UPDATE (March 15, 2013): Google will shut down Google Reader on July 1, 2013. As an alternative for reading blogs on my iPad, I’ll be using the Flipboard app. Details here. You can also import your feed to Bloglovin. Check out how via Grit & Glamour.
This was a simple question that I put to the Twitterverse this week. And I’m really glad that I did. See, the overwhelming response to this question was met with two words: Google Reader.
And do you think I had a Google Reader account when I sent out that innocent tweet? Nup.
Do I have one now? Yup.
Am I addicted already? Most definitely.
Now, if I lost you back at Google Reader. Let me put you in the picture.
All blogs have what’s called an RSS* feed. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. You will see this symbol (on the tee below) on most blogs. If you have a blog, then make sure it’s clearly visible. Case in point:
@mandaashby says: blogs that make it hard to find the RSS button should be slapped 🙂
Once you have RSS feed addresses for your favourite blogs, then keeping track of when those blogs are updated is so, so easy. And no, it doesn’t mean a whole of time spent browsing the interwebs. That’s the whole reason you need to embrace the RSS. Once you have a way of filing those RSS feeds away, you can skim over the posts that don’t interest you and then join in the conversation on the ones that do.
Before being enlightened as to the popularity of Google Reader and subsequently jumping on board this week, I did use RSS feeds but I used them a little differently – and perhaps not as efficiently.
1. Mailbox folders. Some RSS feeds I have feeding right into my mailbox (not my inbox) – into special RSS folders. You’ll find these RSS folders on both Outlook and Mac Mail systems. Adding an RSS feed to Mail is super easy. Just got to File; then Add RSS feeds. In Outlook it’s just a matter of going through your Account settings to add a new account under the RSS tab and follow the prompts. I still like this system – especially for blogs that carry a lot of technical info that I may like to refer back to.
2. WordPress plugin. I owe this idea to Mrs Woog. I use this plugin to highlight blogs that Styling You readers may be interested in following and reading. I probably have about 60 blogs on my list but I’ve set the plug-in to show the 20 most current posts. I’ve also set it to display one post per feed, the post name and the blog name. You can play around with this plugin to suit your needs. There are also similar ones available if you’re a Blogger blogger.
3. Bloglovin’. Now I’m a bit of a latecomer to this gem of a reader too. I’d see these gorgeous widgets on other blogs and wonder what it was all about without really exploring further. I was prompted to make time to explore by one of my best friends. She’s not a blogger but she is a fashionista of the most stylish kind. She ONLY catches up on the fashion blogs she follows via Bloglovin’. Geez, I thought, I’d better jump on the Bloglovin’ train. Now up until this morning, I thought Bloglovin’ was just for fashion and beauty blogs but thanks to @MummaInHeels I looked a bit further into it and found that it does have a category for almost all blogs. Once you have set up an account, following blogs is as easy as adding the blog name to the search area. When that blog comes up, you hit the follow button. Now all those blog posts will be added to your Bloglovin’ feed. A blog may also have the Follow me on Bloglovin’ widget on their blog, if so, just click through and you’re following. And yes, there’s a Bloglovin’ iphone app or an android app for following blogs on the move.
And then there is my new bestie, Google Reader.
1. You need to set up a Google account – if you don’t already have one. I did. So this week when I realised the gigantic hole in my geek reputation, it was just a matter of going to the Google home page, clicking on the More button and then clicking Reader.
2. I discovered that I already had three blogs feeding into the reader because of the way I’d followed those blogs using the Google Follow widget found on most Blogger blogs (as an aside, I’m a latecomer to this too and have now added a Google Friends Connect widget to my wordpress blog … that’s how a lot of Blogger bloggers follow other blogs. I needed to get with the program).
3. Then I loaded up my reader with every blog I follow. You just need to add the RSS feed address to the Add a Subscription tab and, voila, if you keep the Google Reader tab open in your web browser, it’s all there and easy to see when a blogger has posted something new.
4. But wait, there’s more. What if you had spare time waiting in a queue or waiting for a friend at a cafe and wanted to catch up on some blog reading? With a smart phone, it’s as simple as adding an app and linking up your Google Account. @mummycino recommends and uses Pulse for her iPhone. I downloaded the free verion of the app, MobileRSS. And love it. It’s like having my Twitter stream with me at all times … but on steriods.
5. One last thing on Google Reader and RSS feeds. If you are a blogger, make sure your RSS feeds are set to display the full text and not just an excerpt. In WordPress, you can do this in the Settings-Reading section of your dashboard. The consensus is that Google Reader readers want to see the whole post in the feed.
@CelloBella (Without full post) It’s rare that I will end up going to the blog to read more or comment. That first line would have to be amazing
@KellyBeanTalker Yes, I much prefer to see the whole post!
@walshandj I guess I would rather see the whole post, but the thing that really annoys me is an excerpt with a big ad after it!
@lizosauraus really, really annoys me to see an excerpt. In most instances, I will not click through. I set up google reader for a reason but if I read the full post and want to join the discussion, or want to see more of the blog, I will happily click through.
@rahest full post in google reader please! I understand why some put partial, but is a put off for skimmers like me 🙂
@MakeupbySaraMay I get really annoyed when blogs only do an excerpt in reader, and I unsubscribe from most that do. I subscribe to you, but I probably read it less than I would if the whole post appeared in reader. It’s just easier to skip it. (trying to help, sorry for being blunt) xx
Sara, I’m SO grateful for you being so blunt. Truly.
It turns out I was inadvertently guilty of just that and have since discovered it was because my site was offering two different RSS feed addresses. That’s now fixed and if you’d all like to copy and paste my correct RSS feed into your reader – http://www.stylingyou.com.au/feed/ – I promise you’ll get a full feed.
So how do YOU follow your favourite blogs? What blogs do you recommend that I add to my Google Reader?
*There’s a really fantastic and detailed post about RSS over at Relatively Chic. I suggest once you’ve got your head around the above that you check it out.
Excited to have this post included in the Independent Fashion Bloggers Links a la Mode: Tech Weekly Roundup. Click on some of the links below for some more great blogging tips.
Edited by Maggie Battles
Modern fashion mavens use technology in a variety of ways that might not seem so obvious to some. We use photography to showcase our style & search for new tips on how to improve our technique. We use gadgets for optimizing our own blogs and more gadgets for reading other blogs. What goes on in our blogging world is not always what meets the readers eyes, and this week we have a collection of tips for how to make our own sites better. Each week of Links A La Mode: Tech is what you might call a “Show & Tell” of what information has proven useful to us. This is a fantastic opportunity to seek help, trade info and hopefully make our blogging lives a little bit easier. Thanks to everyone who participated this week and I can’t wait to see what you all bring to the table next time!
LINKS À LA MODE: TECH – April 19th
- IFB: How are you getting your blog noticed?
- Mimosas In Bed: Top Five Reasons Why Fashion Bloggers Should Have A Tumblr
- Miss Viki: Science Fashion: Posing in Outer Space
- Pens & Lens: Let’s Get Technical: Blogging Using A Netbook
- Relatively Chic: Pretty as a Picture: Blog Photos Made Easy
- Style Eyes: Optimising Your Blogger Fashion Blog – A Beginners Guide
- Styling You: How Do You Follow Other Blogs?