Private Boards

November 9, 2012

By Gabrielle.

When Ben, the founder of Pinterest, spoke at Alt Summit last year, this was the big question he was asked: When will you introduce private boards? And they’re finally here! Private pin boards! Ben and his crew are handing them out like candy — three for each of us — so if you haven’t found them yet, they’re waiting patiently at the bottom of your profile. Go see!

Some of you might be wondering what’s the big deal about private boards. Well. I know I’ve filled folder after desktop folder with images and ideas I want to use someday, inspirations for plans I’ve not yet even whispered to Ben Blair, and a variety of other personal brainstorming bits that are for me and me alone. Do you do the same thing?

Now, all your best creative sparks can live in one spot. Even your secret ones. I’ll be using mine for a future cottage renovation (if we can ever decide on a place!), for planning events, and for tracking possible blog content. What will you use your three boards to keep private? I promise I won’t tell!

P.S. — Are we following each other? You can find me here!

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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gina November 9, 2012 at 5:40 am

I have to admit, I did a little happy dance when I heard about this.


2 Design Mom November 9, 2012 at 7:43 am

Me too!


3 Tracey Lynne November 9, 2012 at 5:57 am

oh yay


4 Kimberly November 9, 2012 at 6:03 am

I just set one up! I’ll use it to pin gift ideas for other people that I don’t want the world to know about!


5 Lori H November 9, 2012 at 6:08 am

I just got the email with this announcement this morning! I know one of my secret boards will be for gifting – ideas for presents and I can now put a name on them. I may start one for my husband’s birthday party too in case I decide to make it a surprise!


6 Design Mom November 9, 2012 at 7:43 am

Surprise parties and gifts. Both perfect topics for private pin boards.


7 Sara November 9, 2012 at 6:21 am

I am so excited about this!! I have been waiting ;) excitedly!

For me, it will be SO helpful to be able to pin images for clients and just general decorating ideas without everyone being able to see them. I feel like part of what I get paid for is my time spent researching, the ways I get inspired by a given photo or idea, etc., and how I interpret those ideas for a given client, etc., so it feels bit like giving it away to have it all on open pinboards (which is why I haven’t been using pinterest for that until now!). It’s interesting, because now that the private board option is there, I am sure I will use my public boards more, too. I definitely believe in the shared community and am happy to participate in the sharing side of it, but will probably do it more now that I will be more in the habit of pinning because of the private option! Yay for Pinterest.

I wonder if the whole credit/copyright question is different for secret vs. public board?


8 Jennifer (Savor) November 9, 2012 at 6:26 am

You know I follow you (and even have a board just for my fav. inspirations from here!):

Follow me? I hope I can inspire you with some family friendly meals:


9 Design Mom November 9, 2012 at 7:48 am

So many great boards! I just followed food in a jar and rainbow food. Cute topics!


10 holly November 9, 2012 at 6:28 am

Am I the only person who is sickened by pinterest and the lack of attribution? I feel like there is a gradually wearing away of copyrights. I know Grace from Design Sponge was very late to get on this wagon because of these concerns — but eventually she joined too.

Here’s an idea. How about a blog where I just lift the best of everyone’s content – writing, photos, everyone. Sometimes I’ll link, sometimes not (altho linking at that point wouldn’t be helpful). And then, in addition to selling ad space, I’ll link to affiliate sites so I can make money anytime people click thru and buy that coat, that book, that toy.

When did people so successfully package stealing and sell it as curating?

It’s funny but you’d think it would be the one thing this digital generation took seriously — our creative property!


11 Marissa November 9, 2012 at 7:01 am

That’s an interesting thought. Is it not enough that when you click onto an image it takes you back to the webpage from where it was pinned? I can see how the lack of credit in the description could be a problem. I love the new blogs and creative people that I’ve found through pinterest.


12 Design Mom November 9, 2012 at 7:41 am

I think many people are very bothered by attribution issues and the digital world. (We were discussing this very topic earlier this week — lots of great comments.)

I think Private Boards actually solve a lot of those problems. A private board is much more like a bookmarks list, or a private page on Evernote. If I track items on a Private Pin Board, and no one else can see them but me, attribution won’t matter.


13 holly November 9, 2012 at 8:37 am

I don’t think it solves any of those problems, Gabby. I think it adds a component that isn’t a problem, sure, but it doesn’t solve the major issue.

And attribution is really the lowest baseline possible. Is it enough? It isn’t in my opinion. If I take your book and release it digitally but ATTRIBUTE IT — how does that help?

I did see the post earlier in the week. To me, that is very much the same as releasing that book digitally. And selling prints! OMG.


14 Design Mom November 9, 2012 at 10:01 am

Hmmm. I’m not sure if we’re talking about the same thing. If I save photos and color swatches and essays in a folder on my desktop — say as research for a novel (I’m not a novelist, so this is an innocent example) — and no one else has access to that folder, then who cares if I track the sources? No one else even knows my list exists. People have been collecting ideas and making inspiration boards loooong before Pinterest existed.

So what I’m saying is, if ALL Pinterest boards were private (I’m aware they are not, and I’m aware it would take away much of what people enjoy about Pinterest), it seems it would solve the crediting/sourcing/stealing issues.

Do you really have issues with private Pinterest boards? I would assume someone with your stance on the topic would see them as a big improvement over public ones.

Am I misunderstanding you?


15 holly November 9, 2012 at 10:35 am

If all pinterest boards were private, I’d have no issue at all. hurray! that would be great!

I’m saying private boards are fine, but they don’t resolve the central issue many people have with pinterest.

16 Design Mom November 9, 2012 at 11:04 am

Oh good! I couldn’t imagine you wouldn’t be thumbs up for private boards.

17 Design Mom November 9, 2012 at 10:08 am

One more little question as I try to understand your point of view. If someone pins a product on Pinterest, like some dishes from Target, because they want to save the idea for gift for their Mother’s birthday, does that bother you? Or only images/videos that are created as art?

Are there ANY images that you would be comfortable pinning? If I want to pin images I’ve taken myself, are you uncomfortable with that? Or is it the idea that my images would then get passed around and people might not know I took them bothersome to you?

And do you feel people that try to make a living via creating, are not served by Pinterest at all?

Okay. I guess that’s more than one little question. : )


18 holly November 9, 2012 at 11:00 am

>>And do you feel people that try to make a living via creating, are not served by Pinterest at all?<<

This will be a retread of the illegal music downloading evolution of 10-20 years ago. Sure, it eventually got – mostly – legalized, but it killed the recorded music business. Sure, it gave people exposure but eventually value was completely taken out of recorded music. NOBODY sells what they used to sell. Not a fraction. Sure, it's great exposure to get your music out there, but all the money is now in concerts and commercial licensing so unless you are band selling out pretty big venues or you get a car commercial, you are out of luck if you want to earn a living.

OF course, you know who is still making money? The distributor. In the olden days, distributors were all pretty yucky to work with. You got paid late, if ever, altho they did do advances. Anyway, now there are a handful. Apple, amazon, etc. They're making money.

I think Pinterest has been really awful in that they haven't disclosed how and when they get paid, as distributors. If say, someone clicks thru that target site and buys dishes. See: entire Skimlinks fiasco. I know they've stopped that, but only because it was bad press and they're working on their own affiliate marketing program. Taking it in-house in other words.

I'm okay with people pinning things they have created or things they have permission to pin. But if they are getting paid for it, I think that needs to be disclosed. If you take a pin a picture of yourself in a J Crew coat, then post it with a link to the J Crew site, and then get paid when people buy the J Crew coat … argh… I think that needs to be disclosed.

And let's be honest. What percentage of pinners are pinning content they created? Less than 1%? I have no issue with that.

19 Design Mom November 9, 2012 at 11:20 am

I 100% agree with you on J.Crew example. People need to be clear and honest about how they’re making money. Period.

As for your last line, it’s funny, but I always feel awkward when I pin my own images. I do it now and then, but somehow, I feel like I serve my Pinterest followers better when I’m “discovering” content beyond what I’ve created.

I like your example of the music industry, but I’m not sure how for the metaphor goes for me. It seems like the trend in America is going from huge businesses to small artisan businesses. (Applied to the music industry, I imagine is looks like a lot less “headliner” bands that make hundreds of millions, but many more bands that will make “enough”.) I think the return to tiny companies is happening in every industry. And I think for many of these cottage companies, Pinterest is a huge help in promotion.

If I make small batches of jam, and take beautiful photos of the product and it goes viral on Pinterest, that’s good. I could even share the exact recipe, and I would still make money! Because at the end of the day most people just don’t want to make their own jam. I may not ever be a Smuckers Major Manufacturer, but I can build a business that doesn’t require me to work 80+ hours per week. I can earn less, but have a better quality of life.

At the American Made event in NY, I attended a panel of 4 Brooklyn artisans and that was their story across the board.

20 holly November 9, 2012 at 11:44 am

The music business is now all headliners and nobody making “enough”. I realize it’s counter-intuitive, but there it is.

I live in Brooklyn. This morning I was working to help the guy who owns a great bakery in DUMBO. He’s been there for years — way before most businesses down there.. And yet? When flooded? No insurance. All his equipment ruined. All gone. A grown, proud man in tears. He probably won’t reopen.

Nevermind,= health insurance. Does anyone in Brooklyn have health insurance?

If someone has a artisanal jam company, I would imagine things are pretty close to the edge, financially. I mean, it sounds romantic but… if someone posts that recipe online? Yes, THAT is exactly what I have a problem with.

21 Design Mom November 9, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Well. We certainly think about this differently.

As for the music industry, I still disagree. In my experience it’s so much wider than it used to be. I’ve bought a different song (or rights to use a song) for every video I’ve made, from artists I never would have heard of without the fall of the traditional music industry. These are artists that would have no way to promote themselves without the internet. They’re making a living at this.

As for Pinterest, I believe I understand the theory of the problem, but I don’t see the theory playing out. The #1 content on Pinterest is DIYs. If I’m on Pinterest and see a DIY I want to try, I’m going to click through to find the full instructions. If I click through and it doesn’t seem to go to the DIY post, but I really want that DIY, a quick search will find the source. I just don’t see this as a big problem. Do you feel people are using Pinterest to take credit for other people’s work? If that’s happening, I’m not seeing it. I see people promoting other people’s work.

It makes me think of one of your earlier examples: “Here’s an idea. How about a blog where I just lift the best of everyone’s content – writing, photos, everyone. Sometimes I’ll link, sometimes not (altho linking at that point wouldn’t be helpful).”

I know this exact thing happens. I’ve seen it happen to my very own content, and it simply doesn’t bother me. My current business model is based on traffic. Am I receiving less traffic if they repost my content? Nope. And if they partially post my content, and then link back, I might even receive more traffic. And if they have amazing taste and find the very best blog posts from among the millions of blogs out there that I don’t have time to read, then I would probably LOVE that blog.

I think the sharing-of-ideas-freely over the last decade (including Pinterest) has spurred creation and creativity overall, not stifled it.

I’m so sorry to hear about your baker friend. How devastating! But I hope we can save small business insurance discussions (as an entrepreneur, something I care about!) for another post.

22 holly November 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Yeah, I’m not just talking about the movement from traditional to digital but the next step which is murkier. The “aggregator” movement. For example, from itunes to spotify/pandora. And valuing content, not just exposure/content.

Here’s a specific example, for every 10,000 plays I have on spotify, I get 10 dollars. Spotify would say those people are then going to buy your track. Evidence does not support this idea. Well, they’ll come to your show. And, I guess they think, buy CDs out of my guitar case. Ugh. It’s condescending on some level.

I guess if your business is only about traffic it works. But most of us have to convert to sales at some point.

You’d have to license an awful lot of tracks to make a living imo. I see how it’s good for you — as a consumer – to license tracks. Music is far cheaper than it has ever been. It’s never been hard to license music, but it’s never been this cheap. Most artists would have to license a track every other day to make that work. In addition to composing, recording, doing the sales, legwork, etc.

PS, Almondine had small business insurance, it’s just not as helpful as youd think in a flood.

23 Isabel @alphamom November 9, 2012 at 10:21 am

i agree!

It bothers me that lots of sites have discovered that Pinterest delivers traffic and they have started “curating” in order to siphon traffic from original content owners.

Whenever I find something i want to pin i go as far back to the original content creator, not the “curator.” (BTW– Tumblr is a big prob too). I have also recently published my site policies (which I have always just shared via email when requested), and made them a bit stricter for usage of pictures of our original content. I used to allow for use of two pics, now only one. Also, i explicitly don’t allow for modification of photos like adding banners and text over the photos because it gives the impression that the photos belong to them.

I also have listed that no idea info can be used with our photos (i have always had this policy). Some sites think they are so clever. They ask for use of your photo(s) then list the supplies or, at worse, rewrite/translate your directions “in their own words.”

They always try to hide behind the “pshaw, but we’re linking to you!” claim. PLEASE. I got your number. Don’t try and pull that nonsense on me.

You want to link up? Great, post one picture and an attributed link (with your own editorial commentary like– “look, how great”) and that’s it.



24 Design Mom November 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm

You’re such an excellent blogging model, Isabel! The community is lucky to have you. I think you’re so smart to think about, decide on, and publish a specific photo usage policy and content usage policy.

I imagine simply stating publicly what your policy is deters many people (not all!) who would otherwise take it.

I hope the unwelcome taking of content slowed down since you instituted the policy.


25 kpriss November 9, 2012 at 6:39 am

exactly! Gifts ideas, party ideas, surprises ideas ;) I even have one following that I didn’t want to forget and pinned it anyway in one of the boards. Hopefully I’ll get away with it.

So yeah – basically very personal stuff and surprises / gifts related pins.

oh, and: wow! +20k followers! <3
just in case, I'm here:


26 Design Mom November 9, 2012 at 7:45 am

Just followed you!


27 Deborah November 9, 2012 at 7:07 am

I was so excited about this! I already set up a board for holiday gifts. I’ll also use it for party planning without all of our guests knowing what the party will look like before they get there, and future business ideas.


28 melissa November 9, 2012 at 7:47 am

thanks for introducing this to me! i love this idea. as an avid pinterest user, there are certain boards i’d like to creat that could serve as my personal note board. genius.


29 Robin @ Our Semi Organic Life November 9, 2012 at 7:55 am

I was personally excited when I found this yesterday! There are always pins I find ‘for the future’ but resist pinning. Now I can and it’ll just be for me!


30 Becca November 9, 2012 at 8:00 am

Thanks for the heads-up about private boards. Who knows how long it would have been before I noticed them on my own!

I honestly just had a thought last night that I wish I could make a private board for things I want to get back to. A list of Christmas picture books that I’d like to compare against my own list, the TED talk about introverts that was linked on Design Mom yesterday, and an article about teaching honesty to young children are all going to be added to my first private board. And I love the idea of using another for gift ideas for my husband and sisters.


31 rachel swartley November 9, 2012 at 8:02 am

I was pleasantly surprised to discover secret boards yesterday!

Recently I’ve been thinking about DIYing some art for the nursery, and I’ve been looking on the web for inspiration. But… I’ve been paranoid about pinning the images to a public board, because I’m afraid someone will buy one of the wallhangings for me, when really it was just the style of the border or font or color scheme that caught my eye. :) Secret boards to the rescue!


32 Becca November 9, 2012 at 9:57 am

Your comment reminds me that I’ve realized two different friends were pregnant before they were “officially announcing,” just because they were suddenly pinning nursery and baby stuff. The secret boards would be better for keeping that secret.


33 Design Mom November 9, 2012 at 10:10 am

Good point!


34 Deborah Beau November 9, 2012 at 8:03 am

I am absolutely delighted! Yes, it will make life so much easier, no more long lists of bookmarks for me, I’m a visual person, I need to see images. I’m in heaven! Have a great weekend.


35 Karissa Ferguson November 9, 2012 at 8:05 am

so thrilled about these! i will definitely use one for a business dream i have and maybe another for all the baby stuff that since i don’t have babies yet maybe i don’t want everyone to see how crazy excited i am about having babies one day, especially don’t want them to start thinking this weight gain in my middle is a little growing. i’ve had that awkward moment before and don’t want it again! ha


36 Kristin November 9, 2012 at 8:06 am

Gift ideas for fellow family pinners! How exciting!


37 sarah p November 9, 2012 at 8:38 am

I private board I would use would be about dealing with health concerns that perhaps I wouldn’t want everybody to know about! I also like having one about gifts and parties. Sometimes its nice to have a secret!


38 Michelle Torres November 9, 2012 at 8:43 am

I was just invited this morning to use my private boards, I am not positive as of yet what I will use them for but I think it is a pretty cool feature myself, maybe I could use it for idea’s of giving to friends and family without them knowing…


39 amy c November 9, 2012 at 8:54 am

I am so excite about this too!


40 Katy November 9, 2012 at 9:24 am

Oh yay! I have been posting to private boards for a while with – this will be a lot easier to keep everything in one place.


41 Anna November 9, 2012 at 9:25 am

My girl’s group at church could have used this recently. We set up a pinterest board to “vote” on crafts for our next meeting. There were 4 options and we would “like” the one we wanted to do… but then lots of other people started liking them, too! lol


42 Carter Higgins November 9, 2012 at 9:44 am

I have been a teeny tiny bit Pinterest resistant…only because of the pretty pictures rabbit hole and I have no control around pretty pictures.


I’m excited for private boards since I’m writing a book (aren’t we all!) I’d use them to work out character and setting details and visual influences — all without giving any secrets away!


43 Azra November 9, 2012 at 9:54 am

Great! I can’t wait to start using the secret boards… maybe for something that is really relevant to me only.

I follow you. Here is mine:

Pinterest is just a great resource!


44 Jen @ RamblingRenovators November 9, 2012 at 9:59 am

I’m not sure what I’ll use them for yet – probably blog post ideas, inspiration for my latest DIY or renovation project, and maybe ideas for my latest book. I do love that you can share private boards too… planning a surprise birthday party with your siblings? Collecting decor ideas with your husband? Its a great way to share (at least with a chosen few).


45 Sarah Barksdale Design November 9, 2012 at 10:02 am

Thank you for sharing! I didnt know that private boards were available but I am so glad that they are. Sometime, you need to ponder an idea or inspiration before you are ready to share it with the world


46 Kristi C November 9, 2012 at 10:40 am

I was so thrilled when I found out about private boards! I wish I had them when I was planning my wedding earlier this year. I’ll be using it for gift ideas, and for collecting things ‘for the future’ so no one thinks I’m expecting when I’m not.


47 Jenni Bailey November 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm

This might sound a little snooty but I plan to use my private boards for the things that I see on Pinterest and want to remember but don’t necessarily want to co-sign as part of my personal “brand.” For example, cleaning tips or crafts that are poorly photographed. I like the way my boards look and I try to keep them consistent – for my own satisfaction if nothing else – and I have passed on many a pin that just didn’t fit the look. I’m not using Pinterest as a money making part of my business efforts but I still feel like, if I’m going to put my name on something, it should be something I really believe to be beautiful.

Now that I re-read that, I’m afraid it sounds a lot snooty. I hope not. Because creating pinnable content (with great photography) is a growing skill and I’m really encouraged by how much GOOD stuff is on there. It’s just not 100% yet.


48 Design Mom November 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Not snooty! I totally know what you mean. Historically, I have used my “like” button that way. I might like something instead of pin it so that it doesn’t show up on my boards. (But I know it still shows up in my likes — so it’s not ideal.)


49 Kari November 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm

A baby board so people will stop assuming I’m pregnant. So annoying! Especially when I don’t want to share that we are trying or had a miscarriage or something.


50 Caddy November 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm

As a great lover of Pinterest I’m thrilled about the new private pin boards! But I’m still too shy to say what I’d put on mine though I’m working out some ideas. I’m enjoying reading everyone else’s comments though.


51 julie November 9, 2012 at 9:19 pm

I love this idea and I’m very grateful to Ben! I like to take time to slowly ponder collections sometimes, and this will be a great meditation place before I decide to share with others.


52 Bonnie @ the pin junkie November 11, 2012 at 11:10 am

I’m using one of my secret boards for ideas of gifts I’d like to buy or make for other people. I’m not sure what I’m using my other two secret boards for yet.


53 PinonCoffee November 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I think I’m going to use one of my private boards for exercise routines. :-) I feel it’s slightly indelicate to talk about exercise (ahem) in public. Strange, I know.

My husband the attorney says about the secret boards: “and in 3… 2… 1… ‘What do you mean you can subpoena those pinboards?!’” Apparently he keeps coming across people who don’t realize things they post on Facebook can be used against them in court. So there you have another perspective on Pinterest!


54 Liz November 11, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I was so excited about the secret boards when I got the email. It allows me to collect baby related pins without letting anybody in on the fact that I am pregnant.


55 Meg November 12, 2012 at 5:15 am

I’ve ear marked mine for presents for people! Now I can direct them to my wishlists without fear they’ll see something for themselves ;)


56 Jess November 14, 2012 at 3:41 am

Secret boards were my tipping point – I’ve finally got Pinterest! I’ve been thinking about it as somewhere to gather/share all the best things I come across, so I’m super excited. It’s celebration themed :) If you click on my name it’ll take you through.

And I’ll probably use the secret boards to bookmark DIYs and recipes which look awesome, but I haven’t tried yet (I feel like I can’t endorse if I haven’t tested. Is that odd?), or really cool things which we’re in the wrong season for (“Oh. My. Best Halloween idea ever! But it’s February …”)


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