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Tumblr vs. WordPress: What’s the difference?

So you’ve decided to start blogging, or maybe you’re just thinking about it.  Whatever your reason, you’ve probably heard about Tumblr and WordPress. You might have also asked yourself that, if the purpose of a blogging platform is to host your blog, what is the difference between these two (and the rest of your options out there)? Well, all other options set aside –more on those coming soon– Tumblr  and WordPress are extremely different. Below, I outline the major differences between these two blogging platforms for you to best decide which one is the right fit for you:

1. Host vs. Social Network

This is perhaps the best way to compare the two. WordPress is simple: it’s a platform that gives you all of the necessary tools to host your own blog, with text editors, analytics and all of the works. Tumblr, on the other hand, has more to it: it’s a social network of blogs, where you can not only read and post just about anything on your own blog, but you can ‘heart’ (i.e. ‘like’), re-blog, and comment on just about anything. Unlike WordPress, however, Tumblr does not have blog analytics within the site, but they make it very easy for incorporate Google Analytics. So, WordPress is more of an actual host-service, and Tumblr is more of a social network made of blogs.

2. .com and .org options

This is specific to WordPress. I’ll go straight to the point: .com is the easier-to-use, hands-off, less powerful option and .org is for the more serious, customizable option with unlimited power. If you’re a casual blogger or still a newbie, you might want to go with wordpress.com. You’ll get a yournamehere.wordpress.com address, along with analytics, free themes, and everything you need to start blogging right away. WordPress.org is for the more serious blogger who needs freedom and power to customize pretty much any and every aspect of their blog. You need a web-hosting service (like Bluehost, for example) for wordpress.org blogs, because they provide you with the technology to construct your blog but not the actual hosting service. (Note: you have to pay for most blog host services.) You can find out more about the differences between these two at the official WordPress.org site here.

3. Private Company vs. Open Source

Tumblr is a privately owned company that develops all of their technology in-house, whereas WordPress is an open-source project. For those unfamiliar with the definition of ‘open-source’, it’s essentially when a company or organization allows free access to their product’s code in order for users to use it, build on it, and contribute to the product’s overall development. This difference is important because the ones constantly improving the WordPress platform are the users, and it’s sustained through donations, not the need to make profit. This brings us to our next point:

4. Plugins (WordPress.org only)

Tumblr doesn’t have them, and WordPress has a ton. Plugins are pretty much snippets of code (i.e., small programs) that you can attach to your blog in order to do pretty much anything. There are plugins for just about anything, from blocking spam to optimizing SEO to even importing Tumblr posts. You can see the entire library of plugins here. Here at The Social U, we use plugins for SEO optimization, social media sharing (that bar you see on the left), blocking comment spam, web-traffic analytics, and our contact form, to name a few.

5. Visitor Analytics

This is to elaborate on what is stated at point #1. WordPress.com gives you built-in analytics (hands-free, remember?). WordPress.org has a bunch of plugins for you to track your traffic through Google Analytics, you just have to install them. And Tumblr makes it extremely easy to sync your blog with Google Analytics as well (you can find out how to do that here).

 

In short, Tumblr is an easy-to-use blog platform where it’s not just about you, but all of the Tumblr community. (You can think of Tumblr as similar to Twitter.) WordPress.com gives you all of the blogging essentials without having to worry about any of the hard work other than choosing a theme, and is limited in terms of customizing the PHP code, uploading themes and there are no plugins. WordPress.org is where you go to get serious about your blogging: you have complete power over your blog.

The Social U is a WordPress.org blog, hosted by Bluehost. However, our personal blogs (Alive & Tweeting and Ideas With Action) are both Tumblrs.

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About Álvaro J. Soltero

Álvaro is Co-Founder and Managing Editor of The Social U. He is currently a Senior at Tufts University majoring in Cognitive & Brain Science and minoring in Entrepreneurial Leadership. He just spent his summer interning for LEWIS Pulse, a social media PR agency in San Francisco, and he is currently a blogger and inbound marketing intern for a Boston startup called Leaf.

5 comments

  1. When you start a your name@wordpressblog (the free blog) can you switch over later to a wordpress.org blog to gain more control?

  2. Great post that answered pretty much all my questions. thanks!

  3. I love what you guys tend to be up too. This type of clever work and exposure!
    Keep up the wonderful works guys I’ve added you guys to our blogroll.

  4. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a
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