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Today, I’m happy to be bringing you a guest post from Melissa J. Will. She shares her experience with Pinterest, how one image took her from the brink of ending her blog to a pro blogger earning a full time income. -Cynthia

How I Became a Pro Blogger With One Pin

Have you ever done something on a whim when you’re ready to give up and find it changes everything? This is the story of how one image pinned on Pinterest enabled me to finally fulfill my dream of becoming pro blogger.

How One Pin on Pinterest Made Her a Pro Blogger

Here’s how it happened.

After many years of writing various online journals and blogs, I had the big talk with myself and decided to actually step up my game and see if I could earn a living blogging. I had dabbled in my efforts over the years, but despite a core group of loyal readers, my blogging never really took off.

I have always loved to write, take photographs, and share creative gardening ideas, so I knew I had the ‘do what you love’ part covered. But how the heck do you convert that into a blog that earns consistent revenue? And enough to warrant quitting your day job?

In July of 2012, I decided to dive in. The first step was to set my ego aside (a lot of good it had done me!) and learn how to create a successful blog.

For the first time ever, I invested in my blog. I moved from Blogger to WordPress, got my own domain, paid for hosting, and devoured advice on pro-blogging.

Although it felt like I was burning money, I also started a mailing list and launched a newsletter. If it was possible to learn to be a pro-blogger, I was determined to do it.

The learning curve was painful and I gradually reworked everything: layout, design, how I post, when I post, photography style, as well as all of the behind the scenes stuff like search engine optimization. Other key ingredients like social sharing and networking came much later.

It took a while to find my new voice, but once I had it, writing became much easier. I saw that I could have a basic, consistent structure to my posts but still be myself, which for me is the key to sustainability in any work.

An invite to join Pinterest arrived in my inbox and I signed up to have a look. I played around with it, but I couldn’t quite grasp how to make good use of it. I knew I needed to pin and be repinned, but my efforts were paltry at best.

In the fall of 2012, traffic averaged a few hundred visitors per day with some spikes here and there. It was fine but not what I hoped for. My content was improving, response from readers was positive, my mailing list continued to grow, but ‘it’ was not happening. I was losing hope.

By December I found myself mulling over my future as a blogger. What the heck am I missing here? Am I just not cut out for this pro blogging stuff? How do you find a blogging tribe anyways? Without products to sell, pageviews are key to generating decent ad revenue and I was not there by any means. I was covering my operating expenses but that was about it. How long could I afford to keep this up?

Just before New Year’s Eve, I decided to shut down the blog. I wrote my final post: a brief summary of what I thought were my best DIY posts of the year and made a collage of the images. I decided to share it on Pinterest and then write my farewell newsletter. Enough was enough. I had tried my best but—sobs— it just wasn’t good enough.

I first pinned the collage on December 26. It seemed silly to even share garden-related content at that time of year, but I thought maybe someone in Australia might like it.

Garden Art Projects Pinterest Collage turns one blogger into a pro blogger

And then it happened. Repins. Click-throughs. More repins, More click-throughs. My little goodbye pin was going on a happy tour of Pinterest. New visitors came to my blog, read the post, and then read more posts. They subscribed to my feed and newsletter. They wrote me emails. Found my Facebook page. Looked up my YouTube videos. And returned to visit again! My sleepy blog was coming to life.

January and February 2013 were my best traffic months ever to date: something you’d never expect for a Canadian gardening blog in the middle of winter.

This Pinterest thing was starting to get really interesting. I began examining successful pins and pinners. Which pins take off? When are they pinned? What kind of boards should I have? How often should I pin? What’s annoying? What works? I found Cynthia’s brand new Oh So Pinteresting podcast and started soaking up her advice. Don’t just pin it, do it!

I became obsessed with making sure everything I pinned linked to its original source. It’s still something that slows me down considerably, but I wanted to be a trusted pinner with carefully curated boards.

Pinnable images became the starting point for new blog posts. I realized I had stumbled upon a good formula: create a series of related posts, each with at least one strong image, and then create a summary post with a collage. Double win-win: repurposed content with increased reach.

My pin-stincts seemed to be good. The pins I thought would do well, did well. My number of followers on Pinterest grew slowly but steadily, and, as the repins fanned out, my incoming traffic came from a variety of pin sources. By spring, Pinterest was officially my number one referrer.

Not only did I finally clue in to the potential of Pinterest, but the value of social media interactions in general. Hokey as it sounds, I realized it takes a village and it was right here at my fingertips.

I do not recall how many repins the goodbye collage had by then but today it’s just over 100k. That’s not even a huge number by some standards, but it is very encouraging to know that it’s engagement that matters, not just numbers.

By late spring I was consistently getting thousands of visitors per day. I finally learned how to optimize my ads, started sharing my content on Hometalk (a home and garden social hub which brought a whole new audience who pin from my blog), started including social media sharing in my daily routine (not just my own content but helping other bloggers too), and launched a DIY garden art eBook featuring the projects in that good-bye collage.

This was turning into a very long good-bye.

Now, a year later, with 10,000+ visitors a day, 60,000 Pinterest followers, income from ads, Amazon, and my ebooks, I am earning a full-time income as a blogger. I couldn’t find a blog tribe, so I reached out to talented garden-centric bloggers and created one.

Gardening blogger Empress of Dirt on Pinterest

Pinterest is still my home boy (big traffic driver), but, aware that things can change at any time, I work every day to keep diversifying, improving, looking at new opportunities, and making new friends. After all, who knows how long this farewell could last?


Big thanks to Melissa for this guest post, it’s so great to hear how Pinterest made her a pro blogger earning a full time income! Be sure to check out her blog Empress of Dirt: Creative and Frugal Home & Garden Ideas and follow her on Pinterest.

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Cynthia Sanchez is a Pinterest marketing consultant and expert. Cynthia created, one of the early leaders in Pinterest education for businesses. Contact Cynthia on LinkedIn:

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  1. Avatar

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. As a relatively new blogger trying to make my way in the blogging and Pinterest world, this is really encouraging and helpful.

    • Avatar

      Hi Lindsay,

      So glad to hear you found it helpful. Hang in there, persistence pays off 🙂

  2. Avatar

    Wow, as someone thinking about saying goodbye herself, this post is VERY. Encouraging!

  3. Avatar

    Excellent Article, just doing all the right things for your blog is hard enough but trying to stay organized can zap your creativity. I spend a lot of time promoting my family members stuff my own blogged suffered. I am resurrecting it. My newest post is about Pinterest but, I do not claim to be an expert like the Ms. Cynthia Sanchez. I decided to get even nichier. (not a word but I like it) I wrote about integrating Rich Pins with the Bigcommerce platform. They are pretty much a plug n’ play type site for the novice but it works well with experts as well. But advanced how to resources are few and far between on the net. So I figured it out myself and now I am blogging about it!

    • Avatar

      Thanks Thomas! Great blog post topic, e-commerce sites can do really well with Pinterest 🙂

  4. Avatar

    It seems as though having the right image still works. I liked the idea of a main image and then a wrap up with a collage too. I’m going to try this myself!

    • Avatar

      Thanks for stopping by Wade. Please let me know when you give this a try. I’d love to hear how it works for you.

  5. Avatar

    Love the idea of a collage of your best posts, thanks for that great tip! So glad it saved your blog too, great inspiration!

  6. Avatar

    Great article and great advice! I will be sure to use it for my blog!

  7. Avatar

    What a great inspirational article. I could understand totally how she felt and now I too am looking forward to creating a collage of my children’s books and some of the artwork. Big thank you 🙂

  8. Avatar

    Brilliant strategy! You followed your heart and stuck with it. It’s an inspirational story I’m sure many others are sharing and learning from. Thank you for posting this.

  9. Avatar

    As a blogger still figuring out what I’m doing, this is a timely post. It feels sometimes like I’m stumbling around blindfolded and things get too busy to focus, so for me, ‘just do it’ is excellent advice. Thanks for posting this story.

  10. Avatar

    This is an awesome blog. I see me spending the next few hours here, lol.

    However, I cannot get the website to work has it moved or been renamed.

  11. Avatar

    Thank you so much for sharing your story here. It’s just so encouraging. Your idea of doing a round-up of your most popular posts on a given topic, creating a new post on that and an awesome collage is just genius!

    We are podcasters, and now my brain is spinning with ways to take the top “time management advice” from moms or “favorite apps” or a number of other topics, and turn those into round-up posts with a fabulous collage of the different tips or moms featured.

    Wow, just great advice and so encouraging that with focused effort, you could grow so quickly. Way to go, and keep up the great work!

    Cynthia, as always, I love your content!

    ~ Beth Anne

  12. Avatar

    This is just what I needed! After blogging for a bit over a year I’ve been feeling a bit down about it. I have a pinterest account which I started a year ago but I’ve just started getting a hang of it. One of my pins is getting at least 10 pins a day – not a lot but way more than before. I’m so glad to read a successful story and is giving me more ideas on my Pinterest strategy. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Avatar

    I am very happy to read your success story, I too have the same problem, now I have got confidence, thanQ

  14. Avatar

    Thank you Melissa and Cynthia! I’ve been blogging for over a year myself, going through the same ups and downs that Melissa describes. Pinterest is the biggest traffic generator for my blog on par with search engines, but it’s still quite moderate, just enough to pay hosting and other blogging-related bills. Still trying to figure this out for myself…

    I’ve noticed that even though Pinterest brings traffic to my blog, it’s still hard to get those Pinterest leads engaged (commenting, coming back). Cynthia, do you have a post on helping with boosting Pinterest-related engagement? I’d love to hear your advice.


    Alina from Vegan Runner Eats blog

    • Avatar

      Hi Alina,

      Thanks so much for your comment and question.

      One reason you ming not see much engagement from Pinterest visitors in the form of comments is that Pinterest is different from other social networks in that a lot of people use it to find things online that are interesting or inspiring, much like we use a library. They can visit many websites or blogs in one session about the same topic and not to spend a lot of time on each one. To get more comments, make it clear that you want them and ask questions throughout you posts. You could also create a graphic to include in your posts that brings attention to your comment box.

      Best of luck 🙂

  15. Avatar

    Very encouraging story, I love your post.
    Gives me so many ideas to work on my own blog and away we go.
    Thanks so much

  16. Avatar

    Thank you so much for all your information. I need to make this work for me.

  17. Avatar

    I kept seeing this pin on my blogging boards and finally took the time to click through! I was so pleasantly surprised to find it was on Cynthia’s site! Great story to read and helps motivate me to use pinterest even more (I only started using pinterest after meeting Cynthia 2 times at 2 different podcasting/new media conferences). I truly believe in it’s potential to attract new visitors. Now I just need to learn how to create good pinnable images for my own sites!

    Thanks for the great post!

    • Avatar

      Hi Shey!

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed Melissa’s story.


  18. Avatar

    There are some stories that simply resonate with others and I know the position your were in initially goes through everyone’s mind. Sometimes you feel no one is listening, but then that one defining moment arrives that is a complete game changer(oh and stats heaven). My blog has really taken off this year predominantly through other social sharing sites, ad SEO but now I am venturing into pinterest and this story has inspired me even further. Who knew that there were so many people out there to visit a blog that many times per day, but I certainly know it’s possible now. Thank you for sharing your success on pinterest and long may it continue for you. Rachel X – From

  19. Avatar

    thanks for sharing. You are an inspiration. I have a real estate blog (I’m a realto/investor/house flipper) and I am having trouble getting started. Your tips have really helped 🙂

  20. Avatar

    Thanks for all the brilliant advice. Lovely to see someone has made it in the big wide blogging world :0)

    • Avatar

      Hi Sheila,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed Melissa’s story. Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂

  21. Avatar

    As a relatively new blogger, I do find it all daunting. I mainly blog to see if I can, to make my writing more organized and hopefully connect with other bloggers, but it’s so competitive and hard for new bloggers I find. This story was inspiring, always nice to hear someone grab success from the jaws of defeat! Some helpful ideas too, visual content is my weakness.

    • Avatar

      Hang in there Steff! I’m glad you found Melissa’s story inspiring 🙂

  22. Avatar

    Well, I agree with you on this, Pinterest is truly a great source of traffic if you can produce a great pin.
    I also need great images to attract the attention to my pin.
    How people that come from Pinterest convert? they can be compared with those that come from search engines?

  23. Avatar

    I have a similar experience, I have one blog post that gets 300 views a day. Not sure why but I have finally decided to run with it and blog more than once a year and use all those viewers. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Avatar

    What an inspiring post! I am not an expert in Pinterest, but I get by. I feel like there is still a lot to learn about this platform.

  25. Avatar

    I am loving all of the ideas on your site. Definitely adding in order to my daily scans. Keep inspiring others to produce gardening.Thanks for this helpful post.

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