NOTE: updated 27 February 2015.
Let’s say you have some favorite blogs. Maybe some tech blogs, some that focus on a state you’re researching, a few from your favorite libraries, and one that thinks that no story is too small. (Yes, that was a shameless bit of self-promotion.) Now let’s say that you want easy access to all of their latest and greatest posts. How can you keep up with all of them? Answer: a blog reader
A blog reader, sometimes called an RSS reader, lets you add your favorite blogs and then pulls in their articles as they’re published. All of that content is pulled into one place. Some readers use your browser; others are stand-alone applications. Most will let you categorize the blogs you follow. You could put your favorite genealogy blogs in one list and your favorite photography blogs in another. Blog readers are invaluable for following multiple blogs. It’s how I keep track of the 270+ blogs that have said they’re taking the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.
My favorite blog reader used to be Google Reader. Sadly, and inexplicably, Google decided to kill it off. My current reader of choice is Feedly, which is free and runs in your browser. (There are also apps for Android and iOS.)
When someone tells me that they’re taking the 52 Ancestors Challenge, I enter their blog into Feedly and put it in the “52 Ancestors Challenge” category. Whenever there’s a new article on that blog, it automatically shows up in my list on Feedly.
Here is a screenshot of part of my feed from earlier today. There are many display options. I currently have it set to show just the posts that I haven’t read. You can also have it display in a more graphical mode. I like the list view. It gives me the name of the blog (on the left), the post’s title (shown in bold), and the first few words of the post. It makes it easy to scan for the posts I’m looking for.
If there’s an article I want to read, I can click the post’s title and read it within Feedly or click an icon and have it take me straight to that blog.
Adding a Blog to Your Feedly Reader
First, create an account on Feedly (it’s free). When you find a blog that you want to follow, copy its URL. Go to Feedly and paste it into the search box in the upper right. Feedly will give you a list of possibilities; if you use the URL, there should be only one. Click on that name. Feedly will show you a list of recent posts from that blog. If that’s the blog you want to follow, click the green “+Feedly” button and add it to the list of your choice.
Let’s say you want to follow Amy Coffin’s We Tree Genealogy Blog. (You really do.) Copy and paste the URL (http://wetree.blogspot.com/) into Feedly. Click the site’s name when it appears and you’ll get a list of recent posts. Here’s a screenshot from this morning:
Click that green “+Feedly” button and add it to the list you want it in. Ta da! You’ve now added that blog to your Feedly reader!
Some blogs (like this one) have added a button that will take you directly to that blog on Feedly, allowing you to skip the search step.
If you have several blogs you enjoy following, give a reader like Feedly a try. It will make finding all of their new posts a lot easier!