Tumblr: What It Is and How to Join It

The blogging platform with social features is making a comeback

Tumblr is a blogging platform with some social media-style features and focuses on sharing art, photos, audio, videos, and other media. This article explains Tumblr, how to sign up and what it costs, and how Tumblr compares to social media platforms like Twitter.

What Is Tumblr?

Screenshot of the mani Tumblr dashboard

Tumblr combines micro-blogging focused on posting text and multimedia with some aspects of social media. Content posted on Tumblr is generally longer and richer than what is shared in a single Twitter post. In this way, Tumblr is more like Blogger or Medium, more focused on creating a personal page. Tumblr posts can contain text, photos, video and audio, live-streamed content, and more. Because of the focus on multimedia, Tumblr is often used by writers, artists, musicians, and other creatives to share their work.

Users can comment on posts. Tumblr makes it easy to share someone else's posts, often with commentary or additional content added on by the person doing the sharing. Blogs can be set to be public or private and users can have more than one blog.

Users can follow each other's blogs and then the latest updates to the followed blogs show up in a dashboard interface similar to a timeline on Twitter or Facebook.

How Many People Use Tumblr?

Tumblr doesn't provide a lot of information about how many people use the site. Tumblr claims there are over 500 million blogs on the platform (though one user can have more than one blog), but not much more. Some estimates say that Tumblr has as many as 375 million monthly visits. For perspective, the same estimates say Facebook gets about 11 billion monthly visits.

Does Tumblr Ban Adult Content?

No, but with some exceptions.

For many years, Tumblr was a free-for-all platform in which almost any kind of legal content was allowed, including explicit sexual content. In 2018, the platform banned adult content during its ownership by Verizon. That decision sparked a significant backlash among users and contributed to a decline in the use of the platform and some users even deleted their Tumblr accounts.

In 2022, Tumblr's new owner—Automattic, which also owns the WordPress blogging platform—reversed that decision, allowing nudity and other adult content, but maintaining a ban on explicit sex.

Individual blogs can be labeled as containing mature or adult content and users can set their preferences to filter out such content.

How Do I Join Tumblr? 

Just go to the Tumblr sign-up page and create an account using your email address, Google account, Apple ID, or Twitter ID. Once you've done that, you can start creating blogs, commenting on other people's posts, and more.

What Does Tumblr Cost?

Generally speaking, Tumblr is free. You can create your own blogs, read other people's posts, and generally use all of the key features of the platform without paying.

For the most part, Tumblr is supported by ads, but there are a few paid features. Users can pay to remove ads from their experience. The site offers "Important Blue Internet Checkmarks"—which mocks Twitter's account verification system but doesn't seem to do much. Tumblr Blaze lets you pay to show your posts to users who otherwise wouldn't see them. Users can also buy credits that can be given in appreciation to users who are live-streaming content.

How Does Tumblr Compare to Twitter?

Tumblr vs. Twitter

  • More like a website-building tool than a social network

  • Offers creative control over site design and layout

  • Allows users to follow each other and get updated about new posts

  • Users can share and comment on each other's posts

  • A social network with no website-building features

  • All users have the same design and layout

  • Allows users to follow each other and gets updated about new posts

  • Users can share and comment on each other's posts

So Is Tumblr a Social Media Site?

While Tumblr isn't a direct replacement for social networks like Twitter, it's a rich, full-featured platform with a sizable community. The combination of audience and features, especially the emphasis on multimedia, makes it a great choice for users who have more to say than fits into Twitter's 240-character limit.

  • What is Tumblr used for?

    Tumblr is a blogging system much like Blogger.com. It’s often referred to as a microblogging platform because many users only create short posts. It’s also found a home with many artists as the Tumblr blogging tools make it especially easy to upload images, music, and video. A social media feature allowed posts on Tumblr to be populated on Facebook and Twitter, thus allowing for interaction with readers with less effort.

  • What is a blogroll on Tumblr?

    A blogroll is a selected list of blogs and other sites the creator of the Tumblr site thinks are great. The other sites could be affiliated with the Tumblr creator or simply be sites the Tumblr creator loves and wants to make sure everyone sees.

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