How To Make An Image That Will Get Pinned Thousands Of Times And Drive Thousands Of Visitors To Your Site

The Perfect Pin Formula: How To Create A Viral, Traffic-Driving Image For Pinterest

Many months ago we set out to design the perfect pin. We knew there had to be some theory and technique behind what made one pin a total success and another pin get lost minutes after it hit Pinterest.

We became a little obsessed with the idea and began trying all kinds of theories. We read everything we could get our hands on about pins and Pinterest.

We bought books and ebooks, attended webinars, bought courses and read as many free blog posts as we could. We tested idea after idea and finally, after months of research and testing, developed The Perfect Pin Formula.

Is it truly perfect?

Probably not. Very little in this world is truly perfect. But it is repeatable  and gets thousands of visitors back to your website. In our book, that is perfect.

The Perfect Pin Formula: (The Most Effective Way To Craft A Traffic-Driving Pin)

So what does The Perfect Pin Formula look like?

VD + PCC + M = The Perfect Pin


Maybe a little.

Let’s break it down element by element and by the end of this post I am positive if you apply these to your next pin you will see better results.

Then at your next business lunch when you get asked how you do so well on Pinterest all you have to do is write this little formula on a napkin, slide it over, and walk away knowing Einstein would be proud.

So let’s get started.


VD = Visual Dominance


Origin of the Theory:

Read this article: Dominance: Creating Focal Points in your Design

Explanation of Application:

Visual Dominance is a theory taken from the interior and web design world. The idea behind it is there are ways in design to capture the eye’s attention before anything else in the room or on the page.

Pinterest is a feed of content, so your content is surrounded by other people’s great ideas. Very few people look at every pin on every page. Instead they are tracking with their eyes for the most interesting things.

The goal then is to be the first thing their eye sees. Visual dominance is how you capture their attention and stand out. Our eyes are programmed to spot things that are different and unique.

The easiest way to be different on Pinterest is with the size of an image. If your pin is one of the tallest/longest images in the feed then you instantly become the focal point. Simply increasing the length of your pin, will immediately draw people’s eyes to your content. We recommend your image to be 600-736 pixels wide by at least 1000+ pixels tall.


PCC = Purple-Cow Content


Origin of Theory: Watch: Seth Godin’s TED Talk – How Ideas Spread

Explanation of Application:

Cows are common. No one would stop on the side of the road and say,“Whoa! A cow! Did you see that?!” However, if the cow was purple you bet people would stop!

There are two big take-aways from this idea that apply to Pinterest.

First, present your pin content as a purple cow. Something people don’t see everyday and makes them stop and say “look at that!” Take the time to make sure your idea is unique.

Second, you don’t need an entirely new idea to be unique. Just a new spin on it. The purple cow, in essence, is still just a cow. But it is a little different than what we usually see day to day so we are impressed by it. Too often we get stage fright when we think we need to come up with a completely new idea.

Remember, the goal is to make the content remarkable not reinvent the cow.

This element is, at first, the hardest element to master in creating the perfect pin. I will do a post in the next couple days of examples of purple-cow content to help you brainstorm some ideas.


M = Mystery


Origin of Theory:

Watch a JJ Abrams TV series (Lost, Alias, etc).

Explanation of Application:

JJ Abrams is a master at creating TV shows people want to tune into watch every week. Try renting a season of Lost or Alias and one sleepless night later you will see what I mean. He creates questions you just have to have an answer to.

It’s that desire to know more that draws you to the next episode. He doesn’t give away all the information up front. Instead, he waits until just the right moment. Marketers can learn a lot by studying JJ Abrams and how he can get such a response out people using mystery.

The Perfect Pin Formula would fall short if all it did was help you get more repins. Creating Pinterest content that gets a lot of clicks is where the true power lies. The BIGGEST mistake made on Pinterest is giving away TOO much information on your pin.

Leaving some mystery in your long/tall image, instead of giving it all away, will make people want to know more and click through to your site to find it. Here are a few quick ideas on how to do that:

  • Recipe content – Show 2 to 3 mouth-watering pictures of the food, but leave out the recipe
  • Craft content – Show 5 or 6 pictures of the different craft steps, but leave out the actual instructions
  • Health content – List all the benefits but leave out the actual product, work-out routine, or health tip

What The Perfect Pin Formula Is Designed To Do 

  • Help your pins (images) stand out in the Pinterest feed
  • Get your pins (images) repinned a ton
  • Drive more click-throughs to your site

This formula works. We have done it over and over to achieve results for our clients.

The three elements in the formula leave enough room for creativity, but are solid enough that if each piece of content you produce has these three elements your content will outperform a good ol’ infographic or a square image overlaid with some text.

Put it to the test.

Use The Perfect Pin Formula to create your next piece of Pinterest content and let us know what results you see in the comments below.


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  1. Wonderful suggestions for the Pinterest marketing strategy, thank you, I’ll be using these ideas when I finally get around to creating mine.

  2. Very helpful, and very true. I think a lot of the principles that are mentioned here are reminiscent of many good print ad practices. I’m really glad that Pinterest is elevating the game for people in terms of creating visual content. Too many blogs were just using any old photo, but now they have good reasons to create spectacular photos on their blogs.

    As an additional resource, Curalate recently came out with their own infographic based on 500,000 pins that talks about the perfect pin.