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DIY or Trying to Buy? A Cheatsheet for Pinterest and Etsy.

Save time being crafty -- or while buying crafty things -- with this cheat sheet for Pinterest and Etsy.


Even the craftiest do-it-yourselfers use shortcuts.

They scour Pinterest for decorating ideas and make them their own. They search Etsy for someone else’s homemade jewelry to buy and wear. And they’re really good at using these websites and apps to find what they want without wasting time.

This week, I put together a cheat sheet that will help you use these sites more efficiently, and may even clue you in on new ways that Pinterest and Etsy work. These tips won’t put more time in your day, but they might be the kick in the pants you need to start on a big project — whether it’s a DIY or a crafty buy.


Pinterest has grown up a lot since its start nearly five years ago, when I first reviewed it. It now has some 70 million visitors a month, and holds over 30 billion pins on 750 million digital pin boards. Here are five ways it can be used to make it a visual bookmarking tool with more functionality than you might imagine.

Map making

Why let Google Maps have all the fun? If you’re planning a road trip with friends or need to make a map of local attractions for incoming wedding guests, Pinterest can actually do the trick. You do this by creating a new board and choosing an option to make it a map. Follow steps from there to add each place, selecting representative photos to populate the map.

Like all pin boards, you can opt to invite friends on Pinterest to help create the map by adding them as collaborators.

Here’s an example of a Pinterest map used for a San Francisco Pancake Crawl — just don’t blame me when you get syrup on your phone’s screen as you go.

Happier hunting

Don’t be afraid to be extra specific when you hunt something down on Pinterest. The site’s Guided Search, which made its debut last April, suggests search-related terms in colorful word blocks as you type. Since typing on a phone can be a pain, this is especially useful in the Pinterest app.

For example, when I search for “toddler room,” I can narrow results for the search by selecting more terms that might help me get ideas, like “boy, Montessori and DIY.”

Valuing privacy

If you’re not thrilled with the idea of everyone on Pinterest seeing what you pin, take advantage of Secret Boards. These are created by sliding the privacy switch to “on” when you first make a board, or an already public board can be changed to private in settings.

Finger-flickin’ fun

If you’re using Pinterest’s iOS app, you can see a bigger view of each small thumbnail pin by double-tapping on it. Use a long press on an image, and you’ll immediately see icons to Pin, Like or Send that pin.

Save yourself money

If you find something you love on Pinterest but you don’t love its price, pin it. If your pin’s price drops, you’ll get email notifications automatically letting you know. The catch is that your pin must be a specific type of pin called a Product Rich Pin (examples here), which shows details including the price of something. These notifications could get frustrating if you simply pinned something you liked and don’t want to buy it. If that’s the case, adjust settings to stop these notifications.


Etsy takes a lot of pride in its website, which is filled with independent businesses. But this can result in a variety of shipping policies and processing times, and it takes extra time for sellers to make one-of-a-kind gifts. In other words, don’t wait until the week before your sister’s birthday to shop.

On the upside, Etsy’s website and app sell more than 26 million things, giving you a good chance of unearthing a unique gift or something you never knew existed. Here are five ways to narrow the field.

“Favorite” as you go

Click the heart beside any product to give Etsy a better idea of things you like. This will adjust the site’s algorithm to show you more personalized suggestions in the future. The more you “favorite,” the better this works.

Discovery made simple

Part of the fun of using Etsy is browsing to admire designers’ creativity. When I threw my sister a book-themed baby shower, I bought miniature representations of classic children’s books to decorate the room. To find people whose creations will show up when you browse Etsy’s homepage, select a few categories of tastemakers to follow, like Family, Fashion, DIY or Weddings. See categories using this link.

Here’s a look at the decorations I bought on Etsy for my sister’s baby shower.
Here’s a look at the decorations I bought on Etsy for my sister’s baby shower.

Lists for sharing or keeping private

If you browse Etsy a lot and want to keep track of items without putting them in your shopping cart, just add them to a list.

You create new lists by clicking on the list icon in the top-right corner of any Etsy image, then name the new list or select an existing list. Whenever you make lists in Etsy, you can share them on Twitter or Facebook — or just keep them private. If you want to keep them private, open Favorites, select a list and then select the Edit option in the top right.

Fast shipping in a pinch

If you forget to plan ahead and aren’t shopping for a homemade quilt that takes months to make, Etsy might be able to help. Narrow a search to locate designers in your area by using the Shop Local option, and you might find one who can quickly send you what you need.

I recently came across items from Etsy in the home department of my local Nordstrom. Check here to see Etsy items sold by Nordstrom online, or to see if your Nordstrom carries items like these.

Know your rights

Buying anything from a seller you don’t know can be nerve-racking. Be sure to use Etsy’s tools to communicate what you want — whether that means getting a handmade sign written in a specific font or asking if the seller can ship something faster. A full list of your protections as a buyer can be found here.

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