Some Advice for Temple U.’s Rising Pinterest Star

Congrats on parlaying pic-pinning into a paying position. Here's what you — and anyone starting a business today — should do next.

Finally! Someone has figured out how to make some money from the Internet.

Temple sophomore Brittany Cozzens has more than 3 million followers on her Pinterest page. And because of her popularity, she’s been hired by a marketing company called HelloSociety to independently share her likes and dislikes with her vast following. Good for her — she’s turned a passion and a hobby into a revenue stream. But she’s done something even more important: She’s opened up the door to a career — if she plays her cards right. I don’t know you, Brittany, but I’m 100 percent behind you. Here’s some advice for you — in fact, for anyone looking to start or grow a business today.

Don’t bank on Pinterest. I get it: It’s a cool site that’s exploded in the past year, and some statistics show it to be even more influential to buyers than Facebook and Twitter. Not only that, but it’s rumored that the company is worth $2 billion because most of its community are “rich females.” So I now I see why HelloSociety likes you so much! But be careful, Brittany — these things come and go. If you put all your eggs in one basket, you could find yourself without those 3 million friends. You may want to consider spreading your ideas and influence to another social network or two, like Tumblr or even Facebook. That way, if Pinterest goes the way of MySpace, you’ve got a head start somewhere else. Will this cost? See below.

Don’t think you’ll have the same time (or energy) available forever. Yeah, you’re young and eager and full of energy. But you’ll soon grow old and tired and sick of life like the rest of us. And then after working your 12-hour day you’ll just want to collapse on the sofa, crack open a beer, finish those leftover tater tots and watch The Bachelor. The last thing you’ll want to be doing is surfing on Pinterest. OK … that’s my life. But it may be yours too! So pace yourself.

Seize the moment. You’re a bit of a celebrity now — enjoy it, but don’t sit back. I’m not sure how exclusive your contact is with HelloSociety (OK, can I now admit that I have no idea what the hell HelloSociety does? I shop at Target), but is there room for other deals with other marketing firms? Can you contact Pinterest and say “Hi, I’m Brittany, I’ve got 3 million followers and maybe we can do some marketing together”? Maybe it’s time to consult with a public relations specialist or two. Reach out to those annoying morning talk shows — because isn’t this kind of thing they want to talk about instead of what’s going on in Syria or the economy? Consider blogging too, perhaps at a female-oriented site like Jezebel. Are you still planning on taking all those classes at Temple next semester?  Maybe you should reconsider. I mean, my God, don’t you know that American society doesn’t celebrate education … we celebrate pop culture! And you are right in the middle of it. Smart business people know that opportunities are fleeting. They jump on them when they can.

Consider hiring someone. All this stuff I’m recommending is going to take time, and you only have so much of it. You may need to get some help — an assistant you can teach to be as “you” as possible online. He or she will want money, so maybe you should consider that HelloSociety cash as an investment for bigger things. Don’t worry, you won’t pay much. There are plenty of people your age out there ready to help you. What you’re doing is fun and cool, and they’ll work cheap. The smartest and most successful businesspeople I know delegate so they can focus on what they do best.

Don’t teach. Avoid this temptation. You know trends and pop culture and fashion. You have a lot to teach people. People from academia may approach you, but don’t go into teaching — you’ll wind up part of the inevitable higher education implosion that’s coming soon. Plus academics don’t make the dough. Stick to business. And advertising. Which means you will have to …

… drink coffee and move to New York. I know you said you don’t want to do that, but let’s face reality, Brittany. You’re majoring in advertising. You’ve clearly got an eye for what’s trending. You’ve got 3 million followers and more of a track record than most college kids your age. Go to New York and make your mark in advertising. If there’s anything I’ve learned from watching Mad Men, it’s that people in the ’60s were lying, cheating drunks, and Madison Avenue is the advertising capital of the world. Since there’s no more drinking bourbon during the day, however, you’ll be stuck with coffee.

Never, ever lose your originality. I respect that HelloSociety has given you independence — that’s your value. Unfortunately, if you continue down this road, others may want to buy your opinions, and the money may be enticing. No matter what you do in business, always be yourself. Like my dad said: Have few principles, but stick to them.

Finally, please stay away from my daughter. The last thing I need is her coming home demanding I finance a “chignon bun hairstyle tutorial, mood-reading earrings, and a tattoo of a purple chrysanthemum on someone’s forearm that looks like it was done with oil paint.”