Sunday, 14 July 2013

Is it time to take a Tumbl?

Sunday, 14 July 2013
I've been blogging for seven years using Blogger. I chose it because it was the most common blogging software available back in 2006, and remains very popular to this day. It's certainly improved over time and I have no major complaints about what it's capable of doing, or how it's helped me bring Dan's Media Digest to you.

However, I've been impressed and intrigued by the rise of Tumblr over the past few years and, last week, began experimenting with a version of this blog using some of Tumblr's most popular (free) templates. And I have to say, it has features and a usability that Blogger seems to lack. Or maybe I'm just bored with Blogger and Tumblr's the greener-looking grass over the bridge?

There's nothing on Tumblr that Blogger simply can't do. In fact, some of the adaptations I've made to DMD's template (or Alan Woodward made on my behalf), surpass anything I can find in Tumblr. I'm sure Tumblr templates can be manipulated to even up the score, but in general the basic free templates that Tumblr have are much fancier than Blogger's own. It feels like the creative folk who design templates are more drawn to Tumblr at the moment.

From an author's perspective, I like Tumblr's dashboard and how each post can be its own unique thing (a standard text-image blog, a stylish link, an embedded video, or a 'photoset' of images). You can replicate all those things with Blogger, but it's not quite as cool-looking. I can imagine DMD's content being a lot fresher and more unpredictable with Tumblr as its engine.

Tumblr still feels like it's aimed at teenagers, and is perceived as a place overloaded with animated GIFs and porn, where people don't create content so much as promulgate it, but I have a feeling things are changing. Maybe I'm wrong, but it feels like fellow Blogger users are growing disenfranchise with that ageing platform, despite the overhaul it had a few years ago. And if Wordpress feels like an almighty headache to you as an alternative option, Tumblr is the natural second choice. I'm sure there's an argument about Tumblr outmatching Wordpress, too.

So yes, it's crossed my mind to up sticks and move DMD to its own Tumblr. But there are lots of reasons this is a bad idea:

  • Seven years spent building awareness of means the internet is full of valuable links to my existing site, which would become defunct overnight. Of course, the content would still remain there because I'd keep DMD Blogger around as an 'archive', but it wouldn't be active and new visitors would essentially arrive at the online equivalent of a shop with a 'We Have Moved' sign on the front door. Not exactly welcoming.
  • There are almost 6,000 blog posts on DMD. It feels regrettable to leave all that content behind, even though I could gradually move the best stuff across to Tumblr... and continue to link to my old DMD Blogger posts. Give it two or three years and the move to Tumblr perhaps wouldn't looks so overwhelming.
  • Do the people who visit DMD Blogger like Tumblr and enjoy using it? Do you guys have a Tumblr, too? Would you follow me there, or is there something impalpably DMD-y about the existing Blogger-based site that you like? (If you're worried about your comments, Disqus can easily be switched across to Tumblr, so the 'commenting community' wouldn't be lost.)
  • What real value is there in moving? As I said, from a reader's perspective, little would change. It's just a different place to do much the same thing, but with a few bells and whistles that may be more appealing aesthetically, and a certain usefulness as an author. Blogger could theoretically get an upgrade one day and become the more appealing platform again?

Anyway, I just wondered what everyone's thoughts are, because I'm in two-minds and it would be a massive decision to call time on Blogger and hope DMD's readership update their bookmarks. A decision that could potentially be me shooting myself in the foot, I'm fully aware. Of course, it could also be just the thing to revitalise DMD and bring my blogging to a different audience.

If the general feeling is that a move isn't necessary and you're perfectly happy as things stand, how about a compromise and use Tumblr as a 'spin off' area? I've considered using it as a place to relaunch my short-lived Argumentelly feature – which sort of imploded on DMD after a three-week trial, mainly because it was difficult to organise the intended co-writers and keep the standard high. But I have a funny feeling Tumblr would suit that idea better, and provoke more interaction because it's seen as a more social tool.

Thoughts, opinions, suggestions, fears, hopes, ideas! Let me have them! Thank you.