How to Join Pinterest

Pinterest launched in late 2009 as an invitation-only beta (testing) platform; as of August 2012, its popularity catapulted it past the beta stage to allow anyone to create an account [source: Griggs]. Pinterest had 21,202,798 unique visitors in July 2012 [source: Compete]. It's grown from under 10,000 users 9 months after its launch in 2010 for a growth of almost 212,000 percent [source: Griggs]. The site began as a web-only platform, but as of this writing, users could access Pinterest online or on mobile devices such as iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android [source: Mlot].

Setting up a Pinterest account is simple. Users can create an account in one of two ways:

  • Use an e-mail address. You'll be asked to create a username and password, and then set up a short profile.
  • Link to an existing Facebook or Twitter account. You'll need to provide your login information for either site in order to set up an account this way. As you might guess, users should note that this method authorizes Pinterest to access a reasonable amount of information about them. For instance, signing up with Twitter allows Pinterest to read tweets, see who you follow, update your profile, and tweet on your behalf [source: Pinterest].

After you've provided your info, you'll be shown a series of images and asked to click the ones that appeal to you. Pinterest uses this information to create your "Following" page, a collection of images in categories you're interested in.

You can add to your "following" list by connecting with friends on the site: Simply sign into your Gmail, Facebook or Yahoo account, and Pinterest will populate a list of existing users you may know. You can also invite friends who don't have accounts to join. You don't have to already know other users to enjoy Pinterest, however. Find another user who shares your exact taste in everything? Follow her, and all of the things she adds to her boards (called pins, in Pinterest parlance) appear when you sign into your account.

Following individuals isn't the only way to access awesome new content on Pinterest -- you can follow categories as well. Pinterest's predetermined categories vary widely, including topics from architecture to animals, hair and beauty to film and music, humor to weddings and history to holidays.

So what is pinning, exactly, and how do you go about doing it? We'll talk more about boards, pins and how to make the most of your Pinterest account on the next page.