In our upcoming posts, we will focus on the three main free blog hosting sites, Tumblr, WordPress and Blogger, enabling you to make the right decision when starting your own blog. As you may have gathered, this post will focus on Tumblr!
A great introductory blogging site. Tumblr also allows simple customisability and is easy to set up and use.
Setting up your Tumblr account is an extremely straightforward process. Enter your email, username and password to sign up.
Tumblr requires its users to be over 13 so you must confirm your age when joining and also agree to the terms and conditions. A big issue when blogging of any kind but especially on Tumblr is noting copyright issues. Make sure you blog responsibly and keep within the law.
What To Customise
Firstly, upload your chosen avatar picture. Consistent personal branding across your networks is extremely important and Tumblr’s focus on social interaction means this picture will pop up a lot when you get social on the site. When someone follows your blog, your posts will come up in their news feed in a speech bubble with your avatar ‘speaking’ them. Keep this consistent and make everyone remembers your face!
In order to customise any aspect click on ‘Untitled’ in the top right hand corner of the page. (N.B. When you name your blog, this will change to that.)
From here, you will be able to edit your settings. The key areas to focus on are:
- URL- Either select your name or the title of your blog as your unique Tumblr URL
- Title and Description- Use a catchy title that clearly illustrates what you focus will be or alternatively, simply use your name. It is important that you also provide a succinct description of the type of content you will post.
- Theme- The option is there to edit the html of your blog theme, but if your experience in editing website code is limited, Tumblr provide both free and premium pre-designed themes.
- Settings- There are an array of choices to make to fully customise your blog for your needs. They are simply set out in a step by step manner, but there are a few you may be unfamiliar with which I will discuss below.
How To Customise
Now we know which settings we need to focus on, I can take you a little bit more into what is offered by a Tumblr blog.
There are two areas on your Tumblr homepage you need to focus on when developing your blog’s look and feel; ‘Blog settings’ and ’Customise theme’
In the blog settings you are able to denote your unique Tumblr URL, set your language and time zone and connect your account with your Facebook and Twitter. In addition, you can decide what people can do when interacting with your blog, be it post blogs, ask questions or leave replies. You are also able to modify the mode in which your RSS feed works; do you want people to have to visit your blog to feed full posts or can they read externally?
This section is more focused on the elements of your blog that readers will see.
There are currently 75 free themes available. Premium options range from $9 to $49 in price, and allow more choice in terms of design and features, however, when starting out, the range of free themes offer everything that you need.
When you have decided on a theme, the box on the left-hand side guides you through the different ways to customise your blog.
The amount of customisation that can be carried out is dependent upon the theme you have chosen. Typically you can edit the font type and colour scheme, title and description. As you can see, this is where you can also edit the html.
However, as well as the general blog settings available, there may be a few options that require further clarification:
Enable Jump Pagination:
Do you want your readers to be able to skip through sections of your blog? Jump pagination means your blog numbers of pages at the bottom; when you click on a number, it will take you to that page.
Tumblr does not allow commenting as a feature of the site but allows integration with the commenting platform Disqus as an alternative to a comments thread. Most themes give the option to include your Disqus shortname, yet if not,your shortname is the unique identifier which acts as a username for your website’s comments, and will load the comments and settings you specify in your Admin panel on Disqus on to your Tumblr blog.
Google Analytics ID/ UA Code:
Google Analytics is a free service that enables you to track how many people are coming to your blog, how frequently they are visiting and how they are find you. This is important when you begin promoting your blog.
Many of the themes also offer links to your social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, which is again good for blog promotion.
At the bottom of this bar, you will see the options to add pages and a series of advanced options. Adding pages allows you to have any amount of pages, for example a ‘Blogroll’ or ‘About Me’ page.
The advance options at the bottom of every customisation offer you the opportunity to:
- Allocate posts per page and determine the way in which links open.
- Ensure your blog will work efficiently on mobiles.
- Set URLs to match your posts.
- Decide whether or not you want to encourage readers to become involved in the Tumblr community.
- Customise your CSS to tweak your Tumblr theme if you so desire.
Posting On Tumblr
Now you have the base of your blog sorted, you need to start getting some posts up on there. There are seven different types of posts on Tumblr:
Text- Write general blog posts.
Photo- Upload images (you can comment and caption them also).
Quote- Seen an interesting, funny or inspirational quote? This is the place to include them and give attribution.
Chat- Include conversations (importantly this does NOT allow you to chat on Tumblr, rather allows you to quote conversations that you have already had).
Audio- Upload audio files (songs, voice files etc).
Video- Upload and embed videos.
These posts are all simple to upload and share and wil be clearly defined by their type on your Tumblr blog. As a guide, I would recommend getting about 10 posts up on your blog before you begin to promote it; this will give potential followers a flavour of what your blog is about as soon as you start to promote, meaning your blog will be a more powerful tool from the offset, enabling you to make contacts, showcase your skills and interests and improve your employability.You can queue posts so they will be published at a predetermined time to ensure fresh content is continually available.
One of the best things about posting on Tumblr is that you do not have to have something really meaty and lengthy to say everytime you post. Pictures, inspirational or funny quotations and songs are a common sight on Tumblr. In fact, 50% of the content posted on the site is simply pictures; these types of are an expected feature of a Tumblr blog.
One element that Tumblr does really well is to amalgamate blogging with social networking. Like Twitter, you want to get people to follow you and follow other blogs in turn. This is a great way to get your blog noticed and develop contacts on the Tumblr network.
A key feature of Tumblr is reblogging other people’s posts. A bit like retweeting on Twitter, you can share interesting content with your followers and develop relationships with your fellow bloggers. It is also important to ingratiate yourself in the Tumblr community by following and commenting on other blogs.
It is simple to link your Tumblr up to your other social networks, ensuring that when you post, notifications will be sent to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can also include an RSS feed to share your posts with other non-Tumblr users.
Who Should Use Tumblr?
Tumblr is perhaps the simplest blogging platform and is therefore a great first foray into the blogosphere. This platform is especially great for creatives; check out Tumblr’s most popular blog categories and you will see fashion, photography, food and music all play a huge part, in fact out of the top 1000 Tumblr blogs, 180 are dedicated to fashion; this gives you an indication of the creative community of this site.
Tumblr’s demographic seems to consist of chiefly 18-24 year olds, so it may not be the best way to form influential contacts in the business world, however it is an extremely creative community of people so it is a great place to find inspiration and make contacts with like minded individuals in that sense.
In relation to the other two main blogging platforms, Tumblr has more modern template designs than Blogger, and provides some affordable premium options. The usability of Tumblr is much simpler than WordPress, yet you are still able to use a custom domain name.
Tumblr Top Tips
If you choose Tumblr as your blogging platform, here are a few tips to help you along the way:
- Tumblr has a range of bookmarklets that allow you to access your blog easy and post quickly. You can drag the individual types of posts to your bookmark bar from the tool bar on your homepage; when you click on them you will be taken straight to posting a quote/ audio file/ video etc. Useful if you mainly post one type of content. Alternatively, the ‘Share on Tumblr’ bookmarklet allows you to select the type of post you want after clicking on it.
- Unable to access your Tumblr account but can reach your emails? You can email posts to your account for publication.
- You can mass edit your posts, so should you want to change your tags or delete a lot of posts in one go it is quick and simple to do so.
- You can phone in your audio files. Call up the Tumblr number, record an audio file and this will be posted onto your account. A really helpful way to allow you to post whilst on the go.
- If your Tumblr blog really takes off and you want to begin blogging completely on your own domain, you can import your Tumblr account to WordPress.
- Tumblr is available for Andriod, Blackberry and iPhone, so you never need to be far from your blog!
- You can back-up your Tumblr blog, ensuring all of your important information cannot be lost. (currently only available on Mac, however a Windows version is planned.
Make sure to also read our Blogger and WordPress guides to pick the right platform for you.
Image supplied by hm7hm7
This post is part of the Personal Branding Series, helping you develop a successful online presence.