13 Tips for How to Use Pinterest and Gain Followers

I started on Pinterest about 2 years ago when it was still in beta form. I immediately connected with the visual quality of the site because after all, I'm a visual designer. It's totally my thing. Since then, the popularity of Pinterest has exploded. The combination of unending eye candy and organization seems to be addictive for everyone.

Over time I've learned a few things about Pinterest. So here are my tips for getting started, building your account and gaining followers.

1. Setup your account and link to your social media
Connect to your social networks, install the "Pin It" bookmarklet and if you have a smartphone, download the Pinterest app. Add links to your Pinterest account to your blog and Facebook page. Right now I have a widget installed in my sidebar that shows my latest pins. Make your own widget here. If you want a tab for Pinterest on your Facebook page, I recommend Pinterest Tab. It was very easy to install. Maybe you want to share your pins on Twitter? That's easy too. After you pin something new, just click "Tweet Pin".

2. Follow people whom you admire
When you are logged in to pinterest and go to the homepage, the default page is of the most recent pins from the people that you follow (and your pins for some reason I don't know). If you want to see pins from Everybody, you can click on that option in the top bar. But you're probably not interested in everything that everybody is pinning. By choosing people and pinboards that contain content that you're interested in, you can curate your homepage into a constantly evolving inspiration site.

When I first started on pinterest, I followed everybody and any board because I thought it was the friendly thing to do. But then I ended with a lot of images on my pinterest home page that were not of interest to me. So, now I just follow boards and profiles of people that I really find interesting. I know it's kind of selfish and snobby but I honestly don't expect anyone to follow me if they're not interested in my what I'm  pinning. For instance, some people might be interested in my typography pinboard but not in my knitting pinboard. And that's ok!

3. Create your pinboards
First off, choose categories that you are interested in and ones that your potential audience will be interested in as well. For example, I wouldn't recommend starting a pinboard about soccer if you're not interested in pictures of soccer.

Second, don't be afraid to be specific. When I first started on Pinterest, I made pretty generic categories like "Design" and "Crafting". But I found that the more pins I had, the more specific I wanted to be. So while I still maintain my "Design" pinboard as a general catchall, I also have pinboards for Typography, Packaging and Branding. The more pinboards you have, the more likely someone is to find something of interest and then follow you. Don't go crazy, you can let them grow naturally as you find new photos that you'd like to pin and need to add new categories.

4. Name your pinboards
Choose a name for your pinboard that effectively describes it. I know that seems like a "duh" piece of advice but I'm more likely to follow a board called "Fantastic Fashion" than one called "Maybe I'd wear this". Also, when people search for pinboards, the name is a searchable keyword.

Also think about how easy it will be for you to find the pinboard from the dropdown menu when you are pinning an item. If all of your pinboards start with the same word, then you're going to have to look a little harder to find the pinboard you're looking for. I have three pinboards that start with DIY and it's not so convenient to filter between the them.

5. Pin photos from the original source
There's nothing more annoying than clicking on a pin to go find that amazing DIY tutorial and ending up at the homepage of a different blog. Everyone says it, but it's worth saying again, pin from the blog post page of the image. So before you pin, check the url and make sure it's a permalink for the image.

When you are repinning an image, it's good to check the link and make sure it's not spam or going somewhere that is not the original source. So, what do you do if you repin an amazing image with a bad link? Go find the link and then Edit the link information on your pin.

6. Pin strategically
My personal philosophy is to only choose photos that are really amazing. If it doesn't look good, it's not going to inspire me. I've often looked at a photo that is maybe a good recipe or intriguing in a way, but is lacking a certain "yes" quality. If I have to think too long about whether to pin or not, I simply don't. If you still want to save the image you can "like" it and it will be saved in you account under "Likes".

Repinning is great but make sure you also pin original things too. I often see the same things pinned over and over so it's great to see new stuff. Your followers will want to see original things too.

7. Select the largest version of the photo
When you pin an image you want it to show up on Pinterest and look beautiful and and have lots of detail. Especially when pinning from online stores, there will be multiple sizes of one image embedded on the page. After you click your pinmarklet button you will see all of the images available for pinning. The pixel dimensions of the photos are listed underneath. I recommend always clicking the biggest photo. You can see in the screenshot above when you pin this blouse from Anthropologie there are a lot of options, multiple views and two sizes for each photo.

8. Describe your pinboards using related keywords
It is really helpful to write a description of each pinboard. Think about the keywords that people might search for when looking for the photos related to your pinboard and then use those keywords in the description. After adding descriptions to my pinboards, I honestly noticed an increase in followers.

9. Arrange your pinboards strategically
When people go to your profile page they will see all of your pinboards by default. This is your first impression so make it good. I like to have my best pinboards at the top and also show my range of interests. So, I'll pick pinboards for design, DIY and food.

During holiday seasons, I rearrange the pinboards to show pinboards for the current season at the top. If it's not the Christmas season, you can probably move those pinboards to the bottom until Christmas comes back around. Right now, I have a Valentine's Day pinboard at the top. After Feb 14th, I'll move it to the bottom.

To rearrange the boards click the button to the right of "Edit Profile" on your profile page. Then just drag them around. Be aware the the arrangement of boards changes with the width of the browser window. On a mobile device you will see two boards at a time.

10. Choose an evocative cover photo for your pinboard
When people go to your profile page the photos they are going to see your pinboards. This is the first impression potential followers will get and you should make it as impactful as possible. If you don't choose your own cover photos, Pinterest will automatically use your latest pin on that board. Choose pinboard covers that are stunning, fit well in the frame and perfectly describes the pinboard.

If you look at the screenshot of my profile above, you can see that all of my cover photos have a lot of white in the photo and focus on an object that represents the theme of the board. Curating the board covers with a similar theme will show potential followers your style and demonstrate your photo curating skills.

11. Pin often
The more often you pin, the more often you'll appear on your followers' homepages. I try to pin something everyday. It usually only takes a few minutes to find a few things. If you're short on time, the Pinterest smartphone app is a great way to quickly scroll the latest pins and do a bit of repinning.

12. Describe your pins
You'll see this tip on every Pinterest tip list. First off, it's good etiquette to describe the photo and credit the source. Providing a description also makes a pin more searchable which means more people will find your pins and follow you. If you are repinning you can change the description to something more descriptive.

When you use the Pinmarklet button, a description will automatically appear in the window. Depending on the website, there might be an accurate description and website source or it might just be the image name. One trick I've learned is if you select (highlight) text on the web page that describes the image, the pinmarklet will automatically put the text in the description box. This is really handy if you're pinning multiple images from a page.

13. Join group boards
Pinning to a group board is a great way to get exposure to a new group of people. Every time you pin to that board it will appear in the other followers pinterest home page. If it's a cool photo, they'll likely click on it and maybe click on your profile and see what else you're up to. Obviously you need to be courteous and don't overpin or pin images that don't relate to the board theme.


Now that you're all set up and moving, you might be interested in checking out your pinfluence at Pinpuff. I just discovered this site and it's pretty interesting. It seems a little new as well but I can see it developing in the future.

I hope that these tips are useful for you. And if you're not already, please follow me on Pinterest. :)


  1. Great tips. I realize now that I was pinning very irresponsibly and not very strategically in my early days, and boy, is it time consuming to try to clean it up! But I'm working on it little by little. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  2. Thank you for this! For some reason I don't love Pinterest but I need to get into it more because it's such a source of inspiration... and traffic. This is a wonderful tutorial.

  3. Great post. I think the world is still finding its feet on Pinterest so it's good to take a step back and assess good practice. Right, I'm off to add some keywords to my boards...

  4. I had no idea that you could enter a description of your pinboards and that they were searchable!


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