Today I bring a review of a non-hobby product, but one I use every day to keep up with my favorite blogs: Feedly – an awesome feed reader.
This free tools pulls in the latest posts from all the blogs I follow and keeps track of which articles haven’t been read – which saves me a bunch of time from opening each site up just to see if anything is new.
What are RSS Feeds
The magic behind feed readers is tech almost as dated as emails: Rich Site Summary, or just RSS.
Blogs use RSS to publish a simple text descriptor of each post and push it into a feed that other sites can subscribe to. Many sites include the icon like the screen shot below which has become the universal icon for RSS.
The link itself will often take you to a page full of text that isn’t very pretty, but others, such as this blog’s feed at http://brokenpaintbrush.com/feed/rss/ use tools to help you subscribe using feed readers.
What a Feed Reader Does
Back in the day, Google basically created the feed reader tool which made it simple to take these RSS feeds and consume them in an easy to use form.
Basically you would add each blog’s RSS feed to it, much like a bookmark, and the tool would pull in the post’s text and pictures and create a news feed for you.
When your favorite blogger finally posts something, it gets automatically pulled into the feed reader, and Boom! their article shows up in your feed.
When you read through the article, it is marked as ready by the tool and doesn’t show up again unless you specifically look for it or go back through your history.
Doesn’t it Hurt the Blogger?
So since you are consuming the feed in a third party tool, wouldn’t this hurt the blogger’s traffic and web cred?
I actually think a blogger can get more, and better, visitors if you use a feed reader. If you are just hitting up their site on a regular basis to see if they have more content, it does drive their ‘traffic’ numbers up, but what do you do if there is nothing new? You bounce and check again next week, and perhaps after some time you forget to ever come back.
Now, if you use a feed reader you will automatically get notified if they post something new, which both reduces their bounce rate and, if they haven’t posted in a while, reminds you that they still exist.
If you like the article you can always click through to their site and leave a comment, share on twitter, or save it for later.
How I use Feedly
This brings me to how I use Feedly, my feed reader of choice. I like it it because: its free (with paid plans for power users), it has a nice interface, and good phone apps.
Each post looks great in their reader and they include a number of tools which makes it easy to use which I will get into below.
Saving for Later
The first tool I love about it, is being able to save posts for later.
On each post they include a tool bar that has social sharing buttons, but also a nice little bookmark icon that tells Feedly to hold on to this post in the ‘Saved for Later’ section.
I use this all the time because I don’t always have time to leave comments on posts or want to save them until I can pull them into a Good Reads article.
On the weekends or lunch break at work, I will go back through the saved articles, click through to the sites and leave comments. I can then ‘un-save’ the article, marking it as done.
Adding New Feeds
Adding new feeds is really simple in Feedly as well, you don’t even need to know the site’s RSS feed.
You click on the big ‘Add Content’ button which opens a simple text box. If you paste in the blog URL, such as Greg’s awesome blog (http://www.feedyournerd.com/greggles-tabletop) Feedly will automatically find the feed and show the options below the text box.
Clicking on the green ‘+feedly’ give you the option to add it to a collection, such as Warhammer, 40k, what ever. The collection allows you to subscribe to all sorts of things like tech, news, and the like and have them separated out for you.
Getting started is supper simple, you can use Google, Twitter, Facebook, or a few others to sign in using their authentication, and just start adding feeds. They will even have collections pre-assembled for you depending on your interests.
I wish I could share my Warhammer collection, but that’s a paid feature. Instead click through your blog rolls and add each site into your feedly to keep up to date on their posts – and make sure to add Broken Paintbrush to you feed as well 🙂