How to Manage Blog Following using an RSS Reader...

[EDIT - April 2013 - Sadly Google reader is shutting down (awww snap!) All of the below still counts, it's just you should now apply it to another feed reader, such as ]

Want to keep up with all those crafty blogs you love! but, don't have time to follow them all?

It makes sense to follow lots of blogs using Google Friend Connect and let your avatar become an instantly recognisable logo of your shop or blog to show others that you are an active part of the blogging and crafting community.  By following you are supporting the hard work of your fellow crafty bloggers and you are also encouraging blog authors to come and visit and perhaps follow your own blog too (an added bonus!)

Help!  Information Overload...
  • Do you look at all of the craft blogs you are now following and get turned off by the sheer quantity of information? 
  • Do you open your Blogspot dashboard and see 1000+ new posts to read! (impossible unless you devote an entire month to catching up and forget your crafting!)
  • Do you forget who writes what and feel like you are losing touch with the craft blogs you used to love?
  • Do you deliberately not follow blogs because you don't think you can keep up with them, even though they look great and you want to be supportive of the handmade community? 
  • Do you wonder how some people follow so many crafty blogs and still seem to find time to add great comments on them too, when you are struggling to keep up with them all as well as your online shops?

    Don't Panic! 

    It's simple - you just need to do some feed filing using google reader! 

    If you have a blogspot blog then you already have a google reader account.  Spend a little time sorting through the blogs you are  already following and categorizing them into folders, it will save you time in the future and keep you up to date with your favourite blogs and subscriptions.  You can update the folders quickly as and when you add new blogs and subscriptions.


    Why Use Google Reader?

    Becoming an active blog reader, and by active I mean adding comments, following peoples blogs and writing your own regular posts including links to others, is an important part of social networking, which in turn is an important part of a succesful online craft business.

    Using google reader (or any other feed reader, there are lots) will help you identify which blogs you really connect with and enable you to concentrate and focus on becoming a regular face within those select networks and still allow you to follow lots of blogs encouraging reciprical blog following. You just need to re think the importance of following a blog, it isn't an oath that you will read every post, it is a friendly nod that you like what you see.

    Nobody will think you are a 'blog-tart' for following lots of blogs! 

    I am not recommending becoming completely unselective about which blogs you follow or subscribe to, just that you shouldn't decide not to follow a blog purely because you think you are following too many already.

    Kellas Creative Wishes (CBuk Flickr gallery)

    It's a good idea to leave a comment or send someone a tweet when you follow a blog to let them know you have become a new follower, it just helps to cement your connection with their blog and is a polite way of introducing yourself, flattering them and subtley inviting them to read and follow your own blog.  Be sincere and don't post spammy links as comments, but do link to posts that you have written when they are relevant to the topic that is being discussed as this is good for both parties in terms of search engine rankings.  Link to the post not your home page and explain why you are adding a link.

    Using Google Reader

    To access google reader open up your blogspot dashboard and below your own blog details you'll find your reading list. Don't confuse the reading list pictured above with google reader.  In the very bottom right hand corner you will see a link to 'View in Google Reader'.  Open up google reader and have a look around, it's a lot to take in at first but there is a beginners guide here

    You will see in the top right hand of the screen the word settings and a drop down list, click on 'reader settings'.  Alternatively at very bottom left hand corner of the the screen a link that says 'manage subscriptions'.  This takes you to the area where you can organise the blogs you are following.

    Get Organised with Folders

    Create folders - as many as you like to keep the blogs you are following organised into manageable lists. If you are following 200 blogs it is no good having 2 folders - you need to think hard and add enough folders to make catching up with your blogs a more enjoyable and effective use of your time.  


    You can start to organise the blogs you are following and those that you have subscribed to by clicking on the 'subscriptions' tab when you are in 'settings'.  All of the feeds from blogs and subscriptions are displayed alphabetically and there are drop down buttons to add each to folders individually.  Alternatively you can click on the tick boxes to select many at a time and then use the 'more actions' button to add them to folders all at once.

    I can't organise your blogs for you (sorry!) but I would suggest categorising them by subject as well as by how good they are to read, and any you just followed to enter a giveaway etc - you can add each blog into as many different folders as you like. For example you might add my blog 'haptree and me' to folders on sewing and blog tips.  Instead of seeing 1000+ new posts - you will see smaller more manageable numbers of new posts that you don't feel daunted by.

    Edwina Simone (CBuk Flickr Gallery)

    I'd also recommend having a top 10 (ish) list so that if you are pushed for time you don't miss out on the blogs you love, after wading through the best of the rest!

    Craft blogging is fun and using google reader effectively can help to bring back the way you felt about reading blogs before you spent so much time promoting your own!

    In the main google reader home page you can now use the drop down list to view items from certain folders only. You'll also see that your folders have appeared in the subscriptions list, bottom left hand side too.  

    You can either just view titles by clicking on 'list' or click 'expanded' to see the entire post.

     Starring Posts

    When you are reading or scanning posts remember to use the tools available under each post, especially the starring button which acts the same as flagging an email.  It will remind you of all the blog posts you want to comment on when you have time next.

    For example if I saw a blog post titled, "No time to catch up on all my blog reading" while I was scanning through the titles I might star it so I could comment and add a link to this post, when I had a moment. It would be a really well received and relevant comment that will bring traffic to my site and possibly enhance theirs too, but it could have been a missed opportunity if I hadn't starred it for later. (read here for how to add clickable comments to blogger blogs)

    There are alot of other tools to play with too and I'll be posting more about these and also a post about updating your google profile soon.  

    Print for Love of Wood (CBuk Flickr Gallery)

    Thanks for reading! Please add your comments below - I'd love to know if you already use google reader, have a google profile  you would like to share or about any other feed readers that help you manage your blog reading time effectively. (Or maybe just if you think you are a blog-tart and want to follow!)