When deciding where to publish your website content, consider your needs and goals. Will multiple users be helping to run your site? How often will you be adding new pages to your site? How much control do you want over its appearance and functionality? What about the more technical aspects, like speed, security, and performance?

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If you need to manage multiple users, frequently add pages to your site, and completely customize the look and feel of your site, then you’ll want a content management system like WordPress. This self-hosted platform will offer you virtually unlimited control over your site — though it will require you to spend time and money learning how to wield this control to build your ideal site.

If you don’t need multiple users or pages or much control over your site at all, then you can use a free publishing platform like Tumblr. Tumblr will take care of all the technical aspects of running a site so you can focus solely on writing and engaging with your readers.

Let’s take a closer look at the key differences between Tumblr and WordPress below.

With Tumblr, you won’t need to worry about site maintenance, speed, security, or performance. You won’t have to find a hosting provider or configure a bunch of settings. You won’t even have to purchase and register a custom domain name if don’t want to. This makes it easy to set up a site and start publishing content and building an audience quickly.

In exchange for this speed and ease of use, you’ll have to forgo a lot of control over the appearance and functionality of your site. In fact, you won’t even technically own your site. That means it could be suspended at any time if you’re found in violation of Tumblr’s community guidelines.

WordPress provides you much more flexibility — and, as a result, requires a much steeper learning curve. You’ll need to download and install the software, sign up for a hosting service, and install any plugins you need to help manage the security and performance of your site. While these responsibilities will require more time, effort, and budget, they’ll also enable you to build a site that looks and does exactly what you want.

Now that we’ve given a brief overview of these two platforms, let’s look at how Tumblr and WordPress compare in terms of price, SEO, blogging, and business.

Tumblr vs. WordPress Price

When selecting a publishing platform for your business, you need to find an option that meets your needs and your budget. Below we’ll compare the costs associated with creating and running a blog on Tumblr and WordPress so you can pick the solution with the right price and functionality.

Tumblr Price

Tumblr is a free publishing platform with over 450 million users. To publish your content on Tumblr, you simply need to sign up for a free account.

By default, you’ll be set up with a Tumblr subdomain that looks like: https://mywebsite.tumblr.com. If you’d prefer to have a custom domain, then you can purchase one from a third-party registrar like Domainr and connect it to your Tumblr account. A custom domain costs between $10 and 40 per year.

You may also need to factor in the cost of a premium theme. While there are many free themes available in Tumblr’s official repository, you may have to opt for a premium theme to get the exact look you want for your site. Premium themes range from $9 to $49.

Premium themes in Tumblr's official repository

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Tumblr, like the free blogging platform Blogger, does not run ads on its users’ blogs. Since platforms like Wix and Weebly do run ads on their free users’ sites, this makes Tumblr an appealing option for beginners and other types of users with small budgets.

However, it’s important to note that Tumblr has placed ads on its users’ blogs in the past and may do so in the future, according to a policy thread labeled “On-Blog Advertising.”

WordPress Price

WordPress’s open-source software is free to download and install, but there are costs associated with running a site on this self-hosted platform. To launch your site, you’ll have to pay for domain registration, which costs between $10 to 40 per year, and hosting. Hosting can range from $3 to $300 per month, depending on both the provider and type of hosting you sign up for.

There are other potential costs associated with your site’s design. If you don’t find a free theme that meets your exact specifications, then you may need to purchase a premium theme, which typically costs somewhere between $60 and $200. You may also need to purchase premium plugins, some of which require a one-time fee while others require an annual subscription.

Because of these variables, building and managing a WordPress site can cost anywhere from a few dollars to a few thousand. Luckily, creating an average blog that rivals one you’d be able to create on Tumblr will be relatively inexpensive. For example, hosting a blog with a free domain on DreamHost can cost as little as $3 per month.

Features of Dreamhost's WordPress hosting plan for less than $3 per month

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Tumblr vs. WordPress for Blogging

Blogging is an essential part of any content strategy. It can help you establish topic authority, build trust with your readers, and improve your chances of ranking in search engines, among other benefits.

Tumblr and WordPress are both designed for blogging but offer very different approaches. Let’s compare them below.

Tumblr for Blogging

Tumblr makes it easy to create multimedia post types that feature text, photos, GIFs, links, chat dialogue, audio files, or video. Tumblr is ideal for creating bite-sized pieces of content like infographics, quotes, and photos rather than long-form content. Let’s take a quick scroll through my feed to get a feel for the type of content that’s published on this platform.

Tumblr feed of blogsTumblr offers more design options than most free publishing platforms. You can choose from dozens of free and premium themes in Tumblr’s official repository to create a professional-looking site with multiple pages, sidebars, social sharing buttons, comment sections, and more

Tumblr’s social networking features also set it apart from other platforms. Users can easily like, reply, and reblog your posts on their Tumblr as well as their other social accounts, right from their dashboard.

A hybrid of a blogging platform and social networking site, Tumblr is ideal for individuals and businesses looking to generate brand awareness and understand what type of content resonates with their audience.

WordPress for Blogging

WordPress is a much more versatile platform for blogging. While some personal bloggers or small businesses won’t need all the settings and customization options WordPress offers, others will need them to create custom post types and engage their visitors with forms, animation effects, video backgrounds, and more.

Take the Gutenberg editor, WordPress’s new block editor, for example. It not only offers the formatting options and ability to embed images, videos, and GIFS that Tumblr’s editor offers — it also offers blocks for adding columns, buttons, image galleries, tables, and shortcodes to your posts and pages. Plus, it’s a drag-and-drop editor so you can build your posts and pages in less time.

Dragging and dropping image of mountains in WordPress Gutenberg editor

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With WordPress, you can also select from thousands of themes to design your blog, assign user roles and permissions, make your content public, private, or password-protected. If you’d like to display a list of random posts in your sidebar or add any additional functionality to your site, then you can install a plugin or edit your source code.

Because of this flexibility, WordPress is ideal for users with advanced and complex blogging needs.

Tumblr vs. WordPress for SEO

Even if your sole focus is on blogging, you’re responsible not only for writing high-quality content but also optimizing it for search.

When deciding where to publish your content, you want to evaluate the built-in functionality and tools a platform offers for optimizing your website’s SEO. Below we’ll compare Tumblr’s selection of features and tools to WordPress’s.

Tumblr for SEO

Tumblr offers some of the standard features for optimizing your on-page SEO. You can add a title, custom URL, and tags to your posts, for example. But to further optimize your posts — say, by adding image alt text, meta descriptions, and multiple heading styles — you’ll have to edit the HTML code of your blog.

Editing HTML of Tumblr blog to add three more heading styles

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This lack of built-in SEO features — in addition to the lack of add-ons or tools to help simplify the optimization process — makes it more difficult for non-technical users to get their Tumblr blogs to rank. That’s why Tumblr is best for bloggers who are already familiar with or have the time to learn HTML and SEO best practices.

WordPress for SEO

WordPress enables users with different levels of technical knowledge to create SEO-friendly sites.

You can easily add image alt-text, meta descriptions, multiple headings, and custom URLs in your posts and pages without coding. You can also download or purchase WordPress plugins from the official directory or third-party sites to help you optimize your site.

SEO plugins available in WordPress official directory

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The Yoast SEO plugin, for example, will offer suggestions for creating readable text, using your keywords, optimizing your meta descriptions and image alt text, and adding internal links to improve your on-page SEO. Other plugins will help you optimize your images, XML sitemaps, speed, and performance to improve your technical SEO.

More advanced users can also edit the underlying code of their site to remove any unnecessary HTML, CSS, or Javascript that’s slowing down their site or preventing search engine bots from crawling and indexing it.

In short, WordPress offers more built-in features, add-ons, and flexibility to improve your site’s SEO than Tumblr.

Tumblr vs. WordPress for Business

Tumblr and WordPress can meet a variety of business needs. Below we'll take a look at a few brands that use each platform to achieve different goals. Let's start with Tumblr.

Tumblr for Business

There are two ways that businesses use Tumblr: writing and advertising.

When publishing content on Tumblr, most businesses try to engage a younger segment of their audience. That makes sense considering that 43 percent of internet users between the ages of 18 to 24 years old use Tumblr.

Some businesses have been incredibly successful in growing their brand this way. Take Denny’s, for example. With the goal of bringing the experience of hanging out in their restaurants online, it posts haikus and GIFs, answers fan questions, and reblogs fan art. In the past year, it’s published over 1,000 posts and increased its followers by 20%. The company claims this has helped increase sales and grow their audience base.

Denny's tumblr feed is rich with examples of successful consumer engagement

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In addition to using Tumblr to create and launch a site for your business quickly, you can also purchase sponsored content to advertise your products and brand to targeted users.

That’s why Tumblr appeals to brands like Starbucks, Vans, Lexus, and Nike.

Nike Women uses Tumblr to sponsor content

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WordPress for Business

While Tumblr is great for publishing multimedia content that appeals to a younger segment of your audience, WordPress can serve much broader and diverse purposes.

Whether you want to build a one-page website, blog, portfolio, directory site, membership site, or online store, WordPress can provide the built-in functionality, themes, and plugins you need to build the exact website you want for your business.

While WordPress appeals to small businesses, it’s also the go-to choice for larger household names like MTV, Microsoft, Facebook News, and BBC America.

BBC America is a big brand name example that uses wordpress

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It’s important to note that these platforms aren’t mutually exclusive. If you use WordPress to build your main website and blog, you can still share this content and engage your audience on Tumblr.

The Key Differences between Tumblr and WordPress

Both Tumblr and WordPress can help you publish highly visual content, build up authority in a particular industry, and foster an online community. However, each offers unique advantages that appeal to users with different levels of technical experience, budgets, and business needs.

To help you decide which solution is right for you, we’ve summarized the key differences between Tumblr and WordPress below. 

  tumblr wordpress
Software Proprietary publishing platform Open-source content management system
Price Free with Tumblr subdomain. However, you can purchase a custom domain from a third-party registrar for $10 to 40 per year as well as a premium theme. Premium themes range from $9 to $49. Free to use the software, but domain registration, hosting, and premium plugins and themes range from a few dollars to a few hundred. However, you can host a blog with a free domain for as little as $3 per month.
Blogging Ideal for short-form content. Offers a larger selection of free and premium themes than most free publishing platforms, but lacks content management features and customization options for creating a large or complex blog. Ideal for custom post types. Offers a drag-and-drop block editor, thousands of themes, and advanced blogging functionality, including user management and content visibility. Customization options are virtually limitless via plugins and coding.
SEO Standard features for customizing your post titles and permalinks and tagging your content. Other basic optimization tasks — like adding image alt text, meta descriptions, and multiple heading styles — require you to edit HTML. In addition to standard features for optimizing your titles, headers, image alt text, meta descriptions, and URLs, you can select from hundreds of plugins to simplify or automate the process of improving your on-page and technical SEO.
Business Ideal for reaching a younger audience through visual content, like GIFs and memes, or paid sponsored content. Suits a larger range of businesses and business purposes, including creating a one-page website, blog, portfolio, directory site, membership site, and online store.

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Originally published Mar 11, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated March 31 2020

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