When it comes to Tumblr, or better to say, “Tumbler,” one thing usually crosses people’s mind: youth. It is one of the most popular blog providers among young people, mostly because of its short form and easy-to-use approach. Founded in 2007 as a social network and a (micro)blogging platform, it was acquired by Yahoo in 2013. It has famous active users like traditional professionals Taylor Swift, new-media big shots Grace Helbig and Tyler Oakley, and forthcoming John and Hank Green. Its popularity spread organically and people can get behind that kind of growth.
Creating a profile is easy, but it has several steps. First what you have to do is provide an email, password, and username. Username can be a combination of letters, numbers, and dashes. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, you can change your username whenever you want. After that, you will need to provide your age and check the box to make sure that you are not a robot. Then comes a little bit unusual step of choosing at least five Tumblr blogs to follow. Although this promotes and encourages you to dive into the community, and you probably already know who will you follow, it feels a bit upside down to put this before you even start and see a blog control panel. In the end, you will get an email to confirm your address and you are all set.
Maintenance and the dashboard
The dashboard is pretty easy to navigate but also has a good mixture. You will see functions of blog editing and following other blogs on the same page, but they don’t overpower each other. While the part where you work on your blog posts is right above the feed of other blogs that you follow, it’s so small and sleek that it really don’t bother you. It consist of seven icons for text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio and video, (although we’re not sure why quote and chat need to be separated from text) all your needs are covered. Your post editor will simply pop up and disappear after you publish a post.
When you log into Tumblr’s dashboard, hover your mouse over icons and other things. Helpful tips will pop up even if you don’t hover, which can be annoying, but it happens only while you’re idle. If you want to customize your blog, use “Customize” button on the right and you will be taken to a whole new section. If you are used to more traditional look and feel of the admin area, you will have a slight learning curve inside this section.
There are many ways that you can customize your blog, HTML is one of them and in “Advanced Options” you can add a custom CSS. The easiest way to change your Tumblr appearance is through their themes. You will find many free and number of premium themes. It’s totally up to you, but most of the free themes are nicely done and there are ways that you can adopt them. If you have a specific look in mind, you can browse through existing themes by category and start adjusting it.
While writing a post, you won’t notice any text editor. It’s not that there is no one, but you will have to highlight the text you want to format, and an editor will pop up. Not a deal breaker, but if you primarily blog by writing, this will get on your nerves pretty quickly. The good thing is, that no matter how you format your posts, it’s a slight chance that you will break something. It really is dummy-proof and the end result will always look good.
Themes and tools
As we already mentioned, there are many themes that you could choose from. While Tumblr by itself is a free blogging platform, and there are many adjustable free themes that you could pick, there are also premium themes that you could buy from $9 to $49. As a primarily microblogging site, Tumblr is oriented on visual aspects of blogging, so their templates are visually attractive and follow current designer trends.
You can adjust templates with or without HTML code. While more adventurous and experienced users can use this feature, new webmasters will find that there are a lot of template variations and you can pick an ideal design by browsing. Even if you don’t find your ideal theme, the basic non-HTML editor will be enough to tweak it to your desires, in most cases.
While Tumblr’s designs are pretty mobile-ready, not all of them load properly. However, there is an official application that you can download for all major mobile operating systems and solve this problem.
Storage, reliability, and uptime
Storage space is unlimited, but it comes with daily restrictions. You can post 250 posts a day, you can upload 75 images to posts per day, 10 per post, and files can’t be larger than 10MB, or 1MB for GIF files. But considering that there is no limit on overall storage you are getting a pretty good deal.
When it comes to uptime, Tumblr is getting better with each year. Although a few years back there were some serious issues with availability and downtime, things are looking up. However, compared to some other blogging providers, Tumblr still has a relatively big downtime.
Help and support
The Tumblr community is big, and almost everyone will help you if you ask nicely. There is no official help forum, so you will have to search the Internet for the forum discussions. They do have Help Center that will help you with most of your needs.
Hosting and pricing options
Extension .tumbr.com is connected to fun, but not professional blogging. The advantage is that it’s completely free and you can get a very good blog for nothing. However, if you want, you can buy and use your own domain. Since Yahoo owns it, your best bet is to buy a domain from Yahoo Domains since there will probably be the least amount of possible complications. They have a guide on how to setup your domain.
The only thing you will have to pay for, optionally is one (or more) of their premium themes. They vary from $9 to $49, but they are not a necessity. Plugins are free, but unfortunately besides basic things like archive, calendar and such, there are no plugins.
Managing your content is easy. You can schedule your posts, link them to Facebook and Twitter, have others submitting submissions or asking you questions. You can add tags and there is a mass editor for posts that can save you a ton of time, instead of editing posts one by one. The system is adopted for mobile so if you have their official app, you can get notifications and edit your blog on the go. Everything is what you see is what you get. But beware, there is no spam or comment filtering. While the majority of the community is well behaved, being so open to any kind of unwanted content is a big negative.
HTML and CSS knowledge
When it comes to HTML and CSS there is not much to say. Although there is no need to now any in order to start and manage Tumblr blog, you can always use it and customize your blog the way you want to for free. The backend areas where you can do that aren’t that obvious to find, but if you are the kind of person who likes to play with code, perhaps Tumblr isn’t the right place for you.
Promotion and monetizing
There aren’t any SEO plugins. If you want to have some meta tags, you will have to edit them in HTML. Considering that Tumblr’s audience is mostly young people that don’t bother with what’s going on behind the curtain, this isn’t very surprising, but it is one big disadvantage. Another big minus is that there is no tracking. The only stats that you can see are number of your followers and how many times your post has been favorited or reblogged.
On the plus side, if you want your posts to be published on Facebook or Twitter, you can do that easily in your settings with one click.
When it comes to exploring fellow bloggers and content on Tumblr, you will just need to click on the little compass icon in the upper part of your dashboard. There you can see what’s trending, what are staff’s picks or search posts by categories. With this, connecting with other Tumblr users and finding common interests should be pretty easy. This is the biggest benefit if you are a photographer or artist that is trying to promote its work. Although it is great for promotion and you can install ads, other blogging platforms have more business oriented options than Tumblr, so perhaps earning money here is not your best option
- slick design that will always look good
- adjusted to photo and media content
- easy to use
- mobile friendly
- easy to connect with other users
- no storage limit
- not for usage if your content is mostly text based
- no spam or comment filtering
- no easy SEO options
- zero statistics
- in comparison, still big downtime
Tumblr is for those that are young in their hearts or are aiming at those that are. The dashboard is easy to use after you get the slight learning curve, and it is totally subordinated to multimedia. However, when it comes to text-based content, you will have a serious lack of tools. It is a great start if you are a beginner and/or have an artistic side. Your blog will always look pretty, no matter what template you choose. However, lack of SEO, statistics or other serious tools is a big minus if you want to have some serious business blog. Considering all that, the base of users and visitors is growing each day, and Tumblr is one of the front runners of the general internet and fun content. On the balance, having Tumblr is easy and a plus, if it’s not your main source of content.