[caption id=”attachment_341” align=”alignleft” width=”300” caption=”Posterous welcome email”][/caption] Followers of my twitter stream will have noticed that over the last few days I’ve been posting to my Posterous account from Shrewsbury Folk Festival.
I first signed up for Posterous after seeing Joseph Tame using it to post photos (though I don’t think he has recently). I played briefly then left it alone for a while because, already having a blog, I didn’t really see a place for it for me. Then a few months ago I finally got email working properly on my (now fairly dated) Sony-Ericsson phone. Last week, I remembered about Posterous again and thought I’d try it out.
I had two reasons for testing it out in more detail. First, I have a relative whose views I admire and want to get blogging; being able to blog by email might lower the barrier to entry for him. Second, I wanted to see whether mobile blogging worked for me and in what way. So, I set to work trying out what features I could from my mobile, using the festival to provide a motive for posting.
The first thing you notice about Posterous is how easy it is to set up. And I mean really easy. You send an email with your first post to email@example.com, and you get an almost immediate response with a link to your new blog. That’s all you need to do to have a presence on the web. No forms to fill in, no special software, nothing.
Now, of course, you probably won’t leave it there. To start off with, you’re assigned a randomly-generated subdomain of posterous.com (mine was originally jeremy-jfjyk.posterous.com) which isn’t too easy to tell people about. Although an indecipherable blog address might have its uses, most people will want to customise this, which you can do by logging into your new Posterous through the link in the welcome email. This also provides you with the opportunity to set a password for your account, which I thoroughly recommend even if you do nothing else.
You can also customise a number of other aspects, such as the title and subtitle and privacy settings. You can use your own domain name for your blog instead of a posterous.com subdomain. You can even integrate Google Analytics and a Feedburner feed to track traffic to your new blog.
Now, being able to set up a blog so easily is all very well, but where Posterous really comes into its own is in its handling of the content of your emails. Rich text formatted emails keep their formatting, and any URLs are automatically turned into links. If you include the URL of a video in a supported service, the video itself is embedded. If you attach a file that Posterous knows how to handle, that too will be embedded in the post. Over the course of the weekend I’ve posted photos, video and audio content; multiple photos are turned into a clever gallery.
Last, but by no means least, is the AutoPost feature. This allows you to link in accounts from a whole load of social networking sites so that every time you post to Posterous, it gets sent out to them as well. It currently supports Facebook and Twitter, will post your photos to Flickr or Picasa, can send videos to YouTube or Vimeo and will save URLs to Delicious. You can also set it up to post to most major blog platforms, so even if your own blog doesn’t have a post-by-email option, you can use Posterous to replicate that feature.
My overwhelming impression of Posterous is how easy it is to use. Being based on email meant that I could post almost as easily from the middle of a field as I can from my desk at home (though my poor aching thumbs might beg to differ). Knowing that it could take pretty much any media I threw at it and do something useful with it made the experience even more pleasing. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who wants to start blogging but has so far been put off by a lack of familiarity with the technology: if you can send email you can start a blog.
I quite enjoyed being able to blog while out and about: it was a good way of recording my thoughts on the day and sharing them with others at the same time. The material was probably of minimal interest to most of my followers (although Google Analytics shows that a surprising number of my Twitter and Facebook followers clicked through to view my posts), but it would make a good tool for covering, say, a conference in which many of my followers had an interest. I will note that my fianceÃ© did complain once or twice that she was becoming a social media widow, but she didn’t really seem to mind and I didn’t actually spend more than a few minutes each day blogging.
Will I carry on using it? You bet. It’s instantly replaced TwitPic as my photo-tweeting tool of choice, especially as I can use it to post video, audio and text as well. Just the ticket when I want to post a thought that’s more than 140 characters but doesn’t fit on my main blog here. I suspect that my Posterous will turn into a bit of a scrapbook, but I’m OK with that and it’ll be interesting to be able to look back in a few years time and see what I’ve been posting. I probably won’t be posting as regularly as I have done over the bank holiday weekend though!
I’m also tempted to set up a second Posterous (yes, you can set up a second, third or more through the website once you’ve set up your first) to use purely as a conduit for posting to this blog. If I give that a go I’ll let you know how well it works.
For more info, and lots of useful tips and tricks, check out the Official Posterous Posterous (i.e. their blog).
Do you have a blog? If so, what platform do you use to host it. Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.