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Guest room: How Graphics Can Help You Win Awards and Go Viral

June 11, 2012

Rachel CallahanOne of my favorite bloggers, Rachel Callahan, has stood out for her funny personal blog Grasping for Objectivity in My Subjective Life. She does a remarkable job of sharing insights in her busy life as an accountant, a wife and a stay-at-home mom to two children in Birmingham.

Rachel does an excellent job of building community, talking with readers and sharing her expertise and kindness with others. She also runs Alabama Bloggers, a networking site I visit regularly.

I’m thrilled to have her as my first guest blogger, as she shows how properly using images in blog posts can help your site gain traffic through Pinterest.

By Rachel Callahan

How To Use Graphics

In the past three weeks, I was honored to win a major blogging award and write a post that has been pinned more than 20,000 times (so far) on Pinterest.

And I attribute both of those successes solely to creating my own graphics.

Not impressive graphics by any means: I’m no artist. If anything, I have a terrible eye for design. My graphics were solely based on observing others around me, watching what types of things go viral on Pinterest and Facebook and gleaning information from the experts.

• I won BlogHer Voices of the Year in the Visuals Category for the graphic in this post, “Downton Abbey, Explained.” The graphic was a complete afterthought.

I wanted to write a post about the popular PBS historic drama and realized that I had no image to go with it. The No. 1 blogging rule is to always have an image to go with your post (although I break it quite often). So I brainstormed.

How could I make some sort of flowchart that explained “Downton Abbey”? I began playing around in Photoshop, and the ideas began flowing. I got my husband to add his thoughts, and before I knew it, the graphic was far better than the post itself.

Downton Abbey Explained

And sure enough, it was the graphic that won the award, not the post.

• I wanted to write a list of great read-aloud books for children. In a pre-Pinterest world, this type of post would get very little attention and would soon be buried in my post archives.

But since I had been intensely studying what worked for others and had picked the brain of Pinterest pro Beth Bryan of Unskinny Boppy, I knew my post “101 Read-Alouds for Elementary Aged Children” had the potential to be Pinterest gold. All I needed to do was create a simple graphic.

101 Read Aloud Books

You can be as successful with your own blog, based on my lessons from the past year:

1. Pinterest changes everything for bloggers. All other major social media sites are focused on the sharing of personal information. Sometimes, that personal information can include a link to something that person thinks is funny, interesting or worthwhile, but most of the time, it’s about Number One.

However, the entire concept of Pinterest is to share sites, graphics in particular. Whether you’re sharing your own or someone else’s, everything on Pinterest should be a link to something else. Which makes it incomparably important to bloggers and other websites, regardless of your topic. And, if you want to get pinned, you absolutely must have eye-catching graphics.

2. People love graphics that sum it all up. If you can tell a story with nothing more than an image, it will get around, especially on Facebook and Pinterest. You may not get as many click-throughs to your blog, but you’ll still get plenty.

Who knows? You might even win an award.

3. Pinterest users love to pin posts that are all inclusive. If you can write a list or compile data and put a number in front of it to show how extensive your list is, pinners are more likely to share it.

For example: if a pinner sees a graphic that says “Read-Aloud Books,” they may think it’s interesting. But if they see a pin that says “101 Read-Aloud Books,” they’ll think, “Oh, I can pin this, and any time I need an idea for a great read-aloud book, it will definitely be there!”

4. If Pinterest is your aim, make sure that your photo explains itself well. Take a look at my examples below.

• Add a title to your main photo to explain how easy or good it is. I used simple labels for a recipe page for Soft Butter Mints.

Soft Butter Mints

• Or sum up your post with a grid. This chart shows iOS apps I reviewed in April, but also ones I had previously reviewed in 2011.

Best Educational Learning Apps

• Or add a catchphrase. This one added a humorous note to a recipe page for Mummified Chicken.

Mummified Chicken

• Or simply explain it, so that the reader has no doubt as to what it is. Does it get much simpler than “How to Make Your Own Word Search Wrapping Paper”?

DIY Word Search Wrapping Paper

5. Cite your site. Even if your graphic needs very little explanation, make sure to include your URL, in case it becomes separated from your original post. (You can see I forgot to do so on several illustrations above.)

This photo was part of a series of steps for the kid-friendly Paint Chip Art project.

paint chip art

6. Use the Pin It button for websites. This button will help remind visitors to pin your stuff, as well as allow you to designate which image will be pinned. Test your button, and make sure it does what you want it to do!

7. Pin your own stuff. It never hurts to get the ball rolling, and it is totally appropriate to pin your own creations. Just make sure that you pin other people’s stuff, too, or you’ll lose your influence.

8. Buy Photoshop Elements. At only $64 on Amazon [aff. link], this tool (or one like it) will improve your ability and speed in editing photos and creating graphics.

Will your content go viral by using these tips? Not always: The above posts received a hundred or so pins each.

Remember, you must produce interesting, quality content. Once you do, good images can definitely help those posts command attention.

More from Rachel: Three hacks to access your site’s Pinterest statistics

• • •

Follow Rachel online …

10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2012 4:40 pm

    Rachel, this is brilliant and inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing (especially the Downton Abbey Graphic–my co-workers are laughing at it even as I write this). Donna

  2. July 5, 2012 8:37 pm

    Great post with lots of tips! Thanks!

  3. July 6, 2012 9:46 am

    This is a great post and something I’m still trying to work on. I had a crazy-simple post make big Pinterest rounds a few months ago. I heard someone mention a tip (hot glue in the hole of a rubber duck to prevent mold growth) and I thought “Hey that’s a great idea, I’m going to Pin that for future use!” but no one had created a Pin for that tip yet. So I did – simple photo of a rubber ducky with a hot glue gun in the background. BOOM. 13K Pins.

    • July 6, 2012 3:57 pm

      That’s terrific, Krista! It shows that she who makes just a little more effort can reap huge rewards.

  4. September 28, 2012 8:20 am

    Thanks for the great tips and great graphic examples. I’m still learning a lot of this. I have found that between picasa, photoshop’s online version,, and I am able to do most of what I wat to do.


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