Microblogging Made Easy with Posterous

Last week we looked at some of the better self-publishing tools available today. Today we’re going to take a closer look at how to use one of those tools — blogging is made easy with Posterous.

Because it was designed to primarily be used via email, Posterous is a simple tool to start using. Anyone who can send an email can share thoughts, pictures and music with friends or the general internet public and will be completely at ease with this application. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Intended Usage

First off, Posterous was created with two intentions: 1) It was meant to be a sort of temporary public dropbox for a fast, easy way to share files and notes and 2) it was also designed in a way where you could use it as a personal tumblelog that could accept various types of media easily.

Whether you simply want a way to quickly share a file with colleagues or you want your own blog, Posterous fits the bill. And the usage is basically the same. Let’s walk through getting your own site setup with this service.

Set Up Your Account

The first thing you need to do is set up your own account and create your own custom Posterous address. Navigate your browser to the Posterous login page. From there, click the link titled, ‘Get your own Posterous >>’. Fill in the three fields: domain name, email and a password.

Create your own unique site address.

Create your own unique site address.

That’s it — you’re ready to blog.

The Details

You can start blogging immediately by sending an email to your new site by using the correct address ([email protected]). But it’s a good time to see the various options Posterous gives you and to change a few of the default options before you start publishing.

Click on the ‘Manage’ menu option and then the ‘Edit Settings >>’ link in the middle of the page. The majority of configurable options for the application are here.

It starts with a field where you can change your site name. Most people start with something like their name — if you come up with something you like better, this is where you can make that change. Just remember, the site name is different than the site address you created when signing up.

Here are some of the other settings to consider:

  • Site Subheading: now add some punch to your site with a witty one-liner.
  • Privacy: who is your intended audience and how open do you want your site to be. You have the ability to control who can post on your site, comment on your posts, as well as download your files. In addition, you can set your site to Private if you only intend for a limited group of readers.
  • Custom Domains: for the technically inclined, you can also use your own custom domain name and have it point to your Posterous site. Posterous includes help with how to set this up.
  • Google Analytics: If you want to track your stats, Posterous plays nice with Google’s monitoring tool.
  • FeedBurner: In the same vein, if you’re interested in your subscriber information, use a Feedburner account to do so.
  • Autopost: like many other services today, if you want to post to multiple services, Posterous gives you that option. Just add the tools you desire from the list of available services.

As you can see, Posterous offers a similar feature set to other services such as Tumblr and Soup.io.

A Tip to Reduce Email Clutter

One thing that can get frustrating quickly is the defaults around contributors. Because Posterous can be used by teams and organizations as a company blog, there is the option to include multiple contributors. That’s a good thing.

As well, even if you want to use the service as a personal blog, it’s nice to be able to use any of the email addresses you may own. Because Posterous is based around email, adding another contributor is as simple as adding the email that will send in the posts.

Uncheck this preference for a cleaner Inbox.

Uncheck this preference for a cleaner Inbox.

However, when adding new contributors, there is an option that is turned on be default, as shown above. Unless you want 2 or more return emails every time you create post, be sure to uncheck this preference.

Get Blogging

Now that your site is ready to go, let’s get posting. Open up your email client, type in a subject, add some text in the body, and send. That’s it.

Now, remember to use the correct Posterous email address:

  • [email protected] – this will create a globally available post with a long and funny URL. Think of this as temporary storage or sharing.
  • [email protected] – this will create a new post on your custom Posterous site. This is you talking about the things you want to share.

Want to add an image to your post? Just attach it to your email. Want to tag the post? Just append them to the email subject line (tag: one, two, three). All the regular options for most weblog tools are available.

And even though Posterous is designed around email, there are other publishing options. You can post via the web page itself or use their custom bookmarklet to post about things you find while surfing the web.

Put the Micro in Microblogging

If you’re the type of person to post about a topic and then send a tweet linking to your post, you can save some time with Posterous. As mentioned above, the application allows you to autopost to other services you may use.

To do so, click on the Manage menu option and then ‘Autopost to Everywhere >>’ link in the sidebar.

Autopost to your favorite services.

Autopost to your favorite services.

Add the services you want and you’re good to go. The great touch here is how the emails works — you can customize which services to post to by changing up the email address. Here’s an example for the site I created for this post.

This setup provides a nice level of flexibility and control to your blogging setup.

Wrap Up

With everything above, you’ve got more than enough to get using Posterous as your main blogging tool. If you value flexibility and working within your email client, this could be the tool for you.