Two months of Posterous Awesomeness

I’ve been using Posterous for 2 months now, and I have to say it is great. Actually, it is WOW. I very much regret not coming across it earlier, as Posterous was launched much earlier in May 2008. Where was I?  :(

Anyways, I now have two cool blogs powered by Posterous:

1. live.rameshkoneru.com – The lifestream link in the header of my personal domain is powered by Posterous.

2. Jokulu.com – A custom domain hosted on Posterous. Take a look and subscribe. Its fun.

I own a couple of other web domains, but never really used them because developing and maintaining each of these was a tedious and time consuming task. Posterous could prove otherwise.

Ok, now onto the Posterous story: Pre-posterous, Posterous and Post-Posterous.

PRE-POSTEROUS

WordPress

I use WordPress for my personal domain, and it serves me well. It had extensible, i.e., it had plenty of themes, was web based, was highly configurable, was search engine friendly, and even had plugins for almost any task.

However, posting to WordPress was time consuming, and sharing to social sites required a lot of fiddling around. You could autopost to twitter and facebook. Users could retweet or share your posts on facebook. But the process was never seamless. It required adding plugins, activating and configuring them, among other things. Most important of all, you had to wade through tons of junk plugins before you found the one you were exactly looking for. Those were the days.

If I were to develop and maintain another of my other websites with WordPress, it would take a good chunk of my time. And so I looked around for alternatives, and came across Tumblr.

Tumblr

Tumblr was neat. It had tons of cool themes, allowed autotweeting of new posts, and even had a “tumble this” feature (like retweets, in Twitter). I thought this was great, and so created a couple of accounts, and had each of these tumblelogs pointing to their custom domains. But somehow, I was not quite happy. Many things were lacking, and it somehow did not feel right. Facebook integration was lacking. Commenting was lame. Writing a post was not as easy as it should be. And in a way, it seemed just like blogger. Nothing great. Nothing innovative to ease my workflow. There had to be a better solution.

Chancing upon Posterous

Around the same time, I was reading the wonderful blog of Abinash Tripathy, founder CEO of Infinitely Beta. In one of his articles, he mentions how he and his former boss, Satish Dharmaraj built a kickass product: Zimbra and later sold it off to Yahoo for a whopping sum of money. I’ve been using Zimbra for a while and really like it, but never cared to know who built it and stuff. Well engineered products are rare in India, and so it genuinely surprised me that such a wonderful product was actually built by an Indian team, with an Indian CEO.

I googled Satish Dharmaraj, and came across his blog. It was minimalistic, and barely contained images, but the blog posts were great. And what intrigued me was the small yellow icon with a word POSTEROUS at the top of the blog. So I dug into it, and that was how I chanced upon the Posterous way of doing things. Incidentally, Posterous was funded by Y-combinator, of which Satish was part of (not too sure). Incidentally, Satish is an investor in Posterous. This was in the first week of December, 2009.

POSTEROUS

Posterous is simple. Dead simple.

Posting

Email stuff to post@posterous.com, and the contents are posted to your Posterous blog. You could configure Posterous to autopost to any or all of your social sites (facebook, twitter, wordpress, youtube, flickr and a ton of others). However, what’s great about autoposting is Posterous always does the right thing. If you had emailed a pic, it is automatically uploaded to flickr, facebook and to Posterous. Emailing a video would upload it to Youtube, Vimeo and to Posterous. And this in turn is posted to your facebook wall and twitter account, with a link back to your posterous blog. It might not seem much in writing, but in actual use, it is a terrific workflow.

You can also post stuff via the Posterous bookmarklet. Drag the bookmarklet to your bookmarks bar in your browser and you’re good to go. While browsing any page on the web, all one has to do is select all the content they want and hit the bookmarklet button. A window pops up asking you to add a comment, edit the post, and even select the autoposting services. Almost instantly after you post it, it appears on the Posterous blog. Now check your twitter and facebook accounts, and the link is already there. Wow! This kind of a workflow would take atleast 5-10 plugins in WordPress, and it still wouldn’t be seamless.


Posterous also has an iPhone app: PicPosterous which is pretty different in its purpose. PicPosterous allows you to live-blog pics and videos to your Posterous blog straight from the iPhone. As soon as you add a pic or a video, it is added to the upload queue. I’ve used it on a recent holiday trip and it worked great.

Drawbacks: Once you add a pic or a video to the queue in PicPosterous, there is no way you could remove it or reorder items in the queue. Because of this, I once had to wait until a 20mb video file was uploaded via my slow Vodafone(India) GPRS connection, before I could continue posting other pics. As the video had to be uploaded before I could add other pics, I ended up spending a hell lot of time and this effectively burnt a big hole in my pocket, via Data usage costs. Oops!

Sharing

Posts on your blog have a retweet button built right in(thanks to a tie up with Backtype). So, if you had added your Twitter account to the Autopost list, every new post is automatically tweeted with a link back to your Posterous blog. And visitors can retweet your post with ease.

Drawbacks: I wonder why Facebook share is not integrated yet, i.e if a visitor likes to share a post to his/her Facebook wall, there is no way he could do that (at time of writing). I wonder how Sachin overlooked this, as I remember reading somewhere that he was a big Facebook fan :/

Feedburner, Google Analytics and Social Comments

Adding Feedburner or Google Analytics is just as easy: Fill in the Blanks.

Awesome implementation of Comments too: visitors can choose to login with their Facebook/Twitter credentials to post a comment. While doing so, they can choose to share the comment on Twitter/Facebook. Excellent.

Random Ramblings

When I launched Jokulu.com in the start of December, there was no way to add contributors and make a group blog. However, Posterous launched this feature just a few days later, and I was so glad.

Posterous allows its users to use Tumblr themes: Killer feature. Somehow, I always found myself back to the original Posterous theme after a few days of fiddling around. Posterous felt so right!

POST-POSTEROUS

Posterous has allowed me to create a tremendous workflow. It is now very easy to post new content, autopost to other social sites, embed web content(via the bookmarklet), live blog pics and video from the iPhone, etc. No other service including WordPress or Tumblr came this close to addressing my requirements.

I must say I am really happy about this. Added to the wonderful workflow of Posterous, I’ve created a Mac automator service that allows me to email selected text or photo with just one click. And Posterous is rock solid with email. Wonderful!

FINAL THOUGHTS

Posterous is a fantastic service, backed by a fantastic team. I would like to congratulate each of the team members: Sachin, Garry, Brett and Vince for this terrific product.

The team is passionate about the product and it shows. I’ve sent many emails to them, and almost always, they are quick to follow it up. I browse the web reading reviews of Posterous, and I very often come across Sachin or one of the other team members addressing concerns in the comments section. It is this kind of micro management and obsession that sets Posterous apart. Posterous is the iPad of the future :)

I strongly feel that I must write another article soon: Posterous at the centre of my Web Universe.

Or will that be too much fanboyism?