Let’s Talk About Tumblr

This is probably a blasphemous thing to do on a WordPress blog, but this isn’t abandoning one format for the other. It’s simply about expanding my horizons.

I read something a few months back that really stuck with me. It was from author Jon Acuff (who went from blogger of Stuff Christians Like to writing books to writing and speaking about chasing your dreams), and he mentioned that he asked a group of teens who out of them read traditional blogs, such as what you are reading right now. Not a single hand was raised.

It shouldn’t have been so shocking to me. I know a few teenagers do read this blog, so obviously this is not the case all across the board, but I imagine that was a decent sample group. I mean, I work with teenagers at church, and I know:

1. They communicate via Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, etc. All short and sweet.

2. They might use Facebook a little, but not much.

3. They don’t really do e-mail.

(By the way, if any of you girls read this blog but have never told me before, *waves!*) 

Since then, the thought of starting a Tumblr has crept into my mind (maybe before too). But what would I do with Tumblr, I wonder?

1. Post pretty pictures (like I do on Pinterest, but I would just have to pick one instead of going on a rampage of posting 50 beautiful dresses in one sitting)?

2. Write short anecdotes about… life? writing? books and movies?

3. Reblog Fitz-Simmons GIFs?

I already feel like I spend too much time online and not enough writing or… you know… exercising or cleaning or *insert other responsible adult thing here*.

Anyhow, why am I so concerned about what teens do online? Because I want to write for them! If Tumblr is the best way for me to connect with them as an author, then I should probably have one. Several YA authors have embraced this format, such as Kiera Cass and Veronica Roth. And while at this point, I would be surprised if I quereyed agents this year (though there’s six months left this year, so I suppose it’s possible! But it would certainly be much later this year), when I do, I want to have an established presence already. I don’t want to basically say, “Hey, check out my social media presence that I started last week to impress you.”

I already want an audience base, which I have with some wonderful people who read this blog and have told me they totally want to read what I write one day (I’m so honored every time anyone says this by the way, truly), but I want to be up to date on things. I don’t think any author should feel pressured to be on every form of social media by any means, but since I have decided that for now, my Instagram is for my real life friends and not something I really share outside of that, all I really have that is “teen friendly” is Twitter. (Unless Pinterest counts? I’m not sure. I actually have a decent Pinterest following.) And while I usually tweet every day, it’s only occasionally interesting (or maybe it’s never interesting, I don’t know).

But I don’t want any avenue pulling me away from the ultimate goal of publishing a book.

Of course, there’s a lot to say about motivation and self-control, and I should probably stop blaming the Internet. 🙂

Anyhow, please share your thoughts about Tumblr if you have experience with it! Do you have one? What do you post on yours? What would you like to see from me if I decided to create one? How much time do you typically spend on Tumblr in a day? Does it have a good app? Please enlighten me! 

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26 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Tumblr

  1. I think tumblr is a great way to communicate with your readers! You can keep them updated with your work and there’s a messaging system too. I do have a tumblr (distrustly.tumblr.com) and honestly I spend way too much time on it. Most tumblr bloggers post stuff ranging from pretty pictures to quotes to writing pieces-almost anything actually!

  2. Well, I have a Tumblr and I’ve noticed that it’s more of a place to reblog what’s already popular rather than put out your own opinions. But I only use mine for fandom/nerd related things anyway, whereas the style of blogging at WordPress seems to be in the style of journalism.

    • I do know a lot of Tumblrs are used for fandom purposes, which I wouldn’t want to do that exclusively, so I was curious about what other advantages it might have. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  3. Hey, I’m a teenage girl! *waves* I do have tumblr and use it quite frequently. And I’m just basing this off of what I’ve seen, following 600+ blogs, that in general, teenagers use tumblr more for reblogging pictures (kinda like Pinterest! except minus the boards) and gifs and funny text posts and etc. I rarely see people write their own posts but that could just be saying more about the types of blogs I seek to follow but because the community on Tumblr is so large, I think that Tumblr is a good way to go! I’d certainly follow you if you made an account!

    Also regarding the app, it’s pretty good. They recently made some updates and it’s a lot better than before. There are still some things that are ehhh but overall, it works efficiently!

  4. Hahaha I used to be a teenage girl. I’m 20 now though (but I think it still counts). I’ve had a Tumblr for about four years now, and I love how I discover so many cool things for it (like movies to watch, upcoming comics, anime, FUNNY PICS, etc.), but not so much books just because I already have a book blog and I discover all my reads from there. To me, it’s also my entertainment, because Tumblr does have a lot of hilarious posts along with tons of debates and commentary. But I’ve definitely learned and become more self aware of the world around me than before. So yeah, maybe try it out for a bit?

    • Haha, I used to be a teen too, it was just nearly a decade ago! 😉 Oh, and we blogged on Xanga back then. Ah, such a different time… Anyhow, thanks for your thoughts!

  5. This is interesting, Amy, and you’re making me think a lot here. My instinct is to recommend that you not get on tumblr unless you think you will use it regularly — the way it is intended to be used. I’ve noticed that some people tend to prefer blogging on tumblr vs. a more “traditional” method like WordPress, but I think there is a major difference between the two. I’ve had several tumblrs over the years, but every time I start writing actual POSTS on there, I end up just wanting to post it on WordPress instead. Why? Here’s my conclusion:

    Tumblr is for people who want to SHARE their stuff and don’t care much about feedback.
    WordPress is for people who want to DISCUSS things and DO want feedback.

    The lack of any decent and reliable commenting system on tumblr confirms this for me. It’s about Likes and Reblogs. Share something and hope people reblog it so that it gets exposure — but don’t expect much commentary (at least not in a way that engenders any sort of threaded and easy-to-follow discussion).

    I do think tumblr is a great method for authors to connect with their teen readers, though. I’ve noticed this happens in one of two ways (usually): 1 – they share pictures (personal, bookish things, fandom things, or author announcements); 2 – they respond to reader/fan questions which were submitted through the Ask function (this, I think, is the real jewel for author-reader connection).

    Anyway…. did I help at all? >_>

    • I definitely agree that I only want to get one if I use it regularly, which is why I wanted some feedback before I possibly dove into it. I also agree with what you said the differences between a regular blog and Tumblr are; I guess I just haven’t been sure when I would want to use Tumblr for. Maybe it wouldn’t make sense until further down the road when I have things to share like cover reveals or whatever. I really appreciate your input, Kelley! It’s more to chew on!

      • Yeah, right now I hardly ever use mine. Sometimes I’ll have instagram push through some images to tumblr, if they’re bookish (but that still feels kind of redundant). A few times I’ve reblogged interesting things, but for some reason I don’t generally like to do that. I’ve started using it to post images that we use as part of our blog posts, like our bookish guides or my Death Note flowchart, in an attempt to get more exposure (and of course I have them linked back to the post on our site). But mostly I just use it as a way to follow (or “like” posts from) all of the other folks who are publishing interesting things on there. Anyway…

  6. Great post! I’m not sure if this will help, but since you mentioned querying and wanting a web presence I thought this might apply. I don’t have a Tumblr, but last year at SCBWI LA I went to a session taught by Jenny Bent, it was all about social media and she had some really interesting things to say. She talked every type of social media, and she specifically talked about Tumblr a lot. She said she loved it because it’s a great way to be generous, so she totally recommended it. But, she also said that when it comes to social media, it’s not about doing everything–her bottom line recommendation was to just pick two forms of social media you really like and do them well. Whether it be twitter, blogging, Instagram, FB… whatever. 🙂

    • Thanks for the thoughts, Stephanie! I’m actually going to a SCBWI conference this fall and put in a preference for a session much like the one you’re describing, so maybe that will help provide me with even further insight. But who knows, by then there might be a new kid on the block in social media that might be a more relevant tool! Who knows! I do think it’s good to just really focus on a couple though, like she said!

  7. I really like tumblr for my fandom stuff – I actually don’t really keep it to maintain for myself- but more to see what other people are putting out there in the tags I follow. It’s sort of like Pinterest like you said, but it’s just my collection of fan stuff. I follow a few author tumblrs and I feel like they use it as an easier way to blog short thoughts and reblog fan-made things related to their books (which is always great to see!) and also it’s handy for people to ask them questions. I think as a blogger it’s not as useful, but maybe it would be as an author. (oops and now I see there have been similar statements made in previous comments!)

    I don’t spend a lot of time on it though – maybe I go through it three or four times a week, and the app is okay, but because it’s so image heavy it usually takes some time for me to load, so I don’t usually like to visit it through the app. It is always hard to maintain all these social media things, but I usually like to try each one because there might be one that I really love!

    • I mean, I could start off casually using it, collecting fandom stuff and checking out author stuff and all that, and maybe slowly build it up to more over time. Hmmm… you gave me some things to consider! Thanks Charlene!

  8. Unprofessionally, I can go on and on about how to use Tumbr but professionally, I don’t know what to say. You can go a lot of ways to using it, like using it as a place to store inspiration but the way Tumblr can benefit an author the most is if they have a following already and they have fans who want to ask questions. That’s the distinct advantage to using Tumblr. If you do want to make it an author Tumblr and plan on releasing snippets and stuff, check out Lang Leav’s blog and just observe because Lang Leav’s poems can circulate a lot.

    As for me, I just use Tumblr for bookish fandoms and things. Or my bookish edits. It’s actually pretty cool sometimes. 😀

    • I can see where the questions feature would be useful in the future… someone else had mentioned that as well, so it sounds like a popular part of Tumblr for authors. I was thinking about all this last night and was thinking about how I could create story mood boards or something, and your bookish edits sound fun too! Thanks for your thoughts, Shanelle!

  9. I’ve been thinking about starting a Tumblr as well! Technically, I did, but I had so much going on and I couldn’t get into it. We could be Tumblr newbie buddies or something 😉 I love looking at GIFs, but especially the comments on gifs. I feel like I’d be inadequate or something on it though so I think intimidation is really stopping me.

    • I think I feel a little intimidated too, but I’m not sure why! But yes, we could totally be newbies together! I’ll keep you updated if I decide to go for it! 🙂

  10. I actually started out with a tumblr about 4 years ago and only just recently switched to wordpress as my primary blogging platform. I love tumblr for what it is — that is, pictures/gifs, fandom posts, and clever comment threads. However, the way I’ve chosen to loop my blogs together is working well for me so far. My (*more* serious) wordpress posts are sent to tumblr via publicize, and then on tumblr I simply reblog whatever I please! Without those posts appearing on wordpress.

      • Go for it! There’s a link to my tumblr on my wordpress’s “let me introduce myself”. Even if you’re only “kind of” considering trying out tumblr, I’d say go for it! You can always delete your account (:

  11. I’m a teenager and I don’t use Tumblr at all… I know, I’m a weirdo! I’ve just never really managed to get into it, and trust me, I’ve tried a few times. I’d create an account and stare at my dashboard and wonder what to do and which awesome blogs to follow. And I have to admit that I’m pretty picky when it comes to following blogs: I want to follow those well-known fandom ones everyone talks about, because they’re really entertaining! Only, I can’t find them because I don’t know what they’re called. :/

    I know I’m definitely in the minority here, though, so I’m glad that you’re looking to expand your horizons! I’ll probably never blog on Tumblr even if I figure out how to use it because so many other people are on there, so it’s hard to truly stand out and be different. In my opinion, at least. 🙂 And I don’t think I’ve told you, but I would definitely want to read what you write someday! It just makes me so proud to see bloggy friends grow into something more, like a published author or editor or stuff like that.

  12. I started my tumblr for kind of the same reason – to expand my reach some. Currently I have like 3 followers so I don’t think I’m very good at it – but I haven’t tried that hard, yet. Mostly I did it because I found a plugin for wrodpress that cross posts my blog to tumblr – so it doesn’t really require any extra effort for me. But then I start browsing tumblr and that can take time because there’s lots of pretty….

    I’ve found it’s a lot like pinterest only without any sort of organization. Which bothers me but I’ve decided to just go with.

    Maggie Stiefvater and Leigh Bardugo are also pretty active on tumblr and I find them fun to follow.

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