Torn Between Two Lovers: Tumblr and Blogger

Well, I’ve fiddled with Tumblr enough now to hopefully give a pretty good comparison between Blogger and Tumblr. Let me say right off the bat that this is not going to be a slam against either one– they both have their pros and cons, and it simply depends on your preferences. In fact, it is a lot like comparing apples and oranges – Tumblr and Blogger are two totally different things. Here’s the lowdown (for those who aren’t already familiar with both):

1. Tumblr posts are like dust in the wind

In other words, a Tumblr post may get heavy traffic for a couple days (if you're lucky), but then it’s unlikely very many people will ever see it again. It’s a lot like Twitter, except with photos or audio. In contrast, Blogger posts are often visited months and even years later. I love checking out my Feedjit (located in the sidebar) and seeing people visit posts published over a year ago – it does my heart good to know that a post that I labored over will not essentially vanish in a couple days.

In a sense, Tumblr is more like blogging used to be at the very beginning- no frills stream-of-consciousness type stuff with lots of links (blog = web log).

2. Tumblr is like the Wild West

Photos are swiped with abandon on Tumblr. Most of the time your picture is sourced if it was posted on Tumblr (since Tumblr makes it so easy to “reblog” someone else’s Tumblr post with a source cited); however, everything else is fair game. I’m constantly seeing my stuff from Retrospace on Tumblr with not a single reference to the source. This sucks. But 99% of Tumblr posts are NOT original material, but rather swiped from somewhere else. No one scans a photo themselves, or takes a picture themselves (unless it’s a boring family/friends photo for personal use). Tumblr encourages reblogging other Tumblr posts, but wholesale swiping with no references is epidemic on Tumblr.

It’s also like the Wild West in that there seems to be no censorship whatsoever. Extremely graphic images are everywhere on Tumblr. In contrast, your Blogger blog can be flagged, and your blog can be designated as having adult content. Plus, Blogger may sometimes just straight up delete your ass. Everything and anything is fair game on Tumblr.

3. Tumblr is effortless and pretty

Try posting an audio file on Blogger – it’s awful. Where will you store your audio file? Blogger gives you only limited space, and adding it to places like Rapidshare can often be more trouble than it’s worth. It also helps if you know a little HTML, but it’s still a big pain. Adding an imeem song is also cumbersome, and it’s got big giant ads. In stark contrast, Tumblr lets you add one audio track per day, and it takes about three seconds and works beautifully.

Try changing your Blogger template/theme. Chances are, it will irreparably screw up your blog borders, fonts, photos…. everything will look like crap unless you spend hours fixing it. However, in Tumblr you can choose from hundreds of themes, and the switch never messes up the look. Plus, it takes less than a minute.

Just as Typepad and Wordpress have features that Blogger doesn’t have (for a price), Blogger has a lot that Tumblr doesn’t. Examples: (1) detailed analytics of who’s visiting your site, (2) compatibility with a lot of widgets, (3) and sidebar gadgets – Tumblr doesn’t even have the ability to display followers, only those blogs you are following.

4. Tumblr is addictive and community oriented

Tumblr gives you a numeric “Tumblarity” based on your activity (how many posts have been “liked”, reblogged, etc.). For those of you that get a good feeling watching your followers and Google Page Rank increase, this will be extremely addictive. There’s instant gratification when you click on a post and see all the people that have reblogged and liked it.

On the other hand, Tumblarity can be more of an annoyance than an inspiration for many. Just as your Tumblarity can rise, it will also fall. A few days of inactivity, and your Tumblarity may drop significantly. It also seems to favor posts that are quick and mildly amusing, rather than truly interesting original content. If it would look cool on a t-shirt, it's probably a good Tumblr picture. The more sarcastic, ironic and smug, the better.

However, I have to say the community nature of Tumblr is much more robust than Blogger. I’ve been on it a week and already have over 100 followers – something that took me many months to achieve in Blogger. Everybody is sharing and commenting like mad; whereas on Blogger, I may have a post viewed 3,000 times and it gets a measly 2 comments.

So, both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses. Blogger is certainly in no immediate danger of being replaced by Tumblr, but it had better make a few changes such as making audio posts easier, accentuate the “social networking” aspect, and ease up on the censorship if it wants to keep Tumblr in its rear view mirror. Let’s not forget, Yahoo was once top dog and had their own blogging platform (dare I speak its name?)….. Geocities!


  1. It was a sad day when Yahoo announced the end of Geocities.

    Anyway, this is an interesting post. I'm not at all familiar with Tumblr, other than your stuff, and it seems a little "wild west" for me to follow at this point in time. I hope you stick with blogger for a while.

    BTW, Wordpress didn't cost me anything. Some might have to pay for server fees, but I have a friend who lets my use his server space.

  2. perfect tumblarity picture.

    and on the amount of followers you have so quickly on tumblr,

    you're welcome.

  3. Tumblr or Blogger? That's easy... WordPress!

  4. And I forgot to mention, stolen photos is why I try to label all mine. At least that way if they get re-posted somewhere then it's clear where the original came from.

  5. retro hound- Yeah, I don't plan on quitting Blogger - like I said, Blogger and Tumblr are two totally different animals, so one can't really replace the other.

    peteski - I just noticed my Tumblr followers climbed from 105 this morning to 125, probably due in no small part to your nice comment about my blog. Thanks, man.

  6. I've never heard of tumblr but as a former free wordpress user I like the way you can do virtually anything with blogger. Wordpress for a free domain is brilliant but when you're using a free version like wordpress.com it's hard to insert java and feedjit etc.

  7. Oh, look...there's that yves st laurent photo I posted on http://superseventies.tumblr.com just a few days ago... hmm..

  8. "No one scans a photo themselves, or takes a picture themselves (unless it’s a boring family/friends photo for personal use)."
    You're wrong there, I've put up plenty of vintage scans from my collection, some of which you won't find online anywhere else, I can guarantee.
    Other tumblrs like thesweetestpsychopath do, too.
    And I know of at least one person you're following on there who has ripped off my own personal scans with no link back, so maybe you're not following the right people! :-)

  9. Touché, anonymous. Well played.:-)

    Mogadonia- I stand corrected. I shouldn't have NO ONE scans a photo themselves. You're right, there are a bunch of Tumblrs who put original stuff up, but you have to admit that it's a small minority.

  10. I set up a Tumblr account here in China through a proxy but cannot edit anything really. Seems like a good way to promote a blog and if the repressive govt here ever lightens up I will do something with it. I set it up after reading a previous post of yours on the topic and seeing another bloggers Tumblr project.

    Someday amybe


  11. Fantastic post. Informative! Even with all the positive stuff that Tumblr offers, it still seems lacking overall in comparison to Blogger.

  12. This is a pretty dead on comparrison and I have to admit that both have their pluses and minuses. I actually run my site off of Libsyn, but what that really means is that I took one of their super basic templates and bent it over backwards to get it the way I wanted it. Took a lot of time and effort, but it's mine.

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand, I personally can't stand Tumblr. I have to agree that most of the users don't take the time to craft their own content (e.g. scanning stuff or doing research.) I'm sure there are some who do, but for the most part it seems to be content stealing, ahem, reblogging left and right. I've had a bunch of my scans swiped, and normally I don't care but the firs tumblr site that did it, hotlinked to my source files. Then 80 other people reblogged the same file. It's a real pisser. Add to this the fact that I hate water marked images (unless it's personal or professional artwork) because even though I took the time to scan something, it sure as hell isn't mine. I love the idea of sharing, but at least quote the source.

    Besides, though the ease of blogging on Tumblr is nice and it sure is pretty, it promotes lazy unoriginality with it's reblogging. I mean I could vomit my blog-watch RSS feed on my site as well, but those posts are already out there. Why blog if you have nothing to add?

    I do have to agree that toiling on a post and only getting 2 comments and 1000 views is frustrating though...

  13. Great template! Thanx for sharing it with us
    I like it! Simple and pretty More templates easy to download

  14. I used Blogger for over a year and I wasn't satisfied with it. So I switched to Tumblr, and I've been using it since May, and I really love it. It's not necessary to use photos all the time for Tumblr. I use mine like Blogger and it works great.

  15. I used Blogger for over a year and I wasn't satisfied with it. So I switched to Tumblr, and I've been using it since May, and I really love it. It's not necessary to use photos all the time for Tumblr. I use mine like Blogger and it works great.

  16. Like Twitter, Tumblr is easy. That's the way I like it. Sure I could spend my day editing away at the hideous Blogger templates but at the end of they day its just like MySpace, you get lazy and you don't have the time to keep updating your profile, with Tumblr it has beautiful templates, easy to customize and it looks great straight away. You can get posting fast.

  17. Thanks for the info! It was quite informative and I think I'll stick with Blogger.

  18. blogger's mobile compatibility and comment system is better than tumblr...

    i used tumblr since this summer, but now i decide to come back to blogger, my old friend.

    also, posts are easily managed in blogger.

    you make a right decision to come back blogger...

    nice days :)

  19. I like Blogger better because I blog nonsense on Tumblr..I mean, always reblogging.:) While on blogger my posts have sense..hohohoho

  20. Tumblr these days are very used specially to teenagers and newbies in blogging. For me, blogspot is more SEO friendly. If a blogger's not aware about SEO then tumblr is a lot more user-friendly.

  21. thank you for answering all my questions...i'm young yet still about the simple things. Blogger is pretty damn simple lol

  22. This is a great post. I definitely agree with what was said about Tumblr. It is basically a more powerful Twitter. The reason I left Blogger was because I found the social networking side of it wanting. I remember having a LiveJournal and Xanga when I was a teenager and my posts received many comments and views--this was related to the robust and active community on those websites rather than the content posted. It takes considerably more work to get followers on Blogger and from what I can there is no way to search for other blogs of that are of similar interests to your own (correct me of I am wrong).

  23. Nice review. I like that you point out how the general Tumblr audience works. I was trying to decide what and how I was going to use Tumblr to promote my blogspot page, and I decided I will simply repost my original images with a watermark and a link to get attention and take advantage of the fast turn-over. It's 2012 and this post is still really relevant.

  24. I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to posting this. You were the fourth hit on Google when I was looking at how to link my two accounts with Blogger and Tumblr. You made very good points, and helped clinched my decision to continue doing so. Thank you very much.