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Hey Photographers! Pinterest is Not for You

You’d have to live in a world with no Internet to not have heard of Pinterest by now. Although the service has been around in various incarnation...

You’d have to live in a world with no Internet to not have heard of Pinterest by now. Although the service has been around in various incarnations since 2008, it’s really caught fire in the past month. And it recently made claims to the title of “Fastest to 10 million registered users,” allegedly beating out Instagram for that title.

So I’ve watched with interest as various conversations have played out on forums and Facebook amongst photographers, and whether they should 1) protect their copyright and insert code in their website that prevents people from pinning their photos, or 2) embrace the new world and start participating in Pinterest. And in my humble opinion, the answer is neither because Pinterest isn’t for you.

What? What sort of rabble rouser am I?

Here are some facts gleaned from Google AdPlanner:

  • Pinterest drives a ton of page views
  • 82% of visitors are female
  • 79% fall between the ages of 25-54
  • Under “sites also visited” are such places as,,,
  • Under Audience interests are “Fashion Designers & Collections”, “Fashion & Style”, and “Crafts”

In other words, the Pinterest audience isn’t so charmed by your photography because they are too busy pinning clothing, crafts and interior design items. Pinterest is an aspirational pin board for women. The “Likes” and “Repinning” help to validate a user’s curatorial skills. And like every social media site in the world, the service is a tool of self-expression. Let the people express themselves, it’s therapeutic.

Pinterest is an awesome marketing tool for retailers. In fact, for one of the retailers I advise, it is the top source of referring traffic. You can’t buy that kind of free marketing.

But for photographers, it simply isn’t a good referral source because it doesn’t lead to sales. So worrying about the rights-grab and whether it’s skirting copyright law is moot. And Pinterest hasn’t shown itself to be a good referral mechanism for service-based offerings (e.g. hiring you for a wedding). And if you compare the number of repins for the fashion category vs. the arts category, you’ll begin to understand that spending time on Pinterest as a marketing activity simply doesn’t pay off for photographers.

So while I am a proponent of Internet-based marketing and copyright control, photographers are missing the point when they whine about Pinterest. It’s not going out of business any time soon, it will continue to be a popular service and retailers/brands will find new ways to exploit it, but the best use for photographers is to pin that fashionable pair of photographer pants you want.

Can’t get enough Pinterest? Read Round 2.

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