It seems like I read or hear criticisms of Pinterest all the time: It’s a big time waster. It’s full of people idolizing beautiful houses and clothes. It makes people feel inadequate because they don’t have a “Pinterest Perfect” life. It’s too “busy” and visually cluttered.
Well, that last criticism might be true. If you don’t find looking at pictures to be helpful way to organize and retrieve information, Pinterest may not be for you. But if you can see past pin after pin of someone’s idea of a dream house, you can turn Pinterest into a tool that works for you. I’ve really enjoyed using Pinterest to organize recipes, homeschool ideas, and more.
Here are a few tips for harnessing Pinterest as a tool for you…not just a time waster:
1. First and foremost, remember that Pinterest is really just bookmarking on steroids, with the ability to see what other people are bookmarking too. No one (no one!) is doing, buying or using everything you see them pinning. There’s no such thing as a “Pinterest Perfect life.”
2. Browsing aimlessly through what friends or random strangers pin is not the useful thing about Pinterest — that’s the time waster. What’s useful is what you pin to your own boards. So, make yourself some boards that make sense to you. The board ideas Pinterest gives you when you join are kind of lame. Make boards instead for your hobbies, holidays, types of food you like to cook, homeschool subjects or other responsibilities you have.
3. Grab a “pin it” button, and “Pin” things you want to find again — helpful blog posts, recipes you run across, products you want to remember for a future holiday, and so on. You don’t just have to “repin” what other people have already pinned!
4. When you are looking for a new recipe, are planning a homeschool unit study or need to plan a birthday party, search pinterest and google for what you’re looking for. Sometimes the good “old fashioned” google search will turn up what you need (and then you can pin it for later reference). But how many times have you searched google only to see the exact same plastic cake topper show up in nearly all of the first two pages of links? Instead, if you search for, say, “cars birthday cake” on Pinterest, you’ll see the best-of-the-best of some really creative cake ideas that other people have found — and then you can repin them to your own board to decide later which one you want to make
5. Don’t just follow all your facebook friends. (And don’t follow the people Pinterest “suggests” when you sign up — they probably won’t be pinning things you are specifically interested in). Really, you could not follow anyone at all on Pinterest, and just use it for your own personal bookmarking and organizational purposes. You’ll get the most out of following people on Pinterest if you follow people who have similar interests to your own — so look to follow the bloggers you already read, real-life friends whom you actually share things in common with (not that random person you are friends with on Facebook that you really only met once at a neighborhood coffee shop).
6. Also, as you repin those pins you find from specific searches, look at the boards you are finding those pins on — when you find a great pin from an interesting board, follow that board or all of that pinners boards. Don’t forget you can follow someone’s boards individually…or if you want to follow most, but not all of someone’s boards, you can click “follow” and then “unfollow” one or two boards if there are just a few you don’t find interesting.
7. If you’re a homeschooler and you want to follow other homeschoolers to get ideas, check out the Homeschoolers on Pinterest linkup. Over 600 homeschoolers have linked their Pinterest profiles on that page!
8. Use Pinterest to collaborate. Did you know that you can invite other Pinterest members to pin on a board and make it a “group” board? Whether you want to collaborate with other users of a homeschool curriculum or other members of a committee you’re a member of, you can create boards that others can add their “finds” to as well. Just remember that to add someone to your board, you need to be following at least one of their boards too.
9. Don’t forget to write helpful descriptions for your pins. Not only will this help you later as you are trying to find that recipe or lesson plan idea (in case you forgot what the picture looked like or the picture wasn’t very helpful), but it will make it easier for others who want to repin your pin.
10. Come back to your boards when you need inspiration! When it’s your turn to bring dessert for the potluck, you’ll thank yourself for those 50 desserts you pinned, so you can quickly find something you think looks tasty. 🙂
I’m linking up with Top Ten Tuesday @ Many Little Blessings!