TypePad Dives Into Micro-Blogging With An Important New Feature: Free

Screen shot 2009-11-17 at 10.03.19 PMI don’t recall ever paying for a TypePad blog, but apparently I did. I learned this today when I logged in for the first time in years to see that the site I had set up in 2005 was deactivated because my credit card had expired. Lucky for me, I don’t have to pay anymore because TypePad has finally launched a free version of the service.

TypePad Micro will be very familiar to anyone who has ever used Tumblr or Posterous in the past. I hate the term “micro-blogging,” but that’s essentially what this is in the eyes of some people. That is to say, it’s a platform that makes it easy to quickly post items you find that you enjoy from around the web. You can certainly use it to write more traditional blog posts if you want, but the clear emphasis is on sharing links, photos, music, and other quick-share items from around the web.

Of course, some people also consider Twitter to be micro-blogging, but as it lays out in its post, TypePad considers the new Micro product be fit in between what people do on Twitter, and what they do on regular blogs.

TypePad’s goal with Micro is pretty straightforward: Get more people using their platform, product manager Leah Culver (formerly the creator of Pownce, which TypePad parent Six Apart acquired last year) tells us. The idea is that if users like using TypePad Micro enough, maybe they’ll pay to upgrade to one of the Pro accounts which offer more options such as being much more customizable, adding other blogs, and giving you the option of placing ads on your site. Thankfully, if you stick with the free version, TypePad doesn’t plaster your blog with ads that they’re making money from.

And with more people using TypePad in general, it benefits the users who are already paying to use it, since the ecosystem will get larger and their posts will have more potential reach.

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With the free version there are some options you get, such as the ability to set a site banner and change your sites’ colors. A nicer feature is the ability to see all your stats. And since Twitter integration is built in complete with Bit.ly links, you can also easily view those stats. Facebook integration is built-in as well to easily auto-posts your post to your Wall. And there is already an iPhone app.

But the most important element of these micro-blogging sites is the bookmarklet. And TypePad Micro has a very nice one. Rather than being of the bulky, pop-a-new-window variety like Tumblr, TypePad Micro’s pops up as an overlay on whatever site you are on. And if that site contains a picture, it will auto-populate it in the input fields for you. The same is true if you’re on a page with a video. And the bookmarklet makes it easy to share to Twitter and Facebook just by clicking checkboxes.

The TypePad Micro sites themselves will bring the most comparisons to Tumblr. After all, there is an easy, one-click re-blog button attached to each post, just as there is on Tumblr. And there is a way to “like” or “favorite” posts. And there is a social element that allows you to follow other TypePad users and showcase that on your site — which again, is like Tumblr. But unlike Tumblr, TypePad Micro is also a way to comment on each post. You can do so using a TypePad, Twitter, or Facebook account, or OpenID. In that regard, it’s more like Posterous.

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So will people actually start using TypePad Micro over Tumblr or Posterous? If they don’t mind the lack of customization offered, they might. While most users are never going to do something like edit the CSS, it would still be nice to see more options for themes. That is definitely one strong-suit of Tumblr. Those may come down the road for TypePad Micro as well, we’re told.

One upside to TypePad Micro versus the others is that it’s built on TypePad’s own long-existing backbone, this makes the service is pretty fast. And thanks to Facebook Connect, setting up a new account takes just a few clicks and a few minutes before you’re ready to go.