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How to make a viral single-serving Tumblr

The experts behind Champagne Facials, Rich Kids of Instagram, and Ryan Gosling at Fun Fun Fun Fest offer their essential tips for Tumblr success. 


Jordan Valinsky


Posted on Aug 30, 2012   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 11:56 am CDT

There are a few ways to become Internet famous: unknowingly become the target of a meme, inventing a new style of horseback dancing, or developing a Tumblr blog that catapults you into a tidal wave of reblogs, notoriety, and press mentions.

Creating an A-list single-serving Tumblr takes more than luck, though. You need to be able to identify topical trends, a basic knowledge of how Tumblr works, and enough promotional know-how to not sit awkwardly on morning television shows.

To get the complete lowdown on keys to success, the Daily Dot out to three proven Tumblr experts: Austin Kleon, creator of Ryan Gosling at Fun Fun Fun Fest; Kirill Bichutsky, the brains behind Champagne Facials; and the anonymous curator of the now-infamous Rich Kids of Instagram (RKOI).

1) Find a topic

This is probably the trickiest part in the whole process. You need a subject that’s popular, shareable—or involves Ryan Gosling.

“Pick a subject that’s already popular, then find a really narrow, specific take on it,” said Kleon, who offered the following equation: “Ryan Gosling + [(feminism) OR (books) OR (Fun Fun Fun Fest)]”

If Gosling isn’t of interest (and, to be fair, there’s no shortage of “Gosblrs” out there), the creator of RKOI said the basis of an optimal topic should be “quick to digest, fun to share, and can give your audience space to interpret how they like.”

2) Keep it simple

When it comes to naming your blog, “Descriptive beats clever,” advised Kleon.

Users need to be able to easily search for and recognize a blog’s theme. That simplicity will also make it easier to remember for future visits.

3) Maintain the blog

A Tumblr is like a plant: The more you nurture it, the bigger it’s going to grow. While our panel of experts agreed that updating the blog is essential, they differed on how frequently it should be updated.

“The frequency should match up with the length of the project,” Kleon said. “Fun Fun Fun Fest was only three days long, so I posted once an hour.” The blog ended shortly after the event.

While RKOI could fall into the rabbit hole of posting every disgustingly wealthy photo on Instagram, its curator offered a more tempered response.

“It’s not always about frequency as much as it is about content.”

Bichutsky wrote that he updates his blog a few times a week, but since his content is not powered by user-submitted content, it’s difficult to update daily:

“I actually have to go out there and consciously photograph girls getting champagne facials so that my blog could have new content,” he said.

4) Encourage user submissions

Spotlighting user submissions will not only make the curation process easier, it will likely help expand the blog’s reach at the same time.

“People love to participate,” Kleon noted.

In addition to Flickr and Twitter, Kleon searched for relevant tags used by people wanting to share their Gosling encounters on Web-based Instagram services like Statigram and Hashgram.

5) Get the word out

“The best part about a good idea is that you just need to plant the seed and watch it spread virally,” Bichutsky said. “I posted it a few times on Facebook and Twitter and within two days, it spread on it’s own.”

Your social network might be all your Tumblr needs to take off, Bichutsky noted:

“It the idea is catchy enough, your friends, their friends, their friends friends will market it for you without even realizing it.”

6) Stay passionate

Remember: You are your first reader. If you’re in it for the long run, make sure you focus on a subject that will continue to inspire you.  

“Find something that you’re passionate about and then find a way to make it different and appealing,” Bichutsky wrote. “As long as you’ve seen my blog once, I’m happy. If you don’t come back, there are millions of other people that will.”

RKOI creator summed it succinctly for those looking to achieve viral success: “start with a great idea.”

Once you have that nailed down, the rest might just come easy to you.

Photo via Champagne Facials/Tumblr

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*First Published: Aug 30, 2012, 10:00 am CDT