Serena is a digital nomad who writes about work, emotion regulation, and self-improvement.
My experience with Tumblr was amazing and was my first experience with what exponential growth looked like. Gaining over 100,000 followers on Tumblr was never something that I planned on doing, but something I truly just fell into. Want to know how I gained over 100k on Tumblr from when I was just 14 to 16? I'll tell you how.
1. Having a Mental Escape is an Easy Way to Drive Traffic.
I didn't think that blogging and re-posting pictures would lead to becoming internet famous at 16 years old at the time, but then again, life surprises you sometimes. I started my Tumblr profile and blog simply because I enjoyed doing it. And now looking back, I see that because I had this escape that I consistently engaged with was a good way to build something new and worthwhile, because you are committed emotionally to putting effort into it over and over. Don't just do something because you think you will make money. Do something because you are addicted to it, fascinated by it, and absolutely love doing it. My mom had to literally rip the computer out of my hands at times because I was so addicted to blogging. At the time, I was embarrassed for this, but I should've known that I was actually paving my way as a digital marketer and that my escape was driving valuable traffic to my blog. Having a meaningful mental escape is truly a hack to driving a huge amount of traffic to any online platform.
2. I Was Myself, Open, and Honestly.
Having my own platform allowed me to share everything that I wanted to inside my head. Everything that I was posting was completely anonymous, so I took this freedom and completely ran with it. I wrote my own content straight from the heart and posted it without any hesitation. I re-posted relatable content about heartbreak, depression, love, and everything else that goes through a 16-year-old's mind. This was the basis of my blog- simply me, my thoughts, and my honest truth. Little did I know, that being open and vulnerable on the internet would help so many people to relate and find comfort in the problems they are going to, which led them to follow me and the things that I posted. I openly discussed my own thoughts and created discussions for people on Tumblr to submit their true feelings to my blog, whether it be needing advice or spilling their guts on something they would never be able to say in person. I wanted to express the rawness and openness of how people truly felt because I also couldn't anywhere else, and I needed an outlet. Looking back now, being open and honest in what I was creating was a vital component of gaining a following.
3. I Captured Multiple Niches.
Posting on a website every day challenges you to think outside of the box to constantly innovate. Posting every day can easily get monotonous, so I would often change the theme of my blog to entertain myself. For example, sometimes I would only post black and white photos for a couple of weeks, and then when I was over that "theme", I would switch to posts only with quotes, and so on. Although this served as entertainment to me, I now realize that by doing this I was gathering different types of people (different niches) and getting different people with different interests following me. From poetry, photos of food, to advice columns, focusing on varying my themes helped me capture a wide audience and establish authority in multiple areas- ultimately leading to a larger social media following.
4. I Networked, Networked... and then Networked Again.
The #1 thing that boosted my following through the roof of Tumblr was networking. Getting in touch with other Tumblr people and promoting each other's blogs was a vital component in growing my following and becoming a well-known blog on the Tumblr platform. I attempted every day to make connections to promote my blog with other blogs. Whenever I would cross-promote, meaning getting exposure to other people's followers on the same platform, I could gain fresh traffic which would help to monetize my blog. When I gained 20,000 followers, I connected with people in my follower range and would agree to promote each other's blogs on our own websites. The more followers I gained, the more I was able to market myself to people who had similar follower counts to me.
5. I Joined "Promotion Groups".
At a certain point, I joined promotion groups. These were groups within Tumblr where many blogs within the same follower count would join an exclusive page where discussions, ideas, and group chats would occur. We would all gather at set times and promote each other's blogs until most of our followers were mutual. (We would promote each other until all of our followers followed everyone else in our group). After that point, we would try to find other blogs in different promotion groups at similar traffic levels to move up to and promote. As I gained more followers, I was invited to more prominent promotion groups that had blogs with more followers.
6. Welcome to Exponential Growth.
I ultimately began to experience a great amount of exponential growth. The more followers I had, the more popular blogs would want to engage and promote my site, and the more traction I would gain by promoting blogs with more followers. I became well known within the community. People would even screenshot a notification when I followed them and make a post on their blog bragging that a "famous" blog followed them. It was surreal, to say the least. By engaging my audience and networking efficiently, and at my peak, I gained over 100,000 followers.
My Advice For Those Who Want to Gain a Following
Looking back, all of this was all just fun and games, but this profound experience at a young age was what pushed me to get a college business marketing degree, and has since led me into a professional marketing career. I realized that my experience was very valuable and even worth sharing. The most important lesson in this to me was that I couldn't have achieved this goal without doing something that I was absolutely infatuated with, and I would encourage anyone else looking to make online money to do the same. Nobody is like you, nobody thinks like you, and nobody IS you. Take advantage of your interests and your likes, and maybe one day you will be able to efficiently monetize them, and then have a paid income source that is dependent on what you actually want to do.
Vikram Brahma from Assam, India on December 18, 2020:
My friend, I simply loved this sentence which you wrote - Don't just do something because you think you will make money. Do something because you are addicted to it, fascinated by it, and absolutely love doing it. Hope I can learn more about Tumblr from you. Good advice you shared my friend. And I think it is a big, big achievement (gaining 1,00,000 followers).
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 17, 2020:
Congratulations to you! What was fun for you sparked your professional marketing career. I am unfamiliar with Tumblr, but I do post photos on Pinterest.