Today we are talking with Meighan O’Toole about using Pinterest as an artist to build your business. Meighan’s focus is helping creative businesses define, establish, and build their businesses online, which tends to be very difficult for creatives.

Large paint brushes with various colors of paint and text overlay "Is Pinterest the place for Artists?".

Using Pinterest as an Artist to Build Your Business

From Boutique to Business Consultant

Meighan is a self-proclaimed late bloomer when it comes to the world of the internet. She was employed as a manager and buyer in an upscale boutique in San Francisco in 2005 when she purchased her first computer. Her goal was to own her own boutique one day.

But that computer purchase would completely change the trajectory of Meighan’s life. She discovered blogging and quickly developed a huge following on the art blog she had started. In 2010, that blog had had over 3 million views. She began a podcast, and had huge followings on every social media platform she joined.

In 2010, she was approached by Yahoo to work for them on their social media presence. She has also worked at Wikipedia, and for Wired magazine. But corporate tech was not for her. She wanted to “get back to her people.”

Getting laid off from her job at Wired forced her hand. At that time, everyone told her that she needed to do the job she had been doing, but as a consultant. Since then, she has been helping small businesses figure out how to establish themselves online.

The Early Days of Pinterest

If you listened to last week’s episode with Lauren from Six Sisters Stuff, you heard her talk about how frustrated she and her sisters were to find their own photos on Pinterest when it first came on the scene. Meighan had the identical experience. After receiving an invite to join Pinterest in 2010, she joined immediately, only to discover many of her images from her art blog all over the platform.

When she first started out on Pinterest, Meighan was just using Pinterest for personal pinning. Then in 2014, she made some major diet changes and began Pinterest to search for recipes. She wasn’t using it for business at all, but she started to notice that some of her colleagues were “killing it” on the platform. At that point, she knew that it was time to go all in.

I had always seen Pinterest as a way to share pretty things…not share content.”~Meighan O’Toole

Meighan knew she had to figure it out, so she started to carefully watch what others were doing and began to apply those same strategies on her own account. She used tutorials that other bloggers were sharing (for example, how to hide images in a blog post). She also began creating images for all of her blog posts and  converted to a business account. She did things like putting her business boards at the top of her page.

And in 2014, she saw her website traffic grow by almost 400%. Her Pinterest followers alone grew by 360%.

How Artists View Pinterest

If an artist’s works can be pinned by anybody and everybody, are the artists concerned about their work being stolen? Are they worried about copyright issues?

Meighan has had the opportunity to work with a lot of artists, and she knows the frustration that they feel when they see their works being shared without permission. After 12 years of creating online content, she is all too familiar with having content stolen and shared under someone else’s name.

There are a couple of things you can to do to try to protect yourself though.

  • Put your logo on your images.
  • Watermark your images (but not right across the center of your image).

Meighan doesn’t like to see people get too bent out of shape over image theft. The internet is a big place, and you simply can’t control everything that happens there. The best thing to do is just relax and understand that some people do wrong things, and you can’t stop them all.

collection of colorful paint saturated paint brushes.

Tips for Artists Getting Started on Pinterest

  • Have a business profile. You get more data on your account, you get benefits like rich pins, and you are playing by Pinterest’s rules.
  • Put a pin-it button on your blog. We are visual creatures, so make it easy for your readers. Use it (and make sure it actually works).
  • Enable rich pins. People aren’t writing copy on the pins they save, but rich pins provide the information. Provide correct information in your alt tags.

*I have a guide to rich pins right here…check it out!

Common Mistakes

Meighan gets to see firsthand the successes that artists make. But she also sees the mistakes. Here are a few of the more common ones she’s seen-

  • The Rabbit Hole. Come on, you know you’ve done it. You go to Pinterest to pin some content and 3 hours later, you come up for air and you haven’t shared the first piece of  content. Schedule your pins.
  • Inconsistency. Just 10 minutes a day can provide you with some really great benefits, but pinning a few today and nothing for days or weeks will only hurt you.
  • Only pinning your own content. You can’t just talk about your own stuff. You need to be sharing value with your followers.

On Pinterest, ask yourself:

What experience are you offering the people who follow you?

Patience for the Long Haul

I know you have heard me say it a thousand times, but Meighan repeats it in this episode. Pinterest is a long game. Gone are the days when you could get amazing feedback on the very day you post something. You have to take the long view.

Don’t dwell on minutiae. Daily stats are minutiae. Ask yourself what realistic growth for you would look like. Two to five percent growth per month, or even per quarter, is a realistic number to shoot for. But if you’re looking at that every single day, that’s going to seem really small.

You aren’t doing anything wrong if you don’t see thousands of new followers every month. Stay connected with other people so that you keep learning. And cut yourself some slack…running a business is hard work. ~Meighan O’Toole

Connect with Meighan

The Podcast Meighan mentioned:

Interview with Emily McDowell

Time Stamp

Intro- From Boutique to Business Consultant
11:30 Early Days of Pinterest
16:00 How Artists View Pinterest
24:15 Tips for Artists Getting Started on Pinterest
29:17 Common Mistakes
33:40 Patience for The Long Haul


  1. I listened to your podcast on Pinterest for artists. Good info. Maybe next time you can give ideas of creative ways to present your artwork. E.g mockups, or some sort of blog post about your art. Thanks for the info. I think my biggest issue patience!

    1. Patience is a huge one! That’s a good idea. I’ll pin Meighan here and see if she has any thoughts.

    2. Hi Sacha! Thanks for listening. I would recommend doing photoshoots – getting props that represent your brand, and taking a whole bunch of photos. Also, one of the best things about social media is there’s no reinventing the wheel! Take a look around at other artists and see what they’re pinning and what they’re images look like. Inspiration abounds!

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