There are almost countless ways to create a blog these days. Blogger and WordPress are the big players. We’ve discussed them both before at great length, but there is no shortage of other options and tools.
However, if you want to create a blog which contains rich media, and you don’t know (or don’t want to know) much about the technology it sits on, then it’s hard to beat the simplicity and capability of Tumblr.
The site, and the technology, are free to use. Customisation capability is high, and advertisements are only very seldom shown.
If you’re an experienced blogger then you might have some trouble with hitting the edges of what’s possible, but the casual or new blogger is in great hands here. For those in the know, a quick note. Tumblr uses templates based on CSS. You can customise that extensively. Now go do that while I talk to the new folk, okay?
How to create a new tumblr site (called a tumblog)
Firstly, like most other sites, you need an account. Click here, and do that. It’s very easy. They want your email address, a password (make it different to your other passwords), and a URL. One note of caution on the last one.
The URL is the address people can find your tumblog on. You can have custom domains with tumblr (that is you can use your own domain name), but for today let’s stick with the basics. You get to choose the part that says differentperspective in the example above. I made some bad choices in the past and now I’m paying for them. Choose something short, snappy and able to be memorised. You’ll almost certainly not get your first choice, but keep trying.
Once you’ve signed up, you’re ready to rock with the content.
Tumblr adds a few dummy posts to your screen so you can see how it’s going to look, then suggests you add a photo of yourself. How about we do that?
Click the Photo icon to start.
You can either upload a local image file, or point to one you have stored on the web. Add some sort of a caption, and click the Create post button. We can look at the other options a little later.
The tumblr folk are a little impatient, and want to help you customise your blog, so let’s do that first, and then we can take a proper look at the post.
Click Customize button. I’ll let the American spelling slide this time”¦
A whole host of sample content is displayed on the page so you can see the effect you are having on the posts. Click the Theme link, top left, and select one of them to see what it looks like on the samples.
If the themes are in the way, click the Theme link again and they will disappear.
Browse until you find one you like, and then click on Save Changes. If you are worried you’ve done the wrong thing, hit Cancel, and start again.
Tumblr suggests you follow some people next, but I’ll leave that one to you. Click the blue X in the top right of the message, and take control back.
A couple of points. What you can see now is the Dashboard view, and not what your tumblog actually looks like. Click the actual URL for your tumblog to see what it looks like with the assigned theme.
So long as you are logged in, http://www.tumblr.com will always return you to the Dashboard view.
And that’s good, because all the work is done here.
Let’s quickly add a few more posts, and then I’ll tell you about reblogging and tumblarity, I promise.
Tumblr directly supports all of the media types you can see listed at the top of the Dashboard. They all work in similar ways.
- Text – Add a title, and then some formatted text. You can add links and images from the web if you wish.
- Photo – You’ve already seen this. Title, photo from your PC or the web, rich-text caption, and a link if you like.
- Quote – Text of the quote, and the source if you have it. Each theme has a predefined font, colour, size and layout for quotes.
- Link – Title, the URL for the link, and optionally a rich-text description.
- Chat – Not an interactive chat, but a way to record a discussion in such a way as it’s easy to read. Just use alternate lines, and your theme will format it for you.
- Audio – I haven’t used this. I’m not sure about the legality of uploading audio to the site.
- Video – Ditto, but it works just like you’d expect.
It’s very easy, and very common in tumblogs to steal content. That is, to post to your tumblog something you’ve seen on another one. It’s all quite legitimate, and in the rules for tumblr. Reblogging is easy. Make sure you’re logged into tumblr, and then click on a post you like. In the top corner of your page are some buttons.
You can “˜heart’ a post to say that you like it. The owner gets a notification of that in their Dashboard.
You can choose to follow the blog, which means that from now on the posts to this blog will show up in your Dashboard. Not in your blog, just your Dashboard, so you can see them.
The Dashboard link just takes you back to your own Dashboard from wherever you are.
The Reblog button opens the item so that you can post it on your own blog, and it’s very similar to the screen you would have if you were posting it in the first place.
You can go ahead and repost the item from here, changing the caption/description if you wish. Politeness suggests that you leave the trail of links, so that other folk can find their way back to the source.
In some cases you can also change the type of post. For instance, you can repost an image as a link.
Most of us, however, don’t take it too seriously. It’s a measure of your popularity in tumblr, and there is no reliable information available on how it works. After a few weeks of monitoring it, I claim that it makes no sense at all, and I’m not alone.
Click the Tumblarity link to take a look at the details.
Along the top are some stats on your tumblog, and then to the left is your current score.
You can see your rank in the world ( so long as it is better than 50,000).
You can also take a look at your rank for your own country. Sometimes it’s good to live in a small country.
I can only reiterate two things. Firstly, it doesn’t matter, and you shouldn’t take it too seriously. Secondly, please visit my tumblog and save me!
I’d love to know how this goes for you, whether or not you have any problems, and how you feel about other platforms for similar functionality. Let me know in the comments.