The World Wide Web can lead you to unexpected places. Surfing the internet is a surprisingly organic process.
Lately, I’ve been reading blogs. Blogs are a form of expression online that allow businesses and individuals to self-publish information and personal experiences.
Browsing from blog to blog is sometimes referred to as “blog hopping.” Imagine that instead of surfing, you’re leaping from lily pad to lily pad on a sea of information.
I was reading a blog by Jonathan Fields this morning and the first sentence had a link to another blogger he likes. I clicked that link, and started reading Seth's blog. Seth had a link to a blog he liked that I was curious about. I clicked that link and read about nine people who contributed to that blog. I could not help myself, I clicked on each of the nine people...and within five minutes I had no idea where I was or how I got there, or even what I was reading five minutes ago! I was blog hopping and got lost in the World Wide Web. (Good name for a blog!)
Thankfully, I recently learned how to use a feed reader to organize my blog hopping. A feed reader is an electronic way to subscribe to a blog’s updates. Instead of visiting individual blogs, you receive blog updates directly to your reader or your email inbox.
If you're curious about blogs, or are reading several blogs on a regular basis, subscribing to them in a reader is a saving grace!
I recommend using Google Reader to subscribe to blogs. A Google account is free, and gives you access to a lot of neat features, including Google’s free email service, GMail. (You don’t have to use the GMail address--you can stick to just the Reader if you want!)
Blog subscriptions are powered by RSS, or Really Simple Syndication. You don’t need to know the details! When you’re on a blog you like, just look for buttons like “RSS” or “Subscribe in a Reader” to get started.
Let’s try subscribing with the Aromatics International blog:
1. Sign up for a Google account, or if you already have one, sign in.
2. Visit the Aromatics International Blog
3. Click on the left hand link that says Subscribe in a reader
4. Look for “Add to Google Reader” or "Subscribe with Google", and click on that!
5. All future updates will now show up in your Google Reader, much like incoming email.
Now to add more blogs to your reader, you can simply enter the URL (address) of any blog to your reader by hand. Just click “Add a Subscription” on the top left. It will automatically add that blog to your subscription list. So easy! I also bookmarked my reader, so even that is simple to find.
Navigating Google Reader
Google Reader has a lot of features. Play around to find out what works best for your reading preferences. I like using the "folders" feature to organize the blogs I read. For instance, I created a folder called "Aromatherapy" and another called "Business."
Here’s a helpful hint: When you click on one of your blogs, on the top right you will see “Show: Expanded-List.” "Expanded" shows a small blurb from each blog post, and "list" just shows the name of the blog post in a list format. If the blog has many entries, the list format allows you to browse the posts quickly and decide what you want to read.
Once you begin reading blogs on a regular basis through your reader, you will only see new updates when you open it—not all the archives.
By the way, if the steps to create a reader seem confusing, try following them one by one, and you will see just how easy it really is. Have fun!
Do you have blogs you love to read? Email them to me and I will do a blog post in a few weeks on other cool blogs!
Copyblogger: Brian Clark's Blog on blogging! This is an excellent blog to read if you are blogging or want to get started with a blog.
Problogger: Darren Rowse’s excellent blog on how to blog! Plus Darren’s weekly video posts are cool and he has a great accent!
Flyte: Rich Brook’s small business web marketing blog. He has a great section he calls Entrepreneurial Web Tools that covers starting your own newsletter with Constant Contact, PayPal, Project management software through Basecamp, and more.
Meridian Massage Blog: Cindy Black’s brilliant musing about life and health.
Indie Business Blog: Updates, advice and more from Donna Marie, founder and CEO of the Indie Beauty Network and the Indie Business Media.