A basic guide to getting started with Tumblr

It seems like everyday there’s a cool new app, social network or blogging platform to get all excited about, but for a long time now Tumblr has been a firm favourite for everything from posting photos to sharing lengthy posts or even showcasing your portfolio.

It’s not just us regular bloggers and geeks who have got in on the Tumblr action either, some of our favourite magazines have a Tumblr account (check out Vice and Total Film) and even Beyonce has a highly customised blog over at I Am (yeah, we’re not sure why it’s called that either).

If you’re not already versed in the wonderful word of Tumblr blogging, liking and re-posting, then here’s our basic introduction to the platform, including everything you need to know about getting started, some top tips about who to follow and extra resources if you want to find out more.

So what is it?

Tumblr is a platform that gives you a way to blog. So you can set up an account and then use it to publish any kind of content you want online. That’s the real beauty of Tumblr, other blogging platforms like WordPress or Blogger have a focus on long, wordy posts but when it comes to Tumblr the choice of content is totally up to you and its super simple menu bar allows you to upload anything you’d like, such as video, quotes or text posts in seconds.


How do you get started?

To start blogging, Tumblogging or even Tumbling you need to visit www.tumblr.com and sign yourself up to a brand new account.

You’ll firstly be asked your basics, like your email address and the password you’d like to use as well as your username. Now onto the important bit, what do you want your blog to be called and what do you want your URL to be? Assuming other users haven’t taken it already you can choose whatever you’d like, such as YOURLOVELYNAMEHERE.tumblr.com if you’d really like!

So that’s it, there’s plenty more to do, but it only takes a matter of minutes and you technically have yourself a shiny new Tumblr blog. Congratulations!

How do you post, re-blog and like?

Once you’ve got your blog when you sign in you’ll see a dashboard that’s packed with a lot of different features. Don’t be put off, it’ll only take you a few minutes to get your head around everything. At the top you’ll see the menu bar we looked at earlier, so click on any of those different types of content to upload something.

A simple text post will bring up a box for you to fill with your insightful words, just add a title, write the body of the post, add some tags on the right hand side so people can find your content if they’re searching for something specific and then hit publish!


Another great thing about Tumblr (can you tell we’re big fans?) is that there’s a real sense of community among the users. Sure you can just publish your posts and send them out into the ether, but most users like to find others that have similar interests so they can make connections and be inspired.

Once you’ve started following some awesome bloggers (which we’ll show you how to do later) you can then show you like their content by… well… “liking” it, which works in much the same way as a Facebook “like” but there’s a little heart to press instead of a thumbs up. You’re also able to re-post content too if you think it’s interesting to your readers and don’t worry, Tumblr automatically sorts it out for you so the original person who posted it gets the credit too.

The like and re-blog buttons are sometimes in different places depending on the blog you’re visiting, but you can often find them in the top corner of a Tumblr blog.

How do you customise your blog?

Tumblr allows you to make all kinds of changes to the way your blog looks for free. Simply visit your blog and hit the “customise” button. From here you’re able to make all kinds of changes to the look and feel of your Tumblr, such as the description, the title and (depending on your theme) things like the colour and appearance of your fonts.

The theme is the overall look of your Tumblr blog and you can choose free ones (there are literally thousands over on www.tumblr.com/themes/) or premium ones that’ll cost you a little bit extra.

It’s important to make your blog look a bit different, but it’s also very easy to become obsessed with different colours and what a minimal theme will say about you. So remember it’s the content that’s the important part, not whether the background has the same texture as a stone wall or not.


How do you find and follow cool people?

As finding and following cool people is really important to the way Tumblr works, we recommend you have a good search to find users that post content you really like. There are lots of different ways to find people you already know using the platform and those that write about and post things you’re interested in, we suggest checking out the Explore option on Tumblr to begin with, which allows you to find people by browsing different topics.

Great resources for learning more and becoming a Tumblr whizz

So there’s our basic introduction to Tumblr, but here are some really useful links for building up your blog, customising the theme and finding great people to follow:

For theme inspiration, check out Tumblr’s extensive library.

Check out Smashing Magazine’s in-depth guide to Tumblr.

Complex has compiled a list of 25 top celebrities to follow on Tumblr.

About Becca Caddy

Becca is freelance writer specialising in all things tech, web culture and social media. She works as the Editor of Shiny Shiny and the UK Editor of Popgadget and has written for various print and online publications, including The Sunday Times, BitchBuzz and New Media Age’s spin-off publication, Reputation Online. Follow Becca on Twitter: @beccacaddy