Two years ago, after becoming frustrated with Wordpress, I came across Tumblr. Within the first few weeks of using the blogging network, my perception of online communities completely changed. The concise nature of Tumblr allowed to me convey so much with so little.

Tumblr has turned blogging into a social activity. From the inner dwellings of Tumblr, we’ve seen the rise of Tommypom the Tumblr intern, the resurrection and expansion of the infamous GIF, and the jovial connection between politicians and their admirers. Tumblr has connected the world into a single platform of creative genius.

Tumblr doesn’t require users to write long posts to convey messages—gifs can do that. It doesn’t require users to write long posts to convey ideas—videos can do that. It doesn’t require users to recite their favorite sayings—quotes can do that. Tumblr has taken the traditional notion of blogging and has successfully thrown it out the window. They’ve continued to challenge the notion that blogging isn’t only about words.

Some goodness from Tumblr
Some goodness from Tumblr
By: Unknown

I started my journey on Tumblr fourteen months ago. Frustrated with having to supply my Wordpress followers with lengthy text posts about my daily life, I sought out a new medium that didn’t follow the conventional process and was—to be honest—more fun.

After realizing that I could fully customize the appearance of my Tumblr blog, keep up with all my favorite blogs with Tumblr’s extremely simple dashboard and discover millions of blogs with Tumblr Radar, Explore and Spotlight, I immediately jumped onboard.

Fast-forward to now and I can say that I’m adequately settled. Passing 70,000 combined followers over my three blogs (Really-Shit, Cross-Connect, Unknown Editors); I’ve helped jumpstart and promote the portfolios of countless artists such as Clint Reid, Nathan Gilson and FarieDesign.

With my main blog Really-Shit, I want to connect people on Tumblr to things that I personally enjoy. From an image of a dog standing on cheeseburgers or a post about a crazy man destroying Apple products, this blog is my general place to showcase interesting things I find in the world. Whenever I decide to post content, it has to evoke some sort of emotion. Either people want to have the item or it makes them think. Good content is content that people can’t wait to share, things that make your mouth water.

The majority of my posts revolve around design because it’s the centerpiece of modern culture. When it comes to design, it’s simple; good design is minimalist and well-thought. Products that have so much technology behind a seamless piece of aluminum take the cake.

On the other hand, UnknownEditors is a group blog focused on promoting great art. Consisting of nine contributors, Unknown Editors has become a staple in the Tumblr art community. All nine of us are interested several different mediums including painting, illustration, installation, crafts, photography and drawing. Unknown Editors underscores the importance of appreciating artists that dwell in the Tumblr community.

My third blog, Cross-Connect, is a transition from an older blog named Landyscape. Cross-Connect serves as my platform to promote the great landscape photographers that I stumble upon, such as Nicole Harsono and Christopher Frank Beitz, just to name a few.

In their entirety, all my blogs serve a distinct purpose: to promote the small, but talented designers, artists, photographers that are trying to make a living.

In 2012, Tumblr furthered my ability to help and promote artists by naming me an editor for their featured design tag. Whenever an editor is selected, it’s an indication that they’ve pushed out substantial content worthy of recognition. Tumblr essentially gives editors their blessing to curate the “official” tag. Work that I’ve promoted has been featured on the Tumblr Radar on numerous occasions and, of which I’m particularly proud of, in an ad campaign for Honda. It shows that corporations and brands consider Tumblr a major avenue for reaching consumers.

I don’t write this to brag; I say this because Tumblr is influential and powerful. As Tumblr approaches a bright future, the company needs to continue pushing the envelope to maintain dominance in the industry. More importantly, Tumblr needs to remain competitive so they can continue to attract the creators that make the community what it is. Now the question is, what’s next?

“In this world there is nothing that is certain except death, taxes and the existence of Tumblr.”—Benjamin Franklin

Smarter Monetization

Although Tumblr boasts careless fun and continuous information, 2013 is a crucial year for the social blogging giant. With a goal of $100 million in revenue, Tumblr has its work cut out. This year, it’s safe to assume that Tumblr will roll out advertisements via their featured tags. Recently, Tumblr rolled out radar and spotlight features, which produced a good bit of cash—$13 million to be exact. But Tumblr needs a cheaper option for users and brands that can’t afford the rather hefty $25,000 per radar promotion.

With a new dashboard update, Tumblr removed their highlighted and pinned post options. It’s possible the feature wasn’t making enough money, or this change could serve as an indication that they are revamping the system to better connect with the community.

Similar to Facebook, I’m also uncertain if Tumblr might incorporate advertisements into the most-visited pages, such as the sign-out page and Theme Garden. If Tumblr can seamlessly integrate brands with bloggers, they will have accomplished something few other sites have: flawless interactions between users and advertisers.

Faster Access To Information

In the past, Tumblr has been known to offer Its community to analytics access. In 2009, Tumblr launched an activity page along with Tumblarity, the internal metrics system. With its fresh activity and Tumblrarity, Tumblr allowed users the ability to view real time information on their accounts. New functionality included the ability to see the ratio of original uploads to reblogs, the ability to see your blog ranked against popular blogs on Tumblr and the ability to see that, at the time, fuckyeahparamore was more popular than Tumblr founder David Karp’s blog. With further updates, Tumblrarity was scrapped and Tumblr became focused more on content rather than popularity.

It’s known that Tumblr is working with Union Metrics to once again provide analytics, but at a cost. Still no update on whether this is a basic analytics program coming to regular users.

Since I’ve started Tumblr, I’ve never used their notifications system, which is designed to help users understand the relationship between their content and the community. Tumblr notifications update you whenever a post is reblogged, whether someone has responded to a question you’ve posed or how many followers you’ve gained during your evening nap. With a brand new update, we’ve seen a new approach to making notifications much less intrusive on the simplistic dashboard.  

Interface Updates

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.”—John Maeda

With a brand new dashboard interface coming to all users, Tumblr has once again declared their dominance and unwillingness to settle. The new interface includes several, long awaited improvements including completely customizable drag-and-drop photoset creation, faster uploads and inline reblogging. Everything is available in one place, covered with a beautiful design. Tumblr has finally showcased the future of all their product designs by truly creating a seamless experience.

But there are some features that Tumblr has tried to update that haven’t turned out so well. Notoriously, the messaging system is in need of a massive update. Although aesthetically pleasing, the mechanics behind the features are dated and clunky.

As an admin in several group blogs on Tumblr, collaboration is very difficult. Taking the traditional route of messaging each and every member has gotten me blocked from sending messages for hours at a time. Luckily, Tumblr launched fan mail pretty quickly, but hasn’t touched the feature since.

In the future, it’s safe to assume that Tumblr will add an option for users to collaborate through group messages. Not only will this help group blogs convey points across conveniently, this will help Tumblr keep traffic on their platform. Although I thought I would never say this, I praise Facebook for their messaging system. It’s effective and, more importantly, advanced: users can send files, links and videos without having to use external applications.

Tumblr has one of the brightest futures in the industry. With a massively expanding community, people from all over the world flock to the site everyday to collaborate and leave their mark on a universal canvas of creativity. The question isn’t how to handle the canvas; it’s how to make the canvas cleaner and smarter. Luckily, we have a lot to look forward to.