Just because Pinterest is still invite-only doesn’t mean it’s exclusive.

Pinterest has over 10.4 million registered users. How would this massive amount of people be able to log in if these invitations were as elusive as they’re sometimes made out to be?

The illusion, however, runs deep. Some desperate would-be Pinterest users have given up and opted for Pinspire, a copycat clone that doesn’t require an invitation. Users know it’s a ripoff but are so tired of trying to get access to Pinterest that they don’t care.

Until the image-sharing network exits its beta stage, an invite will still be a necessary step to join. Here are the three easiest ways to get one.

1. Ask Pinterest

This is the most straightforward option. Just click the big red Request an Invite button on the main page. It’ll ask you to submit your email—and voila! A Pinterest invitation should arrive at your inbox shortly.

It’s not always that simple, though. When this reporter joined Pinterest in March 2011, it was only after two months of waiting for an invitation. While the team has no doubt gotten faster, Pinterest hopefuls are spamming the official Facebook page by the thousands, exposing their personal email addresses to potential scams and privacy violations.

2. Ask a user

An invite from Pinterest could take days, but an invitation from a confirmed Pinterest user takes mere minutes. You probably already know one of the millions of people on Pinterest already; use Facebook or Twitter to ask (leaving your email out of it, of course).

Even if you don’t personally know a user, invitations are anything but scarce. Users on Pinterest currently receive an infinite number of invitations to give out to friends, and many would be happy to hand one to you. Meet them at r/Pinterest or even the Something Awful forums.

3. Use the Etsy Loophole

Thanks to a partnership between Etsy and Pinterest, you may not even need to request an invitation at all.

After Etsy set up a “Pin It” button on all Etsy product pages, Pinterest ensured the new feature would get some use by arranging a mass invitation to Etsians. As the Daily Dot previously reported, you don’t even need to be an Etsy seller to join. Just click the link, and it’ll be as if you’ve already received an invitation.

It’s as easy as that. So next time a friend complains that they can’t get on Pinterest, clue them in.

The way Pinterest is growing, it’s more difficult to avoid an invitation than it is to get one!

Photo by anetz