Taking the Pinterest Plunge

Wondering what all the Pinterest hype is about? As a “virtual pinboard,” Pinterest lets you organize your interests and inspirations — from recipes to infographics to photos and illustrations that link to external websites — in one visual space. (Think of it as cross between internet browser bookmarks and a photo album.) But taking the Pinterest plunge can seem daunting, so here is a beginner’s guide for Food & Nutrition readers. This step-by-step guide will show you how to set up a Pinterest account, find friends and pin/repin — and includes a Pinterest 101 video by registered dietitian Rebecca Subbiah! (And when you’re done, check out our Good Pinning Guide and Guide to Righteous Repinning.)



Step 1: Join Pinterest

While anyone can peruse Pinterest boards (check out ours here), you must be signed in to interact, repin, like or pin your own items. Go to Pinterest.com and click on “Join Pinterest.” Update 8/15/2012: Pinterest no longer requires an invitation! –> Request an Invitation. While anyone can peruse a pinboard (check out ours here), Pinterest offers invite-only access to participate in the pinning activities. (Need a Pinterest invitation? No worries. E-mail FoodNutriMag@eatright.org and we will send you one.)

Once you receive the invitation via email, follow the provided link to sign up. Arguably the most complicated part of Pinterest registration is that you must register through either a Twitter account or Facebook profile, presumably to cultivate a more integrated social media experience. Note: Once you’re registered, you can always unlink your Facebook or Twitter accounts at any time. Integrated social media experience squelched!

For the sake of this tutorial, say you choose Facebook. This brings you to the Pinterest for Facebook app:

From here, you can choose who can see your Pinterest posts in your Facebook feed. If you’d only like your friends to see your posts, choose “Friends.” If you don’t want your pins to appear in your feed, choose “Only Me.”

Next, create your pinterest account. Your username is how people find you on the Pinterest website and will determine your Pinterest URL. (For example, Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Pinterest username is FoodNutriMag and its unique URL is www.pinterest.com/FoodNutriMag.) Your e-mail address is used solely for notifications and does not appear on your Pinterest profile.

Step 2: What Interests You?

Pinterest wants idea of what you like, so once you create your Pinterest account, you’ll come to a screen. When you click a few categories you are interested in, Pinterest will suggest people for you to follow. You are required to choose at least one category (“Food & Drink” is a good one).

You are now following certain Pinterest users based on your category choices. Note: You probably will not actually know these folks, so if you want to, you can immediately “unfollow” them by clicking the Unfollow button under their profile listing. Pinterest will also link you with your Facebook friends and Twitter contacts who also are on Pinterest. Again, you can unfollow them.

Step 3: Create Your Boards

The five default boards for Pinterest are: “Products I Love,” “Favorite Spaces and Places,” “Books Worth Reading,” “My Style” and “For the Home.” You can either begin with these, or rename them to something else. Note: You can always modify or create boards later, so no need to spend a ton of time naming your boards here.

We decided to just start with one board: Food.

Step 4: Install the “Pin-it” Button

You don’t have to, but installing the “Pin It” button makes it a lot easier to build your boards. Simply use your mouse to drag the “Pin It” button on your screen to your internet browser’s bookmark/favorites bar or tool bar.

Step 5: Navigating Pinterest

The Home screen
When you log in to Pinterest, it brings you to your Home screen. This shows you what people you follow have been pinning. This is also where you can complete tasks such as inviting friends to join Pinterest, adding a new board or pin, or unfollowing Pinterest users. (More on these later.)

Adding a New Board
In the top right corner of your Pinterest Home screen, click “Add.” Then, select “Create a Board” if you would like to create a new board. Give your board a name and select a category your board falls under.

Pinning to Your Board
It’s important to understand that Pinterest boards are visual and the most successful boards are appealing to the eye. You don’t want to load your boards with logos or low-resolution photos. In fact, if you’re on a website that does not have large enough artwork (no matter how good the content may be), you won’t be able to pin it.

  • Manually:
    To pin a website, in the top right corner of your Pinterest Home screen, click “Add” and select “Add a Pin.” Enter the website address and select the image you’d like to pin. To pin an image from your computer (for example a photo you took yourself), click “Upload a Pin.”
  • Pin-it Button:
    Use your Pin It button to quickly pin interesting things you find while browsing the internet. Click the Pin It button and select the image you’d like to pin.

When you click the Pin It button, all of the images on the webpage will appear. Choose the picture you want to pin, which board you’d like to add it to, and a description for the pin. You can either pin to an existing board, or create a new board here. Note: No matter which image you select, the pin will link to the webpage. Also, some website owners block pinning from their site. When this happens, you will know it because a message will appear saying that you are not allowed to pin.

Note: While Pinterest is one of the fastest-growing websites and social media forums, there are still bumps or glitches that may occur. During busy pinning hours, Pinterest tends to get “backed up” or run a little slower than usual. We have found the best times to pin are early morning and late night.

Inviting Friends
From your Pinterest Home screen, click on your name in the top right corner. From the drop down menu, select “Invite Friends.”

You can invite friends by entering their e-mail addresses manually, or by scrolling through your Facebook friends or Gmail contact list. After you click Send Invites, they will receive an email from you with the same sign-up link you got before you registered with Pinterest.

Unlinking Facebook and Twitter Accounts
To unlink either of your accounts, click on your name in the top, right corner and go to “Settings.” Slide the “ON” button to “OFF” to unlink your Facebook, remove Pinterest from your Facebook Timeline, unlink your Twitter or hide your Pinterest from search engines.

Step 6: Hmmm, Delete

So you’ve gone through the motions and spent a couple hours pinning, but it turns out Pinterest isn’t for you. If you wish to delete your account, you may do so at anytime. Here is how:

  1. Click on your name in the top, right corner
  2. Go to “Settings”
  3. Click on “Delete My Account.”


Liz Spittler
Liz Spittler is the executive editor of Food & Nutrition Magazine and creative media director at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.