I remember reading an article a few years back in a Kansas City paper publication about a few local designers who had been using a new platform called Pinterest. It hadn’t been around for too long before that, but I signed up for it immediately after reading the article. When I learned I had to wait for my invitation I was a little disappointed I couldn’t start using it right away, but it didn’t take long and I was approved to start pinning. I don’t recall how much I used it in those first few months, but once I was back in school working at my degree in graphic design I eventually started pinning like crazy. As disorganized as I felt, it really helped me to be able to go back and easily find the things that had caught my attention and study them closer for inspiration on my projects.
More recently, my research has shown me that there are now more ways to use Pinterest then there were in the beginning. As a designer and an entrepreneur I was eager to learn how I could best utilize the platform. Apparently, Pinterest now has the reputation as the number three social media network (Yes, that’s right. Social network) just below Facebook and Twitter. It can be used in similar ways to both of them such as some use of hash tagging, mentions and commenting. In many ways it's a better tool for business than either.
As designers, we are very visual people and Pinterest is filled with people who are interested in visual media so you should definitely be using it. Here are some ways I’ve learned recently to use it to your advantage.
Inspiration and Curation
Most of us start out using Pinterest as inspiration and as a way to collect and refer back later. It's a designer’s dream to avoid keeping track of websites, pulling images to take up valuable space on your hard drive or even the old-fashioned printing and scrapbooking. This way you can easily categorize ideas into similar types of inspiration and hopefully, if pinned correctly, have a link back to the website it came from crediting the source.
Something else that makes Pinterest valuable are the many different types of media all gathered together from everywhere. You might be inspired by a photography from a recipe blog or colors combinations from a DIY project or another designer or artist’s project from Dribbble, Behance, sites that are specifically for designers and their portfolio work. You can still visit all those sites and more, but now you can pin those inspirations to refer back to later in one central location. Plus, through Pinterest you are not limiting yourself to one area of design.
There is nothing better for your relationship with your client than organization and communication. The invention of collaborative and secret boards has been wonderful. Not only can you share a board with a family member, friend or business partner, you can create a board to share ideas with your client to help get the project off on the right foot. It makes it easy on the client by letting them pin things that they feel represent themselves and their business rather than just trying to describe it in the questionnaire and give you a place to start visually. Combined this with your ideas and design insights it can make for a project that best reflects your client and their business goals. It take away a lot of the guess work to bring you to the correct conclusion and results for the project.
Showcase your work, get noticed and gain clients
Especially for visual entrepreneurs, Pinterest is becoming known as one of the greatest potential platforms for you to get noticed by those that might become your future clients or those who will lead you to future clients. Now, you not only can use Pinterest as an individual, but as a business as well. Either way you can use it to show off your work.
To get started with this it’s important to fill out your profile completely with a photo and a little bit about yourself and what you do. Make sure to include keywords in the description that help searchers find you for your specific skills and don’t forget your location. This is helpful for me since I’m also interested in potential clients in my local area. Then, if you have a website, the best thing to do after entering the url is to get it verified. Pinterest gives you instructions on how to do this when you go through the process. I am personally a Squarespace user and I was delighted to learn it’s even easier with a website through them. I found that Squarespace and Pinterest have worked together to make it really simple. (Check out the article) You can actually verify your website in Squarespace simply by entering your Pinterest login information and connecting your account. It makes it really nice not to have to copy and paste code.
Still, it's not enough to just starting pinning your work, no matter how good it is, if no one can link it back to you. This way when you post a new project to your website you can immediately pin the best image representation to your board and anyone who finds it will have a link back to you. Just make sure you post large, high quality images. They are more likely to be repinned.
There are other ways to enhance your images to keep it coming back to you. You can also place a watermark or your website somewhere on your image so if someone happens to break the link there is still a way to lead it back to you. I find this helpful with blog post images as well. Yet another way to bring traffic to your website and show your expertise.
A Few More tips I’ve learned
- Connect to other social media accounts you use for business
- Follow others you admire
- Comment on popular pins
- Repin content you truly admire
- Mention others (@blank or #blank)
- Join graphic design related group boards
Read more about these tips in this article.
I hope this is helpful. I am sure going to be implementing the things I’ve learned and building on it as I learn more.