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source: Leonid Mamchenkov

Pinterest: Visual Inspiration Made Easy

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Several months ago, Shaina from Food for My Family introduced me to Pinterest. She sent me an invite, I installed the bookmarklet and…that was pretty much it.

When it comes to social media, I try to keep things low key. I know that Facebook and Twitter are important for a blogger — and I love connecting with readers in both places — and my Tumblr has been incredibly helpful for bookmarking and sharing the great posts that I read. And yes, I spend some time on StumbleUpon, mostly in the evenings when I’m vegging. But that was more than enough for me, and I had no desire to really learn or use a new platform, especially when so many of them start out with a lot of hype and then just die over time.

Then, as I began dreaming up ideas for my nursery-to-craft room makeover, a few of the Life Your Way Facebook fans suggested I use Pinterest, not just to find ideas but also to organize them.

And with that, I was hooked.

What is Pinterest?

If you’ve heard people talking about Pinterest but haven’t taken time to check it out for yourself, let me give you a brief introduction to the site. Basically, it’s a social bookmarking site that lets you “pin” pictures to “boards” — just like the classic inspiration board, but these are virtual and not limited by space or actually having a physical copy of the picture. You can also search by keyword or topic for additional inspiration, and you can follow other people’s boards so that you see the great ideas they’re pinning as well.

Visual Inspiration

What I’ve realized is that the reason I haven’t given up my magazines for the internet is not because of the quality of the information but because of the visual appeal of a real magazine. They’re colorful and full of high-quality pictures that grab your attention. And — for me at least — Pinterest does that same thing. Although I often pin things from around the blogosphere or search for specific topics (can you say s’more?), I also love to just browse through other people’s pins to see what catches my attention.

Inspiration for Real Life

I’ve been really surprised by how much Pinterest has inspired my real life. I’ve tried multiple recipes at home, the entire repurposed t-shirt craft series was inspired by projects from Pinterest and my Quotable Quotes board has become one of my favorites as I’ve filled it with inspiring and motivational quotes. You’ll also find beauty and fashion ideas, photography inspiration, projects and crafts, printables, entertaining ideas and much more!

Pinterest Best Practices

Megan from Sorta Crunchy has the ultimate Pinterest beginner’s guide already, so I won’t regurgitate what she said. But I would like to add a few best practices to keep in mind:

Use keywords in your description.

I’m just starting to do this, honestly, but since I like to search for inspiration, I think the least I can do is include keywords that will help my pins come up for other people in search too. I usually just include a brief description (i.e., strawberry poppy seed salad or fall outfit inspiration) with a little of my own commentary (i.e., LOVE!, must try this, my kids would dig this, etc.).

Pin original sources.

One of the things I don’t like about Pinterest is that sometimes I want more information about a recipe, project or product only to discover that it’s been pinned from a file location or aggregator that makes it hard to get back to the original source.  For example, if you click on a picture and open it in its own page and then pin it from there, it’s hard to find the original post without some digging. Similarly, if you see a picture on the front page of a website and pin it, Pinterest records the location as that front page and within a day or two that post is no longer on that page and can’t be found. To prevent this, always open the blog post or article itself and pin from that location. You can still choose the picture you want to pin but the post URL will be saved with that picture so your followers can easily find it.

Similarly, when posting inspiration you’ve discovered on Pinterest on your blog, it’s important to link to the original sources. It’s not hard to understand why some people might be upset about their photos and images being pinned without a proper link, and I think we owe it to the creators and each other to be diligent about this.

I will say it’s a lot harder to do that when you’re just repinning someone else’s pin (who has time to check every source? I know I don’t!), which makes it even more important for the original pinner to do so!

Pinterest has become one of my favorite sources for both inspiration and relaxation. It’s also made putting together Life Your Way galleries a lot easier and more fun!

If you’re on Pinterest — or need an invite — be sure to leave a comment so we can connect! I’m lifeyourway on Pinterest (and pretty much everywhere else!).