Ellis Hamburger on the latest Tumblr design tweaks:

Picking an accent color also changes the interface surrounding your blog for anyone who visits it. When I tapped Save after editing my blog’s appearance, the app’s Compose button turned pink and its navigation bar turned white to match my chosen Accent Color and background. The effect is particularly stark on iPad, where tapping into a blog dresses up the entire app in a new color. “There are 3.3 billion combinations,” says Vidani, “[but] the biggest part of this is that we’re using it everywhere. This is going to be you.” The company says 80 percent of active Tumblr users have customized their blog in one way or another.

Some really nice tweaks, but I wonder how much impact they have. Do people visit other’s blogs within the Tumblr app that often? I know for me, it’s all about the feed and/or visiting my favorite Tumblr blogs on the web. Maybe the aim is the change that? Or maybe I’m weird?

To that end, I’d still love to see Tumblr do some sort of analytics product for how many people saw my post in the main Tumblr feed (versus visiting my site, which, of course, I can track). I know the emphasis has been on tracking indirect metrics such as “likes” and “reblogs” but I’d happily pay for a more pro product in that regard.

Everything In Its Right Place

My quest to write 500 words a day has really gone off the rails recently. It was always an ambitious goal, but I also sort of set it up for failure by not designating a time each day to write. So I found myself scrambling at the end of each and every day to get 500 words up. As I’m finally figuring out with email, everything happens more smoothly if you designate a time to do it and stick with it.

And a place.

The other problem with the 500 word goal was that this site simply didn’t seem like a great place for it. You see, I run this site on Tumblr. And while Tumblr is amazing for many things, it’s not particularly well-suited for longer-form writing. Yes, even just 500 words. The text box that pops open when you set out to do a text post says all you need to know: keep it short.

Read More

andreelijah asked:

In today's blogosphere how would you suggest starting and promoting a blog? I keep tabs on you, Marco, and Gruber by way of Pulse daily if not hourly and I love to write. I've enjoyed seeing that my two posts on Medium have over a thousand views/reads and it's good for my ego. But how do you gain meaningful readership, and get out there? Everyone has a blog now. Do you suggest using Tumblr or host a Wordpress blog and put some ads on it? I'm REALLY curious as to your take on this. Thanks!

Things are pretty different from when I started blogging a decade ago. Twitter didn’t exist. Facebook was a social network for Harvard students. Basically, the only way to spread your words back then was either RSS or, gulp, email.

So in some ways, it’s easier to get the word out there now about what you write. But in other ways, it’s harder because there’s so much more content out there.

As you note, Medium (disclosure: in the Google Ventures portfolio) seems to be doing a good job facilitating the creation of new content and helping it spread. Tumblr has long been good at this, but honestly, I find it better for sharing pictures, links, etc, rather than longer-form blog posts. WordPress, of course has long been the standard there. Then there are newer entries like Svbtle and Hi as well.

Honestly, if I were starting out now, I’d still do what I did 10 years ago: which is write a lot. It may be discouraging at first if it seems like no one is reading what you write, but if you keep at it for long enough, people seem to have this funny way of finding you.

Be sure to link to others as well. This remains a great way for other bloggers to discover you and hopefully send some link-love back your way.

You could put ads up, but honestly, without a big enough scale, the money will be tiny. I’d focus on growing the readership first.

I’d also try to focus on one topic or a set of topics to write about most often. For those of us you mention above, that topic was obviously Apple. It certainly helped that interest in Apple stories exploded in the past decade, but I think as long as you’re passionate about something, a similar audience will find you.

The key, as with just about everything, is to stick with it.

giantcypress asked:

Given that you’re planning on regularly writing ~500 word posts, is there any way to not have to click on the “Read More” link to read the whole article? I’m not sure that forcing readers to click on a link to finish reading a post helps anything, and some of your link entries are as long as a ~500 word post would be. Allowing the whole post to be read on the front page would be of great help in terms of reading through your blog. Thanks!

I’ve thought about this quite a bit, actually. The main issue is that I don’t want these posts to overwhelm readers on either my site or on Tumblr. Even 500-word posts can be significantly longer than usual Tumblr fodder and interrupt the flow of the feed.

I know that I personally don’t like seeing these lengthy posts in my Tumblr feed — even if I want to read the post!

Having said that, I’m still thinking about it. I don’t love the “Read More” option either. I’m honestly just trying to make a better experience for followers, so your feedback is noted!