Startups: Host a Tumblelog on Tumblr

We host our blog on Tumblr, and it’s our third-largest source of social media traffic after Twitter and Facebook.  I asked my friends at Fitocracy for their stats (their blog is on Tumblr, too) and they reported that Tumblr was fourth after Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit, and it’s high-volume traffic as Fitocracy is doing several million pageviews monthly. For both of us, it’s in the top 10 of all sources of referral traffic.

With Tumblr, we’re talking about an enormous community — one of the largest on the Internet (rank 24 in the US according to Alexa).  Using Tumblr, we not only get a publishing platform, with it comes a huge source of persistent, repeatable traffic and signups for free.  

That’s why Paul Stamatiou’s recent post, Startups: Don’t Host Your Blog on Tumblr, came off as missing the boat on what’s really important in a company blog.  It took a tech-centric approach (uptime, technical substitutes) to a question that’s really about user/customer acquisition and engagement.  Simply put, not hosting something, whether it be a company blog or a tumblelog, on Tumblr amounts to nothing more than a missed opportunity to reach internet scale.

Write Your Own Story

Every milestone is an opportunity to attract attention to your startup because you have a piece of “news” — a new piece of noteworthy information that no one else but you has.

When you have something to announce, conventional wisdom says to go to the press and blogs with your story because they (1) have distribution and (2) are expert in crafting a story.  In the past, we’ve offered nuggets of news to journalists as exclusives, and we’ve gotten written up by Betabeat and The Next Web this way.

However, we’ve recently experimented with writing our own story on our own blog, telling a narrative that’s personal and shows how we work behind the scenes, harnessing the power of social news for distribution — and that has resulted in our all-time one-day high for traffic and 1,000+ signups, more than double the signups resulting from our press piece.  Through that experience, we’ve learned the importance of writing your own story and turning transparency and narrative into a competitive advantage.

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How We Got Our First 5,000 Users

Celebrate — this week we got our 5,000th user!  This is the most users either of us (Rodrigo and I) have ever had for any web project of ours.  In the past, we’ve taken the “build it and they will come” attitude towards web development … and they never came!  Here’s the story of how we did it by constructing custom narratives for influential communities.

Hacker News.  At 9am PST on January 3rd, we posted a “Show HN” article on Hacker News with the hook that we built the site to keep our New Year’s Resolutions.

Note that our Show HN post was made as an external link to and we made a comment on that post that described the project.  We decided to do that instead of submitting a text story to HN with the first comment as a clickable link.  We had anecdotally observed that posts without external links were not making the front page too often after HN added “Ask”, and some of our friends had observed this also.

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