is all. And that is the sticking point for me.

I love headphones. I love expensive headphones. I own a pair of AKG headphones that were so fu**ing expensive I don’t even take them out of my house. And while they are the most amazing “cans” I have ever put on my ears, they are not worth a f**k for podcasting. They make everything sound sexy. In short, there is no realism.

As someone putting out a product, I need to hear exactly what my listener will hear. So I use two different sets of headphones when I am working on an episode.

The headphones I use when recording, editing, and for mastering are the Sony MDR-7506 Studio Monitors. Broadcast industry standard. Howard Stern has been faithfully using them for 30 years. Why? Because they are the perfect headphone for broadcast and audio work.

They’re comfortable, closed ear designed (to prevent feedback), durable, and inexpensive. I paid around $80 for them knowing I will be able to expect 8-10 years of longevity. And most importantly, proper closed ear headphones simulate what your audience will hear when listening in their car or on a speaker.

The second set I use are purely for listening to the finished product. Immediately before uploading a new episode to the website, I put in my Bose wired earbuds and listen.

I love the Bose earbuds for a hundred different reasons. But, in the context of podcasting, I love them because they don’t lie to me. I get a true sound out of them. I have experimented in the past with the Apple EarPods and the Beats earbuds. Both of those products, while very good, lie to the listener. Beats, in particular, is too bottom heavy. This makes audio production sound muddy and unclear. A podcaster can listen through Beats earbuds and think their work is mixed incorrectly. Hell no.

The result of working with lying headphones is a finished product that sounds great in the lying cans, but sounds like sh*t to everyone else.

Music

Quick note on music. Music isn’t usable on your podcast, even if you paid for it. You have to secure broadcast rights for songs. It is a pain in the a**, and quite expensive. There are a hundred different “royalty free” music services on the web. Find one you like and go with it.

And that really is it for my dissertation on equipment.

Summary of suggested tools:
  • Fifine Mic: $35
  • Laptop: I bought a refurbished Lenovo ThinkPad for $230
  • Headphones: Don’t skimp here. $80
  • Digital Audio Sofrware: Audacity is free, but I paid the $60 for Reaper
  • Website: Squarespace – $140 per year

It is important to note that the learning curve on audio software is steep. If simplicity is more important than features while you’re still cutting your teeth, I suggest going with the free option rather than paying for a product you do not know how to use.

Learn how to drive traffic to your Podcast

How to submit your Podcast to Apple and Google

Actually making your new podcast appear on Apple and Google is also kind of a pain in the a**. But thankfully, you only have to go through it once.

Google play podcasting portal and Apple podcasting interface is where you will need to go to register.

Fill out their forms, agree to their horses*it, and insert your RSS feed into the field. Then you wait for them to approve you.

Kind of a daunting list of things to buy and learn right? I know it is.

It is especially daunting when there are services out there, like Anchor, that offer you the immediate gratification of installing a free app and publishing a podcast within minutes. But, you have to ask yourself where you are wanting to go with this podcast.

If you are looking to just record fart noise and talk sh*t at the mall, then Anchor is perfect for you. You may even make a few dollars from ad revenue they sell for you.

But, if you are thinking long-term, committed to creating a product that is better than most of the field, want the option to place ads or not, and you want to own your work then doing some variation of what I detailed above is the way to go.

Can starting a Podcast increase your website’s traffic?

The traffic I have received due to the podcast has been different. More eyes are seeing my content, to be sure. But, actual interaction with website content has decreased.

To clarify, when I was blogging exclusively, it was like pulling teeth to get people to stop “liking” my post notifications on Twitter, and actually go read the damn blog. People on Twitter are very supportive of other bloggers, but the overwhelming majority of them do not actually read as much as they “like.”

I would publish a new post and I would be lucky to get 15-30 views per day. However, the people who did view the content gave me feedback via Twitter or through my contact page. Comparing that to the traffic generated from the podcast is like apples and oranges.

When I publish a new podcast episode I am seeing 75-100 views per day. But, they aren’t doing anything other than looking over the main page and clicking out. The burden is on me now to figure out how to keep their eyes once I have them.

My energy for blogging has waned somewhat since really diving into the podcast. I feel like I get more “bang” out of the podcast. I use the idea I would normally write about in the podcast. I really love the “theater of the mind” aspect of audio.

And honestly, I am a slow typist with giant hands, so when I get done knocking out a post my hands ache. I think there is a way to do both, I just haven’t figured that out yet.


Check out my podcast on Apple, Google Play, or Stitcher. Misanthrope Radio is the name of the show. It is a work in progress, but I have fun doing it.

And again, thanks to Ray for inviting me. Her work is some of the best I have ever seen. Being invited to guest post on her blog is an honor.


AJackson has 15 years of experience in commercial broadcasting and 10 years in food service management. BS, MBA, and CEC.

How To Pinterest: A Beginner’s Guide For Bloggers

If you don’t know how to use Pinterest to promote your blog, what Pinterest’s SEO means, or how to choose the right keywords, then this post is for you.

Before we start, I just want to say that after reading all that has been said of Pinterest and how to use it (and there is a seriously overwhelming number of articles out there!), I found that the amount of this information cannot fit in one single post. Unless, of course, my plan was to write a 10k words long post, which it wasn’t, to be honest.

So, in this post, I go over some of the basics for those who just don’t know where to start with Pinterest. And I discuss a few major points, like Pinterest’s SEO and how to choose the right keywords, plus some tips that should help you get off the ground and create some changes towards better traffic.

However, there will, most certainly, be more posts to come on Pinterest in the very near future, so I can share the remainder of everything I learned.

Now let’s get started!


Jump to:


Which niche can benefit from Pinterest?

I have seen so many bloggers use Pinterest to drive traffic to their websites and it amazed me how much traffic some of them could get. However, most (if not all) of these blogs are lifestyle, beauty, cooking, or travelling blogs. All of these blogs are great with images.

There is nothing more expressive than a photo to show a great outfit, or a beautiful scenery, or a delicious recipe.

So while I had Pinterest on my mind as something I was tempted to try, I honestly wasn’t sure if this was something that could work for me given the nature of my blog and how it doesn’t at all depend on beautifully taken photos.

So I was clueless as to what I could do to benefit from this platform.

But I was persistent and I didn’t like the idea of letting a chance of such an opportunity, to drive traffic to my blog, pass by me without even giving it a shot.

So, I started searching on Pinterest to see if there is anything that is relevant to what I blog about and to my surprise, it was FULL.

One of the things I realized I could benefit of is “infographics;” for some reason I didn’t ever think about that, and no one ever suggested it to me when I asked a few for advice. But it turns out this is the perfect way I could incorporate my website’s material into a “pinnable” photo on Pinterest.

This brings us to the answer of this question:

Which niche can benefit from Pinterest? – Every single one of them.

Should you use Pinterest to promote your blog?

Yes, you most certainly should.

At the moment, Pinterest has around 250 million monthly users and it is used by people in every region in the world. Pinterest has proven to be a lead competitor among search engines because of how resourceful it is (some even go as far as saying it’s competing against Google, but that’s a little far-fetched in my opinion).

But I also wanted to know what bloggers around me think of it, so I started a poll on Twitter earlier this week to have some sort of an insight; and it looks like the majority of bloggers do believe that you should use it since the majority of them are already using Pinterest for their blogs.

According to this very humble poll, 74% of the 197 bloggers who voted are using Pinterest.

However, it seems that Pinterest is quite the confusing platform, because I also asked bloggers to share their experience with Pinterest so far, and although 74% of the voters are in fact using pinterest, not necessarily all of them know how exactly they can benefit from it.

And those 26% who are not using it are mostly either not interested in the platform or, like myself, bloggers who had no idea where to start.

But before we dive into how to use this platform, let’s first make one tiny clarification..

Pinterest is not Instagram

There is a misconception that some people seem to still have about Pinterest from what I’ve read and that is that they dub it as a “social media platform,” like Facebook or Instagram, which it was at some point in time, but now Pinterest is mainly a search engine, more like a visual search engine.

Now, people use Pinterest like they use Google. Maybe some people still use it to connect with other followers, but the vast majority of visitors use it for search. They type in a keyword in the search bar and Pinterest provides matching results to what they are looking for.

If you use this site with that mindset, you will have a different approach as to how to better your rankings there.

Because just like you should pay attention to Google’s SEO for your ranking on Google’s serp, you should pay that same attention for Pinterest’s SEO rules to get higher rankings on it’s search result page.

I would very much recommend reading my last week’s post on Google’s SEO The Simplest Guide To SEO For Beginners, in addition to this post, because you will need to have an understanding of both SEOs to be able to get more traffic.

What is Pinterest’s SEO?

Pinterest’s SEO is optimizing everything on your Pinterest account to follow the specific guidelines and Pinterest best practices in order to appear on a Pinterest search results page.

However, Pinterest is known for continuously changing/updating their rules (much like Google), so what may have worked a year or two ago, could get your account penalized now.

That’s why you need to be on the lookout for any updates that might affect your current pins and how they rank.

How to choose the right keywords for Pinterest

One of the most important things to pay attention to when applying Pinterest’s SEO is focus on optimizing your account with the right keywords.

These keywords should be in the descriptions of your board, board sections, and pins, as well as the titles of each one of those.

(If you’re new to Pinterest and don’t know how to create boards or pins yet, I’ll get to that in the next section.)

To know which keywords to use, you can do the following:

1. Pinterest’s search suggestions

When you search for something on Pinterest, it shows you a list of relevant keywords that is related to your search. These words should be your guide as to what most users who search that word would be interested to see.

Pinterest search auto-complete showing the most popular searched words along with “blogging”
Pinterest’s suggested keywords for the search term “blogging.”

Try searching on Pinterest with relevant keywords to your niche and look for the type of results you get.

How much interaction the pins appearing for this specific word are getting? You want to aim for the keywords that are getting the highest number of interaction.

2. Category search

You can search in the specific category that matches your niche. When you click on a category it will show you how many users are following this category and the most popular pins.

Under each category there are several topics, each topic you click will show you the number of followers of this topic along with the most popular pins shared in that topic, which should also help you figure which titles and images work best for this topic.

It will also show you a list of other related topics to this one. This information will give you an idea of which topic branches in your niche would perform best on Pinterest.

You can also go to the popular category and find out which topics and pins are the most popular at the moment on Pinterest in general.

choosing keywords for Pinterest SEO, category search
I selected the “Popular” category and chose the “social media marketing” topic.
choosing keywords for Pinterest SEO, related topics search
Other topics related to the “social media marketing” topic.

How to start using Pinterest

I’m aware that probably most of those reading this post already have a Pinterest account set up; so if this is you, you may check if you forgot one of those steps or just skip this section.

If you are, however, brand new to this platform, here are the very first steps to take to start using Pinterest for your blog:

  • First you will need to go to Pinterest and sign up for an account.
  • Then claim your website; this may take up to 48 hours.
  • Upgrade to Pinterest Business account to get more in-depth analysis of your account’s stats (it’s free).
  • Install a plugin to your website that adds a “save it” button on your blog post images which allows visitors to share it on Pinterest. Or get it from Pinterest here.
  • If you’re using WP and want to add a “save it” button on your image without installing a plugin, check these steps.
  • You can also add a Pinterest share button on your page along with the Twitter and Facebook ones (for WP users).
  • Allow your site visitors to follow you on Pinterest by adding it among your social media links widget. (for WP users).
  • Start creating new images for your blog posts with image size 600×900 (more on this below).

How to customize your Pinterest account

Once you have done the basic work which is join the platform and set your website to become Pinterest friendly. It’s time to work on the Pinterest account.

creating Boards

First you will want to create a board. The title of this board should be the title of your website/blog, for the sake of SEO, but also to make it easier for your visitors to know they will find everything related to your blog posts in this one board.

You should then edit the description of this board. And, when doing so, use as many relevant keywords to your website as you can; this helps with your SEO.

However, add these words in structured sentences, don’t just stuff many keywords randomly. This is because apparently Pinterest algorithms can tell if your are trying to use too many keywords to rank and will consider it a spam.

Creating Sections

In your newly created board you can either add pins directly or you have the option to create separate sections and then add pins to each section.

This will entirely depend on your content. If you post about a variety of topics, it’s better to set a separate section for each topic.

This makes it easier for users to find the relevant material to their search query and, also, makes it easier for Pinterest to understand what your pins are about in order to suggest them under the right search terms.

And the section title should have relevant keywords and should give a clear idea to the user and Pinterest of what kind of pins it includes.

Creating Pins

Now this is where most of the work lies. Creating attractive and relevant pins that will drive the user to interact with it, either on Pinterest or through clicking the link to your website.

As I am not exactly an expert on this yet, I can only tell you what I found to have been working, looking at the most popular Pinterest accounts out there.

In order to create an attractive pin, you need to consider three main aspects:

A. Image size

The ideal Pinterest image size as of 2019 is 600 x 900 pixels. And it’s important to note that super long images are no longer working on Pinterest, so you don’t want your image to be much longer than this range between 600 x 900 and 735 x 1102 (which is generally a 2:3 ratio) to be on the good side of Pineterst’s algorithms.

Some articles I read claim sometimes a square-sized image (600 x 600) can do you well with traffic because, for mobile users, it is the fastest to load. And one of Google’s most important SEO aspects is speed for mobile users, with that being said, it makes sense if it would favor showing a faster loading pin.

You can also see that Pinterest now gives you the option to share your Instagram photos, which are ideally square-sized ones.

So while the ideal Pinterest image size is bigger than that, it won’t hurt to add a smaller sized pin for one of your posts every now and then and monitor the performance.

Remember that Google Image search results page shows Pinterest images, so don’t forget Google’s SEO when setting up your Pinterest.

B. Photo quality

This goes without saying, but in order to have an attractive pin you need to make sure that the photo you are using is of high quality. Pay attention to the colors and the contrast.

The photo should also be relevant to the topic and one that conveys the message you are trying to give to the user.

C. Text overlay

Whether you actually need to add text or not will depend on your content. Some Pins wouldn’t necessarily need text to deliver the point, while others would make no sense without a text overlay.

When adding text, you should make sure that it’s bold and clear, and that it compliments the photo and not just adding visual noise to it.

You can do this by trying to use proper, readable font styles and font size and use coherent colors that goes well with the colors of your photo.

You can experiment with different photos and fonts and monitor their performance until you figure out which style works best for your content and gets the most interactions.

Creating Infographics

Infographics are a very good type of pin on Pinterest; and it works well for mostly every niche as it directly provides information to the user.

This will hopefully also create a bigger motive for them to read more into the topic and, therefore, will result in a click-through to your website. Or can result in sharing your pin, which is just as good.

When creating an infographic, there are a few things you would need to pay attention to:

  • Creating useful content. Beneficial and useful content is important for an infographic. You need to bring the “info” to infographic.
  • Engaging content. While focusing on the quality of the information, try to put it in a way that will get a reaction out of the viewer. This can be through asking an intriguing question or adding a motivational, funny or even shocking sentences/info. (This may not be an option for every post, but just keep it mind.)
  • Using the right layout to deliver your message. Try searching for similar keywords to your topic and see what is the most popular? Is it lists? Is it illustrations? Is it charts? The content of the specific post you’ll link to may also decide that for you.
  • Organized look. Regardless of the layout you will decide to use, make sure that it is organized and easy to read, don’t overcrowd it with information or use fonts that are too small to read.
  • Always remember mobile users. You might want to check how your pin will look on a mobile phone to make sure it’s clear enough.

How to drive traffic to your Pinterest account

Alongside the number one factor in driving traffic which is using the right keywords and adding them to your titles and descriptions, here are four more tips that can help increase traffic to your Pinterest account.

A. Consistency

One thing that I found in common in all the articles I read is that being active on Pinterest is one the of the important factors in generating traffic to your Pinterest account.

So, just like with blogging, consistency is key in gaining audience and driving traffic.

It is best if you are adding pins daily. However, not everyone has enough time to login and add a new pin every single day, so Pinterest facilitated that for you by giving business accounts the option to schedule pins in advance; you can schedule up to 30 pins.

There is another way that I found a lot of users recommending and that is using Tailwind. It is an app that allows you to schedule pins to share on your Pinterest, among many other perks.

It is also approved by Pinterest, so it is safe to use. I honestly haven’t tried it (and I don’t plan to soon), so I can’t vouch for it, but I have only read good reviews about it.

B. Repin related pins

Another thing that can help your account be recognized on Pinterest is if you repin from other accounts that are related to your niche or things that those who would be interested in your content, might also be interested in seeing.

You can create a separate board on your account for those pins you add from other people and save those pins there, to keep everything organized.

C. Join group boards

Joining group boards on Pinterest that post about similar topics to yours, helps your account get recognized by visitors interested in this topic.

When you join a Pinterest group, you each add your pins and then repin each other’s pins to your board.

This way you get more exposure through the other accounts’ following and increase your Pin’s popularity by increasing its impressions and repin rates.

However, when joining borads, make sure to join ones that are in fact related to your niche and ones that aren’t overcrowded with members, a good number would maybe range between 20-25 members, as it is said that Pinterest has been paying more attention to group boards due to high pinning/repinning ratios which can equate spamming.

D. Use #hashtags

On Pinterest, you can use hashtags like you do on Twitter; and it is said that this can increase your visibility on the search result page for both the actual word and the word with the hashtag, as it let’s Pinterest recognize your content as relevant to this specific topic

Usually you would add the hashtagged keywords in the description box of your Pin, after you’ve explained what your pin is about in sentences that are also rich with the relevant keywords.

Conclusion

To get more pin views on Pinterest:

The below steps are the things you need to check and fix in order to help you get more pin views on Pinterest which can hopefully lead to more traffic to your blog.

Here are the 10 tips to get out of this post.

  1. Proper size (600×900) and high quality images.
  2. Put mobile users in mind (clear and bold fonts are best).
  3. Useful and organized infographics.
  4. Use Pinterest search suggestions and category search to choose the right keywords.
  5. Proper use of Pinterest’s SEO: Make sure you use as many relevant keywords in the titles and descriptions.
  6. Use #hashtags.
  7. Remember that Google Image search results shows Pinterest images. So pay attention to Google’s SEO.
  8. Join group boards and repin related pins to your niche.
  9. Treat Pinterest like you treat your blog, in that, be consistent with pinning (preferably daily).
  10. Create new pins for old posts. Pinterest likes active accounts with new pins.
10 tips to get more pin views on Pinterest.
Still experimenting with colors and fonts myself… Click to Pin it on Pinterest.

Till next week, happy days!

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