What’s a girl to do these days? There is an inconceivable amount of valuable information to be found in blogs today, and breaking into the world of blog-following and online reading is intimidating for most people.
I used to think that I either needed to become familiar with every popular blogger in the industry or just drop the effort altogether, and I thought keeping up with blogs was going to be a huge task that would take a lot of time. I tried to wrap my head around it, but kept giving up.
After being given some good reading organization advice, I’m now hooked.
Step 1 – Give bloggers a test on Twitter.
Most bloggers use their Twitter accounts for multiple purposes, and one is as a mini RSS feed. They post a quick blurb and link to every post they write and share other valuable information related to their topics with their followers. Following a blogger on Twitter is a great way to:
A: Get a feel for their blog content. You are given the opportunity to follow their blog, selecting what to read and what not to read by the quick snippets of info that fit into a tweet. You get to decide whether you like it without it cluttering your reader.
B: Get to know the blogger beyond their blog content. I find that most great bloggers stick to their subject matter while publishing their blogs, allowing a little room for personality, but rarely allowing you to get a glimpse of their other interests. I love getting to know bloggers who share a broader range of information on Twitter because they aren’t as bound in the social sphere to the stringent theme and scope of their blog.
If you’re not a Twitter fan or if you haven’t developed an organized system for reading Twitter content (like using lists and Hootsuite or Tweet Deck to view content), try out my post on how to effectively and efficiently take-in information on Twitter before you write it off altogether.
Step 2 – Compile the blogs you love in Google Reader.
What blogs should you subscribe to?
My number one reader rule: Never put a mediocre blog into your reader. If one gets in there by accident, remove it as soon as you realize you don’t like it very much. It’s easy to fill up your reader with a ton of content that you don’t really care about, and it muddles your ability to find the good stuff, making reading online much more time consuming than it needs to be.
My number two reader rule: Keep a healthy blend of content. I keep my reader about half full of things I should be reading and half full of things I want to be reading. The fun stuff keeps me coming back for more, but the smart stuff ensures my online reading isn’t just a waste of time.
Why Google Reader?
Everyone has their own preferences for which RSS reader to use, and I am partial to Google. I like it because it’s so easily accessible. Because I can login to my Google account one time and access my e-mail, documents, calendar, maps, website analytics and reader all in one place, I’m more likely to check it regularly than if it were in another location.
Step 3 – Use Diigo to save, annotate and highlight the posts, articles and pages you want to remember.
While I love reading new posts the first time around on Google Reader, I detest trying to go back to it to reference old posts. I also didn’t want to deal with a convoluted, multi-step reading and bookmarking system that wouldn’t allow me to save my favorite pages the way I wanted to view them.
Diigo is a great, free tool that allows you to bookmark any website you want – blog post or otherwise. My favorite features are the ability to highlight and make notes on the text of any page you bookmark. This is perfect for me because I often have a hard time remembering why I saved one article or another, and saving my notes right along with the page helps me stay organized and saves me time in the long run.
Diigo also lets me sort my bookmarks into folders, adding tags for easy searching later. (For example, I might save a blog post on the latest updates to Facebook under my “Social Media” folder and add the tag, “Facebook.” Every time I want to access any info I’ve saved on Facebook, I can go back, click on my tag and see everything I need).
For anyone looking for more information about online reading, I highly recommend Chris Butler’s post on his reading process. The post itself, as well as the comments, may help you find the best tools to fit your preferences.
Any other reading tips or ideas? Any tools you like better than these? Share in the comments!