It seems everyone can’t enough of Pinterest, and for a social networking site which is still invite-only, it’s managed to garner over 6 million monthly users, and receives millions of hits per week.

Whether you’re just getting started with the site, or have been using it for a while, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to all things Pinterest. We’ve put together a list of all the basic things you need to know about the site, while also giving some power user tips for the more experienced users. Lastly, if you’re still looking for new ways to get more out of Pinterest, we have a list of creative and practical uses for one of the hottest niche social networks out there today.

If you don’t already have a Pinterest account, check out the end of this article to find out how you can get one right now.

Getting started with Pinterest

Create boards: If you’re new to Pinterest, the first thing you’ll want to do is create boards. Sit down and think about what kind of content you want to share, and save, on Pinterest and take it from there. If you’re stumped, just take a look at the categories available when creating a new board.

The available options include Design, Film, Music & Books, Gardening, Fitness, People, Pets, Technology and more. If you’re not sure where to start, just looking at the list of categories should be enough to get you inspired.

Pinterest Boards Everything you need to know about Pinterest [Invites]There’s really no limit to the kinds of boards you can create. Here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Recommend books, movies and music
  • Save your favourite quotes
  • Keep a list of countries or cities you’ve visited or want to visit
  • Keep a list of books, movies and music you plan to check out
  • Create a wishlist – whether it’s gadgets, home decor, fashion – whatever interests you
  • Create a list of your favourite foods
  • Create a board with lifehacks or organizational tools
  • Create a showcase of the best typography or design the web has to offer
  • Gift ideas

These suggestions are just scratching the surface of the kinds of boards that are currently posted on Pinterest, and checking out a few other users’ profiles to see how they’re using the service should be enough to inspire you.

Grab the bookmarklet: Once you’ve got your boards in place, it’s time to add some content. While you can upload images directly from your computer, or copy and paste links, it’s far easier to just use the Pinterest bookmarklet. Just drag the ‘Pin It’ button to your bookmarks bar and while you’re browsing, hit the button, and it will automatically find any available images on that page.

PinIt Everything you need to know about Pinterest [Invites]

Describe your pin, and add a price: When pinning an image, it has to be accompanied by a description. If you add a dollar price to your pin, the price will be displayed on the image, and your pin will also be listed in a special ‘Gifts’ section on the site.

Pinterest Gifts Everything you need to know about Pinterest [Invites]

Share your Pinterest posts on your other social networks: Now that you’ve got your boards and pins in order, you need to decide whether or not you want to share your pins with your other social networks. While you can find and follow other users on Pinterest itself, you might also want to share your finds with your friends on other networks. Under settings, choose whether or not to automatically share your posts on your Facebook Timeline or on Twitter. You can also control whether or not you want your profile to be visible on search engines.

Pinterst Settings Everything you need to know about Pinterest [Invites]

Use Pinterest as a social network: Like we said, Pinterest is a social network unto itself. There are several ways you can find and follow other users on the site. From the menu at the top of your home page, you can check all of the latest posts, the popular posts, or gifts. Posts shared by users you follow will show up in your home feed.

If you find someone who has a wide variety of interests, and you only want to follow some of their boards, you can do just that. Simply navigate to a user profile, and you can follow all of the user’s boards by clicking ‘Follow All’, underneath their profile photo, or go through their boards and follow only the individual ones that you’re interested in.

Follow Everything you need to know about Pinterest [Invites]

When it comes to interacting with other users, you can comment on their pins, like them, or re-pin them to one of your own boards. Each pin will be accompanied by the profile photos of users who liked it or who re-pinned it.

While likes won’t be displayed in your feed, or in the feed of users who follow you, they will be displayed in a dedicated section on your profile.

likes Everything you need to know about Pinterest [Invites]

You can also find out if any of your Facebook friends are already using Pinterest by connecting your accounts.

Tips to become a power user

Once you have the basics of Pinterest down, there is far more that you can do to get the most out of Pinterest.

Find all the images shared from one specific website on Pinterest: When you open up any given image on Pinterest, you’ll notice that you can view all the images that have been pinned by other users from the one site. For example, we shared an image on our own Pinterest account from one of our articles, showcasing beautiful examples of texture used in web design. When you open up that image, you’ll find a small tab to the left of the image, with the heading, ‘Also from thenextweb.com’.

Pinterest website Everything you need to know about Pinterest [Invites]

Clicking on that will open up a grid of all of The Next Web’s images that have been shared by all of Pinterest users. This feature makes it incredibly easy to use Pinterest as a useful discovery tool. While you can be sure to discover a lot of interesting and new ideas, photos and posts, just by following other users, Pinterest makes it easy to discover content from your favourite sites, in a unique and visual manner. This is also a great way to find more like-minded users to follow.

Pinterest Website2 Everything you need to know about Pinterest [Invites]

Use Pinterest to share videos: While Pinterest is best known as a way to share interesting images, in August Pinterest added the ability to share videos through the site. Using the Pinterest bookmarklet with videos wasn’t successful in our experience, you can just manually add the link through Pinterest itself. Click the ‘Add’ button at the top of the page, and select ‘Add a pin’. Paste the link to the video of your choice, and the process is no different from sharing an image on the site. At the moment, Pinterest only supports YouTube videos, so if there’s something on Vimeo, or another video sharing site that you want to share with your followers, you’re out of luck.

Video Everything you need to know about Pinterest [Invites]

Use Pinterest as a team: Did you know that when you create a new board you can allow other users to contribute to it? You can manually add users to the board, using their Pinterest username or email address. This feature turns Pinterest into a pretty unique project collaboration tool. You can exchange ideas or collaborate on a research project turning Pinterest into the ultimate visual tool for teams.

Get a mobile app to take Pinterest with you on the go: iPhone users can just grab the official Pinterest app to access the site from their phones. The app gives users all of the features available on the site. You can browse pins, repin and like them, follow users and share photos directly from your phone. Photos can be shared that have been taken using your iPhone camera, or you can also follow the instructions in the app to install a Pinterest bookmarklet in mobile Safari.

iPhone Everything you need to know about Pinterest [Invites]

While Android users don’t have an official app, they can access Pinterest using a mobile browser to browse, repin and follow other users. If you want to upload images from your Android phone, you can download the free app, Photo to Pinterest. You can take a photo and upload it immediately, or upload photos saved to your camera roll.

Get creative with Pinterest

By its very nature, Pinterest is as creative a site as they come, and the site lends itself to unique uses. We’ve put together a short list of ways you can use Pinterest, taking it beyond just a social network or sharing images.

Plan a trip or event: If you’ve got a big trip coming up, or are planning an event, Pinterest is a great way to collect ideas as you’re getting prepared. If you’re planning a trip, you can use Pinterest to save places you want to visit once you get there, you can create a list of things you don’t want to forget to take along with you – all the organization that goes into planning your journey can take place on Pinterest. If you’re going on a family trip, using the collaborative feature is a great way to make sure that the whole family gets in on the planning process.

Showcase your own work: Whether you’re a designer, photographer, visual artist, or even a writer, you can use Pinterest to showcase your own work, and reach an untapped, and extremely interactive audience. Choose the best of your work and create a board that showcases you at your finest. Writers can choose Creative Commons images that they feel best reflect the piece of writing that they want to share. ‘iPhoneographers’ can use Pinterest as a great way to take and upload photos straight from their iPhones to a board of their own.

Create a visual bucketlist: If you’ve created a board with all the cities or countries you want to visit, you’re already gotten started on a bucketlist of sorts. Why not expand on that and create a list of all the things that you want to do before you die. The board will serve as a great visual reminder of all the things you’ve got planned. You can even create an accompanying board with photos of you accomplishing each item on the list.

Create a lookbook: If you’re fashion conscious, Pinterest is a great way to collect and store photos of clothing, accessories or more, that you want to add to your own personal collection. You can create individual boards, categorising them either by item or by style. If you’re planning to revamp your wardrobe, you’ll want to create a board just for that.

Create an online shop: Because you can add a price to items on Pinterest, there’s no reason you can’t use the site as a marketplace of sorts. You can use Pinterest to sell your handmade crafts, digital copies or prints of your work, and more. You’ll find that a lot of Etsy users are already doing that, as a means of marketing their online stores. If you don’t already have an online store, make sure Pinterest users know how to get in touch with you if they want to purchase your items.

Share or collect tutorials: Because you can share videos on Pinterest, you could use the site as a way to share your online video tutorials with a new audience. If you don’t have any of your own, a board of interesting and informative tutorials is bound to be popular.

Create a recipe book: Been looking for a place to save all of your favourite recipes? Pinterest couldn’t be more suited to the task, with the ability to share the mouthwatering images of the food. As an added bonus, why not try to take the photos of your own culinary creations and share them on Pinterest?

Create a social media marketing campaign: As Pinterest becomes more popular, it is no doubt being added to many a social marketeer’s arsenal of tools. We can imagine that there are a lot of hardcore fans of the site who aren’t too happy with this, but depending on how you approach it, you can use Pinterest as a social media tool without coming across as extremely commercial. There’s a huge audience on Pinterest, with the site receiving a staggering 11 million visits in just one week in December – that’s a huge audience that can be reached.

There are a ton of different ways you can put Pinterest to work for you. You can create a social media campaign encouraging users to pin their favourite images or videos from your site. Or how about throwing QR codes into the mix, and creating special offers especially for your Pinterest followers?

Aside from specific social media campaigns, it certainly pays to have a presence on Pinterest. We’ve already seen how some institutions and companies are putting Pinterest to work for them in our list of recommended users to follow.

A great example of that is Croft Global Travel, a web-based adventure travel company, which is using the site to share all-things travel related with its followers. CGT’s personal and creative approach really showcases how company’s can get the most out of Pinterest while staying true to the site’s essence. Coming across as corporate and impersonal on Pinterest won’t earn you any points.

We’ll also be taking a closer look at how businesses can use Pinterest to market their products, generate a following, and stay true to what Pinterest is all about, so look out for that post.

So you want a Pinterest invite?

If you aren’t already on Pinterest, the easiest way to get on there right now is to ask an existing member for an invite. If you don’t know any users, the first 50 of you to leave a comment below, with your email address, will get one from us here at The Next Web.

Update: We’ve given out all the invites. 

Do you have any tips or tricks on how you use Pinterest? Let us know in the comments. And don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest too!