WordPress vs. Tumblr vs. Posterous

Anyone can launch a blog these days. Services like WordPress, Tumblr and Posterous make it easy.

The hard part comes when you have to decide which service to use. They’re all similar but different, and have strengths and weaknesses. So how do you decide? It’s tough, but should always come down to your individual needs. I’ve compared Tumblr and Posterous before (one of my most popular posts), and thought it would be fun to compare all three blogging platforms. An important note: in this comparision, I’ll focus on WordPress.com, not the open source, downloadable software.

Basic Information

  • WordPress.com: Run by Automattic, WordPress is one of the oldest, and most respected blogging platforms around.
  • Tumblr.com: Run by Tumblr, Inc., Tumblr is a rising micro-blogging platform that’s popular among creatives and blogging newbies.
  • Posterous.com: Posterous, Inc., Posterous, often mentioned in the same articles as Tumblr, made its name thanks to friendly email features and new group site options.

Wordpress Logo

Positives: WordPress

  • Data portability: One of WordPress’ strengths – you can import and export from a variety of formats with ease. You never have to worry about the question: “How can I get my content out?”
  • Lots of themes: The thing I love the most about WordPress is the variety of themes available, including new premium ones.
  • Flexibility for future growth: The software that powers any blog you begin on WordPress.com is the same software you can download at WordPress.org. That means that if your site grows beyond the needs of a blog, requires advanced functionality that doesn’t exist in WordPress.com or you just want more control – it’s all a download away, with the same user experience.

Negatives: WordPress

  • Can the blogging giant keep up? With Tumblr and Posterous focusing on micro-blogging, mobile blogging, privacy and Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter and Diaspora innovating in big ways, can a a “traditional” blogging platform like WordPress keep up with endless changes?
  • Mobile app: The mobile app for WordPress (I’ve used the Android one) isn’t as strong or as integrated with core functionality as both Tumblr and Posterous’ apps.
  • Upgrades cost money: Many, not all, but many of the features and functionality that you’d find for free on Tumblr and Posterous cost money on WordPress.com. These include: your own domain, custom CSS, no ads, etc. If cost is a factor, this may be a deal-breaker.

Tumblr Logo

Positives: Tumblr

  • Strong niche communities: While WordPress and Posterous have vibrant communities, Tumblr has great niche communities for fashionistas, creatives, journalists and more.
  • Quick and easy: While WordPress has built a name around its simple user interface, I’ve heard many say that Tumblr’s approach (with fewer options, quick micro-blogging features and built-in social network) has won them over.
  • The up and comer: Over the past year, Tumblr has risen to stardom amongst the tech/social media start-ups. It may be able to ride the momentum on to more innovation.

Negatives: Tumblr

  • Not for everybody: Even though Tumblr, WordPress.com and Posterous share many of the same features, Tumblr has the stronger social network feel. Some might see it as just another social network, and wonder why they need another one, of if they have the time.
  • No way to export content: Tumblr offers no way to export your content, which could force users to lose content if they decide to leave Tumblr.
  • Specialized content: As mentioned in the first point, Tumblr is a social network and creative, multimedia-friendly, short bursts of content performs well there. This certainly can be seen as a positive, but it might not be for everyone.

Posterous Logo

Positives: Posterous

  • Reinvented: Posterous became Posterous Spaces recently, turning the super-easy blogging platform into more of a social network, built for sharing content publicly or privately with flexibility over appearance and other features. Much of this can be accomplished using the other platforms, but Posterous has aimed for this to be its niche.
  • Group blogging/sites: I’ve used Posterous to some success as a group blog with Journalism Lives. It’s been fun, and Posterous as a platform excels at this.
  • Mobile publishing: All three platforms have strong mobile apps, but Posterous’ latest version ties into its new features well, priming it to be the perfect place to share content on the go.

Negatives: Posterous

  • Weaker Community: Posterous does not have as strong of a community as Tumblr or WordPress. It’s newer so that may change.
  • No way to export content: Posterous, like Tumblr, offers no way to export your content. Again, this should be seen by platforms as a basic feature to offer users ultimate flexibility.
  • Very much like Google Plus: The one thing that I noticed when I first checked out Posterous Spaces was how similar it was to Google Plus in overall goals… It will be interesting to see how Posterous and the two other platforms distinguish themselves among all of the competition in the social media space.

Final Thoughts

This was a fun post to write. Honestly, I had trouble coming up with three negatives for all of these platforms. They all have similarities, so ultimately it comes down to YOU. I’ve mentioned this before in my other post, comparing Tumblr and Posterous. You’ll get the most out of a platform if you’re comfortable with it and like/love using it. It’s why I ultimately started a new, fun blog on WordPress.com after trying with both Posterous and Tumblr to do the same thing. For me, the deciding factor was WordPress embracing the open source mentality. I always know that I will always have control of my data.

For you, the decision may be different.

Published by David A. Kennedy

I work as a Senior UX Designer at Ad Hoc, focusing on accessibility.

9 replies on “WordPress vs. Tumblr vs. Posterous”

    1. Thanks, Amanda!

      Tumblr is definitely a great solution for quick, easy posts about fun stuff. I think it would be an awesome place to share photos and videos about library events. And maybe audio interviews with staff and/or program people.

      1. Tumblr also seems to be gaining steam as the major destination for online roleplaying. LiveJournal used to be the haven for this kind of thing, and it’s probably still a major part of what people use LJ for, but Tumblr is more modern and much easier to use.

  1. You touched on Google+, but I wonder for micro-blogging if it might provide all that is needed? I’m not sure I’m ready to go that route, I’d like to see some discussion on it. it does photos and YouTube videos really well, allows for long text post, has a social network. You don’t have themes, but there is styling you can do to the appearance at the top. Just a thought.

    Posterous has an API that WordPress can use to import data, but it’s odd Tumblr has so few import/export tools.

    1. I’ve seen a lot of debate on Google+ and blogging/micro-blogging as well. I think where a lot of people struggle with it is figuring out where it’s different than Facebook and Twitter and/or how they’ll use it differently. I like Chris Brogan’s thoughts on Google+ and blogging.

      Ultimately, Tumblr’s like of an export option drove me away. I feel like those lack of options might be a strategy. Tumblr is still growing, and it doesn’t want to lose any users. That’s just my take.

  2. I didn’t see anything about accessibility in this post. Based on my observations, Tumblr and Posterous are not quite as accessible as WP. But then again, I’ve not been to many blogs hosted on Tumblr or Posterous. In fact I think I only know of one blog hosted on Posterous, and it is the blog of someone who is visually-impaired and appears not to blog much. Personally, I’ll take any blogging/microblogging platform that doesn’t have an inaccessible CAPTCHA, i.e., only the text-based CAPTCHA’s work for me.

  3. Hello:

    Thanks for this informative post. I used to run my own blog on a WP server on Dreamhost when I was in college. Server expense and the fact that I was spending more time tweaking blog settings than actually blogging drove me away from that. I landed on Twitter and stopped blogging for a while.

    Then I found posterous and loved the media uploading features and e-mail publishing, and have been trying to get back into the groove of blogging. Except it’s always been a little wonky: my in-browswer spell check on Safari has never worked in Posterous (and only Posterous) for some reason, and since the Spaces rollout the site has seemed a bit more unstable.

    Tonight it stopped showing new posts on my index page, even though direct links to them work fine. Images in the posts I put up tonight sometimes display and sometimes print a text error. Earlier today it crashed my browser twice when I tried to paste text into a new entry.

    Given that things at Posterous are a bit uncertain now that Twitter purchased them, I’m eager to take my blog and it’s average of 100 hits per post (most of which are probably bots) elsewhere. After reading your article I think I’ll give WordPress.com a go.

    Given the recent API changes and behavior at Twitter, I’m actually getting to the point where I like that a company charges its users for features. If I’m paying for features I’m the customer. If I’m not paying for features I’m the product for whatever monetization scheme the service uses–usually advertising. If WP’s fees are reasonable, I’m perfectly willing to pay them so I don’t wake up one day to find out WP has cut off 3d party client API access or instituted some bizarre new form of ad integration (hi, Facebook!), or what have you.

    Granted, I get about 100 hits per post, like I said, so for me reasonable currently means “very cheap.” 😉

    Come to think of it, I never did figure out how Posterous made money before Twitter bought them.

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