Feed readers

I had a fantastic day yesterday with the ladies, including very fabulous soup and I even won a prize in the raffle. Not only that, as if that were not enough, Jeannie gave me three beautiful hand-made glass stars as a thank you. Pictures to follow when I have a little sunlight and shine!

We spent a lot of time talking about how – as an ex-accountant, or as a creative, arty type, you can actually find content for a blog. Of course, it is easy for me. Words fall out of me. I’m surprised I don’t talk more in my sleep. I could blog all day every day about any topic you gave me. I even write guest blogs and ghost blogs, anonymous blogs and, from time to time, feature blogs.

One thing helps me find content above everything else though: other people’s blogs. You’ve got to consume to give you ideas. And how do you even go about finding blogs that you might like?!

Hellocotton or Bloglovin are good places to start, because they are like blog directories. They only work if you’ve joined up though, which can be a pain. You search for a theme word like ‘teaching’ and it gives you other blogs that interest you.

Another place that helps is the list at the side of a blog that shows what that blogger reads. I found a good twenty or so just from reading one single blog!

In essence, the more you read, the more blogs you find.

But, unless you fancy going from one blog to the next, or one website to the next, hoping for new content and desperate to make sure you’re not missing out on anything, having a feed reader is important.

Basically, you add the feed reader app that you’re going to use. I use google reader. I don’t have gmail or anything, but I like google reader. To download it, go to Google Chrome Web store and search for Google Reader App.

It will allow you to install the little orange RSS reader icon:

This beautiful little button goes in your web browser address box, next to your little star (if you use Google Chrome) and if a web page allows it, you can click on the little orange button and it asks if you want to subscribe. You can see an example of what it looks like here:

RSSThen, when I click on it, this little dialogue box appears:

RSS2I want to click on ‘feed’ – comments feed updates every single time someone adds a comment, which on some blogs or websites is a terrible experience! There are hundreds! It might ask you if you want to subscribe to Atom feed or RSS feed, but just click RSS.

Then this happens:

RSS3I click on ‘subscribe’ and I’m now a subscriber. Also, there are ‘more like this’ which points me to other blogs like it – a great way of finding other blogs to like.

So, every time this blogger posts a new blog, Google reader cuts it out, puts it into a lovely neat box with other blogs and articles and puts it in my Google reader app. You can see from the little blue box with the number 117 in it how many pages I have to read! That’s 117 posts I might like all put in one place. I scroll through them. I subscribe to newspapers, magazines and blogs. I subscribe to business pages from national newspapers. I subscribe to education news feeds from all major English and French newspapers. And I probably get about 400 articles a day to read. The good thing is that most of them are just ‘click through’. I look at the heading and scan it. I scan articles. I maybe click on five or six really good things. Google reader collects the full article for some blogs, so I can read it quickly. I can favourite it. I can share it. I can share it on Google+. And this is where I find most of the content that I post to twitter or my facebook personal or business pages.

I follow a wide variety of blogs and news. The best thing is that it doesn’t go to my email and clog up my email. I can log on and scan through. All 117 articles took me 8 minutes to scan through. I read 4 of them properly, clicked on six links, found an online magazine I’m going to read, some cute Christmas wreaths:

I found some tips on portrait photography and a gorgeous mantelpiece

via Centsational Girl 

I found nothing I really wanted to share on FB or Twitter, but the images give me some inspiration and ideas, and I probably find 5 or 6 things a week I want to share. It’s not really what my blog is about (since I’m so very narcissistic!) but I very much enjoy ‘collation’ posts like these two:

The Curious Pug’s Bookmark Dump

Zen Presence Links

These blogs do this from time to time and I really love it. These are my cup of coffee blogs.

Some blogs are ‘curation’ blogs which means they take images from elsewhere and share them with you. I like Paradis Express for that! I think it would be fair to say that this passionate gardener doesn’t really post much of her own stuff, but she always has interesting things from gardening blogs and greenery blogs. It’s like she reads 300 posts, picks out what she likes the most and shares it with me. So I don’t have to spend 10 minutes scanning through another 300 myself! So you can easily fill a blog a week with links to others. Not only are these interesting blogs themselves, but they are often very much appreciated, not only by your own readers who might like what you read, but also by the other bloggers, who get a little notification that you’ve linked to them. Blogging is often a silent world. There are a lot of lurkers. For every comment, there are, I’d say, 50-200 people+ who lurk. You see them on your stats, but you have no idea if they like what you do. It’s lovely when people link back to you.

So, hopefully that’s a little bit of information on how I use an RSS feed reader to collect the bits of the internet I like the most and bring them to me. It stops me faffing about. It stops me searching and revisiting. I am kept bang up to date. I subscribe to all kinds of cute things. I actually share very little of these with you, which is very rude, but I always have so much of my own to say. That’s rude too! I promise to pass more blog lovelies on to you if I find something I think you should read. The best thing is that if you use Mozilla firefox you can also log in to Google Reader. It’s a ‘cloud service’ which is a fancy way of saying you can access it from whichever computer you log in to. If you’re crafty, you’ll find ‘curation’ blogs like craftgawker to be invaluable. Somebody else reads the best of the craft blogs, picks out 50 or so images each day and then you can read the full post. I admit I’ve picked up about 20 or 30 blogs from blog curator sites. They’re very useful! Sometimes, I like their precis of the internet. Sometimes, I want to read what they read – no edited highlights.

So, if you’re thinking of starting a blog, personal or business, a great place to start is by consuming plenty yourself. You’ll know what works, what doesn’t, what’s hot, what’s not. You’ll find more and more. You’ll share what they do, and in those days when you have a blogger droop, you can just say ‘here’s this fabulous blog I found’.

Yay! Is it any wonder my Google Reader was in my #100 things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving??

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll show you where I lurk and what I read. Seems timely to share the wealth!

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