Pinterest Power, the book

Pinterest Power, by Jason Miles & Karen Lacey

Four stars.

Full disclosure: I paid full (Amazon) price for my copy of this book (that is, I did not receive a review copy) but I did receive a ton of associated “reserve your copy in advance” material as part of the purchase. The goodies aren’t changing my review. I reserve five stars for books that pretty much change my core thinking about something, and Pinterest Power doesn’t do that. However, it’s good, it’s as good as any of the current crop of Pinterest how-to books, and I like the tone.

One of the business-popular-tech magazines (Inc or Fast Company or Wired) covered the previous books about Pinterest a few months before Pinterest Power came out, and the reviews were all a bit dismissive. At that time, I held on to my money as a result. It may well be that Pinterest itself has matured and those books were premature. YMMV. I have followed Jason’s pins and blog for a while and I like his approach. Tested, responsible, pragmatic, proven.

The book is easy, straightforward, and thorough, and if you’re serious about using Pinterest to generate traffic, leads, and sales, you will be able to learn a lot. It’s WAY cheaper than any of the on-line education I’ve seen, and covers at least as much if not a great deal more. More accessible, IMO, and bathtub friendly in a way anything online is simply not.

I’m not completely happy with the explanation of how US Copyright law intersects with Pinterest (in short, the authors punted with an “IANAL” clause). IMO, businesses are much more likely to be the target of a copyright challenge, because we have (at least in the eyes of the prosecution) the money. Copyright law is not difficult. If you’re pinning for a business, you owe it to your business to understand how it works a little better than is explained here, although, I agree, the gist is correct: credit your sources (and, IMO, stay away from Tumblr).

After I posted the original Amazon review, I found an additional paragraph about copyright that more actively irritated me.  The authors advise NOT linking to any site that has the “do not pin” code.  Perhaps they meant to say, “do not copy from and then link back to,” but I don’t see any problem with linking TO any website, as long as you’re not stealing their content to create the pin.  (I link to non-pinnable websites with Quozio.) (This paragraph is is a call-out box several pages BEFORE the section on copyright law, which is why I couldn’t find it when I wrote the first review.  Didn’t think to look backward.)

I don’t know whether the “don’t pin from this site” functionality was available before the book was written; I wish it had been addressed. National Geographic is the most prominent site I have discovered using that code; stolen NatGeog images are all over Pinterest (and probably a few on my boards, although I have deleted some that I since came to recognize).

Somewhat minor quibble, unless your business is photography itself, which appears to have the most at risk.

Elsewise, you’ll do well with Pinterest Power, you’re bound to learn something, and follow Jason’s blog and boards to stay up to date, because Pinterest is changing faster than paper can keep up with.

Improving Your Pinterest Images

Professional product photography is a wonderful resource. If you can afford to have a professional photographer take images of your products, services, and events, use them. (Make sure you have have permission to use those images on Pinterest, according to your contract with the photographer).

However, you can spend a lot of money on good product photography, and Pinterest is hungry for more images than many smaller businesses can afford.

You can improve the photos you take.  This post talks about how to train your brain to think about images differently; plenty of pins point you to information about the technical elements of improving your images through camera settings and lightroom processing.


When in doubt, crop your image! Cut out as much of the background as possible and get in close to what matters to the pin.

Pink bicycles example of cropping

Example of cropping to remove most of the sidewalk and show more of the color.

If your photo processing software offers a 3×3 grid during the cropping process, get one of the intersections of the grid close to the center of interest in the image.

Real world lesson: TV close-ups of a character (Law and Order pre-commercial fade-out) ALWAYS show the character’s face on one side or the other of the screen, NEVER in the middle.)

Educate Your Eye

Before you can create better images, it’s helpful to be able to recognize better images. As you read trade magazines, end-user retail advertising, or any other source of images including Pinterest, notice which images catch your eye. Tear out pages from magazines and keep them in a notebook or file folder. Pin interesting pin images to secret boards if you don’t want to do your learning in public.

From time to time, look over your collection and let it talk to you. You may find that the images group themselves into categories, by distance from object; time of day, color scheme.

Ask yourself:

  • Where is the camera?
  • Where is the light source?
  • Is there more than one light source?
  • What time of day is it?
  • What’s in the background and how did the photographer make the background look that way?*

*It’s possible to blur a background by changing the apeture on your camera; it’s easier to make sure the background is as simple and plain as it can be (or at least, interesting and deliberately selected) before you take the picture.

When you’re ready to create your own images, take this information with you and your camera.  Chances are, simply thinking about how an image you like was created will help you create images that you like a lot more.


The board below shows pins about books and other sources of information about improving your photography. I focus on shifting your point of view and general artistic understanding rather than the technical information about how to use software.

Photograph Daily

See Everyday:  A Year Long Photo Diary, by Byron Wolfe.  Anohter book that has the same effect on me are Speck:  A Curious Collection of Uncommon Things, by Peter Buchanan-Smith.

Wolfe is a photography teacher who set himself the assignment to make one good image every day.  Lisa Creed did the same thing with her paintings.  Julia Cameron teaches this about writing daily in The Artists Way.

Carry your camera / smart phone everywhere.  Allow / force yourself to stop and take photographs whenever something catches your eye.  Photographing the same thing every time you pass it will have much the same outcome, if that is easier to do.  (I have a series of the nuclear power plant plume; another of a highway intersection construction project in process.)

If you’ve ever watched a professional photographer work, you may have noticed that he or she took HUNDREDS of photos in order to get the 20 that appeared in your wedding album, or the three that were used in the magazine article.

The point of these exercises is to help you let go of the idea of “one good image” and move into an understanding of “lots of images will lead to one good one.”

Jim Krause’s Index Series

Jim Krause’s Index Series

Jim Krause Book image

Books that can help you be a better designer.

I love all of Jim Krause’s books.  People doing their own product photography should buy the Photo Idea Index (bright green plastic cover in the picture on the site). The chapters in this book take you through 350 ways of looking at the world (and products!) around you and taking pictures that will make people stop when they see them on the pin flow.

If your business is more specific and you KNOW you only need landscapes, or people, or products, you might want to look at one of Krause’s focused idea books.

If you do nothing but set yourself the exercise of duplicating each of his images with your landscape and/or products, you’ll have 14 boards full of images that work. Add your paid professional shots in with your own images, and your business account will look as good as any big business.

Caveat: I have not been able to duplicate professional interior design photography worth a hoot.  The pros use lights; more lights than you can image.  Using the homeowner’s in-home lighting is NOT enough.  If you pin in the interior design trades, pay for professional portfolio images.  Focus your own photography on close-ups and products, rather than finished installations.

Pins about Pinterest Photography

This is a board where I collect pins about how to create better images for Pinterest; not pins about photography in general.
(Board keeps disappearing, and I’ve submitted a help ticket into Pinterest. Stay tuned.)

Pitch Anything and Pinterest

Pitch Anything is a new book about presenting-to-sell by Oren Klaff. One of my marketing teachers, Glenn Livingston, said it was the best marketing book he’d read in the past five years. I’m not so sure I’d go that far, but I just finished the book and it is engaging.

Pitch Anything, by Oren Klaff

Pitch Anything, the new marketing book about using framing and hot cognition to influence your audience.

Klaff’s recommendation is, IMO, not quite as revolutionary and innovative as he’d like to think: Guy Kawasaki has been saying the same thing for a few years already. Tell the story. Don’t let them get you into the weeds. Give people something to believe in. They don’t care about your pedigree, resume and backstory. Use your business’ version of puppy porn…(that link is safe for just about anyone). (In his case, the big sale involved airplane porn. I hope you already understand the use of the word in the internet context…)

If you’re someone who reads marketing books, you’ll enjoy Pitch Anything. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it because it’s difficult to apply. Klaff uses examples from his own investment fund raising past, and they don’t directly translate to the kind of selling most of my clients do.

One point, however, struck me powerfully. Klaff talks about the importance of Hot Cognition–the instant, primal brain response that says, “I want it.” When buyers / clients are in hot cognition, they want what you have.

Reader, Pinterest is nothing BUT hot cognition.

I see it I want it I click it’s mine.

There is no sales letter than can compete with puppy porn, if what you sell can be represented by your market’s equivalent of this pin (also safe on a public PC).

As I write this post, I also realize that Pinterest is, in Klaff’s terms, a way to “stack frames.” The board and surrounding pins provide context you control, setting the scene for the item and how it will fit into your client’s life. Providing more detailed examples of boards and frames is more than I have time for in this post. More later.