Saturday, February 4, 2012


This tutorial on using Pinterest is in no way endorsed by Pinterest, but several people have asked me to explain Pinterest to them. Like me, they had viewed the site and just "didn't get it." The lack of understanding the site squelched any motivation to use it, even though they all had friends that were "addicted." If you're in the same boat, maybe this will help you understand the site and guide you to getting the most out of your time on Pinterest. I am a Microsoft and Mozilla browser user; I do not know if this impacts the way we use Pinterest.

All of the information you need for understanding Pinterest is available on the Pinterest website in the Help section. From the topbar, hover over "About," and click "Help." I love Pinterest, and I discovered everything I know through browsing the site. So while I haven't read "Pinterest 101" (the help section), I trust that any questions you have can be found there. However, as so many of my contacts won't even go to the site, I thought I'd offer some motivation here. I want everyone to enjoy Pinterest as much as I do. It's inspiring, motivational, and gets those creative juices flowing.

Addiction Disclaimer

Your time is your own. You determine how much time you spend on the site. It's easy to spend a lot of time there, especially in the beginning. There are so many new projects and ideas to be discovered! For those of you who have not registered for fear of wasting too much time, be encouraged. As you become familiar with the site and determine your interests, you will find ways to manage your time without being overly consumed by the site. Don't miss out for fear of wasting time! You'll be learning new things, which is not a waste. You'll be part of a community, which is not a waste. You'll be sharing information with others, which is also not a waste. Stay on top of time management, and make sure the time you spend on the site is well used. The addiction is in your hands; you have control over that!


Create an Account

Know this first: to create an account, you need an invitation. There are a couple ways to do this: sign up on the waiting list for an invitation or have one of your Pinteresting friends send one to you. The waiting list might take a long time, but an invitation from friends should set you on your way in a day.


Once you're signed in, you'll see that your account has "boards." Compare this to cork boards you might hang on the wall. Give each cork board its own title, which generally describes the theme of items you will pin to that board. For example, let's say you have an empty wall in your house, big enough to put four separate cork boards. You title them recipes, scrapbook ideas, DIY ideas, and quotes. (Creativity for titles is encouraged, but I have maintained simple headings for clarity.) At your desk, you might find ideas in magazines that you would clip and pin to the cork boards, but on Pinterest, you've scrolled through a screen with several relative ideas and you select the ones you like.

Though your primary interest is making information available to yourself for future reference, you are currently impacting the way other pinteresters receive information: your "Eatin' Good" board should be categorized as a Food & Drink board so that the pins you post there will be available in that venue when others browse that subcategory. (When you set up your boards, you will be prompted to categorize them. Changes can be made by going to your general boards page and clicking "edit" under a specific board.)

Pins and Repins

A pin is an idea and image. Though the main page features many pins to review, each pin is actually housed on its own page. This page has a large image of the project, a link to the original source, a place for comments, other pins on the board on which that pin is featured, and time and user information. There are also buttons that appear when you hover over the image, which offer ways for you to interact with this pin. You may repin or like. To "pin" the item to your own board, you will follow one of two processes:
1. From the main page of ideas, you can hover your mouse over the image until the "repin" button appears (top left of that particular idea image), and click repin. A popup will appear that prompts you to select a board to which to pin the idea and a comment box in which you may keep the existing comment or create your own comment. Click Repin, and you now have a pin on your board.
2. From the main page of ideas, click on the idea image. This will connect to a new page that provides a bigger version of the same image. For most ideas, this larger image is actually a hyperlink to the idea's original source. If you click on the larger image, a new tab or window will open the website from which the idea was drafted. This is the page described in the first paragraph in this section of this tutorial.

Process 2 really helps you understand why you are pinning to boards in the first place. Your board isn't just a collection of images; it's a collection of ideas--explanations and more information to helping you successfully complete a project. Pinterest doesn't just want to stir your creativity; they want to push you to the successful completion of projects by putting information right in your lap.

As you were pinning the idea to your board, you may have noticed the "like" button. Sometimes you might not want to repin an idea; that is to say, you might not actually need the information provided for that project because you're not "pinterested" in it. It might be an idea that looks cool, and you're supporting the other user and offering yourself a way back to that idea if you become more interested in it later. By clicking "like," the idea will be posted on your "likes" page, which is a less organized (no categories) page of stuff in which you are only mildly interested.

Browsing Pins

There are five categories of ways to browse pins: Pinners You Follow, Everything (32 subcategories), Videos, Popular, and Gifts (6 subcategories).

By clicking on the Pinterest logo to browse pins, you will automatically browse via reviewing pins of people with whom you have connected. If you are not following anyone, these will be pins of people from whom you've pinned. So if you have not followed anyone, but you've repinned from four strangers, their pins will appear here. If you follow someone, their pins will be featured in this category. Generally, the most recent pins appear first.

If you browse Everything, it is more helpful to narrow down the browsing by selecting a subcategory. If you like cooking, for example, you might browse the Food & Drink subcategory. This will open a page of the most recently pinned recipes. As you scroll down the page of pins, you will notice a button in the bottom right corner: Scroll to Top. This makes browsing much easier because you can quickly access your own boards or select a different category to browse, and these options are only available at the top of the page.

Videos allows you to browse only those pins that are videos, which are generally illustrations of actually doing the project.

Popular pins browsing will allow you to review only those pins that have been viewed or repinned the most. The categories are all mixed together in this section. You will get a taste of everything happening on Pinterest.

Browsing gifts may spur project ideas in your mind, but it is generally a way for you to browse products. Maybe these are just good gift ideas or maybe they are just good products. Many of these items link to entreprenurial accounts such as sellers on Etsy, E-bay, and other similar sites.

Following and Followers

By following others, you have essentially expressed some form of interest in that user. If you find that you like most of the projects another user has pinned, it might be beneficial to follow them (subscribe, essentially) because they might turn you onto more great projects. You might find that one of your friends is on Pinterest, and you are just interested in projects they will be pursuing. You may be able to help them by offering materials ("Hey, Friend outside of Pinterest, I saw you pinned the headboard via old door, and I just replaced my front you want to use my old one?") or you might just like keeping up with the latest in their portfolio. For example, my sister-in-law likes to sew. By viewing the sewing-related pins she has, I am now in tune to new things she might be doing in her projects. ("Hey, SIL, I saw you pinned the envelope pillow. I have no sewing skills. Could I commission you for this?")When others follow you, they are doing the same thing. For whatever reason, they are interested in your pins.

To follow a user, make your way to that user's page. On the left is a side bar of their profile image. Beneath that is a link to follow them on Pinterest. By clicking this button, you will become their follower and their pins will be posted on the Pinners You Follow page. More about this page: there are also links to follow them on facebook or receive their feed, you may view their recent activity, and you may view all their boards. If you decide to unfollow them, you may do this on this page also. You can also manage those you follow by going to your main page of boards and clicking on (number) Following. This directs you to a list of those users you follow, and you may change your selection there.

To find users to follow, you can search for people (at the top right, hover over your user name, and click "Find Friends" in the dropdown) or you can click on the name of a user in a pin. Each pin contains two users: the pinner and the pinner from whom they pinned. Clicking on the user name will take you to that user's page.

Creating Pins

While most of your pins will come from ideas you see on Pinterest, you might find an idea on another site that you wish to share with the Pinterest community. To do this, you will need the "Pin It" button on your browser's toolbar. From the topbar on Pinterest, hover over "About," click "Pin It Button," click "Goodies" (on the left), and follow the instructions to install the button.

When you find something you wish to share, click this button, which has been installed on your tool bar. Pick an image to pin, click "Pin It," and follow the prompts as though you were repinning. Now you've contributed to the community in an original way!

If you have a project on your own blog you wish to share, you may follow those same instructions, or you can create a button on your site for others to share. The instructions for this are found on the "Pin It Button" link. Pinterest provides all the information you need to do this. If you encounter questions or issues, you may contact Pinterest, ask a friend, or I may be able to help you.

This should be plenty of information to get you started on Pinterest in an effective way. If you have any questions about this tutorial, feel free to contact me. You may also follow me on Pinterest.

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