It’s been one of the best things I’ve done on my blog, for a number of good reasons, and I highly recommend it to any blogger.
Let’s start by talking a little about tumblelogs. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re about the simplest blogs there are — basically a collection of links, quotes, photos, videos, dialogue, snippets of text, or anything else you might run into while surfing the net.
A tumblelog can contain regular blog posts, but for the most part it’s links and other media you stumble across that you want to share with others. And it’s easy: you can use a service like Tumblr and get a free tumblelog running in minutes. Using their bookmarklet, you can link to a post or photo or video within seconds. No hassle, no wasted time.
From my blog’s main page, I have a prominent link to the Zen Habits tumblelog that says “Links”. This lets my readers know that if they’d like to see links that I want to share with them, they can go to my tumblelog … or even subscribe to it separately if they want.
Not every Zen Habits reader looks at the tumblelog regularly, or
So why use a tumblelog? The reasons are many and good:
1. Links for your readers.
A tumblelog is an additional service you’re providing to your readers, for free, and without a lot of hassle. A good segment of your readers will appreciate the interesting and useful links you find for them, and those who don’t want the links don’t need to be bothered by them. It’s a perfect solution for everyone. It’s added value to the readers, which makes your blog more valuable, and more worthy of their time.
2. Doesn’t dilute your blog.
However, posting a bunch of links from your blog every day dilutes your content. Many bloggers do link posts, of course, along with featured content. Sometimes the link posts outnumber the featured content. But here’s the thing: the featured content is most likely the reason they come to your blog. Sure, there are some who come for the links, especially if you’re a huge blog that finds great posts for people. But in general, they want the really interesting and useful content that you write. So by separating the links from the content, you are essentially strengthening the content portion of your blog (the main part) while still providing the links in a separate tumblelog.
3. Less clutter.
I’m a fan of simplicity, and while not everything I do on my blog is simple and uncluttered, I think that clutter is visually distracting and turns off the reader. Simple, uncluttered design is the ideal — think Macintosh aesthetics. By removing the links, and putting them on your tumblelog, you are removing clutter from your main blog. And that’s a good thing.
4. Help other bloggers, without any harm.
Many times other bloggers will write to me and ask me to link to their posts. And they are often great posts, but again, I don’t like to dilute my main content with link posts … so I link to them from the tumblelog, which makes them happy because my readers can still find their post, and makes me happy because I’ve helped another blogger without harming my blog. And helping other bloggers is desirable, because we are a community and we should cooperate, not compete.
5. Easy bookmarking.
There are many bookmarking services, including the ever-popular del.icio.us, and they’re all excellent. However, a tumblelog can also be a form of bookmarking. As I’m already posting links to my favorite articles, for my readers, I can also use those links as a way to find something interesting I read a few days ago. Just quickly look through the tumblelog, and I’m on my way. It’s two birds, one stone.
6. Easy web journal.
Actually, it’s three birds with that one stone, because a tumblelog is like a journal of your web exploits over time. Want to see what you were reading a year ago? Just browse through your tumblelog. It’s a journal without the hassle.
7. Releases the urge to share.
Many times I’ll stumble across a great post, or a funny video, or an amazing photo. I can’t wait to share it with people, especially my readers. What is a blogger to do? In the past, I’d have to either do a whole post about it, or a post with a bunch of links, both of which would take time … or not share it at all. It was a dilemma, solved by my tumblelog. Now when I want to share, I press a button, and it’s done.
8. Let’s you focus on the essential.
By taking care of your links in a separate and hassle-free way, the tumblelog frees you to focus on what’s really important on your blog: your content. I know this was mentioned in Item #2, but it’s another way of looking at it — instead of thinking about links diluting your blog, think about what you should focus on. And that’s creating great content. Tumblelogs give you more time for that (see next item), and reminds you of what you should be doing.
9. Saves time.
I’ve mentioned several times how easy it is to link, but it’s so important it deserves a separate item. Doing link posts, with a bunch of links to your favorite posts on other blogs, takes time. Not a huge amount of time, but still time. And effort. Tumblelogs are super easy, and don’t take much time or effort. That gives you time to do other things, like creating great content, or reading great content on other blogs. Or playing WoW.
10. Helps network.
As I mentioned above, you can help other bloggers in a painless way by linking to them with your tumblelog. And they, in turn, might link back to you out of gratitude. Either way, you’ve made a friend, and that’s a valuable thing to a blogger. A tumblelog makes it easy to create a network of blogger friends, by quickly linking to each other’s best posts, helping each other reach new readers.
11. Satisfies reader curiosity … about you.
Weird as it may seem, my readers seem to want to know more about me (well some of them do). I guess that’s a natural human tendency, to be curious about an author, whether that’s a novelist or a blogger. While I’m not comfortable telling them too much about my personal life — more than I already share on my blog, anyway — by providing links of stuff I like to read about, I’m giving my readers a way to get insight into me as a person. And so their curiosity is satisfied, without having to share too much.
12. It’s fun.
It doesn’t take much time to maintain (a minute or two total a day, to post links as I read stuff), but having a tumblelog has been a lot of fun for me. I like to look at my tumblelog once in awhile, see what I’ve put on there, enjoy the simplicity of it.
13. Drives traffic back to your blog.
It might seem that having a separate tumblelog will separate your traffic, or dilute it somehow. However, I’ve found a couple of things to be true: 1) people find the tumblelog, enjoy it and link to it, which sends traffic to the tumblelog, which drives traffic back to my main blog — I’ve actually seen traffic from the tumblelog to the main blog; and 2) people who I link to are grateful for the links, so they link to my main blog out of gratitude. I’ve found a lot of traffic from those links too.