Somebody asked the question on Reddit the other day – ‘I’m thinking of starting a blog. What site should I choose?’. The options for the budding blogger were Tumblr or WordPress.com. I gave my thoughts as to which of the two blogging platforms were suitable for him, and what type of blog you find on each and I will expand on that answer here. Just so you know I am on Tumblr and this very blog runs on the software that powers WordPress.com itself and I love them both.
Firstly when choosing a blog platform is to work out what sort of blogger you will be. If you are sticking to a particular topic you have expertise in for the benefit of people with an interest in, or somebody looking for that information you are creating a niche blog. If your blog is about you and your lifestyle, sharing your interests and updating personal statuses whatever the topic you are creating a personal blog. I personally believe WordPress is the best for niche blogs with fuller content (i.e structured, lengthy, thought out text), whilst Tumblr is the better option for personal blogs. The exception would be niche-photoblogs for which Tumblr is the ideal platform.
If you are still torn between the two create an account on both and see which one you find yourself logging into more.
The Niche Blogger
The typical ‘topical’ type typist will most likely want to create a following and develop a brand. Perhaps they will be interested in the statistics and such of running a blog. They would perhaps like more control on the appearance and functionality of the blog and integration with other services. If you would like total control over every aspect of your blog, you can use the free WordPress software on your own web hosting, which you would have to pay for along with your own domain name. This is not recommended if this is your first time blogging.
The Personal Blogger
You WILL NOT GET FAMOUS with a personal blog. There are about a billion personal bloggers on the internet and not one is famous, rich or rich and famous. I know that isn’t why everybody starts a blog but it is important to say. A blog about you will gain followers very slowly depending on your social circle and the networking you do. This is why I recommend Tumblr and it’s excellent social by default way of subscribing to and following other blogs. I follow some people I now know quite intricately on Tumblr that I would never have followed if the Tumblr ‘follow’ ethos and community wasn’t there. The fact that Tumblr works on a subscription feed homepage encourages this interaction and slowly you get involved in other people’s lives. Well, the people who interest you of course.
Features of Tumblr & WordPress
Both Tumblr & WordPress allow you to create posts, obviously. But they do it in different ways. WordPress has the one box where you can type whatever you like, include pictures, videos, links etc. and click post when it is ready. Tumblr makes it easier to post but you have to choose a post-type first: Text, Photo, Quote, Link, Chat, Audio or Video. Though WordPress allows you to craft your own post in the style you want, Tumblr sees lots of ‘things’ for want of a better word – and that is only a bad thing if you want to combine media types in one post. Tumblr also makes sharing things found on the web easier. When posting a ‘Video’ for example, you can enter the URL of a Youtube video and click post and Tumblr will do the hard work. With WordPress you have to copy the code from Youtube and headline it etc. Not exactly brain surgery but harder than Tumblr.
- Features of WordPress & Tumblr:
- Attach own domain name (swap ‘username.tumblr.com’ or ‘username.wordpress.com’ for ‘domain.com’)
- Post anything
- Can be read by anyone
- Customise the look of your blog (known as the Theme)
Look at any of the posts of the day linked from the WordPress homepage. They are all lengthy posts written for a target audience. Granted there may be one or two personal blogs, but most are subject specific posts. This doesn’t mean you can’t set up a personal blog here, I’m trying to explain that WP is more suited to the more enthusiastic blogger. After logging in, you are offered more options in blog control from the WordPress dashboard than the Tumblr equivalent. The first time blogger would probably be baffled here.
Wordpress offers more basic SEO power than Tumblr, from things like friendly URL’s to spam control.
WordPress is the blog platform of choice for many famous names from CNN to Techcrunch to the BBC and its roots stem deep from the free and open source software movement to which it remains loyal. With so many people contributing to the base software combined with the amount of people using it you know that WordPress will always have the latest features and remain future-proof.
As I am not currently updating a WordPress.com blog I cannot speak about the community and the interactivity but I do know that the ability to follow and subscribe to other WordPress blogs and follow them from your dashboard is there.
Tumblr is so easy to use it needs no explaining. Besides being a blog platform, Tumblr has been described as the rich-media, limitless version of Twitter and this is true. Sharing things from around the internet is easy and you can ‘reblog’ (like retweet) and ‘like’ the posts of your friends. Community games occur and get transferred through a friend of a friend to you, such as ‘write the next line in this poem and publish’ so there is some mindless banter but then what is a blog?
Besides personal blogs there are also the funny and fan-blogs such as the brilliant Kim Jong Il Looking At Things, though these are never profit seeking blogs. Apart from hearing stories of New York fashion houses using Tumblr, I have never seen a commercial blog nor even an advert on Tumblr. In fact I have never seen the commercial use of Tumblr in any way like we have seen companies promote their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and blogs in the past few years. I don’t think it will stay like this but it would be awesome if it did.
So which is better out of Tumblr or WordPress? It depends who you are and what your blog will consist of. And like I said at the beginning of this post, the best way is to decide for yourself by creating an account on both and seeing which one wins your heart over time. If you are not trying to win search engine hearts you may even want to maintain both Tumblr and WordPress. Whatever you choose have a happy time blogging.