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Pinterest, Inspiration And Marketing For Photographers

Get Inspired While Getting Noticed

In a previous blog article, I talked about how Instagram combined with Tumblr are not only free, but amazing marketing multipliers in showcasing your photographic talents—especially when combined with Facebook and Twitter. Well I finally took the plunge and discovered more untapped potential in marketing my photography, as should you if you haven’t already, the use of Pinterest, a slightly new social networking channel.

Pinterest, Pinboard, Pinners, Social Media, Social Marketing, Social Power

Pinterest is a great marketing vehicle for photographers.

Pinterest is a “content sharing service that allows its members to ‘pin’ images, videos and other objects to their pinboards.” Pinterest gives you the ability to share and organize things on the World Wide Web that peak your interests, from recipes to photographs, while also allowing you to view “pinboards” of other members who share similar interests. This concept is designed, in a very user-friendly interface, to allow you to gain inspiration from people you may have never met, along with your existing friends that are also on Pinterest.

One thing about being a photographer is that we sometimes hit a “rut,” where we lack inspiration for creative ideas—and any professional photographer will tell you, they became pro-level status because of some sort of inspiration, usually from a mentor. So if you’re fresh out of ideas of what to shoot, surf Pinterest and study not only what other photographers have created, but what the population of Pinterest, estimated at over 11 million, finds worth pinning. Study the trends, study the possibilities, study what grabs pinners’ interests, after all, if you’re trying to build your brand or style in photography you certainly want it socially accepted.

Photography is a means of visual communication and Pinterest focuses on visuals more than verbal chatter, unlike other social networks. Ask yourself, is it easier to focus on an image and interpret it vs. reading someone’s grammatically incorrect thoughts? Visual communication is a strong form of engagement that provides instant impact in a time-saving format. Think of Pinterest as a magazine that you browse through visually faster and absorb more valuable content than the time it takes to read a book and absorb less content.

Pinterest Etiquette
Note: Pinterest etiquette doesn’t really call for “self-promotion,” so you should link to your photos in blog articles, not photo albums or galleries. Photos that are part of valuable content for other photographers, i.e., an article on lighting or correct use of white balance on a digital camera that is helpful to other pinners. You should also create pinboards of your favorite things, like recipes, places you’d like to shoot or visit, people you’d like to work with, books you like and perhaps “cool things.” Show that you’re a pinner too, not just out promoting your photos.
But back to the main point of this article, as a photographer, why Pinterest for photographers? First, it’s free, sure it’s currently by “invitation only,” but normally once you submit your email address to their waiting list, approval comes very quick, as it did for me. Pinterest only knows you by your e-mail address, not your Klout score, though Klout should consider it in their social power score. Once in, you can invite your contact lists, including people in your e-mail lists, Twitter followers and even Facebook friends. Pinterest is another marketing channel for a photographer’s talents, both to the consumer and potential corporate clientele. It’s free exposure that allows you to pin and broadcast your pins to others via Twitter and Facebook.

As an example how Pinterest is a marketing multiplier for photographers, in the first two days of being a member I “pinned” four videos from my YouTube channel, 83 Instagram iPhone photos, 19 behind the scenes photos, 14 location photos, 62 model photos and 21 general photography photos. Sure, you’re probably saying to yourself, heck, I can do that on Facebook—no you can’t! At least not the Pinterest method as with Facebook, while you can share your photos and videos on your “timeline,” that timeline keeps pushing older content down to a point where new users will probably never see them, not to mention, Pinterest gives you a “backlink” to where you found that content. In my case it created over 200 backlinks to my personal blogs, my YouTube channel and even my Tumblr blog—and Pinterest is super quick, you pin and go, not upload and wait.

Model, Photography Workshop

Jessi poses during one of my photography workshops in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

These backlinks are important for SEO, or search engine optimization—in other words, backlinks are a positive plus for higher search engine ratings, especially if you’re trying to market your talent and any goods and/or services you are trying to sell. Think of it as free advertising that drives you targeted traffic. Let’s look at just one example, when you take a photo with your iPhone, then publish it on Instagram (via the iPhone app), the app “pushes” that photo then to your Tumblr account which then pushes it to your Facebook timeline and your Twitter followers instantly in one whack. You then use Pinterest or the Pinterest app to pin that photo from your Tumblr account. Not only do you get the ability of your pinned photo being shared (re-pinned) by your followers on Pinterest for viral potential to their followers, but you get a link back to your Tumblr blog page.

So if we looked at the potential viral possibilities, that’s over 26 million people on Instagram, over 90 million on Tumblr, over 850 million on Facebook, over 350 million on Twitter and over 11 million on Pinterest—and those numbers are conservative as all the social media channels above are constantly growing by the millions—not to mention, I haven’t researched their latest numbers these are just ones I remember from previous research over a month ago. Oh, did I mention that if one of your photos becomes viral the potential is over one billion people to see your talent and it’s free?

Now some photographers might argue, isn’t Pinterest using my copyrighted photo without my permission when someone else pins it to their boards? Well I’m no lawyer nor do I play one on TV, but in my opinion, are you kidding me? Instead pray that one million people will pin every one of your photographs you’ve posted on your blogs or photography website—especially since Pinterest credits the original source and links back to that original source. Heck, Google pulls images in their search engines and while Google does provide links back to the original photos, search engines don’t “virally share” your photos—they make money off the advertisements found on search results pages.

While Pinterest has made money off affiliate linking, and they deserve to as they provide you a free marketing vehicle, they drive you traffic through potential virility. What is more valuable to your photography, being found via a search page by chance, and we all know we don’t always get what we search for, or being found because you’ve been recommended by a real human being and not an algorithm?

Pinterest is about people’s common interests, not generic search terms. Pinterest is about people recommending what they approve of, people sharing, people being your advocate, not keywords, meta tags or hash tags. It’s like when someone asks you, do I buy Nikon or Canon? People rely on other people’s experiences and recommendations. Pinterest gives people a voice on a much already diluted World Wide Web. In fact, it’s that dilution that makes it easier to never be found in any search engine—want bling in Bing, then pin it and get (re) pinned!

Pinterest Photographers Marketing

Pinterest allows photographers to share their Instagram photos with potential viral marketing.

Besides, the demographics of the typical pinners are women in the age range of 25-34 for most parts of the world, though in the United Kingdom it’s slightly more males than females. At least a quarter of its members hold Bachelor’s Degrees with a household income in the range of $25,000 to $75,000. This is a great demographic for studio photographers, wedding photographers and more—and Pinterest is a voice for those planning weddings. It’s an Angie’s List without having to write a grammatically correct recommendation and it’s caught the eye of top corporations like Nordstrom, Whole Foods, Better Homes and Gardens, HGTV and other major corporations.

Pinterest is growing at a phenomenal growth and as proven with other social networks, it’s always better to get in early and gain that first-mover advantage to build your own network of followers. Pinterest gives the ability to follow or be followed and those that come in “late” in the game, always have fun trying to catch-up to their competitors.

As mentioned in one of my earlier blog articles, Every Photographer Needs A Facebook Fan Page, I’ll say the same about Pinterest, every photographers needs a Pinterest page too! Sure, we’re inundated with Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram and other social networks, but Pinterest is promising as a fairly new social networking channel, so don’t shrug it off—it provides visual communication, not social noise and helps build your brand.

That’s it for now, so please, don’t be a pinhead, be a pinner instead! Also, don’t forget our men and women in the armed services, for they protect our pinning freedoms and interests too. God bless them, their family and friends, Rolando.

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  1. (1) The backlinks are worthless for SEO as they are “no-follow” links.
    (2) A lot of people report unusually low referrals from Piterest relative to the number of pins and repins of their infringed images.
    (3) Some are reporting dramatic traffic losses as a large proportion of their graphic content is now on Pinterest without their permission, and pinners rarely follow through to the original source once they have see a full-size image.
    (4) A fair percentage of images are mis-attributed to Google or Tumblr, resulting in loss of ranking for the image for the originator, in favor of Pinterest.
    (5) People offering free content (with advertising) are losing traffic, and the ability to conitnue offering free content.
    (6) Pinterest is a merciless copyright leeching machine sucking dry the creative forces of the internet. They will soon monetize the site as they have hired the Facebook advertising mastermind a few days ago.
    (7) Pinterest is a class-action lawsuit waiting to happen.

    • First of all, please do not make slanderous and libelous statements, especially without substantiating facts. With that said, let me respond to your points in the same order:

      (1) I checked the browser source code on one of my pinned images and found no trace of “no-follow” back links. But let’s assume you are correct, first while it’s true no-follow doesn’t help SEO, traffic does. I get great traffic off those “supposedly” no-follow links you mention and for SEO, quality traffic is not a negative, but a positive. I’ll take demographically targeted, quality traffic any day with no-follow links than none at all.

      (2) Who is your “lot of people?” You do not back up any of your statements. A referral, which I get many from Pinterest, is better than no referral. As far as infringement goes, as with all my blogs I have an attribution Creative Commons License, so nothing “pinned” from my sites is infringed–permission is automatically granted if the CC guidelines are followed. I’m not going to take the time and count everyone of my pinned images–in fact, I wish it was millions, because I rather have the Pinterest benefit than none at all.

      (3) Again, nothing to back up your statements, in fact the major bloggers will tell you just the opposite. How can you get a loss from something you never had before? Any “click through” from Pinterest is a traffic increase, not loss. On permission, see #2, on pinners habits, not sure where you are doing your research, did you do a focus group? Once something is “pinned” that means the pinner was there already and basically “favorited” that item for their followers to see–called sharing–and so you would have to do a research on how pinned items are followed by followers of the pinner–so far, research that is out there indicates that it’s better than Twitter, Google Plus and Facebook links in density.

      (4) Again, not sure where you are getting the data from your claims, all my images found on Pinterest are not attributed to Google or Tumbler, they are attributed and linked to my site. If there is a Google attribution, perhaps that’s because someone pinned a Google “indexed” image from a Google search. Not sure what you mean about “ranking.” I’m more interested in ranking my entire website in search engines, not ranking my images individually.

      (5) Again, no supporting facts. First, I haven’t lost any traffic from Pinterest, I’ve gained as my photos are linked to helpful articles that people find through many avenues including sharing on Pinterest. Pinterest cannot take my ability away, much less from anyone else to offer free content or for that matter paid content. If I’m gaining more traffic from Pinterest, proven by Google Analytics, then I have the potential to increase my advertising revenue.

      (6) False and possible slanderous accusation on your part, in fact, downright “looney.” My “creative forces” will not be sucked out by Pinterest either, perhaps if I drink too much alcohol, maybe. Nothing wrong in monetizing a site and if I could afford it, I too would hire the Facebook team–they’ve proven their worth in billions. I also hate it when people, who get free content or a service at someone else costs and have a personal beneficial gain, get upset over advertising. Bandwidth, servers, maintenance, man power, etc., doesn’t come free.

      (7) I’m not an attorney so we’ll leave that one, like when people said the same about Google indexing photos, books, etc., without anyone’s permission, to the proper legal experts. As long as Pinterest continues to make proper attribution and doesn’t remove my copyright notice from my photos, you won’t see me joining a class action suit.

      All the best, but for the future, provide facts, not potentially libelous and slanderous claims.

    • I’m a visual artist who shows and sells online as well as in galleries. I network with numerous other artists, and quite a few of them, as well as photographers, are concerned with copyright problems of Pinterest. Many of us find that our work is pinned or repinned there without attribution and a link back. Pinterest’s TOS does not say that it WON’T sell those images, even though it removed the word “sell” from the TOS after public pressure. The language still would allow for it, and profiting from work one doesn’t have the rights to is infringement. Non members who didn’t agree to these terms are thus forced to either look the other way, or spend time finding infringements there and sending DMCA takedown notices. While Pinterest has so far taken down infringing work, it’s an ongoing task that eats into productivity. If the site wants to legitimately ‘share’ images it needs to changes its TOS and business model to come into line with established copyright laws, stop trying to bind non members to their TOS, stop trying to take rights to work it doesn’t have a right to use, and start using actual thumbnails only, not the largest size image it can grab from other sites. Pinterest is not driving traffic to the sites of actual image owners when links and credit are lost, so this is mystifying as to how they actually claim to help anyone. And, as soon as they monetize the images they don’t have rights to, it will simply add to the already iffy things they are doing and make a lawsuit that much more likely. Members should read the TOS again, too; Pinterest claims the liability for infringement is members, not the site’s. I suspect a court would find both are guilty, particularly since some members pin work that specifically states “do not pin..” and has no pin codes, etc. Just because one can get around attempts to protect online images does not make it legal.

      • I thank you for your comments. I personally have used Pinterest and provides immediate attribution, including a link back, to the artist. If this is missing, it’s because whomever pinned it removed it and yes, if that’s the case, then it needs to be addressed. Personally, I have no heartburn with my work pinned as I have copyright notices on all my work and if someone pins my work, Pinterest, nor anyone for that matter can sell my work without my permission, copyright notice or not, per the Copyright Act Revision of 1976. I’d rather get the exposure and traffic than not. Thanks!

  2. Rolando,
    I tried out your suggested method for posting links to my blog posts that are on my website to my Tumblr blog and having it auto post to Facebook and Twitter. I found however that the activity is not immediately obvious to viewers of my Facebook stream. When they are viewing from the Facebook app on their phone, there do not see the Tumblr auto posts, rather they need to go to my activity tab to see this. With the browser version it is a little better, but it is in the small Tumblr section that users might miss. Am I doing this wrong?

    • I have experienced that too, then after a few minutes, it appears. I think it has to do with the app, Facebook and/or a combination of the cache.

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Welcome to (Lens Diaries™), a hybrid photography blog with social flair. The photoblog provides photo tips, photo tutorials and photo diaries by professional photographer, author, writer, speaker and social media consultant, Rolando Gomez.

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