Lauren Kaelin and I started When Parents Text after she showed me a funny text from her mom over dinner. I said, “When parents text it’s hilarious!” Lauren responded, “That should be a website!” Then the whenparentstext.com website was born, and a year later we’re overwhelmed with up to 5 million hits per month.
It was pretty simple. Because our goal was to find an audience and gain traction, we bought a domain name and chose Tumblr to start our blog. A dedicated user base and easy-to-use functions made Tumblr the best option for starting a website with little technical know-how.
What happened next was magic. Within a few weeks we had “gone viral” and were getting requests from agents, publishers and producers to repackage our content into other forms of media. In under two months, we gained over 50,000 Tumblr fans and had a dedicated fan base sharing our content on their own Tumblr pages and other social media sharing sites.
We owe much of our success to Tumblr and would like to share tips that explain why you too should start a Tumblr, and how you should do it:
Keep it simple
When starting out on Tumblr, you’ll find many visual themes to choose from. Some cost money and some are free. Whichever you pick, make sure the theme itself is clean. Many themes on Tumblr use overwhelming colors and too many boxes on one page. These are typically hard to follow and read. Keep your theme simple and your posts streamlined. This keeps the reader engaged and encourages them to revisit your page.
Re-blogging is one of the biggest advantages that Tumblr has to offer. When you follow other blogs, their posts will stream into your newsfeed giving you the ability to “re-blog” a post to all of your followers. This is crucial for any blog looking to gain traction. It’s possible to share your posts with thousands of people even if your blog has only a handful of followers. Try to get your followers to re-blog your posts as much as possible!
Get some of your friends and fans to start recommending you to the Tumblr admins. If you have a great blog that’s getting attention, you might get placed on Tumblr’s explore page. When this happened to our blog, the traffic for our site tripled. We were seeing huge spikes in page views and new visitors. We gained thousands of fans and started to get high volumes of outside traffic.
Direct your users to Facebook and Twitter
Make sure that you prominently display links to your Facebook and Twitter feeds on your Tumblr site. There’s nothing more important than social media on Tumblr. Though re-blogging is already built-in, Tumblr gives your fans the ability to follow you on a variety of available media. Take advantage of the community at hand and broaden your market to other social media sites.
Update the site as much as possible
You’ll never know what works unless you try everything. During our first few weeks, we posted as many funny texts as we could and as much as possible. It caught on because there was a lot of material to work with. Keep giving your followers reasons to revisit you on the Web!
Lauren Kaelin and Sophia Fraioli, authors of When Parents Text: So Much Said...So Little Understood, grew up in Montclair, New Jersey, and have been best friends since sixth grade. After graduating from Smith (Lauren) and the University of Vermont (Sophia), they moved back to Montclair and created the hugely popular website, whenparentstext.com. The two have since moved out of their childhood homes, but they still text their parents. You can follow the authors on Facebook and Twitter.