How to Use Tumblr

Learn Basics of Blogging on Tumblr

Tumblr dashboard
Courtesy Tumblr, Inc.

This simple guide shows how to use Tumblr and will get you up and "tumbling" with the free microblogging service in 15 minutes or less. (Read this what is Tumblr article if you're wondering what it is. Or check out an overview of social blogs like Tumblr.)

To tumble, follow these steps:

1. Sign Up at

First, sign up for a free Tumblr account at You simply enter your email address, choose a password and select a user name which will also be your Tumblr web address.

Tumblr will send you an email with a link to confirm your email address.

That means the username you choose will be displayed publicly in the address/URL of your Tumblr site, as in http://yourusername/ So choose it carefully. You will be able to modify it later if you want, though. Separately, after you sign up, you will customize your page to create a name for your Tumblr page that others will see as the page title.

2. Learn the Tumblr Dashboard

Your Tumblr account has a private dashboard that only you see, where you post content and monitor content from other people's Tumblr accounts; as well as a public Tumblr page which is where anyone can see the Tumblr content that you publish, even if they don't have a Tumblr account. Familiarize yourself with the dashboard and learn the different types of posts you can make to your Tumblr micro-blog.

3. Start Posting on Tumblr to Learn How to Use Tumblr

Tumblr allows you to post the usual content types, including text, photos, video, audio (MP3 files) and web links.

It also has a special category of a post called "quotes" which formats your quotes to display both the text and source on separate lines. Posting on Tumblr requires you to select which type of media category you want to post first so it can format your content accordingly.

Enter a quote or make a text post to start, then click the "preview" button after you have entered your content in the posting box.

If you like it, click the "post" button and your content will go live on your Tumblr blog.

4. Follow and Be Followed

Like Twitter, Tumblr uses "follow" as its term for connecting with other users. You can "follow" other Tumblr accounts, which basically means subscribing to their Tumblr updates. Other users can, of course, follow your Tumblr, too. So start following other Tumblr accounts in order to make connections. get people to follow you and really get the hang of how to use Tumblr.

5. Name Your Tumblr Blog

You can give your Tumblr blog a name which will appear across the top as the page title on the Web and also show up in the Tumblr dashboards of other users who follow you. The name does not have to be the same as your username, but it can be. It's all about branding--what are your goals in using Tumblr? Are you promoting yourself, a company, a product or just chattering on a topic? Think about your goals in choosing your Tumblr name to make sure they are aligned. It's easy to change at any time, though, so just choose one to get going. Go to the left side of your dashboard and click "customize" to change this name and make other design tweaks.

6. Customize Tumblr's Appearance

In addition to customizing the title of your Tumblr, you can easily change the design by selecting a new "theme" or templated color and layout scheme.

Click the tool icon ("preferences") at the top of your dashboard, and then click "Customize." Your Tumblr page will now appear in "edit" mode with tabs in the upper left labeled Info, Theme, Appearance, Pages and Advanced.

Click "THEME" to change the design. A bunch of different page designs will appear. Click each one to preview it. Play around to find the template that reflects an image you want to project. If you know HTML and CSS coding, you can create your own Tumblr design, too, using the ADVANCED tab. It's easier, though to select one of the pre-designed templates Tumblr offers for free.

Some offer more customization options than others. There are also premium designs that cost money.

Separately, you can upload background images to most themes to customize the look of your pages. It's also a good idea to write a tagline describing your mission or goals in using Tumblr, which will appear on the main page of your blog. In addition, you can add static pages that will automatically appear in your Tumblr site menu. At a minimum, it's a good idea to create an "About" page telling people who you are and what your Tumblr site is about.

6. ReBlog and Reblog

Much as Twitter allows retweeting, Tumblr allows reblogging. You can repost what others have posted on Tumblr and attribute it to them, which is called reblogging.

7. Learn Tumblr Tools, Lingo

Tumblr offers a variety of posting tools and techniques and has its own lingo. Learning how to use Tumblr effectively requires you to familiarize yourself with some lingo that is particular to blogging and to Tumblr, too.

Queuing, for instance, is a standard blogging technique that allows you to write and save blog posts in advance of when you want to publish them and then direct Tumblr to publish your content later at a pre-determined time. Use Tumblr's "Que" tool for this. Click the "Community" tab in your dashboard to set options for "Questions" and "Replies." "Replies" are direct, private messages you can receive from people you follow. You can also create an Ask Page or Question page, which is an area of your dashboard where you can let people ask you questions.

8. Go Social on Tumblr

Tumblr allows you to connect with other social services easily. Click "Services" and select the social networks you want to link to your Tumblr pages. In addition to Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, you can select from most major blogging services such as, Blogger, and LiveJournal. Be sure to click "SAVE + CLOSE" when you are done selecting the social networks you want to connect.

9. Get Official Help from Tumblr

Tumblr has some help pages and FAQs to help you learn how to use Tumblr, but they are fairly skimpy.

Now just go do it. Good luck tumbling!