I know some people around here are still puzzled about Pinterest. What is it? How does it works? How do I sign up? What's in it for me?
The objective of this tutorial is to get you started. I will guide you from A to Z, starting with the creation of your account, and finishing with Pinterest marketing in mind, with all the necessary steps in-between.
Getting a Pinterest invite
Let's start by the beginning, shall we? Pinterest works only by invitation. You can either request one directly from their home page - and wait for a couple of days if you're lucky, for weeks if you're not - or get one from an existing member. Which I am, in case you hadn't noticed ;) So just leave me a comment here with your e-mail address (don't worry I'll edit it before publishing the comment) and I'll send you your invitation.
Note that you will need to have an account with Facebook or Twitter. Which you certainly already have. You will have to identify yourself with one of these two before actually creating your account.
Creating your first pinboards
The signup process itself takes place in 3 steps, firstly you will find a few people to follow, then you will create your first pinboards. A pinboard is a place where you will pin pictures. Just like you may be doing in real life, actually, on a real pinboard - the idea is exactly the same! Some default suggestions will be offered to you. You don't have to keep their suggestions if you don't want to, you are free to create your own boards.
Important: you have only assigned titles to your brand new pinboards for now. If you want to be successful on Pinterest, it will be important to write a custom description for each one of them once you've finished creating your account!
The Pin It button
This is the last step of the account creation. You will be offered to add the Pin It button to your browser's toolbar. I strongly suggest you do it right now, that button will make your life way easier every time you wish to pin something! Just go to the page where the image you wish to pin is, click that button, click the picture, and you just have to add your description, it's as simple as that...
Customizing your account
This may be the most important step of this whole tutorial, so don't overlook it!
Now that your account is ready, you need to fill in your profile and also the descriptions of your pinboards. Always remember that Pinterest is all about quality and user experience! If you want people to follow you, you need to give them the necessary information to take their decision...
You should now be on Pinterest's default page, which shows the pins of the people you follow. Note on the far right the menu with your name and your picture: go there, and choose "settings". There you will be able to complete your profile. Once done, simply click directly on your name in that same menu, you will end up on your profile page. This is where you can customize your pinboards, re-arrange them, and add more if you wish. Just click the "edit" button of each pinboard to fill its description (use good keywords there as your board may rank well in Google!) and - this is extremely important - choose a category
. For each one of them. This will help people find your boards. They may look empty for now, but once you start pinning pictures in them, and if you have completed everything properly, your account will look like the screenshot on the right...
Your first pins and a thing called "copyright"
Now, you are ready to start pinning! All you have to do is find a picture you'd like to share and hit that "pin it" button you've put in your browser's toolbar earlier.
A word of caution: when pinning a picture, you actually make a copy of it into one of your pinboards. But you can't take each and every picture you like just like if they were yours! Most pictures online are copyrighted. So, legally, you can pin:
- Your own pictures. I.e those you have made yourself.
- Copyright-free pictures. Also called royalty-free. They're not always easy to find but they exist!
- Pictures released under one of the Creative Commons licenses. Be sure to check out which CC license the picture uses as these define what you can and cannot do with it!
I will publish a new article with a list of websites you can use to get royalty-free pictures for free (because "royalty-free" doesn't mean you necessarily get the picture for free!) in the next few days, so stay tuned.
Ultimately, choosing the pictures you'll put in your pinboards is of your responsibility. Pinterest's terms are clear on this. Some people don't hesitate to cross that line - if there ever are any consequences they won't be able to rely on Pinterest for their defense.
Re-pinning and liking
An easy way to populate your pinboards is by re-pinning other people's pins. In which case you're not the original pinner so I *think* the copyright issues are less of a matter, but don't forget I'm no lawyer.
Re-pinning is easy: just go to any category you like (or to the main Pinterest page to browse the pins from people you follow), you'll see each pin comes with a re-pin and like button. Just hit those buttons, change the description if you wish while re-pinning, and you're done.
Pinterest for business
If you're on Pinterest to do business, then you need to understand that although this is evolving slowly, most members there are women. You also need to understand - but this applies to any marketing media, not only to Pinterest - that the best way to do business is to bring your potential customers what they want. Always keep that in mind.
In order to generate traffic, you will need to have your pins re-pinned virally. Each pin includes a link to the place where it was originally found - so you would typically place those pictures on your website or blog, and then pin them from there. Note that the links on Pinterest are of the "nofollow" type so they are useless for your SEO. They're interesting only to get direct traffic.
How do you get people to re-pin your pins? Well, the best way is to have a maximum of followers. Here, Pinterest works just like Twitter: you can follow people and they can follow you... This is why it is extremely important to have an appealing profile! Just start browsing a category you're interested in, and click on someone's name from one of the pins. You will end up on that person's profile page, where you will find several follow buttons: a main one to follow all of his pinboards, and one for each pinboard (you will find this one by visiting each pinboard individually). It's up to you to decide if you want to follow them all or just some of them. In both cases, the person will receive an e-mail telling him or her that you've started following and offering him / her to follow you back.
Bringing it to the next level
If you are serious about doing business on Pinterest - and I mean real serious, willing to do proper business, because if you're the spammer-type you are not welcome here! - I suggest you read this other article I have written recently concerning a very useful Pinterest application.