Your mind is probably swirling with questions about idea pins on Pinterest: what’s the point, do I have to, what does Pinterest want from us?! After reading this Pinterest idea pins guide, you’ll understand what idea pins are all about and will be able to immediately start designing successful idea pins for your brand.

Whether you like ’em or hate ’em, the story feature is becoming ubiquitous on online sharing platforms. It’s infiltrated Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn (even though it was ultimately taken away), and now even our beloved Pinterest.

FYI: This feature was previously called “story pins” and is sometimes still referred to as a story!

Pinterest reps have even gone so far as to say that with the introduction of idea pins, this is the “start of a new Pinterest.*”

It’s time to put feelings and frustrations aside and get on board with idea pins on Pinterest.

I know many creators are feeling bitter about incorrect account suspension, low reach and wild spam filters on Pinterest.

The massive push to make idea pins without blanket access has added another log to the bonfire of frustration that many users are huddled around.

There have been a lot of questions, and this Pinterest idea pins guide is here to answer all of them.

This is a loooong Pinterest idea pins guide – use the table of contents to navigate, and pause now to pin on Pinterest so you can find it later.

Important note: In October 2020, Pinterest hosted a virtual summit called the Pinterest Creators Festival. In this Pinterest idea pins guide, I reference information from the festival so frequently that I won’t source it each time. I will indicate that information derived from the Pinterest Creators Festival with an asterisk*.

Idea Pins on Pinterest: Intro & FAQs

Let’s start with the elephant in the room and kick this Pinterest idea pin guide off with the frequently asked questions.

1. What is an Idea pin?

An idea pin is a swipeable pin with several pages that a pinner flips through.

Unlike standard pins that would just be a teaser to click through to a creator’s website, idea pins don’t have a link built-in, and the pinner is supposed to get all of the information they need from it.

Creators are able to add links in the description, but Pinterest’s exact words on this are:

“Avoid adding links in your copy. By keeping your idea pin link-free, you will drive on-platform engagement and grow your audience on Pinterest and beyond.*

*There’s that asterisk I warned you about, meaning that this piece of information is derived from the October 2020 Pinterest Creator’s Festival. You’re going to see a lot of those.

2. Why, just why?

I know – if it ain’t broke. Why did idea pins arise when, pre-2020 algorithm changes, Pinterest was working great for creators to drive website traffic?

Well, Pinterest said it themselves: “We’re making it easier for creators who are eager to share their talent, passions and creativity to flow back directly into Pinterest without the need for a website. (source)

Who could this directly benefit? Influencers. Pinterest is trying to tap into the influencer market with this feature.

Hiring a Pinterest manager to make idea pins for you? Here’s everything you need to know before pulling the trigger.

“The start of a new Pinterest*”

Many influencers don’t run websites and thrive on in-app use to create, connect and make money.

Let’s look at an influencer’s Instagram account: the focus is generally on them. Or, ya know, a hedgehog that travels the world. But it’s individual-centered.

Idea pins are supposed to “help bring people much more to the forefront of the Pinterest experience.” (source)

Another indication that Pinterest is lovestruck for the influencer market is their comment that idea pins will “reach pinners looking for inspirational ideas and people to follow.” (source)

Following has never played a large role in a creator’s success on Pinterest. Maybe that’s not changing, but that statement sure makes me wonder.

“This is the first time creators can publish directly on Pinterest and build their audience on the platform. It’s the start of a new Pinterest.*

They tout idea pins as an opportunity to “build an audience right on the platform.*”

A new Pinterest, indeed.

Buy templates and start publishing today?

3. What’s the ROI for creators to use Idea pins?

This question from creators, especially those who have had mega-success using Pinterest to drive website traffic, is completely fair.

Without a link and promise of website traffic, what’s the return on investment (ROI) for creators to use idea pins?

As a new business owner that’s still learning, is investing in idea pins a good use of my time?

There are some creators who are boycotting idea pins outright because it seems like tricking creators into making content exclusively for Pinterest that won’t offer them anything tangible in return.

In my honest opinion, that is a real risk if you don’t use this new feature well.

You may also like: Pinterest Troubleshooting Tips

Idea pins that aren’t highly visual, resonating with viewers and well-optimized might not bring good returns on the time investment. But that’s exactly what this Pinterest idea pins guide is here to help you avoid.

What IS the return on investment for creators using idea pins?

  • Increased brand reach, especially when idea pins are still new and Pinterest is boosting them in the algorithm
  • Tapping into the advantages of being an early adopter. idea pins are not yet searchable, but if you lay the groundwork in the niche now, you may see great results once the search feature is enabled.
  • In a time of a volatile algorithm, feed the beast what it wants. Creators can boycott idea pins, but deep down they know that they’re still trying to do the exact same thing: feed the beast (the algorithm) what it wants

Pinterest is pushing idea pins HARD, and their stocks are soaring. It doesn’t look like they’ll be drastically changing their tune anytime soon when they’re flourishing more than ever.

laptop with a cup of tea and a notebook

4. How do users find the Idea pins I create?

The idea pins you create can be found on your account, in the home feed, the today feed and will be searchable.

Notice that they’re not searchable now – you can tell this because you see idea pins in your home feed but not search results.

Imagine the search feature is turned on tomorrow, and your content already being made and optimized, waiting for your audience. There’s still time to get in at the ground floor with idea pins.

You may also like: Where To SHARE Your Pinterest Account Off-Platform

5. How important are they?

For creators seeing low reach on static pins, idea pins on Pinterest may be your ticket to reaching your readers right away.

“Publishing [idea] pins regularly will help you build your native audience right on Pinterest and allow you to engage with them in real-time.*”

This real-time engagement comment suggests that idea pins get higher initial reach, versus regular pins, which take time to build-up in the algorithm.

Perhaps this will change with time, as idea pins on Pinterest have already changed so much in their short lifetime. But after publishing dozens of idea pins myself, I’m seeing this trend as well: idea pins have a very high initial reach.

Maybe you don’t like idea pins. Maybe you do.

But it’s a noteworthy reminder that no online platform will stay the same. If the new charge wasn’t idea pins, it was just going to be something else then.

Even if it means more work for you and having to learn some new tricks, it behooves creators to move with the changing tides and evolve with the platform.

Want feedback on your entire Pinterest strategy? Get a Pinterest account audit:

Screenshot of Pinterest analytics up 485% with text that reads "1-on-1 Pinterest audit"
Have total confidence in your strategy moving foward

6. What exactly are we expected to do with Idea pins?

A big question that’s been on every creator’s mind this past year has been “what does Pinterest WANT?!” *screams into the Grand Canyon, antelopes lift their heads from munching on grass*

Pinterest themselves have described the purpose of idea pins as “giving people more ways to share ideas.” (source)

I challenge you to find a more ambiguous way to describe a new product in your business! Ya can’t.

However, between a number of interviews, they had shared some valuable information so far:

  • They want us to use video (source)
  • Specifically, video as the first slide. Pinterest describes using a video as your first page as “your best chance at standing out.*”
  • They prefer creators using at least 5 of the 20 pages is preferred (source)
  • Show pinners where to go with a call to action at the end (source)

It’s almost as if they were intentionally vague because they wanted creators to each do something different with idea pins on Pinterest. Which leads me to the last point…

  • They want you to experiment

If you were hoping that this Pinterest idea pins guide would offer you complete clarity on what Pinterest wants, I think that the previous sentence sums it up, albeit in a vague way.

Pinterest is emphasizing that idea pins are a new way to connect and display your ideas, so try new things. Be experimental. Throw a lot of idea pins to the wall and see what sticks.

With the big-picture questions answered, now it’s time to dive into idea pin topics, designing your idea pins for success and how to optimize them.

You may also like: How To Use Pinterest (For Beginners)


8 Types Of Idea Pins Your Brand Can Make Today

After reading this Pinterest idea pins guide, you will understand all of the essential elements of a successful idea pin, but content will always be queen. What are your idea pins saying? What are they offering readers?

After this section of the Pinterest idea pins guide, I’ll show you how to design your idea pins for success, optimize them correctly and case studies of users having tangible success.

1. The Listicle Idea Pin

listicle story pin on Pinterest example

Perhaps the bread and butter of content marking is the listicle. Use a listicle idea pin to teach or explain something abstract: as in, not physical such as how to make a cake or fix a broken zipper, that’s the next type of idea pin.

Offer ideas or tips, steps, benefits, risks, mistakes to avoid – the opportunities are endless.

Listicles idea pin ideas can easily derive from current blog posts you have. Personally, I like to reverse engineer mine: I start with an idea pin for quick idea generation and move onto fleshing it out as a blog post.

Examples of listicle idea pins:

This process has helped me quickly churn out a number of my latest blog posts, such as Want To Become A Digital Nomad? Do This Now and Are You Sleepwalking Through Life? Mantras For Conscious Living.

Propagate your Pinterest idea pins: Turn each idea pin into a blog post, Instagram story or newsletter! Or ALL of it. Every content creator should master the art of propagation. Learn how to turn your Instagram reels into idea pins here.

Listicle idea pin ideas for your brand:

  • 3 things you didn’t know were in your tea bags
  • 12 tax write-offs for small businesses you shouldn’t overlook
  • Don’t backpack through Latin America until you’ve read these 8 tips

2. The How-To Idea Pin

I’d reckon that the majority of idea pins fit into the category, and are either crafts/DIY idea pins or recipes. However, there’s an opportunity here for every business type.

Examples of how-to idea pins on Pinterest:

  • How to SEO your blog posts in 6 steps { see this idea pin }
  • How to remove armpit stains for your t-shirts { see this idea pin }
    • Writing From Nowhere actually started as an eco-blog, so that’s where this type of content comes from! I actually don’t love sharing it because it’s the worst idea pin I’ve published, but it is one of the highest-performing idea pins I’ve had.

How-to idea pin ideas for product-based businesses:

  • How to clean your product
  • How to individualize/customize your product
  • How to keep your menstrual cup from discoloring

How-to idea pin ideas for lifestyle brands:

  • How to raise less materialistic kids
  • How to secretly turn your household vegan
  • How to quit using shampoo

Pause: Is any of this feeling over your head? If you need to go back to the basics on Pinterest, consider a Pinterest course. Most courses are full of fluffy material that you can already find for free online. The ONLY one that I recommend is Pinterest Popular by Nadalie Bardo:

Flat lay of Pinterest course materials: a computer screen with course modules, an iPad with a workbook, an iPhone with a video. Text on the image reads "Learn from Pinterest Popular, the only Pinterest course I recommend."
This course will take you from beginner-level to scaling. Follow the 90-day plan for perfect execution!

3. Behind-The-Scenes Idea Pin

This is the place to focus on your company Ps: process, products and people.

Let people peek behind the curtain. It’s human nature to be curious, so why not feed into your viewers curiosities that they may have about you or your company?

A good way to reverse-engineer behind-the-scenes idea pins for your brand is to ask yourself: what would you love to know about your favorite brand? What their office looks like? The first sketch of the product that you’ve come to love?

Use your own curiosities as a guide to creating behind-the-scenes idea pins that really resonate with people.

Behind-the-scenes idea pin ideas for your brand:

  • The evolution of the your product: first sketches to the product you love today
  • How a your product is made
  • What it’s like creating your own product line from scratch

4. The Day-In-The-Life Idea Pin

This is less about the product and more about the lifestyle that symbolizes your brand.

Showing viewers what your day is like will build that same connectivity as showing them behind the scenes of your biz, but it’s even more powerful in my opinion.

People don’t buy from companies – they buy from people. It’s a cliché that I’m sure you’d heard many times before, but it’s never been truer than it is now.

This really gets at the heart of the story feature in general, across all platforms: show users your actual life.

Showing a day in your life also taps into another group of viewers: people who want your job.

Haven’t you ever asked yourself, “what do bloggers / fashion designers / professional knitters do all day?!”

It’s the reason reality TV shows, vlogging and stories are popular. We are curious about how other people spend their time, and we try to picture ourselves in their shoes.

Not only is this type of content popular, it’s powerful.

A day-in-the-life idea pin is an absolute must for lifestyle brands and service-based biz owners. It’s also exactly what Pinterest has told us they want creators to do with idea pins: bring people to the center.*

Ideas of what to cover:

  • Alarm or no alarm? Start from the very beginning of your day.
  • Daily rituals. Do you start every day with stretches or journaling? How has it impacted your success as a business owner? Be authentic and remember to show your real self, not your ideal self.
  • Your morning beverage. Coffee or tea? What kind of smoothie do you make?
  • Breakfast of choice?
  • Surprising details? In my day-in-the-life idea pin, I shared that I spend time looking for clients on Facebook. That often surprises people.
  • Your commute? This is also a way to show viewers your local culture

You get the idea: feed our curiosity!

Day-in-the-life idea pin ideas for your brand:

  • A day in the life of a professional knitter: Not what you’d expect
  • Tag along through my day as a celebrity assistant
  • Ever wonder what actors do when they’re not on-screen?

5. Answer Your Own Question

answer your own questions story pins on Pinterest examples

This “answering your own question” type of content has become increasingly popular on Instagram. I bet you’ve seen at least one post like this below:

It’s popular because it’s powerful.

Here are some existing question idea pin examples:

Another way to brainstorm ideas for this idea is to ask yourself: what might a reader google that I can answer?

You may also like: 5 Opportunities Between Google And Pinterest

Answer your own question idea pin ideas for your brand:

  • How do I start freelancing?
  • What if my food is past the expiration date but it still looks fine?
  • How important is winterizing my electric car?
  • Where do I start with wanting to move abroad?

6. The Mental Health Idea Pin

What are the pain points your customers or readers have? What mental health reminders could you offer them around your content topics?

Existing mental health idea pin examples:

Mental health Idea pins offer a few special opportunities to your brand.

The first opportunity is to express genuine care for your readers. Nothing fosters more connection than showing someone that you genuinely care about how they’re doing.

Addressing your reader or customer’s stressors makes for great content marketing for this reason. It speaks to the heart instead of the credit card, which is something most brands need to do more often.

And lastly, you’re tapping into a raging river of search traffic (in a good way). Mental health has been a trending topic on Pinterest in 2020. *everyone pauses to wonder the intricacies behind that trend*

Check out this screenshot from Pinterest Trends:

graphic showing search traffic for 2020

Now, this is a screenshot of the search traffic for “mental health quotes,” because Pinterest only offers data on tagged searches. Meaning, they decide on the topics. It’s not as flexible of a tool as I’d like it to be, but it still has a lot of value and insight to offer us.

I dive deeper into the Pinterest Trends tool in my blog post here: 30 Quick Pinterest Marketing Ideas

Mental health idea pin ideas for your brand:

  • X mental health to-dos for nurses
  • How to stress less about finances
  • Videos of _______ to relieve your Monday stress
    • You sell leather dog collars? Dog collars = Videos of puppies
    • All-natural cleaning products = satisfying cleaning videos
    • Handmade scarves = slow-motion videos of fabric being dyed
    • Bath bombs = a timelapse of your bath bombs in action
    • Farm-fresh eggs = videos of chickens being cute
  • Mental health reminders for stay-at-home moms

7. Mantra Idea Pins

mantra story pins on Pinterest

If this feels woo-woo to you, don’t roll your eyes and keep scrolling yet – pinners love woo-woo.

I do, too. I’m only a little ashamed to say it. Regardless of you how you feel, you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t try to inspire your viewers on Pinterest.

I know what I’m talking about here.

Analyzing what is saved most on Pinterest, I made 2 blog posts with motivational phone wallpapers that both went viral and have been shared more than half a million times. { blog post 1 and blog post 2 }

Existing mantra idea pins:

  • 7 mantras to live by to avoid sleepwalking through life { see this idea pin }
    • This is my account’s most popular idea pin to date!
  • Mantras you need to stay mentally strong while starting your business { see this idea pin }
  • Stressed? Watch this and read these positive mantras { see this idea pin }

A way to reverse engineer this idea pin suggestion is to ask yourself: What do you readers struggle with most? What’s the biggest hurdle that my clients have to success?

Mantra idea pin ideas for your brand:

  • Mantras you need to survive being a new teacher
  • Overwhelmed with finals stress? These mantras are for you
  • Mantras to get you through winter with SAD

8. The Journey Idea Pin

journey story pins on Pinterest

Now, it’s true that every idea pin should take readers on a journey, however, some topics can really capitalize on this concept.

Show us a process, an emotional development, a transformation.

Examples of existing journey idea pins:


The Anatomy of A Successful Pinterest Idea Pin

1. The First Page

Use video on the first page. Pinterest described this as “the best way of breaking through the feed.*”

Audio is optional, but note that the default setting within the Pinterest app and desktop is to have idea pins be muted. If you opt for audio, it should be supplemental and not structural to getting your point across to viewers.

2. Subsequent Idea Pin Pages

As mentioned earlier, Pinterest recommends using at least 5 pages to express your ideas.

The basics of all marketing apply: be clear, use the best imagery that you can, and add as much value as possible.

You can design your pins in Pinterest itself, or you can use Canva. Lower the learning curve with idea pin templates from my digital shop.

3. Last Page

All good marketing ends with a call to action, offering readers a clear next step if they want to continue the relationship. Idea pins are no different.

On Pinterest’s official idea pin invite page, the example idea pin they give ends with this call to action:

“Follow me @millennielle for more everyday style and fashion ideas!”

This reinforces Pinterest’s interest in driving in-app audience curation, versus users going to a website and joining an email list to see creator updates.

The call to action can still offer value to creators if viewers are interested enough in the type of content to visit their account.

What happens when the viewer clicks through to your account? Is your account prepared to funnel new viewers to your best resources? Make sure that your Pinterest account is set up correctly.

4. To Link, Or Not To Link?

As I mentioned earlier in this Pinterest idea pin guide, the one thing that inherently differentiates idea pins from static pins is the lack of a link.

When idea pins were first released, creators actually had the option of adding a link to every single page. What a dream! Then, it was limited to one link per entire idea pin.

And now, the link section has been removed completely.

However, it is possible to add a link within the description section.

Before you get too excited, listen to what Pinterest had to say about putting links in the description:

“Avoid adding links in your copy. By keeping your idea pin link-free, you will drive on-platform engagement and grow your audience on Pinterest and beyond.*”

Now, whether or not this preference is reinforced by the algorithm is unclear. But given the tumultuous behavior of the algorithm in 2020, I’m inclined to heed to Pinterest’s preferences.

You may also like: How To Make Tons Of Pins For The Same URL


Designing Victorious Idea Pins On Pinterest

I hope by this point in my Pinterest idea pins guide, this feature is feeling much more approachable and less daunting than when you began.

If this new feature still flusters you, let this Pinterest idea pins guide serve as a reminder that idea pins are just like any other form of marketing.

1. Branding

Like all of your marketing, your idea pins should be on brand. This isn’t just for brand awareness, either.

If you’ve been on Pinterest for any length of time, then it won’t be news to you that Pinterest is unfortunately a place where a lot of content is stolen.

You can never completely prevent spam and copyright infringements when you’re in the online world, but by placing your name on every slide, you reduce the odds of it happening to you.

Include your user name (highlighted below) on every or most slides.

where to put your name on your pinterest page
You can locate your handle here on your profile.

2. Value

This is why your business needs a blog in the first place: providing value is the golden rule of all content marketing.

A good motto for content marketing is: “learn from me,” not “look at me.”

Aim to teach, inspire and be relevant.

3. Engaging Content

Will you idea pin inspire a pinner to try your idea? Aim to inspire action with idea pins on Pinterest.


Optimizing Your Idea Pins

Search optimization is always a multi-faceted beast, and idea pins are no different.

Opportunities for optimization include:

  • The idea pin title.
  • The text you include on the images. Pinterest’s systems read the text on all images, not just idea pins
  • Tags. Pinterest allows up to 10 tags on idea pins, but in my experimentation, I’ve found that the more tags you add, the lower the reach. I use 3 tags for each idea pin.
  • Text included in the description.
  • Image file name. That’s right, the name of your jpeg could be affecting your discoverability! Don’t leave money on the table with your file names.

This is not different than the normal optimization process for Pinterest.

Need help choosing keywords? Read my guide to Pinterest keyword research or watch here:


Idea Pins On Pinterest: Case Studies

Let’s examine how other creators have been succeeding with idea pins on Pinterest!

1. Emily of Rainbow Delicious

Q: What is your website and niche?

My website is RainbowDelicious.com, and I am a seasonal and colorful recipe inspiration blog. 

Q: What kind of content are you sharing on Idea pins?

 I’m sharing repurposed recipe content from my blog, new recipe content, and some less-polished recipes from my iPhone.

Q: How often are you sharing Idea pins?

When I first discovered the feature, I was doing multiple a day because I had a lot of old content I could repurpose in this way and was seeing really great engagement.

Now, It really depends on my editorial calendar, but I try to share about 1-3 idea pins a week.

Q: What success have you seen from them?

I have been featured on the Pinterest homepage multiple times, and have seen an increase in overall engagement (repins, comments, and hearts), and also an increase in Pinterest followers.

Before the idea tool, my monthly engagement was averaging around 750k monthly viewers and now I’m usually averaging between 1 million – 1.2 million for my monthly viewers.

Q: What is your most viral Idea pin on Pinterest?

My prosciutto-wrapped asparagus recipe, with 1 million impressions and 5,300 repins.

Q: Any advice to share?

Have fun with idea pins and repurpose old content. Play around with music, video, and text. Pay attention to what is working and what isn’t and just keep going.

All of Emily’s idea pins can be found on her account here: Rainbow Delicious on Pinterest.


Final Thoughts: Pinterest Idea Pin Guide

I hope this Pinterest idea pin guide answered all of the questions you had about idea pins on Pinterest.

What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy seeing and learning from idea pins on Pinterest?

If you want to share your two cents, feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]!

Do you like Pinterest enough to want to become a Pinterest manager? Read to find out!