Blogger don’t just write blogs, we read them, too. Heck, I read a lot more than I write. All of you veterans out there probably already know all of this, but this post is for the new bloggers out there who are wondering how the heck to keep their blog reading efficient and organized. I realize this is a little out of my normal blogging repertoire, but I’m feeling helpful today (and I also hate when I can’t find your dang RSS feed links)! You never know, maybe I can teach you veterans something, too.
The easiest way to manage your blog reading material is with RSS feeds.
So, what’s an RSS Feed?
RSS stands for Rich Site Summary (or Really Simple Syndication, which is what I learned in school) and is a standardized way of formatting news feeds and pushing updates.
When looking to subscribe to a blog, or any news sources’, RSS feeds, look for the universal RSS symbol (above). Some bloggers have made it a little more difficult and recolored and shaped this symbol. Some bloggers, like myself, have made it extra complicated and linked their RSS feed to a button that says RSS feeds or even something that just says “subscribe” (note to self: reconsider this). Anyways, the main thing you are looking for is to subscribe via RSS.
But first, you’ll need an RSS feed reader.
Note: I’m just going to leave out all other feed readers other than Google Reader, like BlogLovin’ and WordPress.com, because although these readers are sleek and beautiful, they do not function for blogs not registered through those sites and it really can leave a gap in your blog reading opportunities.
If you have a Google Account (which, if you don’t, we need to have a chat…), good news: you already have Google Reader. It can be found at http://google.com/reader and in your Google navigation bar.
If you’ve never subscribed to an RSS feed, your feed will be empty. You might not have realized you were subscribing to feeds and have plenty of unread items. What’s that you say? Why yes, have you ever signed into a blog via the some-love-but-other-hate (I’m a hater, btw) Google Friend Connect? GFC, as it will be referred to from here on out, automatically adds that particular blogs RSS feed to your Google Reader account.
Anyways, all of your RSS feed subscriptions will be displayed in your Google Reader, sorted from newest to oldest. To read a post, simply click an article title and the post will expand. If you want to comment, or in some cases, read further, click the headline to go to the Web site. Random note: if you are OCD like myself, the ‘Mark All As Read’ button will become your best friend.
Lastly, if you already don’t feel bad about the ridiculous amount of time you spend blogging, you can click on Trends in the left sidebar and it will tell you exactly how much time you’ve wasted. Except, I’m declaring right here and now that it’s not wasted. My host dad told me last year that any time wasted that you enjoy is not time wasted, and I enjoy blogging, so there.
And I wonder why I never get around to reading books anymore…
How do I subscribe?
Once you locate the RSS subscription button, click it. You will be directed to this page.
Helene, used your blog, hope that’s Ok.
Select the Google button under ‘Subscribe Now!’ If you are already signed into your Google account, you will surpass the previous page and move on automatically to the next page:
Now, just select ‘Add to Google Reader’ and you’re set!
In some cases, you may retrieve an RSS page that doesn’t look so clean, like this one:
Hanley‘s RSS Feed
Don’t fret. Simply copy-paste the feed link from the bar directly into Google Reader. Simply click the Subscribe button, paste the URL, and hit add.
How do I organize my feeds?
It’s up to you, you can organize them alphabetically for all I care. My best method is to sort them by topic, like travel blogs, lifestyle blogs, friends, etc. I even have a category I call “Maybe Another Day” that houses blogs I like, but haven’t quite made it into my daily-can’t-miss pile.
To add an item to a folder, hover over a particular subscription, select the downwards arrow to the right, and select a folder or ‘New Folder’ to create a new file.
How can I add an RSS feed to my blog?
Gee, I never thought you’d ask. Although many blogs have them built in (i.e., on WordPress blogs, just add ‘.com/feed/’ to URL and you will receive it, it is best for analytics and subscribers to set up your feeds via Feedburner (yet another Google service).
One MEGA suggestion I have when setting up your RSS feeds is to only offer a snippet, not the entire post, in Google Reader. While I know this might drive people nuts, it will help keep traffic up on your blog. Plus, once people are actually at your blog, they are more likely to comment. Read how here.
Read all kinds of FeedBurner pro tips here.
I could go on forever. I love that you can email articles right from Google Reader and star your favorites. I love that I have the Google Reader app on my phone to keep me entertained on public transportation. I love my Reeder app on iOS platforms that syncs flawlessly with Google Reader.
RSS Feeds may sound overwhelming, but anyone can master it. Heck, if you have a blog, RSS feeds are a piece of cake! Once you find your organization process, your blog reading efficiency will go through the roof, I promise.
So bloggers, what’s your method? How do you read all your favorite blogs?
Any questions? Shout ‘em out.