A No-Fear Guide To Pinterest And Its Importance

By: Robin Andrews

Tulle, tinted mason jars and more flowers than guests will ever actually see at my wedding fill my feed.

Following, food for every meal of the day, for every day for the rest of my life, lines the screen.

Some fashionable ladies who might as well be mocking me, pinning their trendy threads while I’m still in my pajamas with cold coffee in my hand can be found after a bit of scrolling through my bunch of boards.

Cold coffee. Have I really been staring at my screen long enough for my morning juice to also lose its steam?

Why yes, and I haven’t even gotten to looking through my fellow Pinterest-friends’ most recent fall finds.

My time spent on the DIY-inspired site aren’t unlike many other men and women of all ages on the Internet these days. And because it’s such a craze, I want to provide a little walk-through to anyone who’s taking their first few steps in this new territory.

Then I want to give you a quick look at why it actually means more than just a conglomeration of far-reaching dream weddings, meal plans that will never come to fruition and trendy styles that don’t actually fit into many women’s schedules or wardrobes.

First, the site is, at its core, a social media channel. As with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, visuals drive the basic concepts of learning and unwinding, building relationships or branding a company or personal profile and marketing anyone who shares the same interests or goals.

Let’s break it down.

Learning and Unwinding

Pinterest is a huge world of collective intelligence and creativity.

Whether you want to find instructions on how to knit, dig for ideas for designing a new bed frame or happen across a great recipe for dinner, Pinterest is the place to be.

Not to mention, pinning and liking different ideas, articles, instructions and links is a way to focus energy on something that allows users to escape daily stresses and stimulate their creative or inquisitive site.

But just wait until you actually embark on making one of your pins. That’s when the real fun begins.

Pro tip: To keep the fun in your Pinterest endeavors, check out the many “Pinterest Fails” or “Never Again” boards for tips and warnings before you start a hefty or permanent project.

Building Relationships

The basis of any relationship is really a common interest or shared experience.

Social media platforms feed off of wow factors or call to the emotional side of people with cute kitten videos, tantalizing food pictures, astounding time-lapse images of a blood moon, testimonies of children who have access to clean drinking water for the first time or even an event announcement of a local skate contest or symphony orchestra.

Pinterest serves the same purpose. Create a pin from a cool website or content source. Find a pre-existing pin with a picture or link to something that really gets you inspired for a new project or excited for an upcoming event. Share, and see whom you connect with.

Whether you’re an individual or a business, there are plenty of opportunities to really find your target audience, make connections and interact in a niche community.

Branding and Marketing

Whether you want the world to know you, your business or your work, Pinterest has a plethora of marketing benefits.

You can build your personal brand by pinning things you love or have done into categorical boards, linking to sources that promote you or other people and brands you want to support.

If you have your own business or enjoy making things like crochet baby blankets, watercolor wall art, college football attire or even blog your baking and cooking ventures, Pinterest is the perfect platform to share your passion and products. If you have an Etsy, personal blog or online store, you can pin different pictures, tag them with likely searched words and share them with the Pinterest-sphere.

Others can then find your pins, click to your links, and share them with their own audiences. You can reach the far corners of your market, and a global community becomes closely knit in the realm of sharing on Pinterest.

Feeling a bit frustrated or confused? Don’t worry. Just try it out. You’ll have no problem remembering to practice what you’ve shared because, honestly, it’s almost a law of science that Pinterest turns you into an addicted professional in no time.

Five Places To Unplug In Gainesville

By: Shayna Tanen

“Sixty-seven percent of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. Forty-four percent of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages or other updates during the night. Twenty-nine percent of cell owners describe their cell phone as “’something they can’t imagine living without,’” according to a 2012 Pew Research Center Report.

A cormorant and a giant spider at the La Chua Trail. Photo by Shayna Tanen
A cormorant and a giant spider at the La Chua Trail. Photo by Shayna Tanen

With the evidence presented above, it seems blatantly apparent that Americans need to unplug.

And I don’t mean just sitting your phone down for an hour or taking a week-long Facebook hiatus. I’m talking about not using your phone for the entire day. Probably one of the easiest ways to do this would be to take part in an activity that does not require technology.

But what doesn’t require technology these days? Nature – that’s what.

There are plenty of places in and around Gainesville to enjoy nature. And once you’re out in it, the separation anxiety from your cell phone will quickly fade.

Here are five outdoor adventures for when you just can’t stare at a screen any longer:

La Chua Trail in Paynes Prairie State Preserve

Horses on the LaChua Trail. Photo by Shayna Tanen
Horses on the La Chua Trail. Photo by Shayna Tanen

You may need a GPS or phone to find the entrance, but leave it in the car before you hit the trail. The trail takes you around the Alachua Sink, where the Sweetwater Branch Creek drains into the Floridan Aquifer. The trail ends at a lookout tower with sweeping views of the prairie, and along the way you can see the alligators, horses and bison. Birds like great blue herons and moorhens can be seen overhead and in the marshy waters.

Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail

Cellphones will just hold you back on this fun, winding trail through Gainesville and Hawthorne. Beginning at the Boulware Springs Water Works, the 16-mile trail runs through state conservation land and is smoothly paved, making it accessible for bicyclists, walkers, horseback riders, and skateboarders. One of the most surreal moments of my life happened while I was riding along this trail: I looked to my right and saw a deer gracefully gliding at the same pace as me, and we traveled together in silence.

An alligator on the La Chua Trail. Photo by Shayna Tanen
An alligator on the La Chua Trail. Photo by Shayna Tanen

Alfred A. Ring Park

This park provides great shaded trails and boardwalks for joggers and walkers. Over one mile of trails run along Howtown Creek, and an overlook reveals the meeting of the the clear water of Glenn Springs and the tannin-laden waters of Hogtown Creek. This trail is quiet and peaceful, and provides a nice reprieve from the bustling city sounds of traffic and noisy A/C units.

San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park

While technically not in Gainesville, San Felasco is just northeast of town and is worth the visit. It is home to a number of champion trees, which are specific trees deemed the largest of a species, and great variety of hardwoods. Other animals like gray foxes, bobcats, deer, turkeys and other birds live in the forest. Cyclists, hikers and horseback riders can explore the northern third of the park, while the southern two-thirds is hikers-only.

Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park

Devil’s Millhopper is arguably one of the most interesting natural sights in Gainesville. A walk down many flights of wooden stairs leads you right to a giant limestone sinkhole. Lush green walls circle around the sinkhole, and little streams emerge from the the ground and trickle down into the sinkhole. You can learn all about this National Natural Landmark through interpretive displays at the park – no internet required.

It’s Time to Clip Coupons Virtually

By: Scott St. Lifer

Remember the days of clipping coupons? I do too! I know mailers still come periodically, but I’m here to show you other ways to save money on your favorite products.

The method for saving I will discuss today are coupon apps available on the App Store and Google Play. Two apps I recommend are RetailMeNot and Shopular. Let’s explore how each app can save you money at your favorite places.

Both apps feature some of the same retailers such as Kohls, Dunkin’ Donuts and Best Buy. However, they offer different coupons.

Shopular offers weekly ads and coupons to save users on merchandise. Users redeem coupons on the app. Photo credit to Shopular
Shopular offers weekly ads and coupons to save users on merchandise. Users redeem coupons on the app. Photo credit to Shopular

First let’s take a look at RetailMeNot. On this app, you can search for your desired coupon or browse by category. The app features a wide variety of categories ranging from clothing to electronics and pets. The app also separates in-store and online coupons. Under each category, you are given a list of the what the coupons are to make it user friendly. To access the code or coupon, simply click the desired coupon, and the code will appear. This is great for stores that offer codes with discounts on certain products or payment thresholds.

Shopular is another coupon app available that I like to use. It does offer some of the same coupons as RetailMeNot but not in the best format. The app shows offers such as what products are on sale or a photo of a weekly ad. This is nice if you come across a certain product that you like on sale but does not give the flexibility that RetailMeNot offers. For me, I prefer using this app to see what’s on sale or if a storewide sale is taking place. Otherwise I’ll usually stick with RetailMeNot.

I love saving money, and apps like RetailMeNot and Shopular allow me to do that at my favorite stores. So next time you go to any retailer or restaurant, make sure to check out one of these apps first to give you the best bang for your buck.