David Karp's blogging platform Tumblr, popular with creative types and those who dress like them in Sanfrooklyn, allows its users to modify their themes. And, just like the kids on MySpace, the users show them off to each other. Custom Tumblr themes have real social currency. Much like collecting pogs in sixth grade. And, as with pogs, you can be the rich kid and just buy yourself social superiority — Digg founder Kevin Rose and Connected Ventures cofounder Ricky Van Veen bought themes from Tumblize.com for $499. But for those of you on a college student or barista budget, click through for our step-by-step guide on how upgrading your Tumblr theme with no CSS, HTML or any other nerdy acronyms required.
Start with a lame Tumblr theme like mine. Feel socially inadequate.
Go to freethemes.tumblr.com or, as we have here, tumblrthemes.com. Scroll down and click through the archives until you find a winning theme — not one that you like, but that you think will make other people like you.
Click on "Demo/Download" to see what the theme looks like in full screen. Is it wearing skinny jeans, a vintage shirt with a loud print and a snappy fedora? Good. You've found your theme.
On the preview page, look for a link to download the theme as a .txt file. Click on it.
Firefox will open the .txt file. Do not try to understand what you are looking at. Select all of the text and copy it.
Go to your Tumblr dashboard. Do not check to see if anyone has reblogged you. Your theme is lame, so no one has. Instead, click on the "customize" link at the top.
Click on the "theme" tab.
Ignore Tumblr's built-in theme options. No one will follow you if you use one of those, let alone ask you out for organic, locally-produced ice cream. Click on the "use custom HTML" link if you haven't enabled it already.
Highlight all of the code in the box. Select paste from the edit menu.
Click on the "Update Preview" button. But first, put on your thick, black-rim glasses and crank up Jakob Lodwick's Muxtape. Take off your shirt. Get out the camera.
Looks good? Of course it does. Now click "Save changes," Mr. Popular.
Go to your Tumblr and check out your fantastic new theme. You'll be in the Tumblr-meme-propagating inner circle soon enough!