Designer Life
8 minute read

Pinterest for Designers – An Overview

Cameron Chapman
Cameron comes from a design background and is the author of two web design books: Color for Web Design and The Smashing Idea Book.

When it comes to social media for any type of visual art, including design, the first site that often comes to mind is Instagram. But designers shouldn’t overlook the second-most-popular image-based social network: Pinterest.

Pinterest doesn’t necessarily have a reputation as a powerhouse social network for designers and other creative professionals. But the demographics show there’s a lot of use in Pinterest for designers, as users are well-educated professionals who shouldn’t be overlooked.

Who Uses Pinterest?

While Pinterest has more female users overall—75% (making it an ideal option for designers whose main market is women)—50% of new signups to the site are men. With 250 million active users, Pinterest has a significant market share. In fact, in the US, Pinterest reaches 83% of women aged 25-54.

Pinterest users are overwhelmingly female.

And while Instagram is often more strongly associated with younger people, millennials use Pinterest just as much as Instagram (1 in 2 millennials uses Pinterest monthly, and 39% of their overall users are 25-29). 39% of Pinterest’s users earn more than $75,000 per year and 40% have graduated from college. Pinterest’s users are young, well-educated, and have higher earnings than many other platforms.

All this means if a designer’s target market is successful millennial women (or companies whose main target market is), there’s no better place to be online than Pinterest. Rather than spending time trying to sift through all of the people who don’t fit a target market, why not just go to the site that caters primarily to them?

What is Pinterest Good For?

There are a few ways designers can use Pinterest to their advantage. Some are mainly for personal advantage, while others can help with gaining new clients and networking with other designers.

Pinterest for designers.
Oen Hammonds' Pinterest combines both personal and professional interests.

Collecting Inspiration

Pinterest is an entirely visual social network. And therefore it makes sense that designers can use it to collect and organize inspiration.

There are a few ways to find inspiration directly on Pinterest. Following other designers is one place to start. Doing keyword searches for specific types of designs (product designs, UI designs, data visualizations, packaging designs, mood boards, etc.) is another. Searching for less concrete, more abstract ideas is also a great way to use Pinterest. Searching for a mood, color, or another keyword can return a ton of interesting results.

Designers may be hesitant to save inspiration for specific projects on a publicly-facing site like Pinterest, but private boards can be created for those projects. That way designers can collect inspiration for more sensitive projects without having to either obscure what the project is, or risk upsetting clients who want to keep the launch of a new brand secret until its actual launch.

Pinterest also offers bookmarklets and browser extensions for saving inspiration from elsewhere on the web. That makes it easy to save images from anywhere quickly.

Doing Basic Market Research

As already mentioned, a large percentage of Pinterest users fit into a specific demographic: women (especially millennials) who are well-educated with high-paying jobs. If that’s the demographic a designer is after, then Pinterest is the perfect place to do some basic market research as well as look at Pinterest trends. If that’s not enough, other demographics can be found on Pinterest as well; it just takes a little more digging.

Start by looking at what users who fit the appropriate demographic are pinning. Who are they following? What types of boards do they have? What kinds of pins do the post? What are they saying about those pins? Pay attention to these things as a starting point for market research.

Following influencers in a target market can also give a great snapshot into what that market is into. Designers should follow at least a few of these influencers in order to get a more balanced view of the market.

Pinterest design ideas.
Jessica Hische has highly-organized Pinterest boards for her work.

Building Authority as a Designer

A not insignificant number of designers—from UX designers to brand designers and everyone in between—hang out on Pinterest. As do a lot of artists and other visual creatives. Because of that, having a presence on Pinterest is a smart career move for designers.

Because of the way Pinterest’s search function works, and because so many users spend a significant amount of time actively looking for new content, Pinterest allows designers to get their work in front of a new audience.

Building followers, which can be done through consistently pinning and repinning quality content and participating in group boards, can lead to others viewing an account as having more authority. That includes other designers.

How Designers Can Market with Pinterest

Besides just building a general audience, Pinterest can be used as a marketing tool for designers. With 250 million active users, it’s a sizable market that can be tapped into, and one that many designers still overlook.

One of the best parts of marketing with Pinterest is that it’s fun. Browsing for inspiration and repinning the work of others is one of the best ways to grow a network on Pinterest. But there are other ways as well.

Sharing Work

Pinterest can be used as an informal portfolio of sorts. Designers can save their work on one board, or they can create boards for each project and show the steps and iterations along the way.

The biggest advantage of sharing work on Pinterest is that others can easily repin that work, growing its exposure to wider audiences. And there’s less competition than sites like Facebook where sharing is also easy, so it takes less time and effort to gain some traction.

Getting work shared by other pinners is one of the best ways to get more exposure. And pins are effectively evergreen content. Popular pins can be repinned for months or even years, continually increasing their exposure to new users.

Pinterest for graphic designers.

Networking with Other Designers

There are a lot of very well-known designers on Pinterest. And repinning their pins can be a good way to get noticed by them. Commenting is another way to potentially get noticed, though Pinterest’s commenting isn’t as active as some other social media sites.

There are a number of well-known and talented designers on Pinterest:

And there are quite a few other design-related accounts that are worth following, including design and tech magazines and blogs:

Following and interacting with other pinners is a good way to build community and get noticed. Those connections can then translate into opportunities outside the network.

Group boards are another great way to connect with other designers. These collaborative boards allow members to share pins with a wider audience alongside those of other members. Quality varies considerably between group boards, so it’s worth taking time to vet boards before joining them.

Posts to a group board are more visible to the followers of everyone else who belongs to that board, greatly increasing the reach of those pins.

Best Practices

Best practices for Pinterest are similar to those of other social networks. Nevertheless, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First off, descriptions should be keyword-rich to help with search results. Designers should think about the things people might search for when looking for specific types of content, and then be sure to use those keywords in their descriptions.

While some social networks can easily overload users with content for a specific page or account if that account posts a ton, Pinterest doesn’t have the same issue because of the way Pinterest displays pins. Designers should pin regularly, and shouldn’t worry about over-pinning.

As far as the best time of day, users are most active at night, between the hours of 8–11 PM, as well as between 2 and 4 AM (which points to a more global audience outside of North America). The evening commute is one of the worst times on Pinterest, unlike many other social networks.

Organizing Pinterest boards is an important step in setting up a Pinterest account that people actually want to follow. This is particularly true since users can also just follow one or two boards.

Pinterest for graphic designers.
Jessica Walsh gets creative with the format of her board names.

Designers should consider their brand when organizing their boards. Coming up with creative board names can be on-brand for some designers, while off-brand for others. Formatting of board names is limited, but capitalizations, extra spaces, and special characters can all be used to add some style.

If a designer is using Pinterest primarily as a business account, hiding boards that aren’t design-related can be a smart move. Otherwise, they need to keep in mind that everything they pin to public boards can be seen by their followers and others on the site, professional and personal contacts alike.

Pinterest Business Features

There are a number of features that come with a free Pinterest business account that are worth exploring.

One of the best parts of business accounts is the analytics feature. It makes it possible to see how many impressions pins have had, as well as which pins are the most popular (which can be viewed by impressions, engagements, saves, link clicks, and close-ups).

Pinterest business accounts also allow for promoted pins and ads, too. One of the coolest things about promoting pins is that they can continue to be repinned long after the paid promotion period has ended, extending their life even further.

When setting up a Pinterest business account, it’s important that designers confirm their website and otherwise fill out their profile as completely as possible to take the best advantage of the features available. To make it easy for users to pin their content, designers should also be sure to add a “save” button to images on their own website.

Top web design
Jeffrey Zeldman is one of the better-known web designers on Pinterest, and has an inspiring Pinterest account.

Conclusion

Pinterest for designers is too often overlooked as a valuable business tool. Yet there are so many benefits to designers, from networking opportunities to a different platform for hosting a portfolio, that it makes sense for most designers to at least have a presence on the site.

This is particularly true for designers who create sites for well-educated women with high earning potential, but also for other demographics with a presence on the site. The ease of connecting with these people is one of Pinterest’s greatest advantages over other social media sites.

Designers should take the time to explore Pinterest and its features to find the aspects of the site that are most beneficial for their needs.

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Further reading on the Toptal Design Blog:

Understanding the basics

Why do people use Pinterest?

Pinterest is the second most popular image-based social network. It’s an excellent source for creative ideas and inspiration, DIYs, and how-to articles, with Pinterest search making it easy for designers and others to find whatever they might be looking for.

Why is Pinterest so important?

Pinterest is particularly important for designers and other visual artists because of its easy to use platform and wide reach, particularly among certain demographics (well-educated women with high earning potential). Pinterest for designers is an especially important platform, thanks to its sharing functionality.

What are the advantages of Pinterest?

Pinterest’s main advantage over other social networks is that content there is effectively evergreen. Popular pins can be shared for months or even years by Pinterest users, extending their reach and maximizing the ROI based on the time spent originally pinning and promoting the content.

What is unique about Pinterest?

Pinterest’s most unique feature compared to other social networks is that content there is effectively evergreen. Popular pins can be shared for months or even years by Pinterest users, extending their reach and maximizing the ROI based on the time spent originally pinning and promoting the content.

What are the main features of Pinterest?

Pinterest’s main features include the ability to pin visual content from effectively anywhere on the web, being able to repin content already on the site with a single click, and being able to save and organize an unlimited amount of content. These features make Pinterest an excellent resource for designers.