I’d like to open up a discussion about Pinterest, the visual social network that created a lot of controversy in the arts & crafts (and especially needle crafts) blogosphere when it first started up, and that still has its adamant advocates and staunch opponents.
Since there are quite a few needleworkers out there using Pinterest, I think it’s a worthwhile topic to discuss, and I’d love to hear your opinion about it.
Lately, too, I’ve received some well-meaning, but horrified, e-mails, informing me that they saw a photo from my website on Pinterest. I had to write back and assure my friends that it’s ok. I actually like Pinterest, and I use it a lot, and sometimes (between you and me), I even post my own photos on there!
I don’t have a lot of boards on Pinterest, and all my embroidery pins are filed under the very generic title of Embroidery.
There are some needleworkers out there (like Wendy Schoen, for example), who have done a brilliant job categorizing their Pinterest boards by embroidery techniques.
Instead, I pretty much dump everything related to embroidery – whether it’s whitework, goldwork, surface embroidery, embroidered monograms, you name it! – under Embroidery. That way, I figure people can follow my pins more easily.
When it comes to lace-making, felting, quilting, temari, and the like, I have another board, very creatively titled Other Needlework.
Why I Like Pinterest – as an Embroiderer
I like Pinterest for a number of reasons, but as an embroiderer, there are two primary reasons: 1. It inspires me; and 2. It motivates me.
Pinterest inspires me, because there, I find images of beautiful needlework, shared by other embroiderers, needleworkers, bloggers, and artists who have exquisite and interesting tastes and creative ideas. And their tastes and ideas are different from mine; this divergence helps form me, too, by exposing me to other approaches in the vast world of needle arts.
Pinterest motivates me, because it confirms that aspiring to and achieving greater skill is possible, that beauty in needlework is appreciated by others, that the needle arts are alive and people are hungry for the beauty that needlework can bring to their lives. And all this gives me something to work towards.
Why I Like Pinterest – as a Blogger
I like Pinterest as a blogger for slightly different reasons.
As a blogger, I like Pinterest because it is a valuable tool. It allows me to reach and connect with other people who like embroidery, and it allows me to do this in a visual way.
The world we live in is prone to visual stimulation – images attract. So Pinterest is an ideal form of making connections with other people, using visuals of those interests that we have in common, specifically needlework.
For example, I’ve been able to make some wonderful connections with others who like historical ecclesiastical needlework as much as I do. I’ve been able to exchange ideas with them – ideas that will enhance my own work, ideas that will eventually be passed on to my own community here on Needle ‘n Thread.
The Mercenary Me
And then, I admit it, there’s a “mercenary” reason why bloggers love Pinterest: quite simply, it is an easy way to direct traffic (and lots of it) to a website, which is another part of making those connections mentioned above.
When new readers come to a blog, they help grow that blog’s community, they add to it through discussion, through the sharing of ideas and the asking and answering of questions. And that sense of community – that interaction and discussion and question asking and answering – is really what blogging is all about.
Every good blog needs this. Without it, the blog withers, either because the blogger becomes bored since no one is responding, or because the readers become bored, since the conversation is only one-way.
So the direction of traffic from Pinterest is a really good thing for a blog, on a number of levels: 1. more traffic is good; 2. and more importantly, the influx of new people with similar interests is good; 3. the growth of a stable, interactive community is vital to keeping a blog alive, interesting, and forward-moving.
False Conceptions of Pinterest
In the arts-crafts-needlework world, when Pinterest first emerged, there were many false conceptions about Pinterest floating around on the internet. And, because Pinterest was new, and it involved images, the questions of copyright control with the sharing of images became a big issue.
And while copyright issues are always a concern for artists, writers, and bloggers alike, the notion that, once an image is posted on Pinterest, we lose control of that image or we hand certain rights over to Pinterest (the rights to publish images and make money from them and so forth) is false, by the very nature of copyright.
Pinterest is also very reliable in taking down reported images that don’t give due credit, that violate copyright, or that don’t like back to original sources. It’s just a matter of reporting the image and giving them a little time to take care of it.
Using Pinterest Correctly
When you use Pinterest, it’s important to use it correctly.
When you want to post an image on Pinterest from another website (besides your own), be observant.
Some folks believe that Pinterestiquette (Pinterest Etiquette) requires you to contact each individual blog owner to get permission first, before posting an image from that blog onto Pinterest.
If we had to do that… well. Who would use Pinterest?! One selling point of Pinterest is that it is a quick way to catalog and organize the things we come across online that we like. If we had to write permission requests, the notion of “quick” goes out the window.
Instead, just be observant. If the blogs you visit sport statements like “Follow me on Pinterest” or offer handy little “Pin It” buttons, this means those bloggers want you to pin their stuff.
Here on Needle ‘n Thread, I have some handy little custom-made Pinterest buttons that I can attach to different photos within blog posts. When you scroll over the buttons, they turn red. When you click on them, you get a little pop up with the photo, your board menu, and a place to type your description. It’s simple!
In the top left corner of Needle ‘n Thread, I also have some social networking buttons which include Pinterest, so that’s a pretty good sign that I am agreeable to your pinning my stuff on Pinterest. Absolutely! Go for it! Please!
If a blog does not have those indicators on it, or it clearly says “no pins,” or it has a very bold copyright statement in the forefront of the blog that includes something about not pinning, that’s a pretty good sign that you should either ask permission or just skip it. (I’d say skip it.)
When you pin something from a blog to Pinterest, you should always link back to that blog, giving credit to the source. You can also include credit in the photo’s description, but the best option is the link back to the source, because descriptions can be altered easily with each subsequent re-pinning. Mentioning the source in the description, but not linking back to the source, is not really good etiquette.
When you re-pin something on Pinterest (an image that’s already on Pinterest), check the link to make sure it sends you back to the original source. It’s always a good idea to check the links with the photos you re-pin, anyway, to make sure there’s no nefarious misdirection going on.
What Do YOU Think of Pinterest?
I’d love to hear your take on Pinterest: Do you use Pinterest? Or do you avoid Pinterest? Why or Why Not? Do you have concerns about Pinterest? Do you allow people to pin from your website? Why or why not? Do you see Pinterest as a helpful tool or organizer, or do you view it as a waste of time? What’s your take on Pinterest?
And finally, if you use Pinterest, do you have a needlework board on Pinterest that you’d like to share? Leave a link to it! I’ll come follow you!
Have your say on Pinterest below – would love to hear your thoughts!
PS. Any bloggers who want specific information on traffic stats (whether or not it’s worth it to get into Pinterest), implementation, use, and so forth of Pinterest, you’re welcome to contact me by email.