Yahoo's Opportunity with Tumblr

Yahoo has taken a unique approach with some of its most important products for over a decade. Both the previous and new Mayer-powered management have not been afraid to offer paid upgrades to free, ad-based services when it makes sense. Maybe Yahoo can do the same thing with Tumblr.

Yahoo! has a big opportunity with TumblrYahoo! has a big opportunity with Tumblr

For those just tuning in, Yahoo has offered options like Yahoo Mail Plus—a paid email upgrade that offers an ad-free experience and disposable addresses, among other things—and Flickr not-pro-anymore since 2002. I’ve seen a lot of Tumblr users ask for a similar option as the company tried different, clever ways to become profitable besides good ol’ fashioned ads. Now would be a great time for Yahoo to deliver.

If “paid features” makes you panic, don’t hit the button. It’s highly unlikely that Yahoo will suddenly erect a paywall around many Tumblr features, if any, mostly because stunts like that rarely work out well. There’s a lot at stake here for both Yahoo and one of the US’s top 10 most-trafficked sites that happens to be a unique hybrid of social media and customizable blogging service.

One way for Yahoo to put a strong foot forward for Tumblr’s future would be to introduce a paid tier with new options. Features like built-in domain registration and setup, website analytics, and a media manager could make Tumblr even more appealing to everyone with an ounce of interest in their audience and friction-free blogging.

A built-in store for selling physical goods, digital items, and memberships would also be great additions for Tumblr’s incredible creative and writing communities. You only need to look at and Squarespace for ideas, but Tumblr’s product team has clearly had no shortage of those.

The bottom line is that, instead of letting Tumblr float along as yet another expendable free service, introducing a paid level with additional features would make a statement that the service is here to stay.