How to Pin on Pinterest

• 02 April 2012

This month I've started dabbling in Pinterest...finding things to "pin", creating albums for personal and public use, and making it easier for you to pin things from my blog with the click of a button (if you felt inspired to do so).  A little late to the game, yes, but better late than never!  I guess you could say that before I felt good about adding anything else mildly distracting to my life, the timing had to be right.

That being said, I cannot resist any longer :)

I've been watching the chatter on Twitter over the past few months as many artists (photographers, chefs, stylists, etc.) have become frustrated with the lack of credibility given to their work; some have even boycotted Pinterest all together.  I think we all assume that the links on the pins are correct (I know I did!), but that is not always the case.  While I am not a professional photographer, I do snap many of my own images for this blog and I've occasionally been notified when my images are being attributed to another blog/individual  You see, a lot of work goes into making time for shooting, shooting, editing, uploading, etc. and to see someone just snatch it up in seconds is a bit disconcerting; I'm sure it's unintentional, but insensitive nonetheless.  Can you imagine how it would feel to be a professional and to watch this type of thing happen over and over?  Ben Silbermann, founder of Pinterest, seems like the nicest guy ever (his keynote at Alt was a conference highlight to be sure), and I know that it isn't his intention to create a platform for stealing intellectual property.  However, the fact remains that it's still easy to do unless one is consciously and rightfully attributing images on Pinterest. If we all pull together and do this the right way, together we can make Pinterest a happy place for everyone.

And now, the embarrassing news...when I first started pinning this month, I actually pinned improperly to my boards.  Oh man, I felt so guilty when I realized what I'd done!  Lesson learned: Pinterest will not automatically and properly source an image--this part is our responsibility.  I decided to write this post, gleaning insight from seasoned pinners, and share my new found knowledge in the form of 5 different "pinning scenarios".  My goal is to simply share, not preach.  Hopefully what you'll see and read will keep you from making the same mistakes I did!  At the end of this post, we will all know how to correctly pin on Pinterest and we'll all feel better logging on, knowing that we are giving credit where credit is due.  Ready to learn more?

How to Pin on Pinterest: Scenario no.1:

So let's say you find something beautiful that you want to add to one of your Pinterest boards.  I'll use this "Easter terrarium" image from Terrain as the example (you know I have a thing for terrariums...).

Take a quick moment and add the "pin it" bookmarklet to your bookmarks tool bar to make pinning super convenient.  While the page with the Easter/Spring terrarium is open, click on the "pin it" button in your toolbar.

A screen that looks like this will come up.  Click on the image you want to pin.

Then a screen like this will pop up.  Pinterest is giving you options as to where you want to place it...maybe in one of your existing boards?  or maybe a new board?  I decided to place the image of the Easter/Spring Terrarium on my "tabletop" board (see right images).

I typed in a brief description, including the name of the source (double coverage).  Success!

How to Pin on Pinterest: Scenario no.2:

When an image comes from directly from the source (as in scenario no.1), pinning is a cinch.   However, when an comes from another blog, it's not as cut and dry.  Let's peek at this adorable party created by Karen Mordechai for her daughter Sophia; a party that was also featured on Sara's Party Perfect (a really fun site for party ideas!).  Even though the party is showcased on Sara's blog, if you decide to pin the image, it should be attributed to Karen, yes? 

Now Sara is always great about crediting images--she probably has a 100% track record--so luckily the link to Karen's blog is included in the post.  In cases like this, all you need to do is click on the original source...typically mentioned within the body of text or at the end of the post.  In the post on Sara's Party Perfect, I clicked on the "Sunday Suppers" link at the bottom of the post and it linked me directly to the original post on Karen's blog.  Then I pinned it :)

My screen looked like this:

I then selected the image I wanted to pin and the board where I wanted the image placed (let's party).  I included a brief description as to why I liked it so much and then clicked "pin it".

How to Pin on Pinterest: Scenario no.3:

You're trolling Smitten Kitchen (or another great food blog), just hoping to find something appetizing and quick to make for dinner tonight.  Ah ha!  You find it.  Oh and that picture is so pretty, you just have to pin it to your "dinner tonight" board.

But hold your horses here a moment...there is a quick 2-second-step you can do that will make it easy for your followers to track back the pin to the actual recipe, even if it is "repinned" a million times (they will thank you for this!).  All you need to do as you scan down the front page is to take a second to click on the actual post url BEFORE clicking "pin it".  On Deb's blog, if your cursor touches the title of the post a message pops up "grab the permanent link to lasagna bolognese".  A gentle reminder that linking to the permanent link, vs. the general main page, is the best way to go.

When you click on the permanent link (the title of the post), the post will pop to the top of the page.  Now, pin it!  The direct link will now be associated with your pin, making it super easy for your followers to track down this seemingly fabulous recipe.  No more searching through mounds of posts to find what you need as it was pinned correctly from step 1, thanks to you!

How to Pin on Pinterest: Scenario no.4: 

Now what do you do when you want to pin something on a blog that includes images, and the appropriate artist name, but not a link?  Danyelle Mathews, expert pinner and author of the delightful blog, Dandee Designs, recommended a quick Google search of the artist's name...surely a link to a blog, website or Facebook page will pop up.  Then, in the "describe your pin" box include the artist's name as well as a link to his or her site.  It might take you an extra 60 seconds, but that artist will thank you.  If you believe in karma like I do, then you know this is an extra step worth taking.

How to Pin on Pinterest: Scenario no.5: 

If the post doesn't indicate a link or a lead of any kind, then it's probably wise to just say "pass".  Chances are you'll stumble upon the proper source at some point in the near future.  Case in point: not 15 minutes after I pinned an uncredited image, the original source popped up in one of my other searches.  I will never make that mistake again (note: I've since gone back and deleted the pins without credit)).  Just think, if one image is pinned and repinned without credit, then a snowball effect takes place and suddenly there is a diaspora of copyright theft and plagiarism throughout the site.  And that is precisely what we want to avoid, right?!

I am very optimistic about the future of the site, especially after receiving the recent email from Pinterest regarding updated terms; but I do believe it's our responsibility to be honest in our pinning, as we seek to be inspired by the works and ideas that make Pinterest the beautiful place it is.  For this post I asked a few bloggers to share a bit of advice...I just love the idea of having so much helpful information in one post!

Here's what they had to sure to add your two cents in the comments too.  Thanks!

Chelsea / {frolic!}: "I label each photo with the original source in the caption and if it is not linked to the original source, I add the link in the caption."

Jenn / Ambrosia Creative: "Sometimes I'd pin a different item from a website/e-commerce site than the original pin that drew me in the first place.  In that case, I make sure to "via @pinterestuser" so that they get proper credit."

Victoria / SF Girl by Bay: "I never pin anything I don't know the source of."

Kirsten / Simply Grove: "My biggest tip is to pin from the correct url.  It's frustrating when I click on the link and it only takes me to a blog and not the direct link."

Tara / Tara Whitney Photography: "If you think you have bad links on your boards, go through your pins and fix them.  I am currently in the process of doing this on my own boards as I want to make sure people are getting proper credit."

Victoria / A Subtle Revelry / Styled Mag: "Bold, straight front photos with a striking contrast seem to be the most shared and everyone seems to love sharing DIY projects.  I think almost all pinners have a "craft" or "stuff to make" board."

Lindsay / M.Stetson Design: "My newest goal with pins is to use proper keywords in the descriptions so it will help others find them when they search."

Bottom line: Pinterest is pretty much one of the prettiest places on the web.  Let's keep it good lookin' on the inside and out!  If you have any comments, thoughts or tips to share, please do!


Julie [FerociousOstrich] said...

This is such a great post. I know I'm guilty of some bad pinning, especially when I repin things from public boards--and really, there's nothing worse than not being able to find a source for something you really love. I'll definitely be more conscious of my pins in the future.

Rachel said...

I don't repin unless I check the link, but honestly, I'm not super careful about attribution. I don't have a ton of followers and I'd be perfectly happy if all of my boards were private, frankly. Because I use Pinterest for my own personal inspiration, not as a vehicle for social networking/monetization which is, apparently, a central concern for the professional bloggers out there.

I know why people want their work credited and I take reasonable measures to accommodate that natural possessiveness, but isn't it a bit disingenuous of bloggers who relentlessly push, guest post, cross promote, etc, to get their brand out there to then suddenly scream foul when their audience shares and passes around their stuff? Just a bit like celebrities whose fame is, in a very real way, secured by photographers who suddenly can't *stand* the paparazzi.

In my mind Pinterest is just a digital file folder of clippings, just like the analog folders full of magazine clippings that I have collected over the years. I think when bloggers post their stuff publicly online, they must accept the risk that it will go out into the universe unattributed and that they may never get credit or money from their work. If the originator/blogger can't accept these terms, they should hoard their ideas and try to get them published in a book. (Even then, can't someone read the book at a bookstore without buying it, see the idea, and use it?)

As a point of interest, I have noticed that the stuff that is least likely to be properly attributed or linked usually winds up being from Martha Stewart, but she's not complaining, is she?

Shannon Wight said...

Great helpful article. I also think it's any blogger/photographer's responsibility to watermark their images - it may not be pretty but it's the right thing to do. This would pretty much solve any of these sourcing issues in my opinion.

Tara Celeste said...

What a great post! I know I need to improve my attribution...

dervla said...

thank you for doing this. I'm very careful to give the original source of my pins. I also credit any blogs or sites that led me to that original source as i never would have found it without them.

Anonymous said...

Great Post. I feel like I should see a shooting star with "The More You Know" melody playing. :)

The most helpful tool I have found in finding images (especially from lazy tumblr blogs) is to

A.) Right click an image
B.) Copy image location
C.) Go to
D.) Click the little camera in the search bar
E.) Right click and paste (the image location)

Almost immediately you'll see all the postings with that image and I am usually very successful with finding the original artist and original post, etc.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Great Post. I feel like I should see a shooting star with "The More You Know" melody playing. :)

The most helpful tool I have found in finding images (especially from lazy tumblr blogs) is to

A.) Right click an image
B.) Copy image location
C.) Go to
D.) Click the little camera in the search bar
E.) Right click and paste (the image location)

Almost immediately you'll see all the postings with that image and I am usually very successful with finding the original artist and original post, etc.

Thanks again.

Mary said...

Very good and well-thought-out post. I do try to provide the credit and link in the caption, if I'm not pinning from the original source. There are some exceptions though. Pictures of celebrities from magazines and other sources may not always get credit. Words and quotes don't always get credit, although I try where I can, especially if they come from an Etsy product or something like that.

I also agree with Rachel to a certain extent. I think we can be respectful and provide proper credit wherever possible. I also hope that Pinterest hears the feedback that many of us would like to keep some of our boards private. Also, although it doesn't solve the problem entirely, small shops or blog owners can put the code on their site to prevent pinning if they object to having their images shared in this way. Some do, although many I suspect enjoy the increased traffic that results from having pictures on Pinterest.

It's a good topic to understand and think about as Pinterest use continues to increase.

Em said...

I 2nd patternoflife for the awesomeness that is using google images to find the original source of an image before you pin/repin it. Though you don't have to copy and paste, most browsers will let you drag and drop the image right into the search field. It's an incredible tool.

Miranda said...

I just realized I could edit my pins, which made a huge difference. I originally pinned mostly from home page urls without realizing it! Now I make sure to pin from a direct url post.

I also am trying to pin using real descriptions-to make them searchable (rather than just "so cute" or "this is genius.")

Lastly, I have had to return emails to several disappointed people who came to my blog looking for a pattern that does not yet exist! Someone mis-pinned one of my dresses as a "tutorial" and though I appreciate the traffic from the pin, I'm sure they are confused to find a post without a tutorial.

It's great you took the time to write about this topic. It needs to be learned:)

Emily Peck said...

Welcome to the world of Pinterest! :) This is such a great my followers have grown, I've gone back and edited/removed a lot of pins so they are pointing to the proper place. It takes a little bit more time but it's worth it! :)

Lindsey Johnson said...

This is fabulous Steph! Going to share the heck out of it. :)

Becky at VintageMixer said...

Great write up Steph. It's always best to have good online manners!

Carrie said...

I am SO glad you wrote this. It's so easy to pin without thinking! Personally, I am always a tad frustrated myself when a pin doesn't take me to the direct source so instead of just pinning it as is I trace it back to the original page and pin it from there.

Good tips!

Katy said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this Stephanie. I've often wondered if I was pinning correctly. So if I find something on a blog that credits the original source, I should link from the original source rather than the blog? I always thought I should credit the blog, where I first found it, as they have the link to the original source anyway? Sorry for the confusion. Also, as someone else mentioned, what do we do when artwork isn't watermarked? I pinned artwork from etsy last week & realised soon after (it was repinned 67 times) that it didn't have a watermark - I then wondered whether the artist would be annoyed that it was out there or happy for the extra traffic to her page. Hmm. What to do? I'll have to go & re check all of mine now. Thanks for prompting me to do something about it. x

Stephanie said...

Good thoughts everyone! You seem very knowledgable yourselves on the subject. Pinterest has really brought some interesting issues to the table, hasn't it? I remember that Ben mentioned wanting to make it possible to have private boards, but that it was easier said than done (or something like that).

dandee said...

I'm so happy you took the time to write this post, Steph! There are so many useful tips. I wonder if people who don't think crediting properly is important would feel the same way if they were creating original content?

Emma said...

This is a great post and like others said I will share it so we all start pinning properly.

Stacy said...

Thank you for posting this. I am trying to be a more polite pinner. I was lazy (and oinning like crazy) when I first joined. I need to clean up some of my boards now that I understand the importance.

gather and hunt said...

thanks so much for this Steph! so needed!

Stephanie said...

Dandee, I think it's difficult for people to imagine walking in someone else's shoes--shoes that went to a LOT of trouble creating original content. It would be so wonderful if we all supported each other by giving credit where due. Supporting artists and creators makes our world a better place and hopefully we can all recognize that and show our respect for their work by crediting properly.

Emma, I am happy to hear you say that...thanks!

Stacy, you aren't the first person to say that! I think we all have a little cleaning up to do.

Gather and Hunt, you are welcome!

Mimi said...

Thanks for this. While I am careful to use the original url of the post, I know I am guilty of not going back to the original source before pinning. I guess I have always wanted to give credit to the blog where I discovered the image, but I know now that I can do so using "via...". (In all honesty, I do not understand all of that @ symbol and hashtag stuff, maybe I'm the only one?)

I also read that it is poor etiquette to follow a pin back to the original source and then pin from there as it makes it look as if you "discovered" it, thereby offending the original pinner. While I understand some people just want their pin numbers to sky rocket, I'm not sure that that should matter if the whole idea is to give the original blogger credit anyway. Does that even make sense? I no longer do it, in any event, and I take care to not lose the original pin in the sometimes crazy journey I find myself on in search of the original source.

What I do know is that the updated policy that just went out alluding to private boards has me very excited. I find myself sometimes pinning cautiously or avoiding pinning things because I do not want them made public (my Christmas gift idea board, for example, or certain things for work, etc.).

I guess like anything, there is a learning curve. Thanks for the tips! ;)

Rachel said...

Steph, Dandee-- I'd honestly like to hear your thoughts. As a "private" (not for profit, not a "professional" blogger) pinner, should I NEVER pin something without finding the original source? I feel like Pinterest should work for me, not me work for Pinterest, if that makes sense. You both clearly come down on the artist side of things, but honestly, if you're not watermarking your stuff, is that truly my responsibility? Should I just bookmark it privately?

Stephanie said...

Mimi, thank you for contributing your perspective. I know that for me, it's about proper attribution and not the numbers per se. Proper credit is just the right thing to do you know? I've heard some say that Pinterest actually takes hurts their site as people are going to Pinterest instead of blogs. I'm not sure if that's true or now, but it's an interesting idea. Anyway, for me it's an honesty thing. Numbers are just numbers. But honesty is much more important.

Rachel, I've bookmarked things before if I want them to be private. I don't watermark my stuff bc it 1. takes a ton of extra time (and I would rather spend my time on content and not that sort of thing) and 2. it junks up the images. I am happy to share my ideas and images (that's why I blog!) but giving credit where it's due is also super important to me. I think if we all approach Pinterest honestly and considerately, Pinterest will truly "work for us" like you said. What do you think about those ideas? I'd love to keep this convo going...

Lindsay said...

I think this is one of those things only bloggers think to do. sorry, its just how it is. I am actually an artist myself, a painter, and I accept that once I put a creation of mine out there for others, it open and fair game. People might copy me, there is nothing I can do about it, you just have to continue doing what you are doing, creating and enjoying the process and not worrying so much about what others do with the images later on down the road.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea about this so thank you!
Just another quick question -when you pin (via other pins on pinterest) should you "link" (per the link box) the website of the original pin/photo or should you keep it (as it seems defaulted) to the sourse that pulled the photo (i.e. a blog that found and posted the photo)? I'm currently going back to label the pin in the description with the original source however, I also want to credit the blog/tumblr etc...that found the post. Any advice as I want to make sure I do this correctly moving forward. Thanks!!!

Rachel said...

Stephanie-- Thanks for you thoughts and kind tone. I'm sure this issue is going to be explored for quite some time to come.

Here's one interesting approach to think about. I pinned an image from one design blogger (a mood board, if I'm remembering correctly) who then followed up with me: she left a comment on my pin thanking me for my interest. I thought this was an effective way for her to 1) connect with me as a reader, and 2) "claim" her content, as her comment links back to her profile and gives her additional credit/spotlight for her work. I pinned correctly, at least according to generally accepted etiquette (my pin led directly back to her blog) but I hadn't mentioned her name in the label.

Every blogger could connect like this with the image search feature on Pinterest (where you search for images from your blog that have been pinned). While I'm sure it's not viable to do for every pin from bigger blogs, I like it as a way to actually do something about making sure your images are getting credit.

Stephanie said...

Lindsay, thank you for your perspective...appreciate you sharing that. I know that others feel the same way.

Jill, that's a great question! I think someone mentioned int he comments about that very issue. I believe they suggested you link to the original blog but then give a shout out to the person who shared it with you. You can do that in the description box by saying something like "via @pinterestuser". Just sub in the pinterest handle of the person/blog where you found it. For example, if you pinned an image from Aeropagita's etsy shop, you should pin from the listing on Mishel's etsy shop, but in the description box you could say you found it "via @stephmodo".

Rachel, I'm glad you came back to keep our convo going! I agree with you...this is an ongoing issue...the introduction of new and exciting technology always changes things a lot and we are not always ready for it, you know? Anyway, I love your suggestion. Such a good one. I need to try and do that more. But honestly, sometimes I have to walk away from the computer and often it's those little things that are neglected. Thanks again for the note!

Eva / Sycamore Street Press said...

Steph, It's funny you should post about this... I think it was only a couple of weeks ago that i was searching for you on Pinterest and surprised that I couldn't find you there! :) Great tips. I've been on there for a while, and even though I try to pin correctly, sometimes I forget. And I definitely need to go back and take a look at my pins from when I first started...

Anonymous said...

a good take away for bloggers too - especially since pinterest. one of my favorite blogs credit only we ♥ it. com for the pictures in every post. we ♥ it has the same problem - way worse in fact, because no one is talking about it. i stopped reading the blog because of it!

ahndea may said...

Wow Steph you did a lot of work on this and research. Great job! I am having a mind battle here because I am a busy mom of 5, stylist, Blogger and designer of HeirBloom (using family heirlooms and vintage fabrics to create pretty accessories) and already have a hard time keepig up with Facebook, twitter,instagram, blog etc. I use pinterest as a visual a "style board" if you will. As a creative I of course understand waning credit for the photos I've styled or hair pieces I've made but I also know when posting my stuff into social media world it kind of comes with the understanding that it's fair game. It seems so time consuming to "manage" another social media tool. When I pin, I try to give credit especially for photography and things I may find on a blog, but I also know not everyone has been to ALT Summit and understands the expectations. I would love to default to just believing the best and trusting that if people are not giving me proper credit I will still be successful and it won't be hinged on pinterest. Make sense?

Jessica said...

I have a question about tumblr accounts. I do not have a tumblr account and don't know much about it, but through pinterest have come upon many that I link and have started to follow. However, they don't seem to note a source, or if they do it is usually to another tumblr that doesn't post a source for a picture. There are so many inspirational photos posted this way, and on my pinterest boards, but I have found it impossible to link to a source other then the tumblr.

Any advice?

Stephanie said...

Jessica, while I am not on Tumblr, I hear it's NOTORIOUS for not crediting sources. So many people say that and I know many that boycott it as a result!

Lindsay said...

I realize I am months late commenting here, but I wanted to thank you for this post as well. So helpful!!

Melody ambler said...

Hi! I'd like to put in my two cents! When I first discovered Pinterest, I loved it and was, I'm sure, breaking all the rules! I'm not very tech- savvy and use my phone for most about everything, even just beginning to text! So I didn't even Know the rules! Well, a woman got on got on, who was needless to say, upset with me, and to be nice, she Thrashed me!!! I try to be a nice person, and desperately tried to delete all her stuff! I thought the point of pinning was sharing, so I didn't know the rules, and now try to do what I can. But I still can't figure out most of this from my phone and rarely pin; the joy is gone. I try to do right, but I'm terrified to do wrong again and get bludgeoned! I appreciate your different scenarios, but still don't be able to find these tools. I can't even pin unless they say pin it! Thanks for the info, and sorry for the length!!

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