The Internet is filled with so many amazing blogs. They can be an incredible source of inspiration and motivation. They have helped me figure things out and helped me learn and understand. I think I personally follow close to a hundred blogs on a variety of different interests (though mainly running mommas, I will admit)! Now,if I had to bookmark each one and then visit them everyday to look for new posts - I would soon go mental. Same goes for if I subscribed by email!
Enter: the Feed Reader
What is a Feed Reader, you ask? It is essentially a program that will allow you to subscribe to blogas and will automatically display the new posts from your subscriptions for easy reading in one place.
I use Google Reader a) because it is really easy, b) because it is connected to my Google account and I can access it anywhere on any device (especially nice as an app) and c) because I'm lazy (these may or may not actually equal the same reason)
The nice thing about feed readers is that they usually have a mobile option that will allow you to read your feed from your phone or tablet while on the go.
You can also subscribe to many news outlets to stay up on your world events (though I find that that is just a quick way to fill up a feed and make it seem impossible to catch up - I reserve my feed reader just for blogs)
Some Popular Feed Readers - by no means an exhaustive list, but it will give you a place to start.
- Google Reader
- Microsoft Outlook - yep, you can subscribe to blogs using Outlook
- Firefox Live Bookmarks - built right into Firefox
- RSS Owl
Just play around and find the one that works for you. Google the terms "feed readers" or "feed aggregators" to find more. On your mobile device - check the app store for apps that will pull your feeds. I tried a couple before figuring out that if Google served me well for my bookmarks, they would probably do the same for me feeds.
Finding Blogs to Follow
The blogs you follow are personal to you. I can't tell you which blogs are best to subscribe to anymore than You can tell me the same. I do keep a list of blogs I like under the Friends tab on my own blog (which reminds me, it is probably due for an update again). Once you start following a couple, you may find that people post links to their favourite blogs.
How to Subscribe
Sometimes it can be as easy as clicking a subscribe button. Other times, you may need to copy and paste the blog address into the reader. It all depends on how well the blogger has set up their blog for subscriptions. On my blog - I offer a subscribe option in the right hand column that easily allows you to add it to a feed reader:
Most blogs will have something like this automatically, but if they don't - there are still ways to subscribe.
If you use Firefox as your browser, you can select "Subscribe" from the Bookmarks menu and it will give you the option of adding it to your feed reader directly. Just make sure you choose the RSS option, as sometimes it will offer you the ability to subscribe to just the comments and on a heavily commented blog - that could get annoying fast.
If you use Google reader - you can just copy and paste the address into the subscribe option
Setting Up Your Own Blog for Maximum Readability
As a blogger - it becomes really important how you adjust your settings so that readers who are using feed readers can have the best experience
Make sure your name/your blog's name are displayed in your feed - this is especially important if you blog on WordPress because WP allows you to erase these fields in the setting so they won't display if you have a custom banner. It also means that your feed displays as "blog" or "undefined" instead of as who you really are. Lululemon's official blog suffers from this. To hide these from displaying on the actual page, you do need to edit the CSS with a line or two of code. An easy tutorial can be found here.
Just say no to truncating. When your blog feed is truncated, it means that someone using a feed reader may only see a sentence or a paragraph and then be required to click over to your blog to read the rest. FRUSTRATING. Personally, if I find a blog I like and then I find that it has a truncated feed - I unsubscribe. I just want to read the entire thing from Google Reader and it takes far too long to click over to read a post. I'm sad about this too - because there are plenty of awesome blogs that I have unsubscribed to simply because they had a truncated feed.
Prominently display an RSS feed button. This is easy enough to add. Many Wordpress themes have it built in. You can get it as a widget on Blogger. This is the little orange button that looks like this:
When a reader clicks on it - they will be given options for subscribing (usually including a little drop down to select their reader from)
See how easy it is? Now you have the basics to get you started in reading the best and brightest of the blogosphere! Enjoy!
Do you use a feed reader? Which is your favourite? What is your favourite blog to read? (besides mine, of course :P - I want to know if I'm missing out on something out there!) Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to reading a blog? Please post your thoughts and recommendations in the comments to help all of the newbie blog readers out there :)