Pinterest: from 400 to 1 million views in 4 months

Ten steps to grow your Pinterest in a few months time:

So Pinterest. Some love it, some hate it, some just hang around a bit. I used to be a bit of all three: Pinterest is an amazing tool when it came to all that moodboarding and gathering inspiration. But I would check in and find my work plastered all over the suggestions (I had a record of 17 images in about 4 rows; most of them without proper credits). That was back in late 2018 and I decided to do some 30 minutes research into Pinterest and spend my next few days uploading about 700 images to a variety of boards I set up - mostly out of sheer frustration about it. While by then I did had a handful of work on there which gained me a few hundred views on average - I never spend much time on it for the rest as I was too busy with Facebook and especially Instagram. And life. And everything else beside Pinterest.

Until that faithfull day I got basically fed up - and decided to try and get at least some of that repinning to my website. That was in december 21018, when I’m writing this on april the 8th 2019 - I just hit my one million unique views on an average month with 40k unique interactions.

And honestly: I didn’t do too much special. I still am learning “the ways of Pinterest” and I’ve know from more recent articles I came across there are plenty more ways of interacting, gaining traffic and getting noticed; I will keep this as honest as possible and try to dive into the things I did and what I’ve learned so far.

First of all: why Pinterest? It’s an amazing place to get found. Sure a lot of people go there for their own work and moodboards; but I landed some smaller jobs like bookcovers because people where looking for work. I have made my peace a while ago I will always find my work on there with no credits or links, but considering that if you get picked up and you got that link back to your website - it can gain some serious traffic. I call it a more “slow media” channel like a blog or youtube as it needs more time; but your work will “drown less” if battling social media and those whole strategies of getting noticed. It’s also this: you don’t want all your eggs in one basket; while yes it is a lot of work, it’s just another part of marketing which can generate more traffic (and potential income) beside your “fast social media”.

But enough talk: lets get to the actual business!

  • My first steps into Pinterest and what I did:

  • 1. Less is not more: the more you have on there - the more chances you will get reblogged. At the present time I’m at about 850 pins I have uploaded manually one by one.

  • 2. Descriptions matter: I’ve read (and have noticed) that these matter a lot. Similar to SEO it will be used to generate keywords. I had a few standard descriptions I copy pasted to save time (as I had to uploaded hundreds of single images).
    Example of a description: “Photography by Laura Sheridan / Studio Sheridan's Art - Available for Fantasy, Creative Portraiture, Fine Art & Fashion Photography. Based in Antwerp, Belgium

  • 3. Keywords I included where what I did in full sentences/descriptions: photography, fantasy, fine art, portraiture, creative & fashion. When I went more niche I started adding or removing: jewelry, product, lookbook, … or writing entire new ones. When I uploaded for Jesters, Arcadia, Requiem and Moth Girls (a few series, old and ongoing) I wrote specific new descriptions to include search terms like knights, warriors, shieldmaidens, … while still staying true to my work as a whole (photography, fine art, …).

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  • 4. Boards: I never really uploaded files twice but I did organise my boards: this was also in mind for if potential clients would check out my profile. I like to see it as a huge digital book or catalogue of my services where people could quickly check in and see. My boards right now are roughly divided into a few main categories: series get each their own, fashion & editorial have one, portraiture, creative effects (prisms, kaleidoscope, filters, …), product, commissions, …. I tried not to get too many, but also just enough to not get my work too mixed up.

  • 5. Link to your website. Not your social media, not your blog. Your main home on this world wide internet: If you don’t have a website you, even just as a single landing space - go make one now! I highly recommend Squarespace but there are plenty of other options. Do this for évery single pin. I always simply included "www.sheridansart.com” - which brings you straight to my portfolio which I keep up to date as much as I can.

  • 6. Link your Pinterest to your website (through settings): this will allow you to follow traffic, including what people pin from your website. This is an incredible insight as it may help you to determine which image(s) to keep on your website. For example I have a few clients shoots who do incredibly well and keep getting reposted!

  • 7. Make it a business account. This will give you insight in the traffic - what gets repinned, how much, how many views, interactions, visitors, … you name it. It’s a bit of a rocket science feeling in the beginning, but I find this a great tool to determine what people may like images wise - say for example for a campaign, a pitch, a new promo you want to run or on a personal leve: what is maybe cool to write about in a blog, what to get inspired by if you got an artblock, …

  • 8. Keep it up to date. I have found if I don’t post enough - my views & traffic will drop (significantly). It’s not that I really care, but I think it’s important to mention if you’re looking to grow and keep it growing. Once I found that out I did try to just spend some time (30 minutes a day in the busy upload period & now about once to twice a week) to get some new work on there. Just to keep things rolling on a steady pace without feeling too overwhelmed and bored, but also as I found it an awesome way to gain traffic while I am basically sleeping and making new work. Even just one or two photos is enough.

  • 9. Gaining traffic: I found some images do great, while others don’t at all. While it’s uncredible unpredictable with Pinterest (and social media in general) - please do not get discouraged if something does not take off as you want. If you read this, you may know my work (and if you don’t - just check out my portfolio) - my most loved work is often within the fantasy & painterly realm still - though my product work is also gaining significant traction. Create new work and try to post those every few days; just one. I never shared my Pinterest with others - I just uploaded and did email duty after.

  • 10. Have patience: it’s an INSANE amount of work, it’s super boring and you may want watch some good series like Love, Death & Robots on Netflix. Mine kicked off surprisingly fast - but I’m a workaholic with too much work to update and a freelancer who takes any excuse to watch some of that good old Netflix - so I made the best of it. The actual process took me 2 to 3 full days to get the major amount of work on there, doing this non-stop in the beginning (which is starting at about 8 am until 8 to 10 pm). To give an idea.

And that’s about it! Again, I am pretty lowkey about Pinterest and I did barely any research on it. I just thought I would finally battle all those uncredited images and start uploading it myself with a link to my website; but it took off like that and I thought I would share this with all of you! If you got more experience with it, got something to add or want to share some of your awesome knowledge do let me know! I would love to ready it :)

How it was lit: Daughter Of The Moon

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“Daughter Of The Moon” is a new one of my ongoing series “Arcadia” and is introducing a new character, of which a follow-up story will follow in the time to come as her story is far from being told. Compared to my earlier work of this series, I’m slowly introducing some “bolder” pieces - straying away from a strict painterly style only featuring people in armor as the main theme - as this series evolves with my own evolution as artist and I want to be able to work on this series for a long time to come. I will never leave it behind, but I feel the variety will only allow for a richer fictional work and fantasy series as a whole.

I’m often asked “how I find my inspiration” but honestly it’s hard to pinpoint … for this one specifically I had one of these (for once not annoying) ads on my Instagram with these “moon sphere lights” . While very sceptic about the quality with these kind of things, for the price it was and the “photoshop might save the day” approach I decided to get one of the bigger sizes and just see what would happen when it arrived.

And honestly - I was pleasantly surprised! I’ve been unable to properly capture it when light with artificial light, but in-person its actually very beautiful! Maybe at one point I might use it for my “natural + artificial light v2.0 project” - but that’s for another time.

The idea to do something with a moon has been on my mind for a while now - maybe also because I wanted to do something with my beloved star dress again from “Alice Corsets” before I give it a little break from my personal work. I never really showed it as simple as I shot here, without the cloak and without any big headpieces or elaborate styling.

As I was so heavily inspired by using the moon (and nights in general) as inspiration I really wanted to work around deep and stronger shadows - without losing any of the details or depth. It took me a while to figure out - I really want to try another session with this in the future, being much more bright in approach and maybe adding in a few more colors as well.

As far as post-processing went: when working on it I decided to make the teal to a deep blue so it would beautifully merge together with the color of the corset; as lately I’m very drawn to deep, rich colors in a monochrome approach and color pallet. The rest was minor clean-up of the skin, color toning and dodge and burn. I wanted the images to stay very minimal and without distractions.


Gear I’ve used

broncolor siros 800 L
broncolor picolight + fresnel
Colorgel (teal)
Giant white reflector

Shot on a Canon 5D Mark III with a 50mm 1.4
Edited in Capture One Pro & Photoshop

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Credits Creative team

Model - Luce Del Sole
Makeup & Hair - Eline Deblauwe
Dress - Alice Corsets
Halo - Honey & Ember
Photography & Retouch - Laura Sheridan / Studio Sheridan’s Art

Light Diagram

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A quick test before I called this session over was to see what would happen if I would use a second fill-light: for this I decided to use my octabox on the front left side to add in more light and remove most of the deep shadows that the softlight reflector gave. This gave a very soft light that I only edited slightly to fit to my visions. While I do like this set - compared to the earlier set it feels less “matching” to what I had visioned - so I only edited about two shots so far. I will definitely use this to create a different set in the future I’m currently working on already - featuring a more pastel, painterly vibe which will suit this light set-up much better I think.

*click on the images to enlarge*

Collaborations: Introduction

Collaborations

How, where and when to start in the creative industry

One of the best and most “affordable” ways to build a portfolio featuring amazing creative or fantasy designs (beside renting) was reaching out to others through the internet. In fact, it’s also what lay the entire foundation of what the studio is right now - it did take about almost ten years roughly from when I started serious until what it is now. It was definitely a road where I’ve learned a lot, by experiencing, making mistakes, listening and doing this. But it’s been one of the most wholesome experiences of my entire career and I would love to talk more about it!

Now before I continue there are two quick things I want to address:
1. While I did say it’s the cheapest way, things can run up quickly. And it takes a lot of work, time & communication to ensure all parties are happy: so I will be breaking it all down in a few articles to come for all for all of you! But it’s a hell lot of fun, it can be way more affordable than buying - though I also highly recommend doing this as well. More about that later as well :)

2. This article is entirely based on my own experiences & what I’ve heard from designers. While I try to write this as objectively as possible - the golden rule to always keep in mind is that people may have their own system and you’re working with another person. Stay polite, stay honest and stay true. That’s half of the work already no matter the case.

A recent, very succesfull collaboration between myself & Eline Deblauwe (baldcap & make-up) with model Spooky. The dress is by Royal Black Couture (dress) with who I’ve collaborated many times before. This idea came to life when she visited me this summer and was . I reached out online to a designer who could provide gloves & through there I came in contact with Dark Virtue Designs (of which more collabs spawned …)

A recent, very succesfull collaboration between myself & Eline Deblauwe (baldcap & make-up) with model Spooky. The dress is by Royal Black Couture (dress) with who I’ve collaborated many times before. This idea came to life when she visited me this summer and was . I reached out online to a designer who could provide gloves & through there I came in contact with Dark Virtue Designs (of which more collabs spawned …)

So what ARE collaborations?

A collaboration is when two or more people decide to team up together for unpaid, on one or multiple projects to bring an idea to life, either national or international or a combination. In a case of international collaborations, usually item(s) are shipped to each other but I’ve had various cases when I teamed up with international models that brought pieces with them when they traveled to me too work on ideas.

Collaborations are an amazing opportunity to meet new people, create work of entire new levels and as a way to challenge yourself and each other to create epic new work for yours and theirs portfolio. For others it’s a way to break away from client assignments or to try & learn new techniques to showcase and attract new clients. And for others it’s a creative breath of fresh air.

The core is always the same: it’s to create new work on unpaid or tf base to add to one’s social media, website and ideally (online) portfolio.

When & how do you start with these?

Honestly and in theory: you could start at any time with this, even if you just picked up a camera. But in practice, there is a bit more too it: You’re working with other people so it’s not simply a matter of “ask & receive” - but a matter of “ask and work for the team greater good” and being aware you will most likely be reaching out to complete strangers to trust you and send you something to shoot that needs to be send back unharmed.

When reaching out a first time (I will designate an entire blog to this topic later & more), make sure you have at least some (recent) examples of your work. It could be your website or just your Instagram even or even just a collage showing some examples. Keep your message straight and short and explain you’re interested in collaborating - if you have a theme or concept, add it straight away as well in a line or two. And ask if they would be interested. Like I said: nobody needs an essay. Just make clear who you are, what you want and what you have to offer (both as person and with your work).

Another collaboration (still one of my favs) was with Pioro Blue - who created this gorgeous silver crown she borrowed to me alongside a ton of other designs. Makeup is done by Jane Von Vintage on Nymphiah, the wig is bought from Websterwigs and the dress is a secondhand one of my clients got me!

Another collaboration (still one of my favs) was with Pioro Blue - who created this gorgeous silver crown she borrowed to me alongside a ton of other designs. Makeup is done by Jane Von Vintage on Nymphiah, the wig is bought from Websterwigs and the dress is a secondhand one of my clients got me!

I cannot stress enough that when reaching out, you’re probably working with strangers at first. Your interaction matters just as much as the results: be patient and understanding, even if you receive a “no” answer or in cases: not even a respond. Nobody owes you to send free items to shoot and you’re the asking party. While I get this is frustrating - you don’t know what’s happening behind the screens. Maybe they forgot, maybe they don’t do well with sending a negative respond, maybe they are tired of too many requests, maybe you didn’t read a FAQ or bio where they state they don’t do collabs or tf, maybe something came up, … There are plenty of reasons and in the best case - you simple leave it there as well. It’s definitely not ideal and I will be honest I don’t always respond either anymore in times when it’s just too much or many; but on the other hand I’m also a firm believer that we are allowed silence at times even if social media makes us believe we don’t.

If you do get a yes - always keep in mind it’s a team effort. Communicate about what’s happening or going to happen, ask what your time schedule is to borrow a piece, maybe check up if they like the choice of team, see who covers what in expenses … Especially in the beginning. Once you’re more established and/or you have a name - usually people will trust you faster but it still can never do any harm to check up when in doubt or when you do something entiterely else. People will say yes based on what you showed and what they see, so making a full change and experiment without warning might not be ideal.

Collaborations can be absolutely amazing and while I do touch a lot on the "lesser fun” parts - I think they’re equally as important or even more as it’s easy to just ask around and expect things to just happen because of that. For me, they have made me some of the best friendships so far, the best pieces in my portfolio and some of my fondest memories of creating. Getting to know and work with others who have the same vision as you, being able to make something to life we can all enjoy and share is one of the best aspects of my job and I hope this series of blogs will kindle that inspiration for you as well!


Got questions or want to know more? Join me on Patreon and become part of the Knightsquad! It’s kind of like an online subscription box to anything and everything I do, share & create with tons of exclusive content for you to learn from and be inspired by - but also join our secret group where we talk and share more informal, you can give your opinion & feedback and have a say in what’s being released! And last but not least: you can get a free psd and preset EVERY MONTH if you sign up for the highest trier! Access to the group is just from 2 dollars and you’re in the full squad from just 5 dollars and up so you got literally nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.

—- PATREON —-

How it was lit: Fervor - Artifical & Natural Light

How it was lit: Fervor

My first time using artificial light on location

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done this shoot, but I’m so happy I can finally talk about it: my very first time using artificial light outside. When I became a broncolor GenNEXT ambassador, I quickly knew I wanted to have the possibility to work outside as well – as I felt that was something I rarely did anymore. Mostly because I felt uninspired and I love how I’m able to use artificial light to create certain moods and feelings – but it was something out of my reach. This entire set was shot with a Siros 800 with just one modifier (a Softlight Reflector with diffuser) and being able to just pack it up and go is pretty mindblowing. Everything is battery charged and I made it through the entire session with just two, with the second still going strong and steady.

For this specific shoot I had some of my favorite people on set: Eline Deblauwe who was taking care of hair and make-up, my gorgeous muses Luce Del Sole & Van Spooky Pants, with dresses by Church Of Sanctus – a London base independent vegan brand – and amazing jewelry by Finnish designer Eero Hintsanen.

For this one I only took one modifier with me – as I had this idea to create very deep and contrast like images with the urban location we had in Antwerp: which was the Siros 800 and the Softlight Reflector with a diffuser. I did my first try with Spooky and it took me a bunch of attempts to figure out the “how” as the first images looked like the (what I don’t like) typical look I see very often with artificial light outside.

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It all came together the moment I positioned my model against the beautiful, strong evening light we had on that fall day and I used the light to fill in my model rather than to use it as a main light. And that was basically the magic I was looking for. The first try (with Spooky) resulted in some heavy chromatic aberration (which I’ve been able to work away), for the second shoot I positioned my model in a more overcast setting and used the shadowplay of the building we where shooting under for a different kind of look.

I positioned my light mostly on the left, angled up at a 45 degrees downwards while the rest of the image was mostly lit by the evening light. It resulted in a deep, contrast like set of images without losing any details and an absolute minimum for editing. Most I had to do was color conversion and adjustments to contrast and light – with just a few minor distraction removals.

And on that note: The Siros 800 is an absolute beast - the HS (High-Speed) was able to balance out the beautiful evening light and merge both light sources together. It is definitely visible it’s not only using natural light, but it doesn’t has this overpowering feel to it like in my first tests and that was the look I was going for.

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I shot a second set near the water, which was a bit more tricky as I had more natural light and the sun was setting, but again I was able with some minor adjustments to get it all done and ready to shoot with a similar set-up as before. As before, in post-processing I barely had to do any editing as everything just flawlessy came together on set.

I will be going outside again shortly to try more of this, this time with colored gels and/or more modifiers but that will be for another blog. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed!

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Flashlight-And-Chill

A while back, Nicole posted a challenge for the Fstoppers community where you could only use a flashlight as your main source of light, with the option of using the available light as well. And ofcourse - I had to try this. Why wouldn’t I? Lately I’ve been feeling incredibly inspired by going outside my own comfort zone, trying new things and challening myself (especially with my broncolor GenNEXT gear! Got a lot to tell about that soon). Though for this one it was all about the basics and playing around with that ultimate diy budget so I took this opportunity with both hands.

I had already invited Maki over for a session, so I asked if she was up for all of the experimenting to come as I had some ideas in mind: using (basic) prisms, my actual fractal filters but also my colorgels and the bare flashlight as it was. I also used some good, old waterspray to give some texture to her and get some reflection here and there (or that I hoped)! And for the rest I kept it as simple as possible, with one exception of course: I had to use the headpiece by KatzLittleFactory because I’m a sucker for those kind of aesthetics …

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