Tumblr is one of the largest blogging platforms in the world. Its unique sharing features, allowing users to constantly reblog and repost materials by others, rather than always self-generate, has helped propel it to the top and made stars out of formerly obscure bloggers. The Economist, explaining why Tumblr is the most popular website for the 13-25 demographic, said that its popularity ” …seems to stem from its embrace of sharing, combined with its social looseness.”
There are over 170 million blogs on Tumblr right now, though, and the vast majority of blogs with 10,000+ followers to their name have more than just an easy gimmick propelling them forward. Here are your six tips for getting a blog and gaining followers. How am I qualified to clue you in? I currently run a blog with 25,000+ followers, and in the three years I’ve run it, I’ve seen a few blogs hit it big time — getting in the Huffington Post, etc — and sadly, I’ve seen a lot of flops.
1) Choose a Compelling Topic.
Most of us have varied interests. We don’t just spend all our time reading- we write, we watch movies, we hang out in pet stores because our mom won’t let us get a puppy, etc. The mistake a lot of beginners make is to try and be everything for everyone. Find a topic you really feel compelled toward, and go with that. It can be cooking pizza, or it can be examining Medieval art. (Example of a topic focused blog.) We’ll go with one of my brother’s old interests, “survival after the apocalypse.”
2) Don’t Start Yet.
Why do so many blogs end before they’re done? A pretty old post by the NYTimes indicates that 95% of blogs are now abandoned. Even if that number has changed since 2009, many people have witnessed friends and family get fired up about an idea, only to let it lie dormant after that first fiery month.
The reality of blogging is that it’s slow going sometimes, but especially in the beginning. You’re competing against millions of others for an audience. Don’t expect to have 1,000 followers by your fifth post, or that a few weeks of introductory blogging will start bringing in $2,000 a month on Google ad sense. Again, going back to #1: blog about something you love, otherwise, it’ll be hard to see it through until the end.
Instead of plunging in, give yourself a few weeks to orient yourself. Follow at least 30 other blogs on Tumblr that have interests similar to yours. This way, even if you run out of things to say, you still have something to pass on to your followers, as well as a way to keep yourself connected to the community. Start drafting posts as you go along.
3) Start Blogging, While Following a Few Rules.
There is no set of rules you absolutely need to follow for blogging, but there are a few that can make your blog infinitely more appealing to the average individual. Tumblr is a great platform for sharing the short and sweet, so try and start off with entries no longer than 100-200 words. Part of this is practice: It will force you to create a concise message. People often fall in love with their own voice and forget the point they’re trying to make. Treat posts like school essays in a way: each one should have basically an intro, middle, and end, and break every three or so sentences into small paragraphs so that it’s easier on the eye.
I’ve found in my own experience that, if you have trouble cutting yourself back on length, adding a “read more” cut does not prevent people from reading what you’ve written: in fact, it often compels them to click and reblog more than they would have otherwise.
4) Don’t Start a Fight You Can’t Finish.
You might want to keep in mind that, again, this is the most popular site out there for 13-25 year olds. To really build your blog up, you’ll need more than just negative controversy to get there. And many people realize the hard way that they’re eager to call someone names until suddenly they have 200 messages berating them. Turn off anon when you need to, and try and provide links for any assertions you make. This will go to number 5…
5) Make Yourself an Expert.
The best way to have a blog that people continually flock to and follow is to become an expert. Know more than anyone on Tumblr about a subject. Search for more information about it on Twitter, Youtube, books, magazines, ancient Egyptian runes, etc. If you really were blogging about survivalism, you need to go beyond just jokes about zombies and copy/pasted quotes from Bear Grylls. Start messaging survivalist experts, ask them questions for your blog. Do research on specific sets of information people might want to know: how do you survive a snowstorm? Alaska? The desert? Eating an entire pack of oreos? Etc. Be the first person to answer niche questions.
6) Attempt to Get your Message Elsewhere.
Once you’ve built up your site a bit, contact people to see if they’ll help promote you. And just link people to your blog, period. I’ve gained many blog followers from Facebook and Twitter because I interact with people there, and will leave blog post urls when it fits discussion. Look for online survival sites and ask for other survival-enthusiasts to check out your blog and give you honest advice. And hey: actually follow said advice if it seems valid enough.
- Tag everything as much as you can; that’s how people find your topical content.
- Add ads to your blog. There are multiple ad platforms. Google Adsense requires that you own your url: Amazon Affiliates doesn’t.
- If you keep a Twitter, use this for blogging inspiration. It’s often possible to start off a post explaining a Tweet by an expert, or even just reblog your own Tweet – Tumblr audiences respond well to text framed into an image (strange, but true. Example of what this looks like).
- Always have permission for photos. Tumblr’s policies on copyright are fairly clear. If they receive multiple DMCA copyright notifications regarding your blog, they can take it down and have done so even in the case of very popular bloggers. What doesn’t matter: that you linked to their site, that you removed it afterward, that you didn’t know it was someone’s copyrighted work. Believe it or not, you are running a real risk of being fined and removed.