How to Move Your NSFW Content Off Tumblr

On Monday, Kitty Khan—a 19-year-old full-time university student who works as a cam model and erotic content creator to pay for school—was eating breakfast when she saw 100 notifications pop up on her phone from the sex worker support Discord chat she’s a part of.

“I felt my heart palpitating as I opened the app,” Khan told me in an email. In the chat, someone had posted Tumblr’s announcement that starting December 17, adult content would be banned from the platform altogether.

“My friends were freaking out. I checked Tumblr and so were my mutuals. Over the day we all discussed alternative platforms and ways to keep our following.” Tumblr was a “godsend for sex workers,” she said, with the reblogging system making it easy to spread and share her work. Most of her sales came from Tumblr, she said, with fans sending messages to commission videos or to find out how to see her content elsewhere. Now, that’s gone.

The current state of Tumblr is dire: Sex workers, NSFW fandom enthusiasts, and artists feel adrift after Tumblr announced that “out of love and hope for our community,” it would kick hundreds, if not thousands, of users to the digital curb. “Real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples” are forbidden, according to Tumblr’s helpesk, as is any media depicting sex acts. Tumblr has been sending automated algorithms after content to flag it as NSFW, with plenty of hilarious screw-ups in the books already. It’s also calling for people to report any naughty stuff they see on the platform.

Khan is one of many adult content creators seeking ways to get their hard work off Tumblr before the full crackdown begins in two weeks. Here are a few options for how to export and re-home your blog, before December 17.

Exporting from Tumblr

Backing up your content is a good idea, no matter what you’re planning to do with it next. Here’s how to do it on Tumblr:

  • Navigate to your account settings
  • On the right sidebar, choose the blog you want to export
  • Scroll down and click export

This takes a moment or minutes, depending on how many posts you have. I attempted this with my own account, and it seems to have gotten stuck exporting. It’s possible Tumblr’s servers are overloaded with requests to export—I’ve asked Tumblr if it’s experiencing any technical difficulties with this, and will update if I hear back.

Moving to a new SFW Tumblr blog

You can re-upload anything that’s not explicit to a new, safe-for-work blog if you’re concerned your old one will be banned.

A Tumblr user whose blog was devoted to a game fandom and explicit fanart (and asked to remain anonymous for their privacy) told me in a Twitter message that they’ve been helping other NSFW creators figure out what to do next. “I know fandom will continue on in some form but everyone’s so scared and uncertain right now and I’m seeing a lot of panic and well-intentioned spreading of misinformation,” they said.

One option they’re helping others explore is moving from a NSFW, explicit blog, to another SFW one. “I have a lot of underage followers, and many of my adult followers aren’t interested in or actively dislike NSFW content” they said. “And I respect that, obviously, so I maintain a separate, private NSFW blog to collect my favorite smutty fanart.”

Abandoning ship altogether

If you want to move your content elsewhere, you have a few options. WordPress has a helpful guide for how to import your Tumblr to a WordPress website. You don’t have to pay for WordPress to make this switch, unless you want to use a custom URL. If you want to move your NSFW content to WordPress, however, your safest bet is likely to use a domain name you own and pay for.

You’ll just need to set up a WordPress account and authorize it to access your Tumblr, and it makes the move for you.

Several people I’ve spoken with are also considering moving to Pillowfort, a platform that claims it will be more friendly toward free expression than Tumblr has been. As of writing, Pillowfort is down for maintenance, and publicly stated that it’s planning to change domains to something more sex-work inclusive, since its current .io prohibits adult content.

One adult-focused Tumblr user, who goes by soulscum on Pillowfort, told me that they’re moving off Tumblr in part because this porn ban has been a long time coming. “In my opinion, [Tumblr has] been doing things to nudge NSFW artists off the site for some time,” they said, citing the Safe Mode by default change and that the platform’s unable to fix its child porn problem.

Khan told me that she’s moving her work to Hutt.co and Patreon as Tumblr-alternatives. “I will hopefully be able to have my followers migrate to these other platforms, but it won’t be easy because both require payments to follow content creators,” she told me. “Another reason why Tumblr was so useful was that people did not have to pay to interact with content. Even though I did not receive actual money, I saw every like, reblog and follow as a valuable interaction, as it built my audience and veracity.”