Beginner Pinterest Q & A

Even though there are lots of tutorials out there, I’ve gotten a number of questions- here and in real life – about the basics of Pinterest, so I thought I’d do a quick introduction for those who need it. If you are a Pinterest-pinning fool, this isn’t for you, however- I’d love for you to leave any tips you have in the comments for those just starting out!

Pinterest Logo

Before we begin, can I just say “wowza” – Pinterest has just exploded in the last couple of months and was my second top referrer for the month of January! And I was not alone. Here’s a quote I found last week on Digital Trends about the traffic generated from Pinterest:

Pinterest drove more referral traffic to sites in January than Google+, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn and MySpace all combined. In addition, it’s threatening to unseat Twitter, Google news, Google images, Gmail and Stumble Upon in the coming months to slide into the number two spot behind Facebook…(which) is astounding for a social network that’s so young.

Aside from the blogging traffic, I need to go on record as being one of those who thought “ugh, I just can’t do another social network thing- I can’t keep up with what I’m doing now!” I took a few months to start using it, and I have to say – I LOVE using my Pinterest boards! This is one thing I’d be doing whether I had a blog or not…which I cannot say about Facebook or Twitter. Just being honest, here.

If you’re wondering what all the brouhaha is about, you’ll definitely want to check out the following questions I’ve gotten from readers and friends, complete with answers, how-tos that include screenshots, and probably more information than you ever wanted to know about the big “P.”

1. What is Pinterest?

  • First, it’s pronounced “PIN-ter-est” as in pinning something on a wall. I don’t know why, but for about the first 2 months that I started reading about it last spring I called it all kinds of things, but mainly PI-nterist. Yeah, it was kinda a “duh” moment when I put together the pin-a-picture idea with the name…
  • The short answer to what it is: An online bulletin board -separated into mini-boards – that you can pin pictures from websites onto in order to keep track of things that inspire you, that you’d like to remember, or that you’d like to make.
  • The long answer: Not only can you pin pictures from sites you visit, but you can see what others have pinned on their boards for even more ideas. You can follow people, too- all their boards or just the ones you’re interested in- which allows you to keep up with others who are interested in the same things. Your boards can become online recipe books of your favorite recipes or help you decorate a room before you even pick up a paintbrush.

2. Huh? I still don’t get it.

  • You must be visual, in which case you’ll LOVE Pinterest ’cause it’s full of…you guessed it- pictures! This screen shot might help you see more clearly:
  • Here’s my profile at Pinterest – my picture and information is on the left and all my boards are found on the right. All the things I’m interested in and have found on the blogs I follow and sites I’ve visited over the last eight months (and Pinterest itself) are right there in one place and easy for me to find!
  • The screenshot above is the drop-down menu from my account name which is always in the right-hand corner after I’ve logged in. If I want to navigate to my boards from the main Pinterest homepage (or any page), I just click the “boards” option (alternately, just click your name and it will take you to your page).
  • There I can change the names of my pinboards to anything I’d like, add more boards and rearrange them (I can also add a board or pin using the “Add+” button you see on the far left).

3. How do I use the Pinterest site?

  • First, you’ll need an invite because it’s still in beta mode, believe it or not (beta is a testing or “still under construction” mode). Leave a comment with your email if you’d like an invite and I’ll be happy to send you one!
  • Once you’re invited and have set up an account on Pinterest, there will be some generically named blank boards to the right of your picture (which you should upload- yes, you DO need a picture, it’s what makes you human on the Internet), but like I said above you can change the starter names to anything you’d like.
  • The pictures on this page of boards (like the page shown above in #2) are thumbnails so it’s easy to glance at them and remember what they were. But it only shows nine thumbnails…and you’ll very soon have way more than the nine shown.
  • To view a single board in full screen, click on it and it will take you to a full window of just that board so you’ll be able to see ALL the items you’ve pinned (#1 arrow points to the name of the board, #2 to what you click if you’d like to edit the board).
  • It’s easy to navigate within the site: the arrow on the right points to the Pinterest logo which, when you click on it, takes you to the site’s homepage (not your page of boards).
  • Under the logo, you’ll see “Pinners you follow * Everything* Videos * Popular * Gifts.” Notice that the page I’m on (arrow pointing from the bottom) has the font in bold. Click any of these to go to the pages or see a drop-down menu.
  • My favorite to go to is “everything” and when I do, I see this drop-down menu. As you can see, there are LOTS of options for finding things that interest you on Pinterest. I’ve used arrows to show the places I mainly visit.

4. OK, but how do I actually pin something?

  • You’ll see lots of blogs and web sites with a “Pin-it” button front and center nowadays and you can pin using these buttons.
  • But the easiest way for me to pin anything I want has been to install the “Pin-it” button on my toolbar (go to “About” next your name in the Pinterest navigation bar, choose Pin-it Button from the drop-down menu and then you will see instructions to download it). When I see something I don’t want to forget (a recipe, tutorial or great idea), I click my pin-it button on the toolbar and choose an image from the page to pin. Then this window pops up:
  • Obviously, this isn’t a “free printable” so I need to choose a board– clicking on the down arrow will bring up all my board names to choose from.
  • THEN, describe your pin – for what you’d like to remember and what you’d think other’s would find interesting. For this picture I’d name the vegetable and then write “to grow in 2012″ or something.
  • BUT – and this is very important!! – DO NOT use this space to write a complete recipe or give the entire tutorial or information…please. First of all, it takes up too much space when you’re browsing on Pinterest, which is really annoying. But most of all, it steals the original poster’s idea and reason for going to their site or blog. Let’s all use appropriate etiquette and show some love to each other so Pinterest remains a fun place to hang out!

5. Why should I use it?

  • OK, so you’ve got boards now and pinned some things- what do you DO with them? Well, here’s just one example from me:
  • Back in October I started pinning Christmas decorations for the coming holidays. When my daughter and I were ready to start decorating after Thanksgiving, I went right to my “Christmas” board and found all the ideas I been collecting. It is WAY easier to collect and bookmark ideas and tutorials than any other thing I’ve used in the past, mainly because it’s all in one place and visual.
  • Why else? It’s fun to find ideas, inspiration, and see what others find interesting. It can be a great organizational tool for recipes, menus, how-tos – really, anything you can think of.

Most people I know who were like me and waited to join Pinterest got hooked fairly easily after realizing how easy it is to use and how useful it can be. In fact, I don’t know anyone who tried it and didn’t like it…unlike some other social networking sites.

So don’t be like me- ask for an invitation (they seem to be easier to get if you go through an existing member) and get started right away…and of course remember to follow my boards on Pinterest! *wink*

P.S.- There are other tutorials out there – here’s just one if you’re needing a bit more information to get you to jump in: Pinterest Tutorial – Getting Started.

This is linked to: Tutorials & Tips Link Party @ Stories of A to Z and Tutorial Tuesday@ Hope Studios.


  1. Anonymous says

    Can boards be private? For instance if I want to pin things to my Recipes board for my reference, but don’t want everyone else to see that I’m researching or being inspired by meals made with octopus?

    I love your blog, by the way! Can’t wait to get back into gardening this spring and am so excited to try some of your recipes. I’ve been checking in every day for about a month now.


    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

      Merri- Thanks, it’s so nice to know you’re reading and finding helpful things! I’m looking forward to the spring, too and our yummy fresh veggies. :-)

      No, the boards can’t be made private right now. I’ve read that it’s something they’re thinking about.

  2. says

    Hi Jami, I am on Pinterest but am too overwhelmed to use it much, so far. With the boys home this year I haven’t had much time to spend on the computer (perhaps not a bad thing:), but am trying to sneak away a little more.

    Thanks for the tutorial… and the kick in the pants!

  3. says

    My daughter sent me an invite, but it said I needed to have a facebook or twitter account. That left me out as I am still in techno-stoneage. No facebook or twitter accounts. It is a shame as it looks like tons of fun, like where I would need to set a timer to keep me from pinning the whole day away.

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

      Bummer. I have read of people who’ve opened a FB acct. just to get into Pinterest, and then closed it. There is an option (I read) in Pinterest settings to unlink your account from FB and have it only link to an email address.

      That is, if you’d really like to pin the day away. :-)

    • JP says

      I also do not have a facebook or twitter account and do not want one. Although pinterest looks fun, I guess I am opposed to the idea that it requires me to subscribe to social networking sites. So, I have resolved not to participate and haven’t lost any sleep over it :)

  4. says

    Thank you Jami for a fantastic tutorial!!! I’ve been very curious about Pinterest and you have answered a couple of my questions. I’m going to print out the tutorial and use your instructions. I think I’m ready to take the plunge and would love an invite. My email address is:

  5. Shanzanne says

    I’m wondering how to stop following someone? I can’t seem to find a way to do that. When I first signed up I “followed” people they recommended assuming I could stop following them later.

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

      When you click on their name in a pin, it will take you to their page. Under their name (and on every board) is a button that says “Follow” if you’re following them. Click it and it will turn gray and will say “unfollow” now. You aren’t following them anymore. You can choose to follow only their boards that interest you, if you’d like.

    • Shanzanne says

      Thank you, Jami! I was not using Pinterest very often because it was so cluttered with things I didn’t want. Now I can just see the things my friends post. I appreciate your tutorial!


    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

      I sent it, but it went through different than others, so if you didn’t get it, let me know and I’ll try again!

  6. says

    I have had an invite for a while, but I every time I tried to link up to my account it wanted permission to post things to my facebook account, I wasn’t comfortable with that. So I would click on not allow and then I’d be back to square one! Does it actually post updates to your facebook or twitter? I am definitely struggling with privacy while still enjoying the web.

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

      I haven’t seen anything on my walls on FB- the blog or my personal account. I don’t really have any important info that I pin, so I’m not worried about people seeing what I pin(and my email address is out there anyway…). I have read (and I mentioned in a comment above) that some people jump through the hoops to get in and then un-link their accounts so that they’re only linked to an email address. You could try it and if you still weren’t comfortable, just delete your account. Just a thought (you can tell I really like it – and I DON”T really like FB and Twitter!). :-)

  7. Anonymous says

    Thanks for the tutorial Jami. I signed up for an invite and have yet to receive one from the website. I would love an invite! My email is I loved the kraft paper floor video and will definitely share with family members who do not have, but would love wood floors!

  8. says

    I’m soooo addicted. I have tennis elbow that came about the same time I started Pinterest-ing (coincidentally) and my husband now calls it Pinterest Elbow. Too much computer time Pinteresting he says.

    PS I request Pinteresting be added into the dictionary.

  9. Chrissy says

    I just found your blog, I love it!! Keep up the good work. Someday soon I want to start a blog. So many ideas & things to share. God Bless You!! P.S. Invite me to pinterest, im having trouble getting on…lol. My email is

    Thanks!! Happy Easter!! Xoxo Chrissy

  10. Dana says

    Jami, I love this site. I use it through out the day everyday! I would like to put some of my own creations on Pinterest. Do I have to have a website in order to do this?

    • Jami says

      Hmm – that’s a good question, Dana! Actually, I don’t know. :) You’d need to have some way to post the photos to be pinned – I wonder if you can post from Flikr or some photo-sharing site? That might be a way to do it. Maybe check the Q & A at Pinterest? Sorry I couldn’t be more help!

  11. Shelley says

    Frequently I see an image I like for a project or food but can’t find the way back to the instructions or tutorial. Is the supposed to be a way to do this are somethings just posted because they ate lovely images?

    • says

      Good question! This has become a major issue with Pinterest, Shelly, unfortunately. :( Some people do just pin for the picture – maybe to remind themselves of something or for inspiration – and they don’t bother to check that the link to the original page is still there. The worst are the ‘scraper sites’ that list things like “20 Fabulous Summer Porches” and then have simply stolen porch pictures from other sites and give no credit or links to the original site. And these pins get pinned over and over – it’s a MAJOR pet peeve of mine, as you might be able to tell. 😉
      I try to suggest to everyone to click on the pin to see where it originated from and pin only those that are from the correct site. If not, try googling the description to see if a blog or website comes up you can pin from. And if there’s a pin you just want to have to remember for some reason, I suggest creating a secret board for these, so they don’t go into the Pinterest stream to keep getting pinned.

      Hmm, I’m seeing a follow-up post in my future… :)

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