A few months ago, my good friend Ghenet (from All About Them Words) showed me this awesome tool that has made keeping up with blogs I follow super easy. It's called Google Reader, but it should probably be called Blogging Lifesaver, because it's seriously changed how I read blogs. OK, so this is probably not all that new to most of you and you must think me a computer dunce for thinking this is awesome, but humor me OK?
This is what Google Reader looks like. If you have a gmail or blogger account, then you can use that with Google Reader. When you log in, your reader will look something like this:
Here are a few tricks I've learned to keep things organized and make checking blogs super-easy:
1) Make folders for different blogs you follow. I have one folder for publishing-related blogs, one for writers I absolutely must read, one for DIY MFA peeps (because during September I wanted to keep up with their blogs in case they posted about DIY MFA stuff), and so on. Having blogs in folders works for me because in a pinch, I just check one or two folders, depending on what I'm looking to read at that moment.
2) Use iGoogle and put a Google Reader widget on your page. iGoogle is a personalized version of Google that allows you to put widgets on your Google homepage (weather, news, gmail, google reader, etc.) I keep both my Gmail and Google Reader on my iGoogle page so that I can quickly scan it every time I search for something on Google. That way, rather than sitting down for an hour or more to read blogs, I just scan my reader widget for a couple of seconds multiple times per day. If I read a post I want to comment on, I'll just make a note of it and come back when I have time.
3) Subscribe to your own blog. This probably sounds narcissistic but there is a logic to this tip. Here's my dirty little secret: I subscribe to my own blog on Google Reader, but I do this so I can see if my posts look right when viewed in a reader. These days, so many readers use Google Reader or other such services that I want to make sure the post looks right both on the blog itself and in a reader. Sometimes something that looks just fine on the blog can actually be hard to read in Google Reader and I want to make sure that my blog is user-friendly on all formats.
Also, keep in mind that when readers use Google Reader, they will not see most of the design elements on your blog (like the sidebar or the pretty header, or any of that stuff). They will see pictures, but only the ones that are in the post itself. Any other graphics or widgets will not appear.
What about you? Are you a fan of Google Reader? How do you use it to make blog-surfing easier?