Pinterest and Instagram for Writers (Yes. Really.)

As much as I love language and believe in the magic of the written word, I must admit that we humans are innately visual creatures living in a visually driven era. From print magazines to television, film, and now social media, our world is consumed via highly visual mediums that use images to attract attention, convey information, and tell stories.

We writers can’t be blamed for being somewhat affronted by this state of affairs. For those of us who love to read and write, society’s general disdain for the written word can feel like a personal insult.  In my work as a copywriter and content marketer, I am often forced to concede that the best solutions require less text and more visuals. Brevity and the ability to marry words and images have become indispensible skills in today’s communication arts.

As a writer, you may resist embracing the visual. You may feel a responsibility to defend the bastions of the literary arts by eschewing social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram, sites that are driven almost exclusively by (mere) images.

Don’t be silly.

Once upon a time, stories were told using only pictures (think prehistoric cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphics). The truth is that there are countless stories just waiting to be discovered in the images all around us. And you can use images to help explore, capture, and promote your own stories.

Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking how you might use platforms like Pinterest and Instagram in your writing practice. I’ve also included links to other, much more comprehensive resources that will provide additional inspiration, examples, and how-to information.

I hope you have fun exploring and give the visual platforms a chance. You never know. It might actually make your writing that much better!

Pinterest

pinterest

Do Research and Get Inspiration:

Create a private board (one only you can see) where you can collect images for a particular story. Searching through Pinterest’s vast archives, you can find pictures of settings, characters, and objects to help you describe and “flesh out” the world of your imagination.

Here’s a screen grab from my Magic, Mystery, and Fairytales board:

pinterest fairytales

Find Like-Minded People:

Are you into steampunk? Medieval romance? Space opera? Whatever your interests, there are people on Pinterest who have amassed impressive collections of related images. Create your own public boards on these topics and you’ll start finding and connecting with people who share your interests and may, eventually, be interested in your stories.

Here’s a screen grab from my Steampunk board:

pinterest steampunk

Learn Stuff:

Pinterest is a great place to collect resources, find new ideas, and explore solutions to all kinds of problems. There are profiles and boards dedicated to writing inspiration, editing tips, self publishing, and countless other writing- and publishing-related topics. Dig in!

Here are some infographics from a board called Useful Tips for Authors and Publishers:

pinterest tips

Promote Your Work:

Pinterest may seem like a silly guilty pleasure, but it has proven itself to be a marketing powerhouse. Creative folks on commerce sites like Etsy have found great success (and profit!) by using Pinterest to drive people to their online stores. You can use Pinterest to drive people to your blog or website. By using a combination of thematic and directly promotional posts, you can help increase awareness about your work. For instance, if you write gothic romances, you might create several thematic boards that have to do with gothic stories, styles, characters, and architecture, etc. When people interested in these images look you up, they will read in your bio that  you are an author of gothic stories and will be able to link to your website or blog. You can also be more direct by creating images that are specifically about your stories.

Here’s are some of the boards compiled and curated by author Kami Garcia, the writer behing the NYT bestselling Legion series among other works. She does a great job balancing directly promotional pins with thematically relevant ones:

pinterest kami garcia

Additional Blog Posts and Online Resources about Pinterest for Writers:

Instagram

instagram icon

Discover Visual Writing Prompts:

I am an unapologetic Instagram addict. I love seeing all the different images that people share. From people to animals to art, from locations all around the globe, my Instagram feed is a veritable treasure trove of hidden stories. Just take a look at these provocative images from the wearegrryo account:

instagram shoes

instagram boys

instagram doginstagram book girl

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The creators of this curated account recently posted this along with the above photo collage of the girl with a book:

While historically Grryo has given the space for photographers to tell stories of true life, Grryo simply means storyteller. So, in the interest of true storytelling, in all it incarnations, Grryo is excited to announce that it will begin taking open submissions for works of fiction. Have a work of fiction you want to share? Short story, essay, poem or haiku? Please submit your words and photos …we’d love to share your stories.

Share Your Writing:

I am discovering more and more writers who are finding unique ways to share their poems and stories via Instagram’s visual platform. Just because the medium is focused on images instead of text doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and combine the two. Riojones7 posts beautiful images of original poems:

instagram riojones

Additional Blog Posts and Online Resources about Instagram for Writers:

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The bottom line is that there is no reason that you, even though you are an artist who paints with words, can’t enjoy and exploit today’s visual means of communication. After all, it’s all stories.

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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Join me each Saturday for the Weekend Edition (a fun post and great community of commenters on the writing life, random musings, writing tips, and good reads), or introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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80 thoughts on “Pinterest and Instagram for Writers (Yes. Really.)

  1. Ha! You’re right, it’s all stories, and besides, it’s fun 🙂 and you’re right, I get readers from my Pinterest account, which always surprises me, but confirms that it’s a pretty powerful place. As well as pretty 🙂

    • It IS fun, isn’t it? I admit that some of my time on Instagram and Pinterest feels very much like a guilty pleasure, but I have learned to surrender to that. After all, if you struggle against it, you won’t be open to the many possibilities. 😉

  2. Just this morning, I was pondering the thought of using Pinterest more to promote my writing. Then just as I sat down to settle in at the computer, I see this post. Thanks for the extra push to pursue something I’ve been avoiding.

  3. Thank you for this post! I was just talking to some writer pals a few days ago about 1) why I’m on Pinterest and Instagram and 2) how you can use those platforms to connect and find new readers. I’m passing the link to this on to them. 🙂

  4. Great post, Jamie! I’ve never had a problem combining visuals with words because I’ve loved painting and pictures since I could hold a crayon in my hand. When I was young (and sometimes still) a story isn’t complete without illustrations. But I can see how many writers may have a hard time combining the two, so these were good ideas.

    I have become quite attached to Pinterest for the fun of it, but I also use it as a platform for some short writings…quotes, poem excerpts, etc. I match something I wrote with a picture and it works wonderfully. I’ve been quite surprised how far one quote or sentiment can travel.

    Thank you for sharing this information. I plan on looking into everything you mentioned here.

    Blessings,
    Marianne

    • Thanks for sharing, Marianne. Your paintings are lovely.
      I hope you have a good time exploring all the other possibilities within Pinterest … and maybe even Instagram.
      😉

    • I love it when the lights come on. 😉
      Pinterest is a bit of an enigma in the beginning, but once you find your groove, it can be quite useful as well as fun.

      Enjoy!

  5. This last year, I finally realized the potential of Pinterest–and I agree that it is very useful for a variety of reasons. I do a lot of DIY, and it’s been so useful to find projects and goods I want to do and make where I can just pin it to my board and go back to it when I’m ready. I’ve also found the same with my NPO–there’s a lot of great shares for ideas, inspiration, etc. What’s also great is that there will be a direct link to the website it came from with the actual information, so it’s truly like an online pin-board.

    • I agree!

      I’ve also found private boards to be useful for collecting ideas and information that I may not necessarily want to share, but which I still want to have handy for my own references.

      Although, I do have a public board called “Cool Crafts I’ll Never Make.”
      😉

  6. I have an instagram and pinterest account, but never really thought about using them to promote my writing and blog. I’ll have to make separate accounts and see how I can make them work for me. Thanks for the insight! Some of the pictures from those accounts were pretty rad, btw.

    • 🙂
      TKS. Glad you like my pics. Pinterest has been a great source of inspiration for me, and Instagram as well. I love the depth and breadth of images available on Pinterest and the chance to be creative on Instagram. It’s all good for the artistic soul.

  7. Thank you so much Jamie for this. Though I had got the general idea with Pinterest I have been struggling a little to see how Instagram could be used effectively. You have provided no end of help and advice, which appreciate.

  8. Thanks for this great post! And in the Department of Synchronicity, my post for tomorrow is about Blogging with Photos. Maybe it’s the snow blanketing us with similar inspiration!

  9. This is so true. I don’t do much with pictures yet, but I have started to include a voice recording of poems I am posting on my blog (good response so far). I’m thinking of doing more with video for visual stuff – spent time this weekend watching youtube videos on how to do that. Turns out it’s not a difficult as I thought.

    • Hello, Andrew! 🙂

      Audio is another great way to add dimension and diversity to your written works. I’ve played around a bit with audio here on Live to Write – Write to Live, and I’m very intrigued by the possibility of doing my own podcast. (I love listening to other people’s podcasts.)

      I’m a bit daunted by video, but am encouraged to hear that you’ve found it’s not as difficult as it seems. Maybe it’ll be something else I’ll explore this year!

      Good luck with your adventures.

      • Give it a shot. With all the tools out there, it’s easier than I thought it would be. and I think the crew here could do an awesome podcast. I’d be your first listener.

  10. Thanks for this post! I’ve always been a little envious of the beautiful Instagram images friends post (and my children’s ease in using it). Clearly, I need to re-activate my Instagram account.

    • I know what you mean, Debbie. I am very impressed by the quality and creativity I see on Instagram. My favorite photo editing app (by far) is Snapseed – super easy. It’s my go-to app for nearly all my edits, though I will then sometimes use a second app to add certain effects. My latest find (and fun addiction) is a photo editing app called Aviary – TONS of very cool filters + all the basic stuff like cropping, color and brightness adjustments, vignettes, etc. It’s almost meditative once you get the hang of the tools. 😉 (At least, that’s what I tell myself.)

  11. I love Pinterest, but it’s now got to the stage where it won’t be properly useful to me until we can have boards within boards or multiple accounts. I have boards for travel, fashion, interior design, recipes, stationery and writing, and it’s too disorganised for me, let alone for anyone who might look at my boards.

    • I agree that there aren’t as many organizational tools as I might like. I have thought many times about breaking my boards down into smaller, more niche topics. For instance, I have a board called “Life and Stuff” which is where I keep all kinds of quotes. But, that board has gotten a bit unwieldy. I’ve thought about repinning everything in there into new boards that are sort of sub categories – Life – Inspiration, Life – Courage, Life – Dreams, etc. But then I think I’d rather be writing and it’s good enough the way it is.
      😉

  12. Thanks for all the tips and the other resources/blogs. I love Pinterest and only a few months ago combined my love of ‘quotes’ with my blog. I pick out a quote from my blog and photo, then “pin” it. Not having a lot of sharing, so I look forward to reading more about this!

    • It all depends. I’ve seen art and heard music that moved me to tears. Words are my drug of choice, so to speak, but I think the power of any expression depends on the artist and the person experiencing the art … the who, what, where, when, and why … the context and the moment.

  13. Like, like, like it. Just starting “investigating” Instagram. Opened a Pinterest account awhile back but afraid it might be too addictive so I tend to shy away from it. Got the visual bug too. Love the links to other articles as well. Thank you, Jamie!

    • You’re very welcome, Laura.
      Pinterest (I almost just wrote “Pinstagram” … I’m inventing my own platform!) was definitely addictive for me for a while. I felt like I needed a 12-step program. But, eventually, my bright-eyed fervor wore down to a dull shine and now I can come and go from those digital boards as I please.

      Be strong. You can do it. 😉

  14. Pingback: Wednesday Reblog | Leigh Michaels

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