Tumblr is launching its second attempt at a monetization feature today. Rolling out in the U.S. now and soon globally, Tumblr Tips will let bloggers receive one-time payments from their supporters.
Tumblr will not take a cut from these payments, though standard credit card fees (2.9% + $0.30) will apply. Tipping is available on web, iOS and Android, but the company told TechCrunch that Tumblr will not rely on the Apple and Google internal billing systems to facilitate mobile tips, which means that creators won’t lose an extra 30% to fees.
When users tip a creator, they can write a note alongside the tip. Anonymous tips are allowed, but in that case, the tipper wouldn’t be able to leave a message. Fans can send tips of up to $100 each.
This tip jar-like feature follows Tumblr’s launch of Post+ last fall, which enabled users to charge a monthly fee for access to exclusive posts — but Post+ wasn’t welcomed with open arms on the platform. Even though many popular Tumblr creators link to external Patreon or Ko-Fi accounts to monetize their content, users lashed out at the idea of housing monetization features on the platform. Some worried about the legality of Tumblr encouraging users to monetize their fanfiction, while others pointed out that the beta version of Post+ didn’t enable creators to block users who subscribed to them, posing a potential safety issue. One blogger who helped test the Post+ feature was even targeted with death threats, causing Tumblr to intervene and condemn the targeted attacks.
“I felt like the sacrificial lamb, because they didn’t announce Post+ beforehand and only gave it to a few people, which landed me in the crosshairs of a very pissed-off user base when I’m just trying to pay off medical bills by giving people the option to pay for content,” the blogger, Kaijuno, told TechCrunch in July. “I knew there’d be some backlash because users hate any sort of change to Tumblr, but I thought that the brunt of the backlash would be at the staff, and that the beta testers would be spared from most of it.”
After the initial Post+ announcement, some Tumblr users told TechCrunch that they would have preferred a tip jar feature over a subscription feature like Post+, which only works if they create content that they want to paywall. At the time, a former Tumblr employee also told TechCrunch that the feature that became Post+ started out as a tip jar. The source claimed that higher-ups at Tumblr — who do not work directly with the community — redirected the project to create a paywalled subscription product.
So, it seems that Tumblr took creator feedback by finally instituting Tumblr Tips. But it’s unclear how successful Post+ has been after the initial beta launch.
“We aren’t disclosing our numbers, but we can share that, with the open beta, we opened the funnel to a much broader audience and gleaned more insights, especially from international creators. These newly-discovered learnings will help us prepare for a full launch later this year,” Bohdan Kit, Tumblr’s head of product for subscriptions, told TechCrunch.
Tumblr Tips is intended as a complementary feature to Post+, not something to replace it. But if anything, the ability to tip may help onboard creators and their fans onto the subscription service, where Tumblr will earn a 5% commission.
Though Tumblr has struggled to grow its user base since its fateful porn ban in 2018, the company now markets itself as a platform for Gen Z, who Tumblr says make up 48% of users. Still, the platform remains a source of millennial nostalgia. What does Tumblr have that basically every other major platform doesn’t? Posts in reverse chronological order that are not algorithmically shuffled to maximize engagement. It’s the little things.