How to Build an Online Platform: tumblr

Photo credit: Scott Beale on Flickr
Continuing with my somewhat sporadic How to Build series, it’s time to talk about one of my favorite social media sites—tumblr!

tumblr is a surprise favorite, because when I first created an account, I had no idea what I was doing. It took me several weeks of seeing what other people were doing and playing around for me to really get it. But I’m glad I stuck with it, because it’s now a pretty fabulous traffic source, and also I find inspirational and/or funny things on there all the time.

  • tumblr birthday: July 9, 2011 (roughly 3.5 years, as of this writing…at least, that’s when I reblogged my first post)
  • Followers: 840 (as of this writing)
  • Time spent weekly: Honestly? No idea. I check it daily and sometimes spend two minutes and sometimes…considerably longer. 


  • Follow a bunch of blogs that interest you. This is the quickest (and most enjoyable) way to get the most out of tumblr, while also learning how tumblr interactions work. I follow writing blogs, art blogs, author blogs, and loads of blogs about books. Right now, my most liked and reblogged blogs (according to tumblr) are Beth Revis’s tumblr, YA Highway, Corinne Duyvis’s tumblr, Renée Ahdieh’s tumblr, Nita Tyndall’s tumblr, The Writing Cafe, The Art of Fiction, Disability in Kidlit, and It’s a Writer Thing

  • Add tags when you reblog. If you’re familiar with Twitter hashtags, these work fairly similarly. I’ll admit I’ve been a little lazy with this lately, but this actually really helps other people stumble across your posts, even if they don’t follow you.

  • Create your own posts, when possible. Reblogging is great, and probably will be 80% of your tumblr interactions (which is fine, because a large part of tumblr is about sharing each other’s posts). But I also recommend you try to share your own content whenever possible. I cross-post all of my Writability posts and bookishpixie vlogs on tumblr, and occasionally cross-post Instagram pics or create something just for tumblr. It’s a great way to show your follows a little more about you (not just what you like to reblog) and can be a nice way to inject extra personality.

  • Add commentary when you reblog. You don’t have to do this every time, of course (I definitely don’t), but when you see something that you can comment on, go for it. The great thing about tumblr is you can see what other people have commented, and sometimes the comments end up being more interesting than the original post (or make the original post more interesting). This is also another great way to inject personality and give the original poster extra feedback. 

So those are my tumblr tips! Now I want to hear from you: are you on tumblr? What tips (or questions) do you have?

Twitter-sized bites: 

Looking to build a platform on tumblr? @Ava_Jae shares her experience and a few tips. (Click to tweet
"Follow a bunch of blogs that interest you," and other tumblr platform building tips from @Ava_Jae. (Click to tweet)


Briana Morgan said...

I'm loving this series so far. No matter how many social platforms you might be on, you can always brush up on your strategy and learn a few things. :) I've just started using tumblr, and I'm looking forward to getting to know it better. Thanks!

Briana | The Novelista

Jade Joseph said...

I love using tumblr, I just need to work on my consistency and could definitely work on adding more tags when I post. Great advice!

Ava Jae said...

Thanks, Jade! I love tumblr, too—and I also need to work on my tagging, as I mentioned in the post lol.

Ava Jae said...

You're welcome, Briana! Tumblr has become one of my favorite sites over the years, and I hope you get the hang of it and grow to love it as much as I do!

E.G. Moore said...

Tumblr sounds like a great media opportunity, and I've been curious about it for a few years. But I don't feel like I have the time to add another form of social media right now. My Twitter obsession takes up enough time.

Caryn Caldwell said...

This was great. Thank you! I started using Tumblr a little over a month ago. Like you, it took a while to get the hang of it, but now I love it! Am off to look at the other accounts you suggested (and yours, too, of course!)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I *just* joined and am pretty pumped about it!

Ava Jae said...

It's definitely a time-suck, and I won't deny that. I've found, however, that a lot of my posts have gotten huge boosts in traffic months after I posted them to tumblr, which I think is pretty neat. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook don't have a very long lifespan for their posts, but tumblr posts can go viral at any time. :)

Ava Jae said...

*high-fives* Yay! I hope you grow to love it as much as I do! If you have any questions, let me know. :)

Ava Jae said...

You're so welcome! It definitely takes a bit of an adjustment period, but I'm so very glad I stuck with it.

And welcome to tumblr, by the way! :)

Gwen Tolios said...

Thanks so much for this! I'm new on the platform, but I do already love it.

Ava Jae said...

You're so welcome! I do love tumblr quite a bit. :)

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