|A selection of my Pinterest boards (http://pinterest.com/sylliu)|
What is Pinterest? If you're a woman between 25 and 35, you know because you and all your friends are on it. (Interestingly, while women make up 80% of Pinterest users in the U.S., they are less than half of U.K. users). Pinterest is one of the fastest growing and most popular social media sites, generating more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube, and Linked In combined, Mashable reports.
How does Pinterest work?
Pinterest describes itself as a virtual billboard to "organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web." On Pinterest, you can create virtual bulletin boards and "pin" images you find on the web. Pinterest suggest boards like "Art I Like," "Favorite Places," and "Books Worth Reading," and the general vibe tends towards design, fashion, recipes, photography, and arts/crafts. But you can create any topic that lends itself to visuals. The social part comes in when you follow other users and "re-pin" or "like" images you find.
The original pinned image is always linked to the website on which the image resides, so you can go back to the original page if you are intrigued by the photo. Pinterest provides a handy bookmark for your browser tool bar so you can pin most images you see while surfing the web.
Pinterest is a Great Visual Blogging Tool
It turns out Pinterest is a great visual blogging tool for artists and illustrators because:
1. You can indulge your inner curator.
In an internet awash with content, people increasingly turn to those they trust to help curate content. Bloggers often fulfill this function when they review products, books, apps, or movies. For example, if you're a blogger who reviews children's books, you could create a Pinterest board rounding up the best picture books of the year. Or you could create boards for specific categories, like my blog post, Pirate Picture Books. If you're a blogging artist or illustrator, you can show readers your sources of inspiration or highlight other artists and illustrators you like. For example, I've been very interested in octopi recently, and have an Octopus Art board:
The blog, The Well Read Wife, lists book bloggers who are on Pinterest.
2. You can indulge your inner packrat and mine the boards for inspiration.
Have you ever cut pictures from magazines and pinned them to a (real) bulletin board? Clipped recipes and stuffed them into an overflowing binder? Created an inspiration folder for a kitchen makeover? Pinterest satisfies this organizing urge and lets you catalogue your visual ideas.
I have written about favoriting Tweets as a way to bookmark interesting content for future blogging, and the same concept applies for Pinterest. As you come across images that might help you develop a blog post, you can pin it to a board to have it in a handy place.
3. Pinterest is beautiful and visual in a way other blogging platforms aren't.
Although Pinterest can seem overwhelming at first, it is a powerful platform because of its visual impact. Tumblr is also an image-heavy blogging platform, but the photos are sequential and only show up in your feed if you're following someone. On Pinterest, you can take in at a glance a lot more visual information and then hone in on what interests you.
4. Pinterest is viral in a way that Twitter, Facebook, and the rest can't match.
Pinterest is viral in a way that text-based social media sides can't match. Because everything is visually oriented, people are immediately drawn to a photo and will be more likely to click on it than a tweet that just says, "Check out this great photo of x." Because boards are categorized under general topics, like Art or Photography, any images you pin will be searchable under those categories. You also don't need to have followers for your pins to show up so you can reach a wider audience.
For example, my "pin" of Hello Kitty as Star Wars characters on to my Geeky Stuff board was almost instantaneously repinned 29 times:
A Cautionary Note
Because of the ease of re-pinning others' images, there is a growing concern about lack of attribution or copyright infringement. While blogging artists always have this concern, the viral reach of Pinterest makes it a bigger issue. Because an image is linked to the website it was found on, users should make every effort to link to the original owner of the image.
The blog, Living Locurto, has an interesting article about attribution concerns as well as tips for artists and others to protect photos of their works. Some are even concerned that Pinterest's terms of service may lead to Napster-like lawsuits against unauthorized pinning. ReadWriteWeb reports that in response to some of these concerns, Pinterest has offered image owners code that will result in a message that the visited website does not allow pinning.
Stop by Pinterest and Decide for Yourself
Anyone can visit Pinterest to view the boards, but you need to join to pin images. Pinterest is by invitation only, but you can request one from the site, or ask a friend to invite you. Come on by and visit my Pinterest boards. If you need an invite, drop me a line.
What are some ways you have used Pinterest for blogging or inspiration?
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