Tumblr tips for artists

7 years ago, Very Private Art’s community was launched on Tumblr. The aim: to show the most emergent art. I learned this microblogging platform’s potentials and imperfections. This useful list is dedicated to artists, to see if Tumblr might be a good investment of time or something to avoid and keep on creating.

Tumblr for Artists and Creatives

Advantages of a Tumblr Art Blog

1: Dedicated art community

Like on any other platform, there are Bots and Spams but the community is mature and social and will mostly always answer or react if you write to anybody.

Some numbers

(Check the last updated stats on SimilarWeb):

  • 28th highest traffic site on the web in 2015, went down to 51th in 2018, dropping to 92th in 2020, and 96th in 2021
  • 69% of Tumblr users are millennials, 46% are from the US.
  • 73% access it through a mobile device
  • 2% of under 35s art collectors on social media are using Tumblr for art-related purposes (Source Hiscox report 2019) Against 79% Instagram, 27% Facebook, 20% LinkedIn, 11% Twitter, 8% Pinterest.

Despite the relatively low audience reach, Tumblr is a popular platform for online fandom discussions regarding art, music, movies and TV shows. Because of its smaller audience, the engagement, and dedication is relatively higher.

Global Ranking

%

Traffic from the US

2: One Account, Many Blogs

Tumblr allows you to create different blogs with the same accounts and switch among them. Many artists are creating one blog to curate their inspiration, and another one to share their art. It is a huge advantage for bloggers in terms of content and account management. Important: Only the secondary blogs can be used in common with accounts from other persons.

3: Perfect for Curatorial

I repeat it: It is better to switch between different blogs than to mix different kind of content in one blog. In case you are curating the images of other artists you like, try to keep the same niche, coherence among the content, and identity.

4: Creative content

In this case, the most important: just post your own original content, may it be your artwork or an article. It is more attractive to your followers if you are posting about something unique.

You can create and select your blogs

5: Selfie time

You can integrate some selfies of your painting with your dog for example if you think your image can be a part of your communication. The best integration is when it is thought of as a part of the process. The work of Lindsay Bottos is a good example: Due to the incredible number of users on Tumblr reading and writing about a wide range of subjects, one way to stand out is to build your own distinctive identity.

Lindsay combines the harsh comments posted on her blog with self-portraits

6: Tumblr vs Instagram

  • Likes on Tumblr won’t be helping the content to reach a wider audience.
  • The liking action, stores the content in your library, as it does for Instagram. And likely, if you are not a celebrity nobody will spend some time to see it.
  • But then Reblogging is the difference and the key: it boosts the engagement and this is what Tumblr is for. 

7: Versatile

Tumblr is a perfect place to publish original artwork on any portable devices, even away from your computer. From mobile phones to your tablet, you can write and publish on the go. I recommend installing the official app (on iPhone and Android).

Tumblr themes

Freemium and paid themes

The main difference with other social media is that Tumblr allows you to code and design your own page.
To start with, there is a large number of free Tumblr theme that you can use. Even the official theme is great and you can configure it quite well. I will suggest 4 choices of free themes for artists based on the idea they can be linked to your other social media. None of them is perfect because their goal is to push you to invest in a paid theme. This isn’t necessary at the start, but if you become serious about it, I would advise paying for one. In 2021 I wouldn’t advise it anymore because they are not updated for the most. I would now be interested in Indy themes.

Tumblr and art, tips for artists

Xio: A great masonry with fast downloading time. Plus social media links integrated.

Astoria is embedding social media so it can preview their content.

Hipster: More like a blog, great to show proximity & personality. Well optimized.

Lunar would be more adapted for neat and elegant content. Classy contemporary art style.

Indy themes

This is very interesting: There are many programmers who are devoted to coding new themes and they are updating them consistently. For artists it is a great way to engage with those creative people and why not support them. The drawback is that you, even if it’s quite simple, need to be interested in the basics of coding: hose theme might need some modifications for adding options you would want.

Theme Hunter proposes great sources for themes and theme making.

Ethereal themes, owned by Desirae, is a vivid blog for themes, pages and resources.

Tips for an artist on Tumblr

Find your niche

Be bold! Tumblr is a great place to carry out experimentation and collaborates with creative professionals outside of your existing network. Follow the popularity of your posts, ask for reactions. It can lead to your creativity and define your style.

Don’t focus on the numbers

However, do not worry too much about generating a big audience. Share your passion and expertise, you will found your followers soon enough. Then be social with them and finding them will possibly influence your creations, find your way and give you motivation. We will take the example of the artist Rexisky:

Rexisky - Tumblr tips for artists
He was using some artists’ artworks adding motion design.
More recently, it seems he found his direction and style.

Also, he was doing some abstract paintings but less.

Being more constant, creating more and progressing faster.

Referencing your website

Do not use Tumblr for the SEO possibilities. Links from Tumblr are not ‘Dofollow’ from 2016. A post now uses a Javascript redirect, so it doesn’t pass link value. According to Takeshi Young of Moz, if you do an image post with the image as a link, those are still ‘Dofollow’ but I verified and it isn’t working, it uses a Javascript redirect too. The only link that is DoFollow is from your domain name or Blog homepage. It is a bit technical so don’t hesitate to contact me through the comments below.

Hidden pearls inside

When you are using the Search tool in Tumblr, it uses the most popular posts. Instead, switch to “most recent” and with a bit more patience you can discover some hidden pearls. Furthermore, if you share or like some content that has no success you will likely attract the interest of the owner. Don’t forget: Be social and contact anybody you think could match your style or goals. This is the most important, Tumblr is “SOCIAL” media.

Nice Art influencers living-in

You really don’t need to fall into the dopamine game of collecting for thousands of followers. Contact the influencers and submit your art! This way, it is not really necessary to hunt for followers as if you are kindly shared by great Influencers your art will be seen as if you own the same amount of followers. There’s no guarantee the blog owner will post your submission: it can be because the style doesn’t fit in the blog, or that you will need to improve the quality of your photos or your art. Look at the content they share, it will give you an idea.

Vertical images

When you upload images, privilege vertical ones. The rule here is similar to Pinterest. If you have only horizontal ones, associate them with a vertical one. The difference with Pinterest is that you can put many images in one post, you don’t have to edit them into one before.

 

Example of good size: Featured Street Art about Borondo
Always give your sources! Borondo’s website: gonzaloborondo.com

Tumblr Radar: How to get featured on Tumblr

Tumblr isn’t good to bring people from your account to your website, simply because this social media is a blog system and has to keep the traffic. But the active people on it are more art-related than any other social media (Except Ello.co if you consider it as a social media). So it might be interesting to reach people there even from the art market and the creative industry. And the best way to do it on Tumblr is to get the Tumblr Radar!

How to do it?

my best guess is that they found my work via art-related Tumblr accounts that my work had been posted on (work I had submitted to these art accounts). I think whoever, or one of the people who pick art for the radar must follow some of these accounts & picks work from there.
I’d say just search around on there for art-related accounts that take submissions & submit your art.
Two suggestions adding on the previous influencer list,

  1. Eat Sleep Draw
  2. Tumblr Art curated by the Tumblr HQ itself
  3. Us as well, Very Private Art you are welcome to submit a post.

It obviously depends on the kind of art you make. But you can easily find the most influencing from your category, see if they accept submission and then contact them. Don’t forget your own website should be the most important for your content but this technique could be fruitful

The effort is relevant?

Even if you don’t get on the radar, it’s a good exposure to get your art in front of people who might be interested & also to discover new artists that you might like. So yes. But I wouldn’t make it as a goal. Contacting and publishing through an influencer is way more reachable and relevant.

Quality first

One of the most important Tumblr tips for artists: Quality content posted regularly is a lot more important than quantity. Your artwork can be great, if the photo is not well-made, nobody will share it. Also, forget about putting a watermark, as it kills most of the chance for sharing.

Fit not fat

And, for each post, try to explain your concept in a few sentences, otherwise, people won’t take the time for tedious articles. Same for Tags, don’t add more than 5, as it would be too invasive and considered as “phantom tags” by Tumblr

Tumblr XKit extension

This extension permits to reblog, schedule, and use tags in a faster and easier way. It greatly improves the navigation of Tumblr. Here is the installation page:

Tumblr SEO, the love hate relation

Even if Google tends not to show social media content on its Search Engine, Tumblr can still have its chances because the published content on Tumblr is also published on the website that is embedding the content (see #17)

Tumblr SERP optimisation

If you want your content to be seen on SERP (search engine result page) be sure to optimise your Tumblr page as well as each post you make, and that includes links, pictures, videos, and text:

Tumblr can embed a domain name (DNS)

You can change their URL from whatever.Tumblr.com to yourdomainname.com. It can be interesting when your blog begins to have a nice Page Authority (at least 30) because you will own your own Domain Authority (links to Moz definitions).

Webmaster tools

Once you use your own Domain Name for your Tumblr, you can create a “sitemap.XML” and send it to webmaster tools. It will greatly improve the SEO of the blog. Here is the way:

  1. Generate the sitemap using the website XML sitemap for example.
  2. Download the generated the XML file.
  3. Host it on your website domain.name/sitemap.xml
  4. Upload it to Google Webmaster Tools (Dashboard/crawls/sitemaps):

Tumblr Custom URLs

Always create custom post URL: Click on the options before sending your post. You can edit the structure of the URL and also add your source.

Tagging on Tumblr

As for other social media, using a few relevant tags in each post will help to increase the reach of posts, and will allow them to be found by searchers. Here are the tips:

  • Not more than 5 tags. Or perhaps the 6th could be your artist name. When there are too many tags they are considered by Tumblr as ghost tags. Ghost tags won’t make your post seen by others.
  • The Tag artist on Tumblr is advised
  • Tag one or two art category (portrait, illustration, watercolor, digital art, etc)
  • And tag categories that are not from the art framework and more about the theme or a social group (eyes, saturated colors, LGBT) This way you will potentially reach out for more people.

Tagging on Tumblr

As for other social media, using a few relevant tags in each post will help to increase the reach of posts, and will allow them to be found by searchers. Here are the tips:

  • Not more than 5 tags. Or perhaps the 6th could be your artist name. When there are too many tags they are considered by Tumblr as ghost tags. Ghost tags won’t make your post seen by others.
  • The Tag artist on Tumblr is advised
  • Tag one or two art category (portrait, illustration, watercolor, digital art, etc)
  • And tag categories which are not from the art framework and more about the theme or a social group (eyes, saturated colors, LGBT) This way you will potentially reach out for more people.