I’m a big believer that being a blogger isn’t just about writing it’s also about reading, about being part of the community. Of course community has many different definitions depending on what you write about, but I don’t think you get the true value of writing a blog if all you do is write and that’s it.
But finding an efficient way to keep up with blogs isn’t necessarily that easy and having chatted to a few people at Britmums live on this topic I thought I’d share a few top tips that help me.
Firstly for me email subscription is definitely not the solution here, you end up with a long list of unread emails that are hard to browse through and ultimately you probably end up deleting without even reading the titles. Which is a shame as you subscribed to those blogs for a reason and there’s probably some great posts in there that you’ve missed out on.
The alternative is some sort of RSS reader; RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is essentially a live feed from a blog that shows each new post as it is published. A reader can then capture this feed and show you it in a nice interface where you can see all the posts in a list etc rather than clicking into individual emails.
Plus if you’re neat freak like me you can organise the posts into categories or groups making them even easier to work through when you have time to read. My reader of choice at the moment is Feedly, it has a really nice interface and with both web and smart phone App versions allows you to access your feeds whenever you want. If you read one on your phone it’ll automatically update the web version and vice versa.
To add blogs to Feedly you can just copy their URL, click add new content at the top left and then paste into the search box. It should find the blog and let you choose which group to save it into.
As you can see from the screen shot I’ve grouped the blogs I read into categories and you have the option of browsing all blogs by date published or a single blog. You can share to social media directly from Feedly and then if you want to leave a comment you simply click through from the post title.
The only issue with Feedly and most other readers is they require you to be connected to the internet, which isn’t always possible at the moments when you actually have time to read blogs like on a bus or plane. I’m writing this post from Portland airport while waiting for my flight home after a week of work, it occurred to me before I left that 26 hours of flights in a week was the perfect opportunity to read blogs but no way to do it with Feedly.
Thankfully the awesome Ruth from Geek Mummy came to my rescue and suggested Byline which is an App (I use on iOS assume also available for Android) that downloads the posts rather than access them via the internet each time. You can sync it with your Feedly account so no need to subscribe to the blogs again and if you read a post in one place it updates the other!
So before the flights this week I opened the App to download all the latest posts and then read them all on the plane. Of course if you want to leave a comment or share you can’t do this so I simply clicked the ‘save for later’ button on those posts and came back to them once I landed.
One final point is that you can set the RSS feed from your blog to show the whole post or just a summary. Many people set it to summary with the idea being that it brings more page views, but I have to say I find it quite frustrating. I want to be able to read all from my reader and then just click through when I want to leave a comment.
There are of course many other RSS readers available out there, Bloglovin for one seems to be popular, but these are the ones that work for me. Would love to hear from you what you use to keep up with the blogs you love.