Pinterest: A Tool, Not a Time Waster
Pinterest is one of these web sites that seemed to take off overnight. One day no one had heard of it and now no one can live without it. Like many things that are trendy, I was slow to get on board because I wasn't sure that it was worth all of the hype. I also didn't need another time waster sucking at computer time that should be devoted to work. However, now that I have learned how many practical functions it has, I love it. It's really important to keep in mind that it is a valuable tool, not a time waster. If you use it productively, it can be a great resource. Here are just a few of the productive ways that you can use Pinterest.
Research for Blog Posts and Articles
Pinterest has become one of my go to research spots for certain blog post and article topics, particularly craft and food topics. You can use the Search function to look for just about any topic imaginable. While it does take time to look through the results for quality photos, articles, tutorials, etc., more often than not I have found this process to be less tedious than my regular search engine research.
Usually when I'm researching, I collect my findings in a bookmark folder in Firefox and/or I create a Pinterest board for them. Some topics lend themselves more naturally to Pintrest boards than others. One advantage to the Pinterest board is that you can continue to grow the board as you find more resources. I have a couple topics that I hope to write more articles about in the future because I've been able to collect so many additional resources.
Sometimes I start researching a blog post or article with a solid outline. Other times, I have a topic in mind and am looking to see what's out there about it before I start forming an outline. Pintrest can be a great way to start this brainstorming.
I also use Pinterest to brainstorm new craft projects. There are so many possibilities for brainstorming on Pinterest with everything from color combinations to material choices to price points. As with anything on Pinterest, it's important to stay focused with your brainstorming and stick to the topic at hand instead of letting the pins direct you to mindless browsing. If you find something you like that is off topic but you want to revisit it later, you can "like" the pin or bookmark it in your browser.
I have a terrible habit of throwing links into my general bookmark folder with the intention of organizing them lately. As I read over 50 blog posts and articles almost every day, my bookmark folder can get out of hand very quickly. It is then tedious to look through it all to find what I need. While I have gotten better about creating folders and sticking new links into them immediately, Pinterest can also be a valuable bookmarking system. Why not save and organize all of your favorite links while also sharing them with others?
I couldn't find any good example boards for group collaboration, but I know that they are out there. Pinterest has two options for all boards: boards open to you only and boards open to you and others. Using boards open to you and others is a great way for any kind of group to collect their ideas. The possibilities are endless: brainstorming for group functions (giveaways, promotions, fundraising...), collecting inspiration, sharing new projects, and more.
Sharing your Posts, Products, Etc.
As Pinterest is a widely popular web site right now, it can be a great place for promotions. However, it's really important to promote as naturally as possible to avoid getting kicked off of the site for spamming. Stay away from creating boards that are overly promotional and work your links into boards that you have already created. If you want to create a new board for a particular topic that you haven't visited before, make sure that you start filling it with other links right away. While it is more work to promote this way, the results will be much better, as people are much more likely to visit interesting boards full of great resources than boards intended strictly for promotion.
Promoting The Work of Others
Another great way to get promoted more often is to promote others. Whether you are promoting HubPages articles, personal or business blog posts, handmade item links, or just about anything else, take the time to promote the work of others as well. I do most of this promotion during activities that I already do online everyday such as reading HubPages articles by the Hubbers that I follow. When you find something you really like, take a few extra seconds and pin it on a board. If you are promoting hubs, don't forget to use a referral tracker.
Research for Your Own Projects
Pinterest is a great way to collect ideas for crafts, recipes, home improvement techniques, fashion, and so much more. I have found a number of helpful links through Pintrest that I was able to use immediately. Like with my blog and article research, Pintrest made this process so much easier than a search engine would have.
Stay away from making too many "to do" lists on Pinterest (which can be fun but are mostly a waste of time) and search for what you need as you need it. Unless you find a one of a kind link that you don't want to lose, more than likely you'll be able to find what you need when you actually need it.
Hopefully I don't have to spend too much time explaining that one of the best ways to build relationships on Pinterest is to follow users who have similar interests to your own and interact with them. "Like" and/or repin their links and leave comments for them. Engaging in these behaviors on a regular basis will greatly increase the chances of people reciprocating with the links that you pin. While I mostly use Pinterest to interact with people I know in person or from other online venues (i.e. HubPages, Etsy, etc.), it can be a great way to meet new people, too.
Searching for Inspiration
Like brainstorming, whether you have a specific idea in mind and are just trying to put it all together or you're getting started with something brand new and don't have much of a plan, Pintrest can be a great resource. Think about starting a board or several boards for gathering inspiration.
Again, it's important to focus on specific projects or ideas when you search for inspiration on Pinterest so that your time there is productive. I started the above board when I started my new jewelry line and began looking for charms and pendant ideas and tutorials. I only pin ideas there that I am actually interested in making. They are all within my budget and contain materials that I have on hand or can easily obtain.