Word to the Wise | How to Use Pinterest Effectively & Not Harmfully

By now, most everyone is on Pinterest or at least knows of it. If you don't then please crawl out from under the rock you've been dwelling and get with it! But just in case - Pinterest is a virtual inspiration board. Instead of saving the hundreds and hundreds of images I loved to my computer and of course forgetting where I found it originally, I can now 'pin' the images to a 'board'. Not only are the images easy to access again, I can also find where the images were originally introduced to the internet. This is helpful for DIY projects, tutorials, helpful advice, or new products I hope to purchase in the future. At least this is how it's supposed to work.

I've had it for about two years now, meaning I have already been addicted and gone through rehab, while most people I know are just getting started. Which is awesome! I think it is a great tool to help inspire everyone to create, but the more popular it becomes - and it seems to have blown up in the last several weeks - the more problems I see evolving.

The main problems I see, severely affect creatives and anyone who makes a living selling their craft. Whether it is graphic design, illustration, baking, photography, writing, etc. - it can be super frustrating to see something you have created, pinned by a user on Pinterest, with absolutely no link or credit to you. Even worse when a pin goes viral and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. The photo is just out there for the taking with no way for viewers to find the original source.

So what do we do?

If you have found something on Pinterest that has inspired you to create, cook,  etc. that is great. If you want to share on your own blog that you have tried something from Pinterest, great. The problem starts when you use (& then pin) photos that do not belong to you. For instance, say you pinned this image. What if you decided to recreate these adorable Bow Ear Warmers? The tutorial was originally created by Delia Creates, so in the hypothetical post you include a link to Delia's website. BUT, instead of taking your own photos, you decide to use her's, because well, her's looks much better than yours and you already have access to the photos, and it's just plain easier. That day, Mary Jo stops by your blog and decides she loves this tutorial so she pins it from your blog to her DIY board. Now, a tutorial that you did not create and did not shoot photos for, is linked back to you. Not the creator. How would you feel if you spent all that time, not only creating something, but also preparing a blog post in an easy to follow fashion and shooting coordinating photos and then just like that, all the credit is given to someone else? Give credit where credit is due.

This is so frustrating to me when I see something I want to buy or I want to create and instead of finding the original source when clicking the pin, I am taken to Google images. This helps no one and totally defeats the purpose of Pinterest. If you pin directly from Google images, you don't get Pinterest and please, just stop. As for pins from Google images that are already on Pinterest, try your best to find where it belongs or don't pin at all.

This is also quite frustrating. If I am wanting to make that delicious looking dip, I click over to check out the recipe. If the pinner of the pin didn't do it correctly, it may take me to the homepage of the blog or website, not the actual post. I see this over and over again, and usually search the site to try to find the specific post I'm looking for. I then edit the URL of the pin, so anyone who re-pins from me is directed to the correct location.

I touched a little on my feelings toward using Pinterest as your source, here, but now I want to dig in a little deeper. There are so many bloggers in so many different fields. Lots of time, effort, and creativity goes into putting out great content. I have seen time and time again where a blogger will feature something they have recreated after seeing it on Pinterest. They provide a source - but link back to Pinterest. Pinterest is not the source for the tutorial, photo, recipe. It is just simply the avenue in which enabled them to come across it. Whatever it is that you are sharing, if you are not the original creator, link back to the proper source (website/blog).

OK - I think that's enough! (But just in case you still want more on this topic, I learned even more about Pinterest from two Living Locurto posts, here and here. I highly recommend you checking them out for yourself.)

If you take anything away from this I hope that it is to think before you pin. Respect the ones who have created the beautiful images for you to be inspired by in the first place. There are a lot of people who work really hard on these types of things and you can diminish that in one click. Pinterest is definitely changing the way the internet works and I am even looking at the way I use and have used images in the past. I'm not only going back and double checking that I have correctly provided sources for all images and content I have featured but I am also going through my pins. I highly recommend you do the same! Keep Pinterest clean and full of beautiful inspiration that can easily be linked back to it's source.

Thanks to Pinterest (ha), I came across this pin which led me to this post that had more information  here, that shares "good pinning manners". It is also a good read and I wanted to be sure you saw it as well! I'm glad more and more people are highlighting this subject. Hopefully it will open the eyes of people and inspire smart pinning!

More great posts on how to keep Pinterest clean & helpful:
Pinterest Copycats: Flattering or Frustrating? from Handmade Success.
How to be a Polite Pinterest Pinner from On the Dot Creations.


  1. Thank you. I will try and do better.

  2. I totally agree with your points. What do you do when I pin has no original source linked to the pin and your only option is to link to Pinterest?

  3. Thanks Kelly! I kind of go back and forth on this one. On one hand, I say Pinterest as a source is better than no source at all. On the other hand, using Pinterest as a source is pretty much the same since there is no source to refer back to. If it's something that I'm really inspired by and NEED on one of my boards, I have been trying to find where it came from. On the post I listed in my edit above, she suggests not pinning the image at all if there is no correct source. I'm not sure I 100% agree with that, but it's definitely something to think about!