Topnotch Microblogging with Tumblr

In a world where even adults have the attention span of a three year old, conventional blogs with thousand word posts will not cut it. Blogs are very effective for professional bloggers and blogging networks like Envato, Techcrunch, etc. However, when it comes to personal weblogs, blogs are going fast out of fashion.

At the same time, 140 characters of Twitter isn’t always enough to express ourselves precisely. That is where, microblogging services like Tumblr come into picture. Tumblr falls in the twilight zone—between full featured blogs and 140 character services—capable of doing both tasks fabulously.

Let’s take a peek under the hood of Tumblr and its features.

Overview

Overview

Sign Up

You don’t have to look around for the sign up link; the Tumblr team has designed the homepage to be the sign up page too. With three big, fat fields to enter your email ID, password and the preferred Tumblr domain name, it is possible you can read the page clearly from a mile away.

Sign Up

Sign Up

Once filling up the fields, we are presented with a CAPTCHA page which checks if you are a robot (wow I wish I were one).

I am not a bot

I am not a bot

Once that check is successfully done, we are redirected to the Tumblr dashboard without any need for email activation or verification.

User Interface

Like the sign up page, all the elements of its UI are simple, uncluttered and beautiful with big, fat icons. Post-login, you will be prompted to publish your first tumblr post.

Post-Login

Post-Login

Tumblr suggested that I post the last Youtube video that I enjoyed. Since most of the videos I watch are NC 17, I chose to close the window and was shown a window to customize my tumblog.

Simple Customization

Simple Customization

In this window, you can enter the blog title and a portrait photo to keep the tumblog personal. Alternatively, you can choose to explore all the customization options.

Customization

Right from publishing, colors, themes and community maintenance, Tumblr offers extensive customization options from a unified dashboard.

Customization Dashboard

Customization Dashboard

Information Dashboard

From the Info menu, you can change the blog’s title, portrait photo, Tumblr URL, etc. Tumblr also allows you to link your domain name with this tumblog instead of the subdomain currently in use.

Information Menu

Information Menu

Click on “Setting up a custom domain” option to access the step by step tutorial on linking your custom domain free of charge.

Themes

From the theme menu, you can choose from a number of free and premium themes right from within the dashboard.

Themes Menu

Themes Menu

Just click on a theme and it will be applied automatically. In addition, there is also an option to use a custom theme coded in HTML for the ubergeeks. Please checkout our roundups on some of the best Tumblr themes The Best Premium Tumblr Themes here and The Top Twelve Tumblr Themes here.

Services

The Services menu helps you to integrate your Tumblr blog with famous social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Services Menu

Services Menu

RSS Import Options

RSS Import Options

Enter you Twitter login info and link the tumblog via Facebook connect to your Facebook account and links to the Tumblr posts will be published in your social streams immediately. You can also import and publish from your other blogs or social networks from the Import options drop down.

These posts can be published as links, full text or summaries, etc. This could be a killer feature if you have multiple social networking accounts and want to showcase them all at a single place.

Community

Community menu features a list of powerful options to flare up conversations in your blog. You can choose to turn on comments as and when you please with a single click. You can also allow only those who you are following in Tumblr to reply, keeping the conversations spam free.

Community Menu

Community Menu

Posts Submission

Posts Submission

Similar to comments, you can also allow users to post in your blog. The type of posts & attachments, custom tags etc. for the user uploads can be added from this menu.

Advanced Options

Time zone settings, custom CSS codes, number of posts per page, etc. can be controlled from the Advanced options menu.

Advanced Menu

Advanced Menu

Directory Promtion

Directory Promtion

You can also enhance the visibility of your blog by listing them in the Tumblr directory, allowing non-Tumblr users to follow your blog, enabling Search Engine Indexing, etc. These features can be enabled by scrolling down the advanced options menu.

You can add new pages like About, Contact, etc. from the Pages Menu

Dashboard

The dashboard is the command center of the blog when it comes to publishing. Apart from options to publish text, audio, video, photo, quote, links, etc., the dashboard features a gist of the number of posts you published, liked, people you follow and suggestions to follow others.

Dashboard

Dashboard

Let’s go ahead and see how to publish your tumblogs.

Text

You can add a text post using the WYSIWYG editor. Images and links can also be added. The posts can be published immediately or can also be scheduled.

Posting Text

Posting Text

Photo

You can add photos from your PC or from a URL. Not a lot features like resizing, cropping etc. here though. Rich text captions, tags and links can also be added.

Posting a Photo

Posting a Photo

Quote

You can post a quote and the source whom you are quoting with this type of tumblog. Each Tumblr theme handles quote posts with predefined font, colour, size and layout. So the effectiveness with which a quote is displayed in a tumblog is dependent on the theme in use.

Posting a Quote

Posting a Quote

Audio

You can post one mp3 file a day in your tumblog. There is a maximum size limit of 10MB per file. Be careful with the legality of the file you upload as Tumblr does not prevent you from uploading copyrighted music.

Posting an Audio file

Posting an Audio file

Video

You can embed videos using codes from popular video sharing sites like Youtube, Vimeo etc.

Posting an embedded video

Posting an embedded video

If you choose to upload your own video file from PC, the file should not exceed 100MB in size. You can upload 5 minutes worth of video everyday to the tumblog.

Uploading video file

Uploading video file

Reblogging

Reblogging is similar to retweeting. Find a post you like and then click on the reblog button. Now the post published by someone else is now in your blog too. All this is completely legal as long as you aren’t reblogging content that infringes upon copyrights.

Reblogging

Reblogging

You can choose to publish the reblogged item as a link or text and can add your own comments to it. Reblogging enhances the original publisher’s reputation in the Tumblr ecosystem and can get a tumblog featured prominently in the directory listings with a possibility to attract millions of new followers.

Editing a Reblogged post

Editing a Reblogged post

Directory

Tumblr organizes the tumblogs created by its users by subject collated into one comprehensive directory. For example, if you are an avid photographer, you can follow fellow photographers by accessing the “Photographers” directory.

Directory Listing

Directory Listing

Following the tumblogs is as simple as clicking the ‘follow’ link.

Follow People Directory Listings

Follow People Directory Listings

You can also follow people from your email address book. This is a pretty standard integration in all services these days

Follow People From Your Address Book

Follow People From Your Address Book

Listing

To get yourselves listed in the directories, Tumblr offers two options. Click on the Get Listed option and you will be provided with a link with which you can ask your followers to recommend you to be listed.

Ways of getting listed

Ways of getting listed

Alternatively, you can pay to get your tumblog to be featured in the directory. From time to time, based on the reblogging count, Tumblr may feature your blog prominently free of charge.

Goodies

Email posting

Email posting

Despite having a feature rich web app, Tumblr provides few more innovative ways to post from. You can mail your post to an email address exclusively created for you and the post will be up in realtime.

Mac users get a desktop widget from where you can post text blurbs.

Mac Desktop Widget

Mac Desktop Widget

Don’t have access to Internet? Not to worry, just call in to the tumblr number and post an audio tumblog.

Call in post

Call in post

Embed your tumblog

Embed your tumblog

You will have to register your phone number and a secret PIN number to access this feature.

Power users can embed their tumblog in their website or blog using the embed code. This feature will come in handy if you have a static website that does not have a blog or database.

Final Thoughts

iPhone users can download the fantastic and full featured Tumblr app for blogging on the go. The design of the web app is quite good with large fonts and icons. If you are someone who wears glasses, you might not need them while using Tumblr.

Despite being such a feature rich web app, Tumblr tends to be very slow at times. This slowness is more felt when moving from page to page and in particular when accessing the directories. Despite this shortcoming, I rate Tumblr 9/10—keeping in mind the number of features available and the pace at which the Tumblr team is innovating.

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Summary

Tumblr is a blogging platform that allows users to post text, images, video, links, quotes, and audio to their tumblelog, a short-form blog.

  • Tumblr  | 
  • Free  | 
  • Tumblr, Inc.
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