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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Beginner's Guide to Tumblr



Tumblr is a blogging platform that is sort of a cross between Twitter, Facebook and full-scale blogging. While some might use Tumblr as a full blogging platform, from reading a free e-book I picked up on Kindle about the topic (the book isn't free any more btw.)

The growth of Tumblr is surprising.

"Facebook and Twitter have dominated social media in recent years, but a study released by Quantcast Media Analysis has revealed that Tumblr is growing at an outstanding rate, now bringing in more than 250 million views per day spread across almost 19 million blogs. Perhaps even more interesting is that 51% of those views come from males as opposed to females.
When I mentioned working with Tumblr, I got back several tweets like this one from Leslie Healey


Why  Tumblr? How is it different from blogging?
Those of you who read this blog know that I always have 3 things on my list as part of my intentional R & D. When I sit down to "surf" - I focus on learning more about those things. Tumblr has been the object of my learning for some time. I started the blog on August 16th of LAST YEAR. But I just didn't understand. Now, I think I'm getting there.

So, to understand something like this, it is helpful to look at the "experts" who are using it well.


Asking Questions Is Easy
Tumblr isn't really a different way to blog. It is a blogging-y way to have conversation.

Like, this morning, I logged into my Tumblr dashboard and saw I had a message from a teacher friend, Alida Hanson, from Twitter who jumped on my Tumblr tweets to teach me.

I've been posting screenshots of my favorite apps from the iPad on my tumblr (oh  I love BookCrawler!), so Alida asked this question and I replied.

While the box you use to reply is painfully small, the process of being asked and answering a question was incredibly easy to do and share to everyone. Go ahead, ask me a question.

Also, as you follow people and they post something cool, then you can turn around and easily reblog it on your own blog. (Like I did with Alida's comiclife for the Bookfair, plus I mentioned you can now get comiclife on the ipad) So, your Tumblr blog becomes sort of a curated group of posts.

Other Facts About Tumblr
  • People can also submit posts to your Tumblr as well.
  • It is interesting how you can follow tags, like I'm following the tag for privacy settings.  
  • I'm finding that the privacy settings of Tumblr show a lot more promise than Facebook and am looking for some friends to help me test them.  
  • You can also easily have a group of people write your blog.  
  • You can use Disqus commenting.
  • You can use a phone number to call in audio to your Tumblr blog.
  • They have a great app for the iphone/ itouch and other devices to add easily.
  • Finally, some don't realize that you can host Tumblr on your own server.

    While I wouldn't recommend it for long, full blogging like here, some do exactly that. I think Tumblr has a purpose.

My Purpose for Tumblr
For me, I plan to use Tumblr as a way to engage in conversation with you. To throw in the many things that just don't make it into a formal post here on the Cool Cat Teacher blog. I know who I am here on this blog and I want to write one or maybe two high quality posts a day in several areas.

I don't want to be a 10 post a day smorgasbord of "stuff" here. Maybe that "hurts" blog traffic but my Mom always says that the more you talk, the less you are heard. I'm a full time teacher and don't have the time nor desire to be a one woman wall street journal. I'd rather be a one woman inspiration for educators around the world. ;-)
    Getting Started with Tumblr
    I waited to write until I started getting it. I haven't promoted it yet (until now) because I wanted to share with you the "back end" work that I did to tweak it.

    Sign up for an account http://www.tumblr.com

    I kept my URL the same as my blog http://coolcatteacher.tumblr.com - I may change the domain later but for now, that is what I'm using.  (Yes, it has an RSS, you can go ahead and subscribe if you want to.)

    Meet "The Dashboard"
    The Tumblr Dashboard lets you select the type of post you want to make and will format it for you. The other people who you follow will also feed through this dashboard, but you can filter them out if you wish.
    Tumblr Dashboard for entering posts.

    Again, this type of blogging is really neat for the small "snippets" and sort of lifestreaming but also part of the power is in grabbing posts from others and making them part of your own tumblr page (without any issues with citation, etc.) It is great to tumble up other people's "stuff" on your tumblr blog as you will see.

    But Vicki, you're just getting started, you're a Tumblr noob!
    Yes, I most certainly am. And that is the beauty of it. I'm taking you along with me. From Ground zero to whatever ends up. I do have one other subscriber but I think that happened when I was tweeting out of Tumblr. ;-)  (Update, I now have 4 twenty four hours later. ;-) But I am following 26 people as well.)

    Customize Your Tumblr
    Click Customize on the right hand side.

    Tumblr Customization Screen

    Click Info.
    First you want to have a description. To have a description you want to know WHY you're on Tumblr in the first place. Is it to experiment? Is it to share? Is it going to be the more personal side of you? See mine on the right side of my Tumblr.



    OK, one more tweak to info and then on to the next thing. I've uploaded my profile picture, put in my description. Now, I need to do a tweak or two on my feed.

    Tip: If you want to see what you're doing to your site, you CANNOT see it from the dashboard or customize screen very well. Open up another screen with your full URL (mine is http://coolcatteacher.tumblr.com) and then click save and go back and refresh that screen to see your changes.

    Click Theme.
    You'll want to Pick a Theme.

    It looks like you have to pay for a custom theme. You don't. Scroll down to the bottom and pick one that is free until you know what you're doing. I picked one that let me add my facebook page on the right.

    Click Appearance.
    Do this AFTER you pick your theme. You can also set up disqus here for commenting. You'll have to log into disqus and set up the blog and copy the unique disqus id for the blog to paste in the appearance tab. You may also have a byline and other information depending on the theme you selected. This is where I pasted in the link for my facebook page for this template.

    Click Pages.
    How to add a redirect page. you MUST check show a link.
    I added pages that redirect to my other sites: my blog, my Twitter, my full website. No need to repeat things and have another place you forget to update. One place for updating. That is easier. The way to do it is shown in the screenshot.

    You can also set up full pages as well if you want to. Where these links show depends upon the theme you picked.


    Click Services.
    Optimize Your Feed and Other Services

    This tab is where you link to Twitter, Facebook, set up your feed, and import links from other sources.

    A word about your feed.
    It is amazing to me how many people move from one blog to another and lose all their subscribers! They ask everyone to resubscribe on the new blog. There is no reason for that.
    My Feedburner Dashboard.

    Use Feedburner to control all of your feeds. Just log into Feedburner (use your Google account) and set up a new feed for your Tumblr Blog.  Mine is http://feeds.feedburner.com/CoolCatTeacherTumblr
    (Yes, you can click on it and subscribe if you want to in your reader.)

    Also, I do want the blog posts I slave in over here to end up on tumblr at least as a link. So, I put in the feed from this website into RSS import and also my Youtube channel so that the teacher interviews I do will hit tumblr as well.

    I am Tweeting OUT of Tumblr but not  into Tumblr. I turned Twitter out of going into Facebook some time a go. There is a reason for each thing I do and it isn't to overload people who engage with me. Be careful or you'll end up with endless loops between social networks.

    Click Community.
    This is the coolest part of Tumblr to me. I've gone in and allowed people to ask me questions and also set it up so you can submit your own posts. You can see what I'm asking for. This may change over time.

    So, quick. Someone help me test it out and submit a review or screenshot or something about teaching! Let's learn about how this works together!

    Note: I did have to put things in bold using HTML coding. I also think it is fine to be up front with who you are. Be original. ;-)

    Advanced.
    Lots of goodies here including making your photos high resolution and whether you want to be indexed by search engines.

    Go back to your Dashboard.

    Find Your Friends and Look at the Goodies
    I went over to the Goodies button. There, I found my friends and found 22 people who are in my gmail that are on Tumblr and followed them.

    I set up the PIN number for calling in audio and programmed that into my telephone. I also put the email address into my email account so I can email in links and photos (from zite, etc. if I cannot send to instapaper.)

    I set up instapaper to post to my drafts in Tumblr as well. (As of this post, it isn't working yet.)

    So, let's learn about this tool together.  I plan to come back and update and let you know where I am with my beginner's journey into tumblr.

    4/24/2011 - 1 followers 0 following
    4/25/2011 - 4 followers, 26 following

    Checking in
    When you look at your dashboard look at who is following you and follow back if you wish. See if you want to post any of their items to your page with a reblog. Also look for "messages" which are often questions. Enjoy!


    Let's Learn Together
    And we begin. Let's tumble together. Please share your tumble blog here or over on Tumblr.

    Let's learn together. With the robust privacy settings of this platform, we may just have a winner for education that the kids are already loving and that we should look at as well.

    http://coolcatteacher.tumblr.com/

    While I don't recommend leaving your blog for tumblr, sit down and pencil out your purpose for each before you start. It will help you focus. It has always worked for me. Hope you enjoy the beginner's guide written by a beginner who is on her way to learning more.
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