Tuesday, March 6, 2012

{Tech Tuesday} Subscribing to Blogs in Google Reader

Look for our feed button in the sidebar
My mom recently asked me, "So what do you mean when you say you follow a blog?" She likes to read blogs and websites, but she's still doing things the hard way -- bookmarking sites and just checking them now and then to see if there are new posts. But there's an easier way! So, this is for you, Mom. :-) (And anyone else out there wondering how to subscribe to blogs!)

You may have heard of a "feed," or an "RSS reader." RSS stands for "really simple syndication." Basically, when a blog or website offers an RSS feed (they pretty much all do now), it sends out a message through its feed that there is a new article or post. Your reader (such as Google Reader) gets that message and shows you the new article. So it's pretty much like a blog inbox. Instead of going to all the different sites you like, you go to one place and see all your updates.

To access the feed, look for one of these things:
  • an RSS icon  in the blog's side bar 
  • a link like "Subscribe to our feed" or "Subscribe to Posts"
  • an RSS icon in the address bar of  your browser

Click the link and you will get to the feed page. Copy the address and go to Google Reader. You probably already have an account if you use Gmail, Blogger, or any other Google products. If not, get yourself a free account and start adding your blogs!

Click the red "Subscribe" button in the top-left and paste your copied feed address, then click "Add."

Do this with all the blogs or websites you want to follow. Once you have them subscribed, you can organize them into folders if you like. Reader folders are like tags -- in other words, one feed can have multiple folders or labels. Like with DefrumpMe, you might put it under "Style," "Food," and "Heart and Home," since we cover all those topics. ;-) ...or whatever folders you create...

Once your feeds are organized, you have your own customized magazine full of your favorite sites and blogs! (Hint: many magazines provide feeds for a lot of their articles too.) You can view a feed individually, or look at all the feeds in a category at once.

You can even "clip" your favorite articles with the Star feature. Simply click the star next to the title of the article:

...and then you can access all your saved articles from the "Starred items" tab on the left.

Reader even makes it really easy to email and share articles you enjoy. These options can be found at the end of a post. (You can specify which services you want to use, such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. in Reader Settings.)

I hope this has been helpful! There are other options for readers besides Google's, but I really like their product, it integrates well with their other services that I like, and it has a great mobile site too.

Let me know if you have any questions! (No excuses now, Mom ;-)

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