Ok, so it isn't a Wacky Wednesday Interview but while I work up my nerve to ask some poor soul to do another of those I felt the need to broach a different subject. Namely what I have learned since I returned to the exciting world of blogging. Granted this article may be of more use to my fellow bloggers then my fellow book readers but there is a little something here for both. Besides, you too may decide to blog one day.
Things have definitely changed in the years I was AWOL.
- Google Reader - Gone.
- Feedburner - Dying.
- Blogs full of broken links - Sigh
- Goodreads - Massive amount of followers
- Twitter - Insane amount of users
- Facebook - boggles the mind
- Self-Publishing - everywhere I look
When I left all of these things were either going strong (Google Reader) or just getting started (Twitter) or very rare (Self-Publishing). And to be honest, I never thought FB would last this long. I never trusted it. Still don't. But is is a necessary evil when it come to blog promotion. Or so I've heard.
In addition, there were other changes:
- Google's switch to the infamous "Penguin Search Algorithm" (aptly named since it must have been dreamed up by somebody with a frostbitten brain.)
- SERPs (sounds like some kind of secret government agency doesn't it.)
- FTC disclaimer rules. (Really? Like we make any REAL money doing this. Maybe the check got lost in the mail.)
- Data Markup. (Ummm, sounds like another way to confuse the heck out of the various browsers. They can't decide how to render simple html; can't wait to see how badly they mangle markup.)
- Google Plus. (Don't get me started on what I think about this forced invasion of my privacy.)
- Feedly. (Not bad. Especially now that I've figured out how to make it act like Google Reader, sorta.)
- Tumblr. (what the heck is microblogging? Oh! It is like Twitter only without the 140 character limit. That is kinda cool.)
- Pinterest. (huh, wait, WTH is Pinterest!)
That discovery may prove to be my downfall. I have discovered and fallen in love with Pinterest. Which is nuts. I am on dialup. Dialup plus graphics equals a need for IV valium. And yet, I spend an inordinate amount of time pinning, searching, repinning, and making new boards just so I can pin new stuff. I have even gone so far as to start replacing all my old fuzzy amazon images with nice big pinnable HQ images! Well, there are all those dead links to replace. I could blame it on that I guess.
So, the main subject of today's article is actually.
"What I have learned about Pinterest!"
"What I have learned about Pinterest!"
When I first ran across Pinterest it made no sense to me. I knew it was right up there with the big two, Twitter and Facebook, but for the life of me I didn't get it. Why were a gazillion people interested in looking at a bunch of pictures. And what about the risk of running afoul of copyright laws? Aren't most images copyrighted? Confused I dug deeper. I mean I was seeing Pin IT buttons everywhere, including in Feedly.
Here is what I discovered.
Fair Use Laws. While yes, images are copyrighted, there are instances and rules that get around this. You can google that term for specifics but basically, you can use an image as long as A) it is attributed to the original source and/or B) you use it to make a comment, review or as a promotion. Take book covers for example. Read the legal stuff on a Publisher's Website and it clearly states that copyrighted book covers may be used to promote the book. The original source in this case can be the blog/website doing the actual promotion. Or you can simply link directly to the Publisher's image and make a comment, like "This is my favorite book ever!" Either way you are covered by Fair Use.
What NOT to do. Don't just pull images off a google search, they may be in violation of copyright laws. Don't download images to your computer then upload to Pinterest as this hides the original source. Original pins need to link back to a source which is either utilizing them in a Fair Use manner or owns the actual copyright.
If you aren't sure, don't risk it. If, for example, a book cover artist has an online gallery with copyright warnings written all over it, look elsewhere. However, if he/she has a Tumblr or Pinterest account, then they obviously want the pictures they have posted there to be shared. Otherwise they wouldn't post them on those platforms.
When possible, find the pin you want on Pinterest and repin it. Never pinning anything but your own stuff is generally frowned on. Besides, everybody looks to see who repinned them. That is the main method of getting new followers.
But Mulluane, why use Pinterest anyway? We already have all these lovely book covers on our blogs. Besides, Pinterest is now No-Follow and they strip affiliate links.
Well, I am gonna tell you why Pinterest rocks.
The first thing I discovered. Was, unknown to me, I was already on Pinterest in the form of pins directly from my blog. Sweet! Wiggles with delight! Free publicity and I didn't even know it existed! I figured I might be onto something here. Especially when I discovered that companies like Random House Publishing have their own boards.
So how does it work exactly? Well, think of Pinterest as Twitter or Facebook only in eye-catching picture form. There are literally too many "I Love Books" boards to count. Which basically translates to "what a great place to connect with book lovers!" You can like, comment, share. Sound familiar?
All those pinners need pins for their pretty boards. So people do a search for a book or a genre, run across one of my boards or my blog, (depending on how they search) sees and likes my big pretty book cover picture of their all time favorite book (which happens to link to my review of said book), repins it to their "I Love Books" board. Then all of their followers see it, and hopefully repin to it their "I Love Books" board and all their followers see it, and so on. Suddenly you have new people dropping by your blog.
Oh but it gets better. One thing I firmly believe in is sharing the love. I KNOW how hard everybody works on this hobby of ours so I promote anything and everything SFF related. Since I have more or less mastered Feedly (that's another post for another day) I comb through literally 100s of feeds a day. Some I buffer to Twitter and FB, some I save for posts and some I pin. Cover reveals, book reviews, artist interviews, even movie posters get pinned to my boards with a direct link back to the blog where I found them. And now that I have a substantial number of "pins" I am starting to see repins with increasing frequency.
So what is the catch? Well, there is a tiny one. Literally. The catch is, bigger is better. If you are using tiny images or Amazon iframes, I can't pin it. Well, actually I could but it would look lost next to large images and therefore unlikely to get repinned. Also the smaller the image, the further down the page it gets pushed. The other drawback? It is addicting. And beautiful. And at times hilarious. And infinitely entertaining. I never imagined there was so much, breathtaking Fantasy art out there. At times I find myself simply mesmerized by it all.
Don't pin from feedly. I know they make it easy to do so but I discovered the "source" link ended up being feed proxy and that is not what I wanted at all. I want the source link to be direct and that means pinning directly from a blog/website. Besides, everybody loves an actual visitation. We work really hard to make our blogs all pretty. Kinda nice if company drops by so we can show it off.
Highlight the text you want shown under your pin before you hit the Pin It button. I discovered this by accident. Whatever you highlight on the source page becomes the pin's description. (BTW, this works for Buffer too.)
Don't have time? Don't want to setup yet another account to keep track of? Have multiple authors for your blog/website? No problem. You can have multiple pinners on a single account. All it takes is granting them permission. If you are one of my fellow SFF book bloggers we can even discuss sharing mine if you'd like.
But what if you mainly use a feed reader for your surfing needs? It is not well known but there is a manual RSS for that. For example mine is http://pinterest.com/mulluane/feed.rss or to follow a single board it would be, http://pinterest.com/mulluane/fantasy-book-and-art-lover/feed.rss (in other words just add /feed.rss to end of url.)
You can also share pins. Connect your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts and when you pin you can check a box to either share to FB and Twitter, or uncheck to not share. Can set up for a FB account or a FB page.
I think this resource is being underutilized by the book blogging and reading communities. Both as a self promotion resource, sharing resource and as a discovery resource. There are many venues to explore. For example, Kate Elliott and Trudi Canavan both have boards as does Random House and lots of artists. Of course there are other uses. I hear it is the go to place for things like recipes and even writing advice. But for my purposes, I focus mainly on books, and art. Well there are the quotes too, sometimes really funny ones. The possibilities are endless.
Now, before you go blind reading this rather LONG post, I will bid you adieu. For now. But I'll be back....