Now that we've introduced what Tumblr is, are you thinking about using it to start your own online journal? Here are some things to consider when deciding if Tumblr.com is the right "blog" website for you.
No money tumbling out of your pocket – Tumblr is free to use. You don't have to pay any money to create or maintain your online journal.
Using it is nearly mess-proof – Tumblr's interface is really easy to use. While there are some advanced options, most of them are tucked out of the way and not right in your face where they may overwhelm you. It's near impossible to mess up your whole journal with one click, and even then, most things on Tumblr can easily be reversed.
Let people know what you think – Feedback options are simple: you can "like" an entry, leave a comment on it, or re-post it on your own journal (while giving the original poster credit).
Keep your thoughts to yourself (if you want to) – You don't have to share your journal with Tumblr's community if you don't want to. You can set it to "private" if you just want to practice writing online journals and experiment with Tumblr, without having to worry about anyone else scrutinizing what you do.
Designed for the new generation – Most of Tumblr's users are relatively young, so its content is heavily skewed towards things that younger people are interested in. This isn't necessarily a "con" if you're in your 20s or 30s, but if you're an older adult, it may be difficult to find journals that are relevant to you. Also, Tumblr's design is geared a bit more towards videos and images than traditional long-form text entries.
Limited search features – You can only really search for journals by their names or by content that is "tagged" with (i.e. related to) a particular word or phrase. Unlike other social networking websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, it is difficult to find journals based on associations with people you know or like.
A free-for-all in terms of content – Unless something on Tumblr potentially breaks copyright laws, there are generally no restrictions as to what can be put on people's journals. This means that you might find things on Tumblr that offend you or are otherwise overly explicit. You can limit the amount of this type of content that you see by enabling "Safe Mode."
The Bottom Line: 7/10
Tumblr is a good first step when it comes to learning how to write online journals ("blogs"), or even learning how to make your own website. It's free to use, and its interface is very simple and easy to learn. You can put pretty much whatever you want in your journal, including stories, pictures, videos, songs, animations, links to other websites, and more. Actions for leaving feedback are pretty simple and foolproof as well. And you don't have to share any of this with anyone else if you don't want to.
With that said, Tumblr has some serious shortcomings. Because the interface is focused on ease-of-use, your journals won't exactly be the most visually-appealing ones around unless you fiddle with the advanced options. The search capabilities aren't all that precise, either; you can find certain journals based on names, content "tagged" with certain key words or phrases, or loosely-defined categories, but not based on what your friends or anyone else you follow likes.
Finally, Tumblr is mostly used by younger people and doesn't moderate its content very heavily, so you may find things that offend you, are overly explicit, or just don't interest you. You can use "Safe Mode" to filter out some of this content, or keep your journal private so that nobody else can mess around with it.
We have a few more informational articles on Tumblr if you're interested, but if you want to get right into the action, head over to our next tutorial on how to create a Tumblr account!