Wondering how to create Pinterest pins that actually stand out? Pinterest images come in all different layouts and looks, but visual and marketing tips can help you get noticed easier. The following tips can help you strive for creating “fresh content”, which is what Pinterest is emphasizing now. This list isn’t meant to be a checklist but is meant to inspire you to create more attractive pins that others will repin. Try to use a few of these when you design your next set of pins and see how they do.
Pin sizing is sometimes confusing. Pinterest changes the sizing guidelines every so often. The best choice for sizing is a 2:3 aspect ratio, which simply means that the image width that is 2/3rds the height. The sizes could be 600 x 900, 1000 x 1500, 1200 x 1800, or 2000 x 3000.
If you are working with other types of pins, such as video pins, then you will want to make sure the sizes are correct for this as well. Read the Ultimate Guide to Pinterest Pin Sizes and learn what the best size is for your specific Pinterest pin.
2. Use Consistent Colors
You want to pick a color scheme that flows with the perception of your brand. You can get some color palette ideas from Coolors, which has a color generator. The point is that you want to pick 3-5 colors and use those consistently. Don’t change up your color palette every time you are bored. Keep things constant and steady which will help your brand stand out and be memorable.
3. Use Consistent Fonts
It’s important to think through font choices. When I was working with setting up my fonts, I made the mistake of using fonts that are only available through Adobe Typekit. This is great for my website and if I use Adobe software, but if I use Canva or Tailwind Create, I can’t pull those fonts into my designs. It’s a real bummer.
Try to use Google fonts if you plan on using other programs besides Adobe. Alternatively, you can purchase the fonts outside of Typekit and use them by uploading them to your program. (Canva only allows this in the paid version). That way you can use them across the board and have a wider range of fonts to choose from.
For most bloggers, it’s probably best to keep things simple. Pick 2-3 fonts that work with your brand and stick with those. If you use Canva, you can go in the “Styles” tab on the left side and then click on “Fonts”. You’ll see the “Trending” fonts that work well together. Also try Font Pair which shows Google fonts that you can pair and look great together.
4. Make Fonts Readable
When using fonts, try to choose ones that are easy to read. It’s ok to use a script font here or there, but your main font should be readable, clean, and clear. Pinterest can analyze a pin for text so using a font that isn’t easy to read can cause problems with being recognized.
5. Incorporate a logo or website link
Hopefully, you have your branding in place, such as colors, logos, and messaging. Ok, branding is a lot more than just colors and fonts, but it’s the start of breaking through the noise and being seen. Your logo is the first thing people notice, so make sure you have one. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It just needs to symbolize your business. How do you want to be perceived by your audience? The answer to that question can help you decide on the details of your logo.
Check out these simple logos from 99 Designs.
But should you use a logo on your pin? Pinterest suggests that you should use your logo. Others have stated that when just starting out, it’s wise to use your link. You aren’t Nike or McDonalds, so no one knows you yet. Using a link starts to build associations to your brand, especially if your URL is memorable. There is no right or wrong way except to leave off the URL or logo. So pick one and be consistent.
6. Don’t forget a call-to-action
A call to action tells the reader what to do. Some examples might be “click here” or “read more”. It’s better to be specific “learn more at happypindesign.com”, for instance. Usually, a call to action will go along with your URL. You can use arrows or other elements to highlight it and make it stand out. If you use a lead magnet (a guide, workbook, or other freebies), you can use that as your call to action: “Grab the free guide at website.com”, for instance.
7. Use professional images
I have an entire blog post dedicated to finding free stock images, which can be read here. If you want to spend some money, there are a few resources that will stand out from the crowd. Here are a few I suggest for creating high-quality images:
- Ivory Mix – membership for images, social media templates, and more. Focus is mostly on females, so not the best option for men bloggers.
- Adobe Stock – Get 10 free images and try it out. Adobe stock is a membership photography program with many types of images to choose from.
- Tailwind Create – design program that includes various types of stock photos in the program.
- Canva – also includes images, however their licensing states that you have to pay for each use of the photo.
The main idea is to find images that inspire. Consider that Pinterest is a visual search engine and a portfolio. Think of how you would add to that portfolio with images that stand out and are appealing to your audience. Your pins are just there to be seen but to be repinned. Evaluate if your Pinterest pins are pin-worthy.
Sidebar: when trying to find images, be sure to get permission to use those images. Unless you want to be sued, it’s a good idea to use a stock image service with an easy to understand licensing agreement.
8. Embrace text overlay
Text overlay is the text that resides on top of the image. There are a few different ways to layout your text over the image. If the image has enough “white space” or an area with a plain background, you can add your text in that area.
9. Use Color Overlay
If your image is busy or has more elements, it’s best to use a rectangle element, size it to your pin, and then set the transparency so the image behind it still shows up. Then you can use a contrasting color to make the text pop.
If using Adobe or Canva, you can add shadows and other elements behind your text to make it stand out and be more visible. The main thing you want to remember is to make it readable and understandable. Using text on an image is important because Pinterest is able to read the text and figure out what the image is about.
10. Add gradients
I don’t see many people using this feature, but gradients are where the color is bold at the top and subtly loses color and becomes more transparent as it goes. This is great for text while not losing the imagery in the background. You can use gradients in various colors or even make your own in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop.
11. Learn the Rule of Thirds
Use the Rule of Thirds in your designs. Break up your space into 3’s by using a grid (you can do this in most design programs) and then use the grid as a guide for placement.
After breaking up the space into 3’s, decide what’s most important. Your most important text or image will take up 2/3rd of the space. The less prominent text or image will take up the rest.
12. Add Text Hierarchy
Use the Golden Ratio to decide the hierarchy in your text. Take your biggest text size and divide it by 1.6. For instance, if your heading is 104 in size, then you could use smaller text in size 65, 41, 25, and 16. You can also multiply the heading number by 1.6 if you need to go higher and keep the hierarchy consistent.
This is a design rule that works well for creating variations in your font sizes and creates balance in your pin images.
13. Shadows and other text effects
Add shadows behind the text to make it pop. You can do this with most programs. You can also add outlines. Try adding lines or paintbrush strokes behind your text to make them stand out. This adds visually appealing elements but also helps with readability.
14. Add your own style: doodles, arrows, ect.
Add in your own fun elements. Have an arrow draw attention to your call-to-action or add some fun doodles to the background. Use icons or line illustrations to add a whimsical look. Make your pin different than the others with your own styles and fun additions.
Add borders around your pin for a simple decorative look. Create a rectangle and just have the outside stroke in color. Leave the inside blank. If you are using Canva, you just need to add the border element or search up “frames” under the ELEMENTS tab. In Adobe, you can draw these elements or add your own PNG files. The first two pins you see here I made using Tailwind Create. The other template I created in Adobe InDesign.
More Advanced Design Tips
Many of the following tips are from my obsession with Nick Kolenda’s website that has some powerful techniques for marketing. I highlight them here for Pinterest. But if you want to blow your mind about advertising and marketing through the use of psychology, I highly recommend his website.
16. Use complementary colors
Complementary colors are two colors that are on opposite sides of the color wheel. If you use complementary colors, this can make the colors appear brighter than if you didn’t use them. You can also blend the colors to create shadows.
Research suggests people make a subconscious judgment about a product within 90 seconds, and 62% to 90% of that assessment is based on color alone, according to CCICOLOR – Institute for Color Research. (invisionapp.com)
I’m always fascinated by colors and psychology. For instance, when we view an object, our memory of it can be extremely strong. Color theory teaches that colors can harmonize. Think of a selection of music that is pleasing and soothing. Colors do this too. Using colors that don’t work well together can do the opposite: turn us off. Our brain can also think something is bland and not care about it. Or it might be so turned off, it rejects what it doesn’t understand. Your task is to create a visual interest that also is orderly. (Read more about color theory and harmony on Color Matters).
Creating balance in our images doesn’t have to be complicated. You can start off by using a color wheel and learning which colors are complementary. Play around with the wheel and see how the colors stand out and appeal to you.
17. Add a focal point (aka saliency)
If everything is equally important, nothing gets noticed. You aren’t pulling attention. Instead, add a focal area. Pinpoint the most important area of your design. Increase the colors or reduce the surrounding transparency.
Think of a time you were in a quiet location. Maybe it was a church or the library or even at home. Then a loud noise occurred and you stopped what you were doing to pay attention. That’s what this technique does for your Pinterest pins. Scrolling through a feed, you might not notice most of the pins because they all seem to look the same. But then add a pin with a focal point and you stop what you’re doing to pay attention, take a closer look, and possibly click on the link.
Sometimes all designs look the same. How can you add interest or draw attention to it? Misalignment. My OCD brain dislikes this theory, but it might work in the sea of grid-like Pinterest pins. If you have a row of lines, tilt one to the left or right. Or in a row of boxes, skew one.
We tend to tune out things that look familiar, so adding some misalignment to your pins might do the trick.
19. Add motion
If creating video pins, try to expand your titles from smaller to larger. Or zoom inward to enlarge an object. To go from stillness to motion is key. Think of a button on a blog. When you hover over it, it changes color or might even seem to move. This is the idea you want to go with when creating Pinterest pins.
Interestingly, Kolenda noted that even perceived motion can still be eye-catching. Imagine a still image that shows a ball being thrown or someone about to flip off his bike. I wouldn’t suggest that for Pinterest (keep it encouraging!) but the idea of movement is there which makes it stand out.
20. Try Faces
Although many Pinterest experts have suggested not using faces in Pinterest pins, I disagree. I have some caveats though. One, don’t use cheesy stock images. Perfect looking people are not always relatable. Try using more real-life images–not hyped up, super fashionista images.
Have you ever heard about the mirror effect? It’s goes something like this. When I look at someone sad, I can feel their sadness. Yes, it’s empathy, but I can also mimic or mirror that look just by looking at that person. Some people have less of this characteristic than others, but we were made to notice faces. And feelings (I’ll get to this). So use that in your pins. The rules that say not to don’t understand psychology or emotions. We relate to people, therefore it makes sense to use them in our images as long as they don’t look fake. (We also perceive in our environments when something is a lie).
And it’s true, attractive people catch attention. But there’s a balance between the cheesy images and ones that we can relate to. We also respond well to body parts (like a hand typing on a computer) or the human form.
21. Use animals
I wouldn’t go overboard with this one, but try placing a cute animal in your images once in a while. Or use the tip that Kolenda suggests–a fear-based animal like a lion or a snake. Fight or flight? Maybe. But animals that cause us to fear grab our attention. According to Kolenda, you don’t need to actually show an image of a snake. You just need to show features that resemble the underlying geometry of the snake (or whatever other scary creature you want to use). Either way, it works.
22. Eye Gaze
We have a tendency to follow someone else’s eye gaze. If they are looking up, we look in that direction too. We automatically detect eyes and follow where the eye leads. This is helpful when using people in images. Instead of having them look straight ahead, try using images where the eyes are gazing at your call-to-action or other important copy.
This also works with pointing fingers. And of course arrows!
23. High arousal emotions
Just like the image of a snake, we are also aroused by words that strike fear or pleasure. For Pinterest, you might want to stick with the “pleasure” concept. Remember, Pinterest is looking for uplifting images that are positive and encourage people, not fear-mongering. So keep that in mind.
It’s true that we search our environment looking for threats. We use this to survive. Instead of placing fear in the heart of your readers, why not put a positive spin on it?
- Are you afraid of losing your job (fear-based)
- How to be more positive at work (pleasure-based)
- Why Your Copywriting Headlines Suck (fear-based)
- How to Improve Your Copywriting Headlines for Best Results (pleasure-based)
Of course, your actual post can hit on some of these pain points, but for your Pinterest pins, use language that is encouraging and helpful.
According to Nick Kolenda, he states that using images that encourage mental interaction are best to use. This concept is basically saying to use images that people can imagine themselves using. His examples include a cup with a handle that is facing to the right (as this is the dominant hand of most people). Interestingly, this doesn’t actually work if the person viewing the image is holding something in their hand. How strange! But for the most part, people want to see themselves using the item, so take cookies out of a package or show a hand holding a phone. These all encourage mental interaction.
This image shows mental interaction because the person is facing forward. This position allows us to step into their shoes and feel like we want to do the action.
25. K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid)
Lastly, keep this simple. Don’t overload your pins with every tip I’ve listed here. Instead, opt to use a few of them, and maybe even A/B test them to see which ones work best. The main reason is that you do too much to your pins, the main point or visual focal area gets lost in the elements. Try to keep it simple, yet effective.
Which of the above methods was eye-opening for you? Which one will you try next on your pins? Let me know in the comments.