When I first found Pinterest, I took to it as Harry Potter took to Quidditch. I was like Katniss with a bow and arrow.  Like Nancy Botwin with…well, you get it.  I’m told, however, that not everyone shares my natural talent for pinning.  If you’re one of those poor, lost souls who can’t get the hang of Pinterest, or if you want to start pinning, but don’t know where to start, look no further!

Pinterest at a Glance

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a fantasy world where you can travel to beautiful destinations, become a master chef or baker, sit in the front row of every fashion show, decorate your home however you want, and have thousands of other experiences—all without leaving your home.  It’s your cookbook, your lookbook, and your wishlist.  Also, it’s a great way for your significant other to figure out what to get you for your birthday.

Specifically, it’s a site that allows you to browse and collect images related to things that interest you.  These images usually link to the website they came from. It’s like having an organized collection of visual bookmarks.  And it’s amazing.

Why You Should be on Pinterest

Because it’s the most amazing site ever! What, that’s not a real reason? Ok, you perfectionist, here are some legitimate reasons.

  1. It’s excellent for inspiration, planning for (or fantasizing about) the future, collecting your ideas, and learning new things.
  2. You’re busy, you don’t have time to read the articles (or blog posts or recipes or tutorials or whatever) attached to every single interesting headline that catches your eye at the moment you see it. Pinterest allows you to collect and organize the things that interest you, so they’ll always be waiting for you when you need them (or on a rainy day).
  3. You’ll discover so many awesome things just by scrolling through your home feed. Only recently, I’ve learned the secret to stovetop mac and cheese, the best 16 wines under 15 dollars, and that there is going to be a pickle festival near me next month. I freaking love pickles.
  4. But I’m a guy; Pinterest is for girls.”  Oh really? It’s true that 80% of Pinterest users are women, but last I heard, guys liked that kind of ratio.  But seriously, guys can enjoy Pinterest just as much as girls! Amongst Pinterest’s categories are “Cars and Motorcycles,” “Sports,” “Geek,” and “Technology”—these are not stereotypically girly things!

Learn the Pinterest Language

Before you start pinning, get comfortable speaking the language.

Pin: An image that (almost always) links to a related webpage or the act of saving this image to a board.

Repin: Pinning something from someone else’s board onto your own board.  You can do this by clicking the red “Pin it” button in the top left corner of a pin.

Like: Acknowledging that you enjoyed viewing a pin. You do this by clicking the heart right next to the repin button. Like a pin when you don’t need the image or linked webpage on your boards, but you do want to let the original pinner know that she pinned something good.  Everything you like gets saved on your personal page.

Send: You can send a pin to another pinner by using this button located in the top right corner of a pin.

Board: A collection of pins with a common theme, often creatively named.

Secret Board: A board that no one can see but you! This is helpful if you’re planning a surprise party or what to get your family for Christmas.  If you decide you want to make any of your secret boards public, you can easily do so by using the “Edit” button (you’ll see it underneath each of your boards). But you better be 100% sure of your decision; once it’s public, you don’t have the option to make it secret again.

Categories: When you make a board, you have the option to place it into one of thirty-four different categories, including “For the Home,” “Gardening,” and “Travel.” When you want to browse a certain genre, but don’t have anything specific in mind, you can choose any of these categories and view pins from the boards that identified as such.

Follow / Unfollow: You click on the button that says “Follow” underneath a board if you want pins from that board to appear on your home feed. There is an option to “Follow All” if you want to get pins from all of the boards of a specific pinner.  If a board isn’t living up to your expectations, you can unfollow it by clicking the button in the same place you found the follow button.

Where to Start

Ok, you’ve accepted your destiny as a pinner, you know the lingo, now it’s time to get started.

  1. Sign up! You can do so with your Facebook account (if you do it this way, it’ll be easy to find and follow your Facebook friends), or with your email address. You’ll get a nice little tour of the site, and then you’ll be ready to go!
  2. Find and follow your friends or boards that interest you by clicking on your name (at the top left), and selecting the corresponding options in the drop-down menu.  It will prompt you to follow five boards, but you don’t need their rules! Follow as many as your heart desires.
  3. Create a few boards for things you think you’ll want to pin, like recipe ideas or vacation destinations. Don’t make too many at first, you can easily create a new one as you go.
  4. Start pinning! Finally! Here’s how:
    • Repin. You can scroll through your home feed (if you get lost, you can return to your home feed by clicking the Pinterest logo that’s always at the top of the page) to find and repin things that intrigue you.
    • Upload from your computer, by clicking on the “+” symbol next to your name.  You can upload any image you want!
    • Add a pin from a website. You can pin anything you find anywhere on the web (as long as there’s an image to display). You can also do this by clicking the “+”, but it’s much easier to use the bookmarklet for that purpose.  Once installed, the bookmarklet sits up at the top of your browser and allows you to pin anywhere, anytime.

What to Pin

Anything that catches your eye!  But here are some ideas if you’re lost:

  1. Start by looking through categories that interest you. You can browse a particular category by clicking on the three lines in the top left corner.
  2. Follow some of your favorite brands—for example, I love Lilly Pulitzer, Bloomingdale’s, and Jetsetter.
  3. Follow your friends! You’re bound to like a lot of the same stuff.
  4. Follow your favorite bloggers. Chances are, they’ll have their Pinterest accounts linked on their blogs. Never lose track of a useful blog post again!
  5. Pin things related to your industry or studies. Might as well be productive while you’re pinning, right?

Ok, Beginner-Pinners, that’s all you need to know about Pinterest. Have fun!

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