052: How Carole Rains Leverages Pinterest To Drive Sales To Her Rustic Furniture Store

Carole Rains

I met Carole Rains at the Ecommerce Fuel Live conference and I’m happy that we met. Carole runs 2 online stores, RusticArtistry.com and EmuBliss.com, and she uses Pinterest heavily to promote her products.

In this interview, you will get an in depth tutorial on how to maximize your Pinterest account and how to leverage Pinterest to promote your products.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Carole decide on the niche for her online store
  • How Carole found dropshippers for her online furniture shop
  • How Carole gets vendors to dropship for her
  • What the logistics are like when selling handcrafted products
  • How Carole gets photos for her product when she doesn’t get to see them in person
  • Carole’s primary traffic source and how she leverages it due to the nature of her products
  • How Carole uses blogger outreach to sell product
  • How Carole leveraged a competitor’s name to generate traffic
  • Why Pinterest should be such an important part of your strategy
  • How to grow your Pinterest account.
  • How often you should be pinning
  • What tools you should be using to grow your Pinterest account
  • How to get more Pinterest followers

Other Resources And Books

Transcript

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You are listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast, where I bring in successful bootstrapped business owners to teach us what strategies are working and what strategies are not. Now this isn’t one of those podcasts where we bring on famous entrepreneurs simply to celebrate their success. Instead I have them take us back to the beginning and delve deeply into the exact strategies they used early on to gain traction for their businesses.

Now if you enjoy this podcast please leave me a review on iTunes, and enter my podcast contest where I’m giving away free one on one business consults every single month. For more information, go to www.mywifequitherjob.com/contest. And if you are interested in starting your own online business, be sure to sign up for my free six day mini course where I’ll show you how my wife and I managed to make over 100k in profit in our first year of business. Go to www.mywifequitherjob.com for more information. Now onto the show.

Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host Steve Chou.

Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast. In this episode I`m going to be talking to Carole Rains, now Carole has actually been a long time reader of mywifequitherjob.com and we actually had the pleasure of finally meeting face to face at the ecommerce fuel conference in Austin Texas several months ago. Now Carole runs a site Rusticartistry.com where she sells rustic furniture and accessories online, and what’s cool about Carole is that she generates a lot of her sales and awareness through Pinterest. Now I actually had a couple of people on the podcast already to talk about Pinterest, but this is actually the first person that I have had online who is specifically using Pinterest to promote an ecommerce store. So welcome to the show Carole, really happy to have you today.

Carole: Thanks Steve, glad to be here.

Steve: Yes, so let’s talk about your business a little bit first. Can you give us a quick background story? Tell us about how Rustic Artistry got started and what it sells exactly.

Carole: Sure. So I started rustic artistry in 2013. Prior to that I was a chef and prior to that I was in pharmaceutical advertising. So I had some background and experience with marketing and design and copy writing and print production and all that, and what happened then with the restaurant job was it just started to bore me, and I wasn’t using my brain and I was thinking use it or lose it.

So I knew that I needed something that was going to be more stimulating to me and my daughter had been and entrepreneur since she graduated college in 2009 and we would have lots of conversations about entrepreneurs and that kind of a life, and I decided that maybe that was the direction that I would take rather than just looking for another job working for somebody else. And I wanted to have time to do things and you know have a really-really flexible schedule, be able to go on trips with my sister and what not.

So I got bit by the entrepreneurial bug and you know I had been as I said reading your website and understood a little bit about ecommerce. Certainly I was an exceptional online shopper. So I had the customer perspective down pat, and I decided I was going to create an online store. So I read a lot of your articles, I found Andrew Youderian’s eBook on starting an online store.

He had a start up guide that was a step by step process and I went through the niche selection process of you know trying to think of what I could sell and whether I should pick something that I really knew well. You know, maybe something in the cooking field or you know whether to just go with the theory that just take something that meets all the proper criteria for a good product to sell and then the interest will follow. I decided that I just couldn’t bring myself to go that route, so I went with something that I was interested in…

Steve: Okay…

Carole: Which was rustic furniture and decor with an emphasis on hand crafted items, because I had always really respected and liked the items that I would see at craft ship– craft fairs and craft shows. And I had an experience trying to purchase a cow hide chair a couple of years ago and really had trouble finding it, and I thought well if I can’t find it and I know how to search then other people you know are probably having trouble finding you know interesting hand crafted rustic décor. So I put the two together and I created Rustic Artistry where I represent artisans from around the country, who make unique and customizable furniture and décor, and I do marketing and promotion for them in exchange for a commission on any sales that I make.

Steve: Okay, so these people don’t have their own websites of their own, right?

Carole: Well they do, but they are really weak and that’s the thing, that’s why I had to do a lot of digging, a lot of goggling to find them because they are hard to find.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And you know for us who live locally where they may be doing a show, people don’t know about them, so they’re missing out on all this great stuff and the artisans are missing out on a lot of potential customers.

Steve: Okay, so you are essentially a drop shipper is that right?

Carole: Yeah.

Steve: Okay and then, so how do you find these people?

Carole: I had a really fun time for a few months when I first started just looking and looking for different artisans and you know goggling rustic furniture or at around that furniture, and then there`s like a lot of organizations that they might belong to especially like in the ad around axis [phonetic] there is a lot of groups for all these types of people, and then I would just start looking up their names and seeing what I could find and looking at the websites you know that they had or if they had a Facebook page to see their style. And if it was something that made my jaw drop then I would send them an email and propose to represent them and you know get some publicity and exposure for them.

Steve: Okay, and so what is your hit rate? Do you get turned down most of the time or people are generally receptive?

Carole: No, they are generally receptive because these are mostly people that you know, they don’t want to deal with a website and advertising. They want to be sawing and hammering and nailing you know and that kind of stuff creating.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: So they are happy to give up a little of their profit in order to get some more sales and customers in.

Steve: So do you typically source piece by piece or do you just take the whole portfolio of products and list them on you site?

Carole: I pick some of their items. So I might try to have say a dozen from any one particular artisan, and a lot of what I show is pieces that they’ve made in the past. It’s not like these pieces are sitting around waiting to be shipped to someone. You know they are one of a kind pieces that have been made and shipped to another customer, but they are items that they feel that they could recreate closely.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: You know given the nature of sticks and you know natural materials that are used. So I just pick things that I think have a good general appeal out of what they created in the past.

Steve: So that implies that everything is hand and custom made upon order, is that correct?

Carole: Correct, yes.

Steve: Okay which leads– that means there is long lead times involved in everything, right?

Carole: Yes. In fact that’s why I can’t put any of these on Amazon because you are required to ship immediately on Amazon, so it’s not an option for me.

Steve: Okay and then so how does the arrangement work? So someone places an order on your site and then how do you convey that order to your artisan?

Carole: So I have a regular shopping cart on my site, it’s– I have a WooCommerce shopping cart, and when the order comes through to me, then I will forward them to the artisan and you know with email and also speak to them on the phone.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And then they will create the item and ship it directly to my customer, and the artisan will bill me either through pay pal or if they have my credit card on file or you know however they chose to be paid.

Steve: Okay and then– shit I lost my train of thought. So what happens with the photos? So do you get to see these pieces of furniture at all?

Carole: Well, I download photos that they supply to me or that I pick up off of their website or their Facebook page.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: Then if they are creating something new they will, they can send a photo to me, sometimes the customers will send me the photo of the item in their home, so that’s sort of how I handle the photography.

Steve: So you typically don’t see any of these items before they are shipped out or anything?

Carole: Unfortunately no, I wish I could.

Steve: Okay I was just wondering logistically how it works. So what about customer support if someone is unsatisfied with the item, how do you deal with that exactly? Does it go to you or does it go to the artisan?

Carole: It would come through me initially, because I am the contact to the customer.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: So fortunately no one has had an issue to date, but if they did they certainly would approach me and I would do whatever is necessary to make the situation right, then I would need to negotiate with the artisan.

Steve: Okay, and then how many artisans are we talking about here [inaudible 00:10:26].

Carole: I’ve got close to– I’ve got between two and three dozen active right now, and then I have an ever note file of 100, probably more that I you know would like to contact and you know I`m interested in so…

Steve: Okay.

Carole: But right now it’s probably about two dozen or so on the site.

Steve: Okay and so that’s actually sounds like a lot of people to manage and presumably different artisans might have different response rates in terms of shipping and that sort of thing. So what are some of the challenges of running a business like this where you are dealing with so many different players?

Carole: There is sometimes little lag time on you know being able to respond to a customer because they are asking me a question and I have to in turn ask that question to the artisan and wait for their response. So you know I have to let the customer know I got your question and I`m checking on it, and I will get back to you as soon as I can. So I think you end up with a little bit more of emails back and forth. There is a lot more hand holding with the customers because you know with a custom item it has to go back and forth of how they want it and things like that, so there is a lot of customer interaction.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: But the thing is that I`m also you know, I`m making a decent dollar on an item. So it’s not like I`m making only six dollars and I wouldn’t want to put so much time into it. If I`m making several hundred dollars you know it’s worth it for me to have some chats with the customer and you know and they love it. I mean they absolutely love the handle.

Steve: I imagine this furniture is pricy so, does that imply that you have like a phone line as well as email and that sort of thing to handle customer support?

Carole: Yes, I’ve got a phone line, I have got an [inaudible 00:12:21] pop up chat box, and I have contact information all over the website.

Steve: Okay. Okay and then I have actually never sold really-really expensive items. I would imagine the lead times for sale are much longer than just some sort of impulse buy online, right?

Carole: They are, yeah.

Steve: Do you happen to actually know what this time period typically is from like initial customer contact to actually a sale on average?

Carole: I don’t know, I can’t quantify that.

Steve: Okay. So yeah you know Carole I brought you on to talk about Pinterest, but before we talk about Pinterest, I was just curious what are some of the different ways that you get customers to your online store and what is kind of working the best for you right now?

Carole: Well because of the visual nature of what I sell, I get a lot of people to the store who are doing Google image searches. So if they are looking for you know cow hide bar stool, my images all have descriptive tags, and they show up very-very well on Goggle image for my key words.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: So I get organic traffic that way from Google image search, and I`ve also gotten a lot of traffic recently through– this was just pure luck. There was a big company called Crow’s Nest Trading that did a lot of western fashion and décor and they closed last November. And one of the bloggers who had written an article about rustic artistry had also written something about Crow`s Nest Trading, so everybody was coming to her saying where are they where are they, and she finally just wrote a blog post that said they are closed, but here try these other places. And so she mentioned Rustic Artistry and I started getting a ton of traffic from that. So then what I did is, I [Inaudible 00:14:27] even more traffic, I created a landing page called “Looking for Crow’s Nest trading?”

Steve: That’s ingenious.

Carole: And I can’t even tell you how much traffic I get from that, and you know every key word variation you can think of with Crow`s Nest, people have looked and have gotten to my site from that. And then on that landing page I’ve got you know an explanation that they are closed, but here are some similar items, and then I link to a bunch of different categories on my site.

Steve: So is blogger outreach one of you strategies for your store?

Carole: Absolutely yes.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: Mm-huh.

Steve: Okay, so can you talk about that a little bit, so how do you do that, what’s your technique?

Carole: Well it’s a little hard to find home décor blogs that are more rustic themed, it’s just not really the way they go. But I`ve had a lot of success with going towards the western and like the cow girl kind of audience. So there is a blog called Horses In Heals and she wrote a piece about me, and Maverick Style News she wrote a piece. And so those have been really-really helpful and moving forward I have you know a number of other bloggers that I`m going to be reaching out to, to let them know about the site as well and possibly do you know maybe a raffle or giveaway or something like that.

Steve: So what is you’re– so what do you say in your outreach emails, like how do you convince them to cover you?

Carole: I include some photos of pieces that I have right within the email so that they can see if it’s the kind of décor that their readers would probably like.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And I basically try to you know position it that way that this is– these are items that their readers might find unique and interesting. It would be something different for them to show.

Steve: And then they use your images that you send typically for this? And then so back to this landing page thing, sorry to skip around.

Carole: It’s okay.

Steve: So this landing page, did you just buy a new URL and then you just specifically tried to rank for Crow’s Nest or whatever the store was called?

Carole: I literally created it as a page on my word press dashboard for Rustic Artistry.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: So it’s got my regular header and footer and then you know in the middle is that headline looking for Crow’s Nest Trading, and I created in pink monkey which we will probably talk about for Pinterest. I created a nice collage with a bunch of different pieces of furniture that I thought would really appeal to people who had been Crow’s Nest Trading shoppers. So as soon as they landed on the page they would you know see things that looked sort of familiar to them from Crow’s Nest.

Steve: Very smart very smart, and so did you try anything to actually specifically rank for this page? Did you drive links to it, or buy ads on it or anything like that?

Carole: Nope. It’s just because it’s got Crow’s Nest Trading on it, and it shows up as– when you goggle Crow’s Nest Trading it comes up as number two and number one is the article on Horses in Heals where she is referring people to me for that.

Steve: That’s awesome. That’s really awesome, so do you run any paper click ads or anything like that?

Carole: I just signed on with Adrol recently and have started doing some PPC, and I have seen my old ads show up now on other websites that I`m on. But that’s recent; I actually hadn’t been doing any Google PPC until then.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: I have run some Ads on Facebook for Rustic Artistry, usually for a specific piece of furniture, a western type of thing. Don’t think I ever did any to generate likes to the Facebook page, but I do occasionally run product specific ads, or promote a post that shows a product on it.

Steve: The reason why I am asking this question is typically people who drop ship don’t necessarily have the margins to be able to be profitable with their campaigns. So in your experience have your campaigns that you have run all been profitable, and if so what have you done to make them profitable?

Carole: I have gotten sales that I know have come out of Facebook posts and I think promoted posts. It’s really tough Steve for me to quantify a lot of these things because I just don’t have the volume of sales to really analyze it that well. You know there is not enough for me to particularly draw conclusion from at this point.

Steve: Okay. So let’s talk about Pinterest then which is and this is originally– you posted this article on your amazing success with Pinterest. So, I know for our store Pinterest is easily the best converting social media for us too. I think it converts at around 1% of all the Pinterest traffic that we actually get which is really good for our social media, and in some of our stats that I read about your Pinterest account were pretty amazing. So this is where I read that 90% of your pins get at least one re pin, 64% of all your social traffic comes from Pinterest and all of your visitors from Pinterest seem to have a very low bounce rate, is that right?

Carole: Correct, and I just checked last night and that’s– those stats are actually still holding.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: So like I`m getting about two to three times as much traffic to my site from Pinterest as from Facebook and I work both those social media platforms you know pretty hard. I don’t do any other ones, I don’t do Instagram, I don’t do twitter. I just do Facebook and Pinterest and you know I try to be active on them every day, but definitely there is a lot more visitors from Pinterest than from Facebook.

Steve: Okay, and then so what I was hoping to get out of you today is you know from the perspective of a brand new shop owner, let’s say somebody who has just opened up and they want to start focusing on Pinterest. What are some of the very basic things that they should be doing just from a beginner perspective?

Carole: Well the first thing that you want to do is make sure that your Pinterest profile is really well filled out so that you know up on the top there is a good description of your store. So that when people land on your Pinterest page they can you know read in a sentence or two what it is that you are all about, and you can use key words in there because Pinterest is becoming quite the search engine. So it’s good to do that and in fact even each board can have a description and a key word rich description. So it’s important to go through and make sure that those are all properly filled out, and then the next thing that I would suggest is finding some other good pinners or blogs to follow, specifically ones that have a lot of followers themselves.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And then…

Steve: What does that do for you?

Carole: Well that gives you some really good material to re-pin.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And you can look when you start getting their pins in your feed you can see which ones are popular because it will show how many times they’ve been repined. So obviously those are things that resonate with people and those are good ones to re-pin on to your own boards because they will continue to get repined. So you want to get on some boards that already are popular.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And the other thing is you know try to follow some group boards and then get invitation to contribute to group boards. There is a website called pin groupie, which allows you to search for group boards by different categories, and sometimes it can be tricky to get in touch with the owner of the group board although Pinterest now has this message option, when you can message somebody directly. And so I think that’s going to make it a lot easier to contact the owner of the board and say you know, hey I’d like to receive an invitation to contribute to your board.

Steve: Okay and so why would someone want you to contribute, and presumably you have to build up your profile a little bit before you start asking, right?

Carole: I guess so, I would think so. One thing you could do is create your own group board and then start inviting anybody who is following any of your other boards you know let them know that you got a group board and you know need to welcome pinners on it.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: In fact you could promote something like that on Facebook and I’ve done that, I have run Facebook posts that– to send people to my Pinterest pages and to let them know that if you find that what I have posted on Facebook is of interest to you, then check out my Pinterest boards because there is even more good stuff there.

Steve: I see and then the advantage of having a group pin board is that you don’t have to be actively pinning, you can rely on the people who are contributing to do it.

Carole: That and also because now that board shows up on all of their boards. So your exposure is exponentially increased for you know just through that one board.

Steve: Okay but presumably with this group board you have to build it up a little bit yourself otherwise people won’t…

Carole: Yes, you’re correct, you would need to put a bunch of decent pins in yourself just to get it up and running, and then you know start getting other people to pin to it and sending out invitations, there is just a little edit button where you can invite people to your board.

Steve: Okay and then just I’m just curious. How often do you Pin and how many Pins do you do a day?

Carole: I try to Pin every day, that’s not always possible. I would like to Pin at least say 8 to 10 Pins a day.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: Because it’s good to have your Pins sort of spread out throughout the day. People get– people follow a lot of boards and therefore their feeds are so huge that’s there is no way that they’re seeing everything that comes through.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: So if you spread out during the day you have better chance of possibly being you know seen in their feed. I am a beta tester for a scheduling tool by Tailwind and hopefully they will bring that live because that makes it so much easier to get my Pins spread out. Because some days I just have you know I’ll have a half hour I’ll just want to look for good Pins, and if I Pin them all at once, I would basically be spamming somebody’s pin with all my Pins.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And you do not want to do that because people will un-follow you basically.

Steve: So it works a whole lot like Twitter in that respect?

Carole: Yes.

Steve: So I was going to ask that was actually my next question. Is there a way to automate the process because I know there are services out there that do that, what is special about this Tailwind service?

Carole: Tailwind is working on putting something together so that you can just when you– instead of Pinning it you just click schedule. And you can actually set up a schedule for the best days and times and their analytics. It’s a whole analytics program as well.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: You look at the analytics to see when your Pins are most viral and then you can set up your schedule so that you know you got Pins going out every five minutes, say at 8:00 clock on Thursdays from 8:00 to 8:30. And that way you know it’s really the optimized time for your Pins to go live. So that’s the beauty of that option is that you know– or let’s say I’m sitting in bed late at night you know 1:00 clock in the morning and you know I’m adding Pins, but it’s not the best time for them to go live with the…

Steve: Okay.

Carole: Scheduling tool, you know they won’t hit until you know the next morning or whenever it is I set them for.

Steve: Have you ever used viral tag?

Carole: No.

Steve: Okay. It does this similar function, I was just curious. Is Tailwind going to charge or is it going to be a free service?

Carole: I don’t know, I do pay for the analytics. They have a couple of different plans for the analytics. But and it’s really-really a great program for seeing you know what your Pins are doing, who your most influential followers are, what kind of exposure. And you know Pinterest is recently really beefed up the analytics that they provide. And that’s really good, but there is still a lot more that is available in the Tailwind Analytics Program.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And so while so I found it really-really worthwhile.

Steve: So what are some of the things that you’ve done based on the analytics data you’ve gathered through Tailwind?

Carole: I look at which Pins are the most popular, and then I might re-pin that to a different board.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: Or I will use that for a Facebook post because I know it’s an image that is attracting a lot of people. So I also use those analytics to find the new people that are following me, and then I checkout their boards to see if there is somebody that I want to follow. So that helps me you know get new material for my boards.

Steve: Okay and then just a very fundamental question for you. How do you get more followers? I think in that article you mentioned that you grew it pretty dramatically in a matter of months. What did you do during those months to get so many followers?

Carole: Well when I watched Rustic Artistry a year ago this past summer. And I changed my Pinterest account from my personal account into a business account. So I had you know maybe 200 followers as a personal account, and now it’s getting close to 8000. So I’ve noticed over the past few months that like once it started to really get moving that it really became self motivated. You know I’m getting about 30 to 50 new followers a day everyday now.

And that’s with just doing the same amount of work of you know putting 10 to 15 Pins a day, hopefully everyday but not even. So it seems to just sort of self propagate itself after a while. But I do promote my Pinterest boards on Facebook. I’ve got a tab on Facebook that you know lets people know that connects to my Pinterest page like I said I put posts up every once in a while to promote it.

I’ve got a signature on all my emails both my personal and my business emails and I use WiseStamp for that. And it puts my logo and it puts the Pinterest and the Facebook logos on there, and those are clickable, so you know anytime anybody gets an email from me there is an opportunity for them to get over to my Pinterest page and start following it there.

And in addition I’m about to re-launch Rustic Artistry with an entirely new theme. And I’m using the Pinterest widget in the sidebar which picks up about 8 to 10 of your most recent Pins and shows them in the sidebars. So there will be a real active way to promote the Pinterest boards right on my website.

Steve: Okay, so is this a plug in?

Carole: Yeah.

Steve: What is it called?

Carole: This is a Pinterest widget. I think if you go to business.Pinterest.com they have widget builders which is where you can get the Pin It Button so that when and if ever anybody harbors over an image it automatically pops up with a little Pin It Button they can Pin right from there.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And that’s absolutely you know– that’s like step one almost just to make sure you have Pin It Button. But they offer these other options for blogs and for websites that sort of bring the Pinterest board to your website.

Steve: Okay, then what percentage of your Pins are from your own stuff versus other people stuff?

Carole: Very-very few. I’m adamant about not spamming people with my products. And you know I’ve seen businesses and I’ve looked at their Pinterest accounts and every board is nothing but their products. So it’s basically just like their catalog on Pinterest, and that’s a veil interest to Pinners. So you have to have to have a lot of Pins that are just more generic and lifestyle related. And then I’ll pop in every once in a while, I’ll pop in a pin for one of my products. But I do not want to alienate people by just showing picture after picture after picture of my items even if they are you know cool looking.

Steve: So what you are saying is if you just go ahead and Pin of all of your own stuff, you are not going to gather very may followers?

Carole: No you are not and you may actually lose followers. And the thing about that too is that if you go and populate a board with all of your products, then now there is no activity you know. Unless you keep adding Pins no one is going to see it. So there has to be constant fresh content. And that’s why I’m always looking for many-many other pictures, and then you know maybe not even one a day is for my products.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: I use it a lot for brand recognition and to get my name out there so people know the name Rustic Artistry.

Steve: Okay. And then in terms of the actual photo creation, can we talk about how you do it and some of the tools that you use?

Carole: Sure.

Steve: And what is kind of your strategy?

Carole: Yeah there is a couple of good tools out there. There is one called Pinthemall.net and so if you are on a website or like an article that’s got multiple pictures, for example I might be on a website for a local manufacturer, and there is a whole bunch of great photos on their site. With Pinthemall.net it actually catches all those photos and lets you select which ones you want to include in your Pin, and it automatically puts them in a big tall stack and then you can write your description and post it right to Pinterest.

In fact I think you can post it to other social media as well. But it’s a nice way to get a whole bunch of Pins in a big stack without having to save them all to your computer and then upload them to you know an imaging app.

Steve: So it’s like a photo collage tool so to speak?

Carole: Pretty much yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And it just does a vertical stack. So like I might do up to maybe up to 5 pictures, if you go too-too deep Pinterest does cut it off and even somebody has to click on to see the entire thing. So I don’t go too much more than five, but it’s helpful or like let’s say you wanted to do– you had a tutorial for example on you know on your website you could pick the five photos that are associated with that tutorial, and it would just put them all together in a nice little row.

Steve: I see. Nice.

Carole: That’s a really quick and easy way to get a good tall vertical Pin.

Steve: What is your feeling on text? Do you always put text in your photos?

Carole: I put text in my photos if I’m specifically creating a Pin to drive email sign ups, or to announce that I’ve got a new board. So in that case I will go and use PicMonkey and which I know a lot of people are using PicMonkey now, and that may has a collage builder and you can set it up to any form that you want. But usually its best to just do picture stack one on top of the other.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And then I might take one of those boxes and instead of putting a photo in I’ll put text in, and so I’ll say you know check out my new board on western décor.

Steve: Interesting.

Carole: And I’ll post that on a different board so you know people will see it. And I’ve also used really great success on driving email sign ups and I had for example a newsletter that was all about decorating with cow hide, or I heard another one it was about buffalo plaid, and I did Pins that had several photos from that and then a text box in it saying you know if you want to get ideas for how to decorate with cow hide sign up for this newsletter. And then in the Pin description was the link to my newsletter sign up. So if they clicked the Pin or they clicked the description, it brings them right to my sign up form.

Steve: Okay. And what do you use to collect the email addresses?

Carole: I’m on Mad Mimi now as a matter of fact I actually…

Steve: Interesting.

Carole: Had been on had been on Infusionsoft and I’m going to switch to Mad Mimi because it turns out that I just don’t need all that Infusionsoft offers.

Steve: Okay. That’s surprising most people because it costs like $1000 just to join, right?

Carole: Yeah. It was a lot, it was a big chunk of change.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And you know I waited a while before I did it and then I finally decided you know I just– I’m going to bite the bullet and do it. And it’s a great platform and you know you can make great drip campaigns on it. But I just– I can do pretty much everything that I need on Mad Mimi and I like the design of the emails so much better.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: So I’m just going to cut my losses.

Steve: Okay. And then question I had about Pins, so it sounds like the majority of Pins do not have texts, but occasionally if you want to promote something you put some text in there, right?

Carole: That’s exactly right, yes.

Steve: So what about a price tag on the Pins? Do you recommend doing that?

Carole: I generally don’t. I have tried it on some Pins because I read consistently that that helps drive clicks to your website. So sometimes I do put a price in there, but I couldn’t really say whether it’s helpful or not.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And you know especially with expensive furniture like I’m kind of scared to put that right out there.

Steve: That’s true yes.

Carole: You know I’m afraid if I say this $5000 it’s like well you know why would I even bother clicking over. But if I could get somebody to click over to look at that sofa then they might start moving around the rest of the website and see something else they like.

Steve: Right, okay that makes sense.

Carole: So I think it’s a factor of you know what your price points are.

Steve: Okay. And then I remember reading that you are trying Pinterest ads. Have you actually spent any money on that yet?

Carole: So I did try Pinterest ad and I ran an ad for one of these sofas and the way you do it on these ads is you have to– you put in whatever keywords you want, and then they let you do a little bit of targeting. You can target some metropolitan areas, you can target gender and language, so I don’t think the targeting is that good. And when I looked at the results that I got from that I really was less than thrilled because I get better re-Pins and clicks organically from that Pin than I did from promoting it.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: So I’m doing it– I’m running another experiment now with a much less expensive item it’s a $100 item, and I’m going to see how that compares. So I Pinned it to my board at the same time that I started running the ad and I’ll really be able to I think compare you know what kind of interest people have organically versus whoever Pinterest is showing this to.

Steve: Okay and then in terms of getting charged is it just per click or…?

Carole: Yes it’s just per click. So you know it cost me like $35 or something to run that sofa ad for a few weeks. It really wasn’t that much. And you know if I had gotten one sale out of it, it would certainly be worthwhile because of you know…

Steve: Sure.

Carole: The profit margin on that item.

Steve: And in terms of just cost per click I mean it’s a pretty new service right? Is it even out for the general public yet?

Carole: I think it’s out for the general public in the US. I know it’s not available in Canada yet.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And I’m not sure whether I was you know selected to receive an invitation to it or whether that went out to everybody, but I did get an email from Pinterest saying you know you can now do this.

Steve: Okay. And here is just a question from my own personal experience. There is this one competitor of ours that actually Pins our photos but uses her URL. Is that something that’s legal or is that…

Carole: Wow, that’s just really bad for him.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: I mean that’s– that is such a slimy thing to do. I don’t know if there is anything you can do about that because I know for a fact that Pinterest can’t go in and change the URL for a Pin, because I was trying to do that with my email sign up because it was linked to Infusionsoft and now I needed a link to Mad Mimi.

Steve: Sure-sure.

Carole: So I just created a new Pin, but I did check with them to see if they could change it and they can’t.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: So that just stinks basically.

Steve: Okay, yeah I was just curious if you know people do that, I mean it’s a little annoying right? Because she is essentially using our intellectual property to drive traffic to her site.

Carole: Yeah I mean you might just want to try and sue if she persists right after that.

Steve: Okay. And you know on a holistic level you know all the marketing strategies that you typically employ for your store, where does Pinterest fall on that hierarchy? So when it comes to like SEO, Facebook, Pinterest, all the different things that you do?

Carole: I would say that Pinterest falls really quite high for me and for anybody that has products that are visually interesting or are related to– you know you can really tie any product into things that are visually interesting for example Shivani Yoga. They are doing really well with Pinterest and it’s not that they are showing pictures of yoga, like they created a blog that’s all about yoga because they know that people that do yoga eat yoghurt.

So they created a lifestyle board like that and like the Four Seasons Hotels they’ve got a board that highlights restaurants, good restaurants in all of the cities where they have a hotel. So it’s not promoting their hotels per say, but it’s getting people on their account. And then once you know so if somebody is following the restaurant board they’ll be– you know they might just sign up to follow all the boards.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: So it’s really important to you know make sure that you are Pinning a lot– a wide variety of things that relate to the lifestyle and the interest of your customers even if that doesn’t have something specific to do with your product.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And I’d imagine you guys are doing that and probably have you know bride– some things like that…

Steve: Ours is easy yeah, we’ve got wedding stuff so yeah.

Carole: It totally lends itself to that. One other thing I’d like to you know mention is there is a lot of great sources out there for getting good photos. And for example I will go to the websites of manufacturers of log homes or architects or interior designers or magazines that might follow us with like and either I will bookmark those sites so that I can remember them and come back to them, or I will subscribe to their emails and then I will open up the emails with specific purpose of just seeing if there is any good photos in there that I would want to Pin.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: So I would suggest that you know people do that as a source for fresh material because certainly you can just re-Pin other things that you are following. But it’s really-really good to you know put new content into Pinterest as well.

Steve: So in terms of your daily Pins do you try to look for the majority of Pins to be brand new things, or like what’s the breakdown of re-Pins versus new Pins?

Carole: I’ve been doing a lot more new Pins lately because I just haven’t had the time to get onto my feed.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: But it’s probably pretty equal. You know there is certainly nothing the matter with re-Pinning.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: I mean that’s really the beauty of Pinterest is that things do get re-Pinned.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: But you know a lot of times it’s I like to see new stuff because I find that even when I go through my feed most of what I’m seeing I know I’ve already Pinned previously.

Steve: Okay and then you recommend everyone who runs a business to actually sign up for a business account. Is that correct?

Carole: Absolutely yes.

Steve: Okay. Outside the analytics what’s the other benefit? Is it pra…

Carole: It gives the– allows you to have a link to your Facebook page on that as well. And I guess it’s really the analytics.

Steve: Okay.

Carole: And the board that come up customer service that you can get from Pinterest.

Steve: Okay. And then where did you learn all of your Pinterest tactics? Did you read any books? Take any courses? Anything you recommend?

Carole: Melanie Duncan I think does some pretty good trainings on Pinterest. And then I had gotten some books and you know I just looked for blog articles. I read all kinds of blog articles on it. I was approached by a woman who writes for NewspaperGirl and there is a Facebook page I could think of it on Pinterest.

Steve: Okay. You can tell me later.

Carole: Yeah I will tell you later. And you know so there is lots of good material on that as well.

Steve: Okay. Hey well Carole we’ve been talking for 45 minutes I want to be respectful of your time. You supplied of lot of great stuff.

Carole: Good thank you.

Steve: If anyone out there has any questions for you where can they find you?

Carole: They can reach me through Rusticartistry.com, there is certainly lots of ways to contact me on that, it’s Carole with an ‘E’ @Rusticartistry.com.

Steve: Okay. Sounds good Carole and thanks a lot for coming on the show, I learnt a lot.

Carole: It was my pleasure Steve.

Steve: Alright thanks Carole.

Carole: Okay.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that interview. Even though we’ve only met face to face once, Carole is just one of those people who is constantly learning new things and she always offers excellent tips whether it be about Pinterest, or other ways of marketing an online store. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode52, and if you enjoyed this episode please go to ITunes and leave me a review.

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8 thoughts on “052: How Carole Rains Leverages Pinterest To Drive Sales To Her Rustic Furniture Store”

  1. Jason @ eStore Coaching says:

    Hey Carole, great stuff, reminds me on what I’m going through now with one of my sites for dropshipping. I recently started setting a pintrest account, thanks for your tips, will definitely implement the board strategy.

  2. Ellis says:

    Interesting but would have been moe enjoyable if Carole would stop saying “you know” all time…it is you know, like, sooooo annoying and unnecessary

  3. Russell Lobo says:

    Hi Carole,
    Super interview and the Pinterest work and Crow’s Nest Trading idea was super. Btw, congratulations, you link is at Rank 1 for “Crow’s Nest Trading” when I just checked.
    All the best for the future
    Cheers
    Russell

    1. Carole @ Rustic Artistry says:

      Thanks Russell. Hope you’ll be able to implement some of the ideas. Definitely try out the one about making a great looking vertical pin collage with a CTA to drive email signups. I’m up to around 800 repins on one of mine and have had at least 300 signups from it. If I’d known it would do so well I would have set up a dedicated sign up form so I could measure it, but alas, that’s just hindsight… Here’s the link to it for your reference: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/188588303120145469/

      1. Russell Lobo says:

        That’s great Carole,
        Thanks for the tip. Have repinned it and added some love 🙂
        Have a great week ahead.
        Cheers
        Russell

  4. Anne @ Money Propeller says:

    The thought to have a landing page expressly dedicated capturing the defunct-furniture maker traffic is absolutely brilliant! That tip is definitely the highlight in this podcast for me, thank you so much for sharing it.

  5. TonyK says:

    Steve,
    Re: the competitor using your product photos with links to their site.

    I suggest copyrighting all of your product photos & if the competitor use the copyrighted photos you can send a “Cease & Desis” letter.
    Good Luck,
    TonyK

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