Pinterest: The Good, the Bad, and the Undecided

Sunday, March 18, 2012
Not long ago, a writing buddy told me about using Pinterest in her writing. She is doing the research for a steampunk novel and was sick of finding the perfect brass-clad do-dad only to lose it again in the vastness of cyberspace. Enter Pinterest.

On Pinterest, you create one or more boards. Each board holds a variety of images. Find an image that you like online and save it to your board along with the URL and you have it “pinned.” The image itself forms a visual link back to the original site.

As a highly visual writer, this clicked with me. Some time ago, I was researching a new character. This character had to have a specific look and I needed to have it down pat before I could write about him. Why? Because he lies about who he is and, suspecting this, my main character is judging him literally based on face value. I never found a model with just the right look, but I found a number that were close. Unfortunately, even with my links, re-finding many of these images proved impossible.

With Pinterest, problem solved. Or so I thought.

The first problem came when I tried to sign up. This isn’t like Facebook or Google Calendar where you simply register. With Pinterest, you have to request and then wait for an invitation. I was ready to research my next project NOW.

While I was waiting for this invite, I did some blog reading and found some warnings about using Pinterest. Apparently there are some copyright concerns. If I pin an image and the person didn’t have a Pin among their share icons, I have taken away their control of the image. It they are a photographer or artist, this can be a really big deal.

But Pinterest has a definite upside–its ability to drive traffic. According to this article, Pinterest drives more traffic than even Twitter. If I can find a way to use it to drive traffic to my site and/or blog, this would be amazing.

But that’s not how I want to use Pinterest. Not right now, anyway.

For now, instead of creating Pinterest Boards for visual inspiration as I research a new project, I’m going to start creating collages in Adobe Illustrator. As visual research, this will work just as well for me and that is my primary concern. For socialization, I’ve always got Facebook.


Author Sue Bradford Edwards blogs at One Writer's Journey.


brenda said...

I think most anything is good in moderation. If I was the sort of writer that didn't have a day job and all that baggage that goes along with being a mom, wife, chef, CFO and the endless other, I'd dive into Pinerest. I love the idea of vision boards but it's a not requirement for me to write. Yet, being a writer today (especially one seeking publication for her first novel) it's all about self-marketing these days, which means I will likely make use of my Pinerest account I've had for the past year at some point. In the meantime, I will carry on writing the second book.

GunDiva said...

I have zero interest in Pintrest, despite it being what all the "cool kids" are doing. In fact, I'm pretty burned on social media altogether. I've got a FB account and a LinkedIn account (<--I haven't used it since I set it up). I know as authors we're supposed to be driving our online presence, but it feels an awful lot like another fulltime JOB just keeping up with the social media stuff. I think I'm going to avoid Pintrest until I have no other choice - maybe by then some of the furor will die down.

I actually love your idea of making collages in Illustrator - that I might try :)

Angela Mackintosh said...

Great post, Sue! Unfortunately, I've been reading that Pinterest may be a copyright time bomb. The problem is by using their site you agree to their terms and conditions, which say (in a nutshell) that any image you pin you "are the sole and exclusive owner of all member content." So that means if you pin an image you are supposed to own the copyrights to that image. Do you think all those people on there own the copyrights to pinned images? lol It doesn't make any sense. Pinterest is just protecting itself from any lawsuits, and if that does happen then you are put on the hook to "defend and indemnify" Pinterest and its owner. The thing is, Pinterest encourages sharing and repinning... Hopefully, they will change their terms.

I've tried it so far but only have pinned images I personally created (to be on the safe side!). I did it as an experiment to see if it drives traffic like everyone says, and although a few people repinned my images, I haven't seen any traffic increase, yet, worth justifying the potential copyright hazards.

Holly Helscher said...

I liked the whole idea and attempted to register. Like the author of this article, I learned that I had to wait for an invitation. Two weeks later I'm still waiting. So I'll just manage my research like I've been doing. I had not heard about the copyright infringement potential. I'll guess we'll see what happens. Thanks for the article.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

And that's it in a nutshell. If you don't own the images, you are violating copyright.

I think it took about 3 days for my invitation but I don't know about anyone else's wait.

I do have friends who are crafters. She does bead work. He creates stained glass. For them, Pinterest is a dream come true. Put up pictures of your work, people repin it, more people see it, and it all gets driven back to you.

It has its uses. For me, it just didn't pan out.


Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Thanks for sharing about pinterest, Sue. I have heard of people using it, but hadn't investigated it yet.

Anonymous said...

In my personal experience, although hundreds of my images are pinned and repinned on Pinterest, I have received ZERO visitors from Pinterest. Not a single one.

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