Monday, June 20, 2011

How I Follow a Million Blogs

I have a thing for systems. I have a system for everything. If I don't have a system, stuff doesn't get done.

As I've become a more avid blog reader, I've developed a new system for keeping track of them all, reading the ones I love regularly without cluttering up my reader with the scores of blogs I come across that I find interesting, but haven't decided if I'm in love with just yet. But when I find a new blog that's kinda' cool, I want to come back later and see if I do fall in love with it.

So I present to you...

My Blog Reading System

You're reading my blog right now, so there's a decent chance that you read other blogs, too. If you don't, this post isn't for you. Also, this is how I organize my blog reading. In addition to loving systems, I also change them all the time! Because what worked when I read 10 blogs, no longer works now that I read many more than that. So depending on your reading habits, do what works for you. This is what I do.

1) I use Google Reader. Mostly because my blog is here on Blogger. And Google is awesome.

2) When I come across a blog post that I find interesting or memorable, I go ahead and click "follow." I learned that there are times when I read something and think, "not bad" and then days or weeks later I'm still thinking about something in the post. But if I don't follow it right then, I'll never be able to find my way back to it. So if it strikes a chord at all, I follow right away rather than lose it to the vastness of the Internet.

3) I love my folders!
I have created the following categories for the blogs I follow:
  • IRL - Blogs written by the people I know and love in real life. I want to know what they're up to and read what they write. Also, I want to be caught up if I should actually run into them... in real life.
  • Dailies - My favorite blogs of people I don't know IRL. I want to read them daily (time permitting).
  • Good stuff - I often enjoy the posts on these sites, so they're high on my list. They're just not, "OMG! I missed a post!" good. But don't get me wrong though... they're good.
  • New - All the other blogs that I stumble on that struck a chord (as I said above). One good post can land you in my New bucket.
(Obviously you can create folders for however you read. Craft blogs, mom blogs, funny blogs, etc.)

So if you don't know how to do folders in Google Reader, it's pretty easy. Here's how:

Go to Google Reader ( Click the tiny link in the bottom left-hand corner that says Manage subscriptions.

You will see a list of all of the blogs you follow. Each one will have the option of changing the folder.

Or you can just click on the check boxes next to each of the blogs you want to group together and then click on More actions at the top and then put all of those selected blogs into the same folder.

4) Bookmarks make it easy!
Are you still with me? OK, one last step and setup is done. But here it is: the whole reason for creating the folders is so that I can jump straight to the posts in that folder without having to go to Google Reader. Here's how: at the top of that page that listed all of your blog subscriptions, there's also a link that says Goodies.

Go there. About halfway down the page there is a section that says Put Reader in your bookmark.

I have created a bookmark for each of my folders. You select the folder you want from the list and then that little Next button next to the drop down box changes. If you're on your computer, you can then just drag that little button up to your bookmark bar in your browser and voila! Instant bookmark to the newest post in that folder.

In my world, I do all my blog reading on my iPad now. Setting up the bookmarks on an iPad is a little trickier, but totally worth it because...

5) Read blogs!
I open my iPad and click the IRL bookmark. I go straight to the newest blog post in that folder. I read. I comment. I click the IRL bookmark again. I go to the next post. On and on that way until I click the link and it tells me, "There are no more unread items in your IRL folder." Sweet. I move on to Dailies. Then I vacillate between Good Stuff and New. Depends on whether I'm loving the Good Stuff, or if I'm in the mood to check out some New stuff. Sometimes there are guest bloggers. So I go to their blogs. (I, of course, subscribe if it's interesting.) Oh! Did I mention that back on that Goodies page on Google Reader there's a button that you can drag to your bookmarks bar that will subscribe for you? So if it's not a Blogger blog, you can just click the Subscribe button. Yeah, that's cool, too.

6) OK. One last thing. I occasionally have to go back to Google Reader to reorganize. This is the part that I'll probably lose you. (What? I lost you two steps ago? Oh well, here's the last step anyway.) Sometimes things need to move. New blogs prove worthy of being upgraded to Good Stuff. Some aren't my thing, so I unsubscribe. So when a blog needs to move, I head back to Google Reader. And while I'm there, I fix one other thing: all those new blogs that I've found and subscribed to, well, they don't automatically go into my New folder. (Bummer, I know.) So every now and then, I go to Google Reader and go to that Manage Subscriptions page. I click the link that says Unassigned and then throw everything into New.

OK. I have to say. I love my system. Now that it's all set up, I sit in bed with my iPad and just read and comment and read and comment and it's great. But now that I've explained all that goes into the setup, I'm afraid that I may have scared you all away. What do you think? Too complicated? Simply awesome? What is your system? Like I said, I love my systems, but I am also always changing them if I can find a way to make them better. Let me know what you think!

And someday, maybe I'll share my system for keeping my pantry organized or getting old clothes out of my closet. Probably not though. If you think my blog reading system is complicated, you should see the rest of my life.