Pinterest is a relative newcomer to social media, but it has changed the way that many crafters and do-it-yourselfers organize and share ideas.
"It should be called 'Jessa Decker-Smith's Interests.' It's made for me," says Jessa Decker-Smith of Denver, who writes a craft blog called "Happily Home Sewn." She says she spent "a solid two or three days obsessing" about Pinterest when she signed on a few months ago. She uses it to find, organize and share sewing projects and crafts, mostly, but also recipes, fashion and organizing tips.
Pinterest is an online pinboard to which you "pin" favorite pictures and ideas. It's a public display of personal tastes and interest. Subjects include travel, food, home decorating — whatever you can think of — but craft bloggers were among the first to catch the Pinterest bug, according to Lauren Indvik, an editor at the social media news blog Mashable.com.
Decker-Smith's friend and fellow crafter Kristin Cunningham, of Colorado Springs, Colo., uses Pinterest for hunting down home-schooling projects for her two young kids, and pins gardening ideas and workout routines. Both women like that the images they pin on Pinterest entice new readers to their blogs.
No matter how many times an item is re-pinned, viewers are taken to its original site — something that works well for media empires such as Martha Stewart Living, which employs "an army" of pinners to keep it among the top brands getting pinned, according to Kelly Alfieri, digital editorial director for Martha Stewart Living. Other big names that get a lot of Pinterest play include Better Homes & Gardens, HGTV, Whole Foods Market and West Elm.
"Now we have a way for our images to be portable and have those images drive people back to the (web)site," says Alfieri.
And because Martha Stewart Living editors can track which items get pinned and how often, they know that crafting is by far their most popular subject. Alfieri says about 22,000 people follow Martha Stewart Living on Pinterest, but 45,000 people keep track of its crafting boards.
"I think that's the Pinterest audience," says Alfieri. "It's a lot of crafters."
Success on Pinterest may lead to changes in the Martha Stewart Living magazine and online site. Although crafts have long been a focus, "We realize we have to ramp up our crafts on the website and in the magazine," says Alfieri.
More than 80 percent of all Pinterest pins are re-pins, Indvik says, meaning folks aren't sharing original artwork and ideas - they're mostly sharing the ideas of others.
"That's sort of the beauty of the site," says Decker-Smith. "Someone else has gone out and found this wonderful thing ... it's stuff that people find beautiful or interesting."
Pinterest was launched in early 2010, and interest in it spiked about six months ago, says Indvik. Today, "Pinterest regularly surpasses Facebook and Twitter as referrals" to Martha Stewart Living, says Alfieri.
The Pinterest charm - its breadth of ideas and images - can also be a viewer's curse. Decker-Smith warns that you can get lost in the Pinterest world, as she did when she first joined. Cunningham, who writes a blog called "Sewtastically Made," warns against browsing and recommends following only a handful of people.
The site has made a crafter out of Donya Thorne Gardner Claycamp of Elizabethtown, Ky. Battling breast cancer since the fall of 2010, Claycamp lost interest in cooking and house cleaning. Her recent jump onto Pinterest changed that, and she started crafting with her 5-year-old son.
"I got my mojo back!" says Claycamp. "It's helping me cook and clean and get back into life, instead of lying around and feeling crummy."
Claycamp enjoys re-pinning what others put out there. "I'm so proud that people like the things that I like!" she says with a laugh.
Pinterest responded to a request for some of its most popular "boards" with these sites: