Most people new to blogging “business” don’t realize one important thing: bloggers are community. This means that blogs and people are connected – blog owners talk, read and comment each others posts. They visit and revisit each others blogs – exactly the same way you visit your friends at their homes. You cannot (and shouldn’t) function outside this community – by doing so you are decreasing your chances of being successful blogger. Why should anyone blog if nobody reads it?
So usually you traverse the web, you find all these great blogs written by interesting people who have tons of experience on given subjects, you add them to your bookmarks and at some point you realize that you don’t have enough time to manually open and visit all these saved websites. Imagine having 50 or more blogs bookmarked – there is no way you are gonna check them regularly. I’ve been there, I’ve seen that – believe me. And this is the reason why people invented RSS Readers.
What is RSS Reader?
All of us have seen that weird orange icon with a signal on it – it usually points to some text file, called feed (if you haven’t seen one – click green icon on the right sidebar). Not very useful at first glance. But there is more to the RSS feeds – the magic starts when you point your RSS Reader to site with RSS feed.
RSS Reader is program that takes RSS feed from any given site and displays unread post entries. Very simple idea but very useful. You can combine any number of feeds into one stream of unread posts, you can also organize them into folders – it all depends on RSS Reader you use. The best thing about RSS – it saves you lots of time and can really boost your productivity! All you have to do is open your RSS Reader once in a while and browse unread items.
Today I would like to present you my favourite RSS tool – Google RSS Reader. I use it since 2006 and I cannot imagine serious blogging without it. Although it is not very sophisticated, it is online tool meaning you can access it from any computer without any troubles at all. And the best part – it is TOTALLY FREE!
Google RSS Reader’s layout is very simplistic – on the left side there is a list of your subscriptions, while on the right side there is RSS content displayed in nice, formatted manner.
Let’s take a look at the sidebar. The biggest and most important thing is SUBSCRIBE button – when you press it and past target blog’s address, the RSS feed will be automatically added to the bottom of the list. From now all the new entries will be displayed on the right side of Google Reader.
Underneath the SUBSCRIBE button there are filter options: you can display all the entries, starred items or check trends for your subscribed feeds. You can also check the bundles that Google and other users prepared for you – this way you don’t have to add all your feeds manually: you can add most popular ones by just one click. There are bundles for almost every major topic you can imagine – web design, career, WordPress, SEO, software and many, many others not related to computers.
If you feel like explorer you can easily find great resources – just use Recommended Items and Recommended Sources from the Explore menu.
Now there is core of the Google RSS Reader functionality – feeds list. You can easily move your feeds around by simply dragging and dropping them around. You can access item menu by clicking arrow on the right side of every entry (you have to hover your cursor over it first). In the options you can sort items by different attributes, unsubscribe or rename subscription, translate entry into your language, view details and statistics for given feed or find other similar resources.
You can easily assign selected item to any folder you created or make a new one by selecting “New Folder…” – it will create a new folder and move selected item into it.
Right side of Google RSS Reader is much simpler – once you select a feed (or folder or “All items”) on the left side, all corresponding, unread items will be displayed on the right. Using the buttons on the top you can display just new entries or all of them, mark items as read, change the way post entries are displayed (list view or extended view), move between entries and access reader’s settings.
Marking items as read happens automatically when you scroll down through the list – you can also star Google+, share or email them using icons at the bottom of each post. When you click the post title, Google Reader opens it in another tab.
Reader’s settings are quite simple too: you can change your preferred language, select default home page, manage your subscriptions in bulk, manage your tags (folders) or import/export your feeds between Google RSS and other RSS Reader.
If you wonder how to keep all your friendly blogs organized you should try Google Reader – it is awesome piece of online software which will help you keeping in touch with the blogging community, saving your time and increasing your productivity. You should definitely give it a try.