Tumblr’s ill-fated Post+ subscription service is shutting down, the company announced late on Monday. The service, which allowed creators to paywall select content for subscribers only, will no longer be an option Tumblr users can enable as of December 1st and will fully shut down in early 2024, when existing Post+ content will be set to private and new content can no longer be created.
The service, which first launched in July 2021, had been designed to give creators a means of generating revenue from their work posted to the platform, which today has a number of artists, fandom enthusiasts, writers, and others who could have benefitted from subscription content. However, Tumblr’s community — a generally younger crowd, and one that’s averse to traditional forms of monetization or even change for that matter — quickly lashed out against the new product.
As TechCrunch’s Amanda Silberling reported, one of the early adopters of Post+, a writer by the name Kaijuno, described feeling like “a sacrificial lamb” after agreeing to test Post+ on their content. While they had expected some backlash from the community, they were surprised that Tumblr’s users targeted creators using Post+ instead of just Tumblr itself or its staff.
Despite the drama surrounding the feature, Post+ moved into open beta later in the year, but removed the Post+ badge that appeared next to creators’ names to spare them unwanted attention. The company also added a lower price point of $1.99/month, joining existing pricing options of $3.99, $5.99 and $9.99. Tumblr also said it would take only a 5% cut of creator profits, in line with or lower than rivals.
However, as Tumblr owner and Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg recently hinted, Post+ will be among those projects that the company is shutting down. The WordPress.com parent company, Automattic, acquired Tumblr in 2019 to build out its blogging network, but had to trim Tumblr’s staff earlier this month by reallocating them to other projects as Tumblr continued to lose money. In a Q&A on his own blog, Mullenweg said that Tumblr would “hone in on” the parts of the service people loved and put an end to things that didn’t work.
He also specifically called out Post+ as one of Tumblr’s “missed opportunities,” citing misinformation spread by fan fiction writers who were worried about lawsuits from copyright holders as partly to blame for Post+’s failure. This, said Mullenweg, led to a coordinated attack campaign that led to every launch creator canceling the program, he noted.
So it’s no surprise that Post+ is now on the chopping block.
The company says that as of Dec. 1, users will no longer be able to enable Post+ on their blogs, but existing subscription content will remain accessible through year-end. In early 2024, users will no longer be able to create new Post+ content and existing content will be made private. Users will then determine for themselves whether or not to reset those posts to public.
Subscribers will no longer be billed starting in January 2024, though people who subscribed through the App Store will have to cancel their subscriptions there to not be charged.
Tumblr also noted that even though Post+ is going away, users can still support creators via tipping. The company did not share any future vision for creator monetization, though. Instead, as Mullenweg had earlier stated, supporter badges, virtual goods, and advertising would continue to be the focus of Tumblr’s future monetization plans in the near term.