How to Use Pinterest

Ah, Pinterest. That wonderful site that has magically made its way onto the web. A place where you can share your favorites, from design ideas to delicious recipes that you want to stash away for a rainy day. The place where you can find ideas for entertaining children with activities or ideas for homemade baby food. Where you can find the most adorable pictures with the cutest quotes on them. The place where you can find helpful hints or fun crafts to keep you busy. If you are not on Pinterest yet, you should very seriously request an invite. You can do this by clicking here. At last check, it doesn’t take very long to get your invite. And once you do, you are opened up to a whole new world!

For those of you who are on Pinterest, whether you’ve been here a while or a few days, and for those of you who soon will be, I want to share a few tips, tricks and things I have learned as I have navigated my way through this wonderful place. I hope to pass these on to you that you can learn from me and help make the world of Pinterest an even better place for all! We all contribute, and we are all responsible for making sure it remains the best that it can be.

What It Is

Pinterest provides a wonderful way to keep track of things you would normally stash in your bookmarks on your web browser. If you’re like me, then you have everything subdivided out in your bookmarks: recipes fans out into a variety of categories from appetizers to soups and stews to desserts, and more; crafting includes sewing projects, gift ideas, and certain crafts for different holidays or seasons, just to name a few. And, if you’re not as organized as that, then you may have everything in one giant bookmarks tab and have to sift through it all (shame, shame if that’s how you do things — how can you ever find anything??). This site changes that. It provides a way to keep all of that organized, allows you to easily “take it with you” and also provides an avenue which you can share this with other people. When you take a look at my page, this is the view you will get today: (You can also click here to see the page for yourself and scroll through it.) In this picture, you can see a total of 12 boards. Each board is a different category with pins posted to it that reflect that specific category. If you have good eyes, you can see that, at this time, I have 31 boards and 511 pins. I didn’t have that many boards when I first started but have expanded them as my boards grew.

Divide and Conquer

Let’s take a look at my crafting boards. I have 3 of them (for now): When I first started, I had a single craft board that held anything that was considered a “crafting idea” to me. As you can see, between the 3 boards, I have 67 pins. When there are that many pins, it can be difficult to find what you need to as you are sifting through everything. So, I divided some of the pins up into different boards: my Sewing board and the Wreaths and Door Decorations board, while still leaving the main crafting board as my catchall, if you will. I’ve done the same thing with my recipe boards, which I call “Delicious Yumminess.” I have 5 boards in all for food (Breads, Soups and Stews, Kitchen Assistance {things that make life easier in the kitchen like freezer meals}, Sweets) and an additional one for drinks. If I had not divided these up into separate boards, there would be 141 pins in a single board. How’s that for sifting through a mess?

You want to divide your pins up across many boards, particularly the more you get. As you do this, you want to ensure that the categories you choose are specific…but not too specific such that it eliminates most items that you could add into the board, particularly before you branch it off from another board. For example… My Summer pin board has a grand total of 2 pins in it at the moment. That doesn’t seem like much (and it’s not). But these items do not fit into another board and it is meant to stand alone. But my Delicious Yumminess — Sweets Edition (I call my off-shoots “editions”) has a whopping 56 pins in it at the moment, more than any other board. It is an off-shoot from the original Delicious Yumminess board, so if it did not have enough support, I would have left the contents of this board within its original board (but as you can see, that’s not an issue). Having multiple boards with a broad category and focusing in on a specific area within that category will really help you to find the pin that you are looking for without wasting a lot of time. (And really, who has excess time to waste these days?)

Make Sure Your Board Is Properly Categorized

Some of you may be asking, “why is this important?” And some of you are asking, “what are you talking about?” Well, I’ll address each of you. But first, let’s get to what I’m talking about… In the top right-hand corner, where you see your name and that pretty little picture of yourself, there’s 2 other things you can click on: “About” and “Add”. We’re going to focus on the “Add” part. When you click on “Add,” this pretty thing will appear that gives you 3 options: add a pin, upload a pin (from your own computer) or create a board. We’re going to look at creating a board. Once you click on “Create a Board” a new menu will pop up: Here, you can see that you are given a place to name your board (like “Delicious Yumminess” or “Crafting Ideas”). Give it a name that reflects the content of your board. The next area is a drop down menu that allows you to select the appropriate category for your board: As you can see, the categories are fairly broad. At the bottom, there is also an “other” category for those things that just don’t fit into one of the pre-defined categories. However, you can’t create your own category (selecting “other” does not allow you to type in your own category name…sorry). So, try to do the best you can with finding an already existing category that it can fit into. So now that you know what I’m talking about, let’s address the importance of this. First, let’s understand your navigational bar within the world of Pinterest. When you log into Pinterest, this is the menu bar that you will see: This is located in the top and center of the page. I really only use 2 of these links: “Pinners you follow” and what you currently see as “Everything.” When you log in, your default is set to see the pins of pinners you follow. Currently, there is no way to change that (and personally, I like seeing what my fellow pinners that I want to see the content of have recently posted). If you navigate away from that page, you can always click back on this link. When you have exhausted the pins that the people you follow have posted, you can always jump to other pin boards. You are able to do this by selecting a particular category. (Ah…see how this is fitting in now?) From your default home page, click on “Everything.” From there, a drop down menu will appear, revealing all of the available choices of categories. The categories are exactly the same as what you were able to chose for your pin boards that constructed earlier. When you select your category, say Food and Drink, you want to find in there topics relating to food and drinks (silly thought, right?). I mean, this is a pin that I found in the Food and Drink category without looking hard — and this has nothing to do with food or drink. However, if you look at this particular pinner’s board that this is attached to, there are recipes in there. They just happened to be lazy in their pinning. Just remember that pinning in appropriate boards, and boards that are categorized correctly, will be of great help to other pinners who are scrolling through looking to find interesting things. If you’re putting recipes under Women’s Apparel and home decor under Science and Nature, this resource becomes less and less helpful.

Give a Good Description

So you’ve pinned something! That’s fantastic! You’ve put it in a board that is categorized correctly so people can locate it if they’re scrolling through that particular area of interest. But how did you describe your pin? If it’s food based, did you say something like “that looks good” or “yum”? If it’s to decorate your home, did you describe it with words like “cute,” “pretty” or “would love that”? Maybe I’m confused, but I really don’t think that “cute” really tells me a lot about this nursery picture. I think something like, “Love the wall decor in this nursery, especially the owl/branch” is more appropriate. It gives you a description of the pin and, more importantly, is gives you a searchable description. On the top of the Pinterest page, you can find a search bar. There, you can type in key words that will allow you to search for items of interest.

Let’s say you want to do an owl themed room for your child, you can search for “owl” and “owls” to see what you can find to give you some inspiration. The only downside that I have found is that the search tool is very specific. If you say “owl,” it will search for “owl” and “owl” only. Not “owls.” Just “owl.” But, it seems to do a great job. So add a description that not only tells the person what they’re looking at, or what drew you to the pin (i.e.: the owl and branch design on the nursery wall). I would suggest using a key word if it’s a room, and definitely name the food item and not just say that it “sounds delicious.” Let your reader be the determiner of that for themselves.

Also, be conscientious of just repinning without reading through the entire description. And don’t post all the details in the description! You want the reader to have to go to the blog or website and read the article for themselves. There’s a 500 character limit on describing your pin…but you shouldn’t be anywhere close to that (and yes, you MUST put something in the description).

Pin From the Right Place

You’re confused, right? No? You’re doing well. For everyone else, this is for you.

Have you ever gone to click on a pin, thinking “ooh, I would love to try that!” only to find that the pin doesn’t lead to the actual object of desire? Here’s what happened… There are two ways to pin something: through the main URL or through the permalink. You should always (with a few exceptions) pin from the permalink. Still not sure what I’m talking about? Okay.

The main URL takes you to the main page of a blog or website. For example, this is ours: From the main URL, you are able to access all of the content from the website, or at least navigate to the different areas of content. The second type of link is a permalink. Here’s an example of a permalink from our website: That link will take you directly to a post, in particular, it will direct you to the post entitled “My Little Xyron” that was written earlier this month. The different links are important. When you pin from the permalink, you will be able to go directly back to that page next time you want to view your pin — and so will others who want to view what you saw as important. When you post from the main URL, if you come back in a week, month or year, you may have to sift through pages and pages of material to find your pin. And those who were so excited about the pin that you decided to share are often not able to find it (and that can be very disappointing, believe me).

For those of you less computer savvy, you’re likely asking how to get to the permalink. That’s usually very easy. If it’s on a personal blog, like mine, you can click on the title of the post (if you’re on the main URL, this one would be “How to Use Pinterest”) and you should be taken there. If you are on other sites, sometimes, you have to get creative; however, often you are able to look in the address bar (where you type in the website) and see something about the title of what you’re viewing.

Use the “Pin It” Button

The “Pin It” button is a tool that you can put in your bookmarks bar so that you can pin from any website that you run across. This prevents you from simply repinning things but adding new content to Pinterest (which is part of the point of this site). It’s easy to download and install, as well. Well, now you’re asking “how do I get this tool??” There are 2 different ways that I have found to get it. Remember that “Add” button at the top of the screen? That one. Click it. Remember the new pop up that will appear? Yep — that one. Just above all of the buttons we paid attention to earlier, there’s a sentence that says, “Pin images from any website as you browse the web with the “Pin It” button.” See it? Well, you can click on the words “Pin It button” and it will take you to a link that will allow you to download your new Pin It button.

Pin Original Content

You’re asking “what does she mean?” and “do I have to come up with my own stuff to put on Pinterest?”

Well, yes and no. Depends on how you’re taking this.

No, you don’t have to create your own projects or original recipes and put them on your boards to share with everyone. But you should be finding content from websites on your own to share.

Why is this important? The point of Pinterest is to share. Share ideas for your home, what to feed your family, how to entertain your children, ways to throw a great party…and so on. And while it’s great to keep sharing the ideas that you find on Pinterest (because they’re obviously really good ideas, particularly the more re-pins the have), we want to make sure that new content is being added daily to keep things fresh and new.

Imagine if you went to a board and all you saw were three or four different items that had been re-pinned time after time after time? How helpful would that be? Of course, they may be great ideas — but with a lack of variety, the point of Pinterest is lost.

Set a goal for yourself. For every 5…6…7…whatever (reasonable) number of items that you re-pin on Pinterest’s website, find something on your own to pin. I, personally, have set a goal to pin 1 item for every 5 that I re-pin. It’s an average. Not exact. But it makes sure that I help contribute new content to the world of Pinterest, and for you.

Clear Out Your Bookmarks and Folders

I know I mentioned at the beginning of this post that Pinterest was a great way to take your bookmarks with you. It’s also a great way to contribute original content to Pinterest.

I know you. You’re an idea person. Take all of those ideas and throw them back out onto Pinterest for all of us to use and enjoy. But please, don’t throw just images up there, for example, from Google. Make sure your pins lead somewhere that will provide us with some information about the idea and not just to a picture, as that’s less than helpful.


If you’re still with me, I’m proud of you. That’s a lot to digest about Pinterest. It’s a wonderful site with lots to offer to you and me. I know that for me, as an avid cook and baker and someone who loves to dabble in many areas of crafts, it has been a great thing. I have found new ways in which I can feed my husband and new ways to keep myself occupied with crafting. Plus, I have all kinds of ideas for decorating a house…whenever we decide to make that investment.

I hope you’ve been able to learn a few things and are willing to keep some of these things in mind to make Pinterest an even more user-friendly place for all of us!

  • Sheila Blackwell

    Hello to anyone that can let me know if you have had problems with Pinterest closing out of Pinterest
    on a regular basis. I went for a long time with no problems at all and then it would shut down a few
    times a visit. In the last few months the shut downs happen in the double digits. I have no issues with
    my IPad in any other programs. I love Pinterest but this issue is very frustrating, especially when you
    loose anything you are trying to Pin and you have to go in search of the Pin that was lost.
    My appreciation for any help.

  • Jean |

    Thanks, Jon and Suze. I’ve been on Pinterest ( for a while now and I still haven’t figured it out! I need all the help I can get!

  • Susan Hook

    Hi! This was a great article for a newbie. I would love to see it updated. Have a good time pinning!

  • Hank Kuhlmann

    Your writing style is magnificent. It made the description of steps involved so much easier for this newbie to understand. Even with the clarity of this blog, I will need to review your information again one or more times, But I am
    not put-off as I can understand what you say and that increases my optimism . Thanks much.