Guide: Tumblr for Beginners

Hi everyone! I get asked quite a bit about how to use Tumblr, so I figured I’d put together a little guide to answer a lot of these questions. If you still have any questions feel free to message me, and I’ll update this if it seems to be important 🙂 This guide is aimed towards people who plan to set up Simblrs, but a lot of the information can be applied to any type of Tumblr blog!

1. Sideblogs vs Main Blogs

When you sign up for Tumblr, you’ll have a new main blog. You can, however, create side blogs from your main account. A side blog has most of the same features as a main blog, but you lose a few features.

Side blogs can’t:

  • Send and receive messages – you’ll have to contact people through your main blog
  • Like posts as the sideblog – if you like a post, it’ll show up as your main blog
  • Have a separate Dashboard to your main blog.

Some people prefer to have their simblr as a side blog, and some prefer to have it as a main blog. There is no option that is ‘better,’ but people have preferences. Here are some points of comparison to consider when making your blog. Moving from a side blog to a main, or vice versa, is doable but not very easy, so I’d put some thought into your choice.

  • If you have a Tumblr account that isn’t a simblr and you want to have your simblr as a main blog, you’ll have to sign in and out of them when you want to switch blogs.
  • If you have your simblr as a side blog (or your non-sims accounts as a side blog to your simblr), then you’ll share a dashboard for all the blogs that you follow. If your simblr is a main blog, you can make your dashboard sims-only.
  • Followbacks are more likely if your blog is a main blog, since many blogs may not notice that you have a side simblr.
  • Messaging people is similarly easier if your simblr is a main blog since you can contact people from your sims account.

2. Writing a Post

There are lots of post types on Tumblr, and some types are better suited to some things than others. Feel free to experiment for what you think best suits what you’re posting! Here are what the post types do:

Text: For a primarily text-based post, this gives you the option for a title and/or body text. You can also insert photos into the body of the text.

Photo: For a primarily picture-based post, this gives you the option for 1-8 pictures with text if you want. If you have more than one photo, it becomes a photoset. You can rearrange your photoset by dragging your pictures around with your mouse.

Chat: Demonstrates a conversation in the format:

A: text
B: text
C: text

Quote: Best demonstrates a single quote.

Link: A prominent link to a post or website with a heading. There is the option for body text and photos if you want.

Audio: Upload a song or sound clip.

Video: Upload a video or embed a clip from Youtube.

The most common types you’ll see on simblr are text and photo posts.

You can do a few text effects such as bold, italics, and strikethrough. For these options to show up, simply highlight the text you wish to change and a little menu will pop up showing you all the options you have. You can select multiple things – eg. you could have text that is bold, italic, as well as a link.

You can also add things like photos and gifs into the body of your post. For these options to show up, start a new line in your post by hitting Enter, and you’ll see a little menu pop up at the start of that new line.

3. Reblogging

Reblogging is one of Tumblr’s most famous features. Basically, if you want somebody else’s post on your blog, or you want to comment publicly, you can just click the handy reblog button! It has a benefit of always showing the original poster and linking back to them, so it’s basically built-in credit.

It is very frowned upon to repost somebody’s pictures – even if you have a little credit icon, people would really rather you just reblogged their original. So if you want somebody else’s sims, builds, or CC on your blog, please use the reblog button!

4. Tags

Tagging is extremely useful and should not be overlooked! Tags help to organise your blog for yourself and any visitors, but also mean that it’s easier for people to actually find what they’re looking for in Tumblr’s search function.

A tag is stylised like #tag or #insert tag here – so tags can have spaces in it and most punctuation. They are separated by commas (,) which means you can add multiple tags to a post. Below are some common tags for simblrs:

  • #TS4, #sims 4, #the sims 4: these can be used to show which game you’re tagging. Please do not tag your post with the wrong sims iteration (eg. tagging a Sims 2 post with #ts2, #ts3, and #ts4) just to get views – it makes people hate you.
  • #simblr: goes for any sims-related post.
  • #non sims, #nonsims, #non-sims: these can be used to tag things like text posts that aren’t related to the Sims series. While most people don’t mind a few text posts with things like this, it is considered polite to tag your non-sims.
  • #saviorhide: coined from Tumblr Savior (covered later), this is also applied to non-sims posts.
  • #s4cc, #ts4cc: this can be used for custom content posts related to the Sims 4. I recommend you don’t tag non-CC posts with this as that’s a very easy way to become hated and blocked, because people really hate clutter in the s4cc tag.
  • #ts4mm: this is a tag used for Maxis Match custom content for the Sims 4. (Maxis Match content is basically custom items that are considered to ‘match’ the style of the game.)

You can also come up with your own custom tags for your blog! For example, if you’re playing a legacy, you could tag the name of the legacy, and maybe the generation, or maybe even the sims in it. These can be useful both for yourself (if you want to find something quickly, you can click through your tags!) or for others, who might have found your legacy after it started and want to look through it.

To get the link to your tag, just go on your blog, right click the tag, and ‘Copy Link Address.’ It should look something like: http://blog.tumblr.com/tagged/tag

If you want to be able to browse a tag from the beginning, and not the most recent post, then just add /chrono onto the end of the URL! So it would become: http://blog.tumblr.com/tagged/tag/chrono

This can be really helpful if you have a lot of stories or something, and you can set up a Tags page with links to all your tags. We’ll cover Pages later in this guide.

Tumblr only tracks the first five tags in your post. So while you could have twenty tags on one post and find them all on your blog, if you were looking for them in the search function, you would only be able to find the first five. That’s why it’s important not to spam tags for your post hoping to get the most views – because most of them will be useless in terms of blog discovery.

5. Queues, Drafts, & Scheduling

Three features of Tumblr that are often ignored – the Queue, drafts, and the ability to schedule posts. They can be incredibly useful so I recommend trying them out if you haven’t already!

a. The Queue

The Queue can be found on the right hand sidebar of your blog’s section in the Dashboard. (Note: If you don’t have anything queued, it might not be visible.)

It basically allows you to set up a steady automated posting system – put items in the queue, order them how you wish them to be posted, and set how frequently you want them to post between certain times. Tumblr will do the rest. This is a very easy way to keep your blog active without being spammy and without having to post everything manually.

To queue a post, write it up as you would normally. But instead of clicking the ‘Post’ button, click the arrow next to it and select ‘Add to Queue.’ You can even add reblogs into your queue using this method. Once you have something in your queue, you can add posts into it directly from that page.

If you want to reorder posts, just drag them up or down. On the left side of them it will show you when it’s due to post on your blog.

When setting your times for the queue, make sure it’s in your timezone, or you may be surprised when your posts go live at weird times! (You can set your timezone in Settings.)

b. Drafts

Drafts are basically exactly what they sound like – they’re a way to prepare your posts on Tumblr without posting so that you can come back and edit them later. Like the queue, this option may not be shown on your sidebar until you have one saved, in which case you can add drafts directly from the page.

You can post or queue directly from the Drafts page.

c. Scheduling Posts

Scheduling is sort of like the Queue in the sense that it automatically posts for you, but it only works on certain posts and is more specific.

Instead of clicking the ‘Post’ button, click the little arrow next to it and select Schedule. You can then schedule for a certain day and time, eg. tomorrow, 10am. Follow the format given in the example and you should be good. It will then show up in your Queue with the new timestamp so you can check it. This will not affect your queue, however.

When setting your times for scheduling, make sure it’s in your timezone, or you may be surprised when your posts go live at weird times! (You can set your timezone in Settings.)

6. Setting Up your Blog Layout

You may notice that your blog has a very generic layout when you first start out! It can be customised pretty much to your heart’s content – there are heaps of blog themes out there for lots of different needs. I will not be teaching you how to code your own, because that’s hard but also I don’t know how to. 😉

There are a few places you can find themes for your blog:

  • Directly from a theme-maker, usually on their Tumblr
  • From a directory of themes, such as theme-hunter

If somebody you follow has a nice theme, you can always find out where it’s from because creators always have a link back for credit. Try looking around their links, or for a little icon in the corners or their theme. Please don’t message a user asking where their theme is from unless you’ve actually looked first, it’s very annoying!

Once you’ve selected a theme for your blog, you can add it through the Edit Theme section. To get there, go onto your blog and look in the top right for an ‘Edit Theme’ button. This will pull up a little left hand sidebar that lets you edit your theme.

a. Changing Your Theme

After you’ve pulled up that ‘Edit Theme’ sidebar, you’ll see that at the top will show a theme and you can click ‘Edit HTML.’ If you’ve found a custom theme you like, you’ll notice they’ll have a link to the code, or HTML, or whatever they call it. That will go in here.

Click ‘Edit HTML,’ select everything that’s already in there, and replace it with the new theme’s HTML. Then, click Update Preview to have a look. If you’re happy with it, you’ll then be able to save it.

Now – if you’re not at all confident with HTML, I’d just leave it there. The last section of this page covers some basic HTML so it may help you, but if you decide to mess with the code of your theme, save a backup of what it used to look like or you may have to start from scratch later.

b. Editing Your Theme

Themes usually have an element of customisability outside of the coding area. Click the little back arrow to go back to the theme editing main sidebar. You can change your blog title, blog description, and sometimes add images and icons depending on the theme. This is also where you can add in your custom links. The number of custom links you can have is dependent on your theme.

7. Custom Pages

You can add multiple pages to your blog for whatever you want! You can edit and add pages through the Edit Theme section (see above), same as editing your theme. There are two options for pages – the standard layout (which will match your theme), or a custom layout. Standard Layouts can be edited pretty similarly to posts and will look right at home on your blog.

Custom Layouts are a little bit more fussy. They require a custom HTML layout and you actually can only edit the text through HTML. If you cannot write or read HTML, then I highly recommend you stick with standard layouts.

8. X-Kit & Tumblr Savior

New X-Kit and Tumblr Savior are both browser extensions designed to improve your Tumblr experience. While neither is necessary (and New X-Kit includes all the features of Tumblr Savior), I highly recommend looking into them.

Tumblr Savior (and New X-Kit) allows you to block certain words or phrases from Tumblr. You could block ‘Walking Dead’ if you’re watching it but don’t want to see spoilers, or you could block ‘non-sims’ if you really don’t like non-sims posts. This can be expanded to anything you basically don’t like seeing on your dashboard.

New X-Kit has many optional mini-extensions, and you can pick and choose which ones you’d like to apply. Some useful features include being able to quickly view all tags on your posts (including reblogs), being able to tag messages, and being able to complete block certain posts that you hate.

9. Basic HTML

As mentioned above, in the Blog Layout and Custom Pages sections, you may need to use some HTML to actually get your blog to look like what you want. I can’t teach you all a lot of HTML and a lot of stuff you may encounter will be specific to your theme, but this will hopefully give you the basics to be able to navigate around it without getting too lost.

  1. If you can’t understand what something means in HTML, don’t touch it until you have a backup on Notepad or something similar because it could mess up everything.
  2. Logic is your best friend when looking at HTML. Once you can figure out some basics, a lot of it can be worked out fairly simply. Otherwise, it is documented absolutely all over the internet, so just google it if you’re stuck.

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