What is Pinterest?

On Facebook the other day, a friend posted “Okay, I’m just going to admit it. I have *no idea* what Pinterest is.”  I’m sure she isn’t the only one. So I thought I’d share my experience with Pinterest.

I think this sums it up best:

Ok, it’s really more than that. But it definitely helps fulfill my desire (need?) to hoard things. But the reason why I really love it is because it allows me to organize things that I find online. If you saw my recent post about my studio, you’ll understand my love of organizing. The way Pinterest works and the way my brain works definitely seem to go together. I have always had a problem with having a few dozen tabs open in my browser. Lots of cool photos, projects and articles that I wanted to do *something* with, but didn’t know what quite yet. When I finally started using Pinterest, it was a bit of an aha moment- this is what I had been waiting for!

But this still doesn’t tell you what Pinterest is. Pinterest is a visual pinboard. It’s a way to visually organize photos, links, articles, tutorials, etc… You make up your own categories and when you come across something online that you want to save for future reference, you can “pin” it to one of your boards. Or you can look thought Pinterest’s website (or app) to discover things that other people have been pinning.

So here is a photo of what my “boards” look like (just a few of them, really). If you click on any of these screen shots, it’ll take you to the page that you see. I have lots of pots pinned, as well as recipes, organizing tips and projects to do with kids.

One of the fun things that I’ve enjoyed is categorizing different types of pots that I’m interested in at the moment. It’s a little like putting together your own “500 mugs” book. And besides forms, decoration, etc…, I’m also thinking about the way pieces are photographed- what was it about it that grabbed me?

I also use it as a way to organize my thoughts for a project. I’ve been wanting to get some images on clay so I started collecting some different links to tutorials. I am such a visual person- this is the ideal way for me to save links.

I have also discovered through the Google Analytics of my website that about a third of the traffic to my blog actually come to my site from Pinterest! Whoa! I didn’t even realize that was happening. But since I write a lot of tutorials, it makes sense that a lot of my posts are pin-worthy. The one that you see pinned repeatedly below is from a blog post from 2007- How to: make a texture roller for clay. You can see why people are pinning things and from this pin I’ve noticed that in addition to clay folks liking the tutorial, also cake decorators using fondant, teachers using playdough, etc… are pinning it and sharing it on their blogs. It’s fun to be able to connect with people in other fields.

People also pin lots of photos of my pots from my website- but it just reminds me that I need to update my website in a big way and get my new work up there!

If you want to see if photos from your site have been pinned, copy and paste this into your browser and fill in your website here (no www or http): http://pinterest.com/source/yourwebsite.com/ . You might be surprised what pops up!

I do not have ads on my website so increased traffic does not equal anything directly financial. But I really like connecting with other makers out there. I know that people have found me via Pinterest and followed me to my Facebook page or my blog. And various websites have added links to my site and posts and that is really helpful for page rank on Google. Many people pin their own Etsy listings. I know that Pinterest used to frown upon that- but when I was looking through their Pin Etiquette, I couldn’t find mention of that anymore. My Etsy shop does not currently have any listings, so it hasn’t really been anything that I’ve have to think about one way or the other.

A couple of thoughts to make your photos/ pages more pinnable: name your photos well. It’s hard to do this retroactively, but you could start doing it from now on. A lot of times people will not edit the text that automatically pops up when they pin a photo. So think about what you want listed under a pin and make it descriptive. Use your name and/or website, and a description of what the photograph or the post/page is actually about. It’s a good idea in general because it’ll help people find you via Google.

The other thing that I have started to do recently because of Pinterest is write some text on the photo:

That way when someone pins a photo- my blog is given credit easily and when someone is looking back at their pins and trying to remember why they saved something, it is clear.

If you’re ready to get started, this page has some helpful info for you. I’d suggest you to install a “pin it” button on your bookmark bar. And if you have a blog or website, you can follow the previous link and get the details on how to add a Pin button to your site. When you do start pinning, make sure that you give credit to the original source. If you’re pinning a specific blog post, don’t just pin the entire website. Or a Google image search or a Tumblr blog. If might take an extra minute to track down the original source, but I think it makes the entire user experience better. I try to check out the original sources when I repin something.

Pinterest also has a social aspect to it. You can ‘follow’ friends and see what they are pinning. Or if you like a board that you stumble across, you might want to follow them to see future interesting pins that they come across. Everyone seems to use Pinterest a little bit differently. I love the way that my sister, Nora uses it to explore color or the imagery that my dad, Jim is drawn to.

So that is Pinterest summed up for you. Be warned – it can be a big time sink! But I think it’s a pretty fun and useful one. Enjoy!

6 thoughts on “What is Pinterest?

  1. Thanks for this very informative post! Lots of good pointers and I was definitely surprised to see what others had pinned from my website! I’m on Pinterest but I have been neglecting it lately. You’ve inspired me to pay more attention to it and to use it to get more traffic to my website and Etsy shop.

  2. I rarely bookmark anymore – I use pinterest. It’s easy and being a visual person, the photos are better to backtrack to find something than just a link with text.

  3. I also love Pinterest! It takes the place of shopping for me: I get the momentary thrill without the expense or the accumulation of unnecessary stuff. It also makes easy the storage of ideas for future use, as in art fair booths and home design.

    I am amazed how much of my blog traffic comes from Pinterest as well, since I do not use it for promotion – only for personal use. If I am particularly pleased with a piece, I might pin an image, but mostly I am pining images from elsewhere on the web.

  4. Emily, this is SUCH a helpful post for me! I had heard of Pinterest but I really had no idea how it worked and this is such a simple, straightforward, easy to understand post. Thank you so much for posting it! and I’m going to go look at a bunch of your boards now! Great post and great advice!

  5. Hi Emily! I have to tell you that you’re blog is one of the most informative! I’ve learned so much from you and this post is a godsend! I can’t wait to try it!

  6. Great post, as we have all come to expect from you. I don’t really market my own work, yet am occasionally stunned to find one of my images from flickr pop up in the pinterest stream of a pinner that I follow. Excellent tip about naming images! I wish all images were as well named as you’ve suggested.

    If you want to use Pinterest for marketing, it’s important to follow others and to be followed. Develop a following by pinning images that attract other users. Use good descriptions and include the key terms that your audience may be searching, e.g., porcelain.

    There’s some cultures around pinning images that I haven’t entirely gotten a handle on. You’ve got mavens with many followers who pin only rare and exceptional images. You’ve got the accumulators like you and me who are safely feeding our need to hoard and our passion for creative ideas and possibilities. You’ve got image magnates who will collect every image they can find in a category, perhaps without much selectivity. And you’ve got the users who are truly using Pinterest to populate a personal inspiration board and don’t engage in the liking & repinning festivities.

    I’ve found using “like” instead of repinning images is useful to distinguish what I want to reference personally from what I think my followers will appreciate. If it’s the same cup or scuplture I can see 10 times in the day’s feed, I will “like” it. If it’s a cup or sculpture I see on an esoteric blog, I will probably pin it so that other like-minded Pinterest users can find that blog as well.


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