When I first started reading blogs, I was quickly overwhelmed with all the fabulous new sites I discovered. I started by adding them to my computer’s bookmarks so I could check back, but before I knew it my bookmarks were out of control. I needed a better way to keep track of the blogs I liked to read, so I turned to a feed reader.
What’s a feed reader?
I’m so glad you asked. A feed reader (also known as a feed aggregator or rss reader) is simply a way for you to collect all of the blogs you read into one place for easy viewing. It’s basically an online subscription. You can choose to receive your subscriptions via email, or you can go to your feed reader and view them there.
Cool. So how does it work?
A feed reader automatically checks each blog you follow for new content and pulls them into your feed reader so you can read from there. This saves you time and effort because when you sit down to peruse your favorite sites with your morning coffee, you don’t have to click around to each blog and check for new reading material.
NOTE: Some bloggers allow their entire posts to be displayed in the feed, so you can read the post in its entirety without even clicking over to the blog. Other bloggers allow only the first part of their post to be viewed in the reader; if you want to read the rest, you must click over.
A feed reader also helps you stay organized. You can arrange your subscriptions by category or importance. For instance, I have a folder with style blogs, one with foodie blogs, one with design blogs, and one with the blogs of my friends and family that I want to check daily. Some people who subscribe to a lot of blogs make a folder for each day of the week, and they divvy up their subscriptions so that they can hit each blog once a week. It’s entirely up to you.
So, what feed reader do you recommend?
Until very recently, there were basically two popular feed readers — Bloglines and Google Reader. I started out with Bloglines years ago and somewhere along the way, I switched to Google Reader. Unfortunately, Bloglines shut its doors on October 1 of this year, so that leaves you with Google. Why didn’t someone tell me to buy Google stock five years ago? Yes, there are other options, but I don’t have personal experience with any of them. It seems that almost everyone I know uses Google Reader.
It helps to set your browser’s preferences to default to the feed reader of your choice, then all you need to do is click on the subscribe button on the blog you’re interested in adding to your news feed.
Most blogs also offer the option to subscribe by email if you’d prefer that the posts come to you, but that can get overwhelming if you’re subscribed to a lot of blogs!
I have a blog. How can people subscribe to it?
Every blogger who wants regular readers should go to Feedburner (also owned by Google, surprise!) and claim your feed. Then go into the Publicize tab and follow the directions for placing a “chicklet” or a Feedburner graphic on your site. If you need more hand holding than that, then you’ll have to wait for my next post!
So, do you use a feed reader? Do you have anything to add?
|Jo-Lynne Shane is a happily married mom to three lively school-aged children. When she’s not buried under piles of laundry or a kneading a mound of bread dough, she writes at Musings of a Housewife about faith, family, food and fashion, as well as blogging and design tips. As if that’s not enough, you can also find her beautifying the blogosphere at DCR Design.|