Friday, July 24, 2009

Google Reader 101

Ever see that orange RSS logo on a website and wonder "what's the deal with all these logos?" Been there. But I learned quickly that when you hit the button, you subscribe to the website in what's called a reader. There are a variety of readers available on the web, but since I'm a Google Girl, I subscribe to all my sites in Google Reader.

It's great. I can get updates from a variety of websites, pick and choose which sites I actually want to visit, and skim posts for the ones I actually want to read.

Once you start subscribing, you'll likely find that there's a lot of great stuff out there. It may then become necessary to organize your stuff. Google Reader allows you to do this by placing your subscriptions into folders.

I started using Google Reader soon after I set up my blog The Adventures of Mr. Busypants. At first, I subscribed to other mom blogs about autism. Then I branched out into other mom blogs. Next, because I want to publish someday, I started to subscribe to publishing and writing sites. More recently, I tapped into my love for teaching and have subscribed to countless teaching blogs.

One thing I love about having a reader is it keeps me connected to other bloggers. It's also a quick way to check out a bunch of blogs to see what you want to read at a particular time. If I'm not interested or know I don't have time for the blog, I simply scroll past it on my reader. If I decide it's something I want to review later, I check "Keep unread." If I really love the post and want to keep it handy, I star it. And if I want to share it with a blog buddy, I either hit "Share" or "Share with comment" if I have something additional I'd like to add. I can even email posts to others or to myself.

Once I started subscribing to blogs, I found that my reader became one long list of things to read. I'd open it up and panic that I had 200 items to review. It got a little overwhelming, so I created categories and assigned each site I read to a particular category.

For example, when I come across a new author who writes about things similar to what I write, I subscribe and put them in my "Author Blog" folder. Any site, discussion board, or blog that deals with autism either goes into "Autism" or "Autism Blog." I also subscribe to several Bible related sites, so those sites get filed under "Bible." All the general blogs I subscribe to go under "Blogs" although they may be better suited for a section called "Mom Blogs" since those are my people.

There's a "Blogging" section for subscriptions to blog carnivals, blog design sites, and my favorite blogging and social networking advice sites, ProBlogger and Mashable. In fact, one of the current stories on Mashable is Google Reader Gets a Social Makeover, Adds Likes and Followers. I'll mark that unread and save for later.

I have a section for each niche I'm interested in: "Publishing," "Writing," and "Teaching." There's also a section of unfiled sites, but when I click "Manage Subscriptions" at the bottom of the roll, I'll be able to easily categorize each unfiled site.

As I'm writing this post, I'm exploring reader more in-depth to be sure I haven't missed anything. Here's are some additional functions I've discovered:
  • I can take a look at all the items I share with others (including notes if I made any) by clicking on "Notes" in the upper left region of the page.
  • People can follow my reader and I can follow theirs. When we do this, the items we click on to share become accessible to everyone on our share list.
  • There are additional share functions found under "Share Settings." I can choose to share a link to my Google profile, customize my reader URL, and find people sharing in Reader.
  • That there's WAY more to Google Reader than I could even imagine and that I need to spend more time exploring and create a Google Reader 102 post later.
Related Articles


Anonymous said...

This is GREAT! I've been using GR for a while and I found this to be very easy to read and right on the money!! Have a great weekend!

Jeannie said...

Thanks VP. I'm glad you enjoyed. Are you part of the One Comment a day project? If not, I posted about it earlier this week. You gotta check it out.