One of the smartest things a new blogger can do, other than writing their own content, is to keep track of what others are doing. This is especially true if you are running a news focused blog, or are trying to compete with another blogger. Many of you probably understand that there are RSS feeds, and that you can subscribe to them, but do you know how or why?
In talking to a client of mine, I was asked, “why do I want to subscribe, rather than just bookmark and check back in?”
The simple answer to this is: so new content gets pushed to you. If you don’t want to miss potentially important content, and want to receive it in a reasonably timely fashion, making sure to subscribe to various RSS feeds, is like buying into your own, personalized newspaper consisting of all your favorite blogs. This will allow you to be more efficient, and if you turn that time savings into writing time, you’ll produce more content.
If you are still bookmarking sites, and visiting them each day, or getting their content in your e-mail inbox. How does that help you? Why are you still doing that when we have RSS subscriptions now that are near instant in pushing content out to you, easy to manage, and powerful, when you dive deep into controlling them.
Currently, I use Bloglines as my RSS reader of choice. It is a hosted, web-based service that makes subscribing, managing subscriptions and reading my subscriptions from any computer connected to the Internet very easy. I know the more popular choice is Google Reader, another hosted service, but I’ve never been completely happy with their user interface (probably because I used Bloglines first and have become accustomed to how it works).
There are also hundreds of desktop clients that you can install on your computer, no matter the operating system you use, and thus allow you to download and read your content when not connected to the Internet, or notify you when you have new content to read in a more “attention grabbing” way than an online RSS reader can do.
If you are looking for more information on the best available options, LifeHacker did a roundup a while back with some great choices.
Start using an RSS reader, keep yourself organized and informed, and you might just be more productive on your blog, but don’t blame me if you start subscribing to everything under the sun, and it consumes your whole day. RSS subscription overload can be a common problem as well. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.