To Pin or Not to Pin? That is The Question. 8

There has been some heated debates on the topic of Pinterest in recent weeks. I’ve seen some interesting arguments for and against using the new website. I have read articles by lawyers, business bloggers, marketeers, I’ve listened to the debates on twitter and LinkedIn. Let me say this, I am cautious regarding the site, however it is a cautious optimism; I don’t see it going away, I do see a lot of marketing potential.

Recently I read an article by Kim Werker that I think really nailed it on the head,  creative people relinquish control when they put themselves out there, we are NOT talking about copyright violations here. Let’s  just say that if I make socks and inspire you to make socks, you’ve stolen nothing from me. You’d be stealing from me if you took the exact words of my pattern and/or my drawings and/or my photos.  Oh FUZZ GAWDS there I did it, I brought up copyright, I should know better, right? I mean that’s the ultimate can of worms on any creative message board or forum.

One of the reasons I have not deleted my account or disabled pinning here, is because I do see marketing potential. If you pin from this site it links back, I’ve actually had a lot of hits on both CLF and because of Pinterest. When I link from my Indie Pro and Pro Plus member  sites, those pins take interested parties back to their websites. It is the ultimate in direct marketing without hard sales techniques. To a consultative sales and marketing professional like myself, this is mana from heaven. I see the benefit of this site hugely for the independent professional.

Sure, they have terms of use that say they get to use the content, that’s so they can use it in advertising, I highly doubt that they want to sell your crochet patterns. Facebook and Flickr have similar terms of service, not trying own you, but rather to prevent themselves from being sued. You can choose how private you want your information, including on your own website. Should someone copy your photos or work to their computer and upload the work as their own you have every right to get a hold of Pinterest and demand that the work be removed.

I realize you don’t want your work stolen, I don’t like mine stolen either.  That being said, I know a lot of people who want to be considered professional that are so concerned with what might happen to their work that they don’t put themselves out there and make zero dollars as a result.  You might think only going with “real press” is the safe route and you would be wrong. There is a magazine that comes to mind that not only doesn’t pay it’s designers on time, it resells the patterns without compensating the designers. I won’t name names because that would be libel, but let’s just say it’s not a US magazine and it’s not from New Zealand, Australia or Germany. Do I know this as a fact? Yes, as a matter of fact I do.  It doesn’t just happen in the crochet world, professional photographers have a real bug bear of a time with massive media giants attempting to “fair use” them out of groceries too. Trust me I stay abreast of this issue because a friend of mine is a professional photographer, in fact she’s my best friend and a very talented art photographer. She stays on top of “fair use”  like no body’s business, it’s her bread and butter at stake. She has had major websites lift her copyrighted materials, she not only sends them a take down notice she invoices them for use of her photo, it’s a method that works; her photos get removed from sites.

Look, people get inspired, some of it is the creative consciousness that flows in the ether like a gossamer silk strand that links us all in our humanness. Other times people rip you off and make money. You can make money too, money is NOT a bad thing, money buys things like groceries and more yarn. Yay for groceries and more yarn!

When I first read the article by the lawyer that started the whole debate about Pinterest’s terms of service, I wondered who felt threatened? And I don’t mean us small potato folk, I mean the big boys, which large internet corporation(s) stands to loose the most if Pinterest is successful?

Like I said, I remain cautious watching Pinterest grow, but I can’t help but think that it won’t go away any more than Facebook has gone away or Twitter or LinkedIn or Ravelry.

Yes, Ravelry. Almost five years ago now, I was at a conference and an industry giant got stuck with me in an elevator, this person was not only threatened by the CLF (which had all of 100 members or so at the time) they didn’t like Ravelry either. “I just don’t “get” Ravelry.” She said, “I just don’t understand it.”  I looked at her, smiled and responded with, “Well, you’d better understand it quick, it’s going to change the industry.”

You have to market, you have to stay on top of technology, waiting around for the good old days to come back just isn’t going to happen. Face the facts, if you are attempting to make money from what you write, make, design, or create then you have a business.  The internet is a HUGE marketplace, it’s the most global market there is, it out does the stock market in it’s scope and it’s opportunities.

In America alone there are 17.4 MILLION households that claim to crochet as a hobby at least once a year. Not one of our crochet related websites is reaching all 17.4 MILLION households, I can guarantee it.  That’s exactly why I started CLF 3.0 membership service, to help teach independent crochet professionals (designers/makers/teachers etc)  learn how to market and network professionally.

Maybe long time crochet professionals and yarn industry folk are used to doing business in one way, but maybe that way is out dated. Maybe we need to catch up to the times. I’m not saying you have to use Pinterest, in fact I don’t think you need to use any site, including my own, but before you become a nay sayer weigh the pros and cons carefully.

Last word: I put up this question on our Facebook Fan Page (which got 2 million views in 2011) at 9pm PST on March 7, 2012

Do you use Pinterest?

Over 30 likes in 30 minutes…it will be interesting to see how many liked it by morning.


About Laurie A. Wheeler

Laurie A. Wheeler is a blogger, crochet addict, yarn designer and champion for independant artisans and crafters. She is also known as Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

8 thoughts on “To Pin or Not to Pin? That is The Question.

  • Pam Newhart

    Just followed you on Pinterest. Love the site for the inspiration and eye candy. I also like the embedded links so I can get to the original blogs/sites to purchase patterns. Thats how I found Attic24, and a few other wonderful designers. Copyright and the internet will always be a struggle, just like retail and shoplifting. One can’t close up shop just because of a few light fingers. The good far outweighs the bad.

  • TurquoizBlue

    Laurie, thanks for looking at both sides. The same arguments were made on Ravelry about not want to share projects/designs because they might be “stolen” or “copied.” I think if we choose to use Pinterest, we have to pin wisely. The benefits of sharing seem to outweigh not sharing at all.

  • Laurie A. Wheeler Post author

    Thank you Rhonda! I think they will need to re-write their copyright policy on ownership of photos and images, but seriously, it’s like not accepting credit card payments or paypal payments because you don’t want to pay the transaction fee. Great you don’t want to pay the fee, so you loose sales. In an industry like ours where things are highly textured, visual and the demographics fit exactly that of Pinterest it seems foolish to stay away from it.

  • Bonnie Katschanow

    Pinterest has changed their terms! Yay! I would hate to lose Pinterest. I work 3 jobs and crochet for an hour or two before bedtime hooking squares for my local Cancer center for Chemo patients. Pinterest allows me to go to one site and scroll quickly till I spot something that interests me for a project. I would not have time to go to several individual sites to do this. Pinterest has been a huge step forward from me. I think Pinterest induces a desire to design patterns on our own and open up a whole new world. I have also ordered patterns that I just had to have from blogs, which is something I never did prior to Pinterest.
    I have been crocheting for 40 years.

    • Laurie A. Wheeler Post author

      Yes, and I was glad to see that they wrote them in plain English. As I supposed, they had little interest in selling people’s designs/photos and I am glad they took people’s concerns to heart.