Tumblr lets bloggers charge a subscription

Tumblr finally offers its writers a way to monetize their work: charge a subscription.

The 14-year-old blogging platform is starting to add the ability for writers to put their posts behind a paywall. The feature, called Post Plus, allows creators to offer a $3.99, $5.99, or $9.99 per month subscription, which gives readers access to any posts they decide to designate, subscribers only. For now, the feature is only available in a “limited beta” to select creators.

The formula is very similar to what Substack offers – a blog and an easy way for writers to charge – minus the entire email newsletter component. Facebook is also starting to test the waters in this area and is starting a subscription to a newsletter product called Bulletin.

While Tumblr is still a large network, the platform is shrinking. It now gets 11.3 million daily posts, according to Tumblr’s press information page, up from 14.8 million this time last year and 67.7 million this time in 2012, according to the page’s archives. Tumblr struggled during the shift to mobile, and it later crashed after being bought by Yahoo in 2013 and Verizon in 2017.

Automattic, which runs WordPress.com, bought Tumblr in 2019 but hasn’t done much with the service since then. It’s hard to imagine a paywall feature because a site often used for pseudonymous fan blogging will bring people back. But it’s a step in making the platform a more flexible option for writers and gives existing writers another reason to stay. The network now emphasizes its continued adoption by younger users and says that about half of the users are part of Gen Z.

A broad launch of the feature is planned for this fall, a Tumblr spokesperson said The edge. Tumblr takes a 5 percent fee from subscriptions, which is competitive compared to Substack’s 10 percent discount. However, if readers subscribe to iOS or Android, those platforms’ 30 percent app store cost comes from what a creator is allowed to keep.