how to follow a blog

How to follow a Blog With or Without RSS

Are you confused about what an RSS feed is and how to follow a blog by the RSS feed? Don’t be. The main thing you need to know is that an RSS feed is just one way to follow a blog.

If you’re not sure what an RSS feed is or how it works, there are other alternatives.

Here are a few ways I follow blogs:

  • Twitter – by following a blogger on Twitter.
  • People who comment on my blog – by checking out what my readers and blog community have been writing about.
  • Email – by subscribing to a blog for email updates.
  • Inner voice reminder – the unsung hero when it comes to following blogs.

What’s an RSS Feed?

So you don’t know what an RSS Feed is?

No worries, neither did I until quite recently, but don’t let that put you off. I specialize in turning geek-speak into normal jargon-free words that everyone can understand. Some of the probloggers understand what an RSS Feed is and explain it in detail here but this is my humble understanding of what an RSS Feed is.

Hopefully this is all you’ll ever need to know about RSS:

You can sign up to a blog’s RSS feed to find out when that blog is updated

That’s it really. An RSS Feed is just a handy way of finding out when a blog has been updated and what the new blog posts are about.

How do you follow a blog via the RSS feed?

How do you follow a blog via the RSS feed?

Typical RSS Feed Icon

To subscribe click on the RSS subscribe button for a blog. It’s orange with three waves coming out of it.

Usually you’ll find it on the blog page and sometimes it also appears in the website address bar at the top of the page. It doesn’t matter where you click it.

Then, to see when a blog has been updated you need to choose a feed reader – some of the most well known feed readers are Bloglines, My Yahoo and Google Reader which I use.

Every time you go to Google Reader, My Yahoo or whatever reader you choose you’ll see a list of the blogs whose feeds you’ve subscribed to and the headline of their latest blog posts.

You can then visit the blog to read the post if you choose to or just read it in the feed reader. If you want to leave a comment or share it you’ll need to visit the blog.

Once you’ve subscribed to a few blogs you can organize them by categories such as travel, lifestyle and social media tips.

If you’re advanced and enjoying using an RSS reader you can follow Kikolani’s tips for organising your feed reader. If you have an iPad check out The Blog Stylist’s post about managing RSS feeds across multiple devices here.

Still confused by RSS?

How to follow a blogDon’t be scared, just try it out and play around with subscribing to blogs by their RSS feed and using an RSS reader.

Try it now: subscribe to Successful Blogging by RSS here.

If it’s not working for you don’t worry. Choose another option that does work for you like email, Twitter or checking out the latest blog posts by people who’ve commented on your blog recently.

If you want to be sure you never miss a blog post subscribing by email is the best way. Subscribe to Successful Blogging by email here.

The good, old-fashioned inner voice reminder works well too.

You know you’re really engaged and enjoying a blog if, every week or so, a little voice in your head reminds you  that you haven’t checked it recently and you’ve missed it.

So don’t feel confused by all the options for following a blog. Follow your heart and trust your instincts when it comes to blog reading and blogging.

Technology can be confusing but you don’t need to be confused by it.

How do you follow or subscribe to your favorite blogs?

Photo credit: Playtpus
Author: Annabel Candy

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

barbara October 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I started with RSS but honestly I rarely check it. If I like a blog I will subscribe by email. I also find with many blogs just liking their facebook page works even better. Every blogger puts their latest post on their fb page. I check fb daily at least twice, so when I see their latest post I read it. Usually the fb connection is faster than the email. Not that speed matters, but it does keep me current.

I do have friends who don’t have a blog but use their google reader religiously and that’s how they get their feed. So as a blogger I think it’s a good idea to have both options available.

It’s not that difficult to have ALL options on your blog. Why wouldn’t you?

Great advice, as always. Thanks!
b

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Annabel Candy October 28, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Hi Barbara,

RSS is the last thing I check too. Totally agree about email subscription, it’s the best way. Yes, I didn’t mention Facebook here but that’s another option.

Yes, and as you say, we bloggers must definitely offer as many options as we can to our readers.

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Nikki @ Styling You October 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I rarely subscribe via email any more. Too much in my inbox. Now that I have an iPad and a FeeddlerRSS app for my Google Reader, that’s become my “book” and the way I keep up with the hundreds of blogs I follow. If I want to keep a post for reference later, I can email it to myself or save it to my Evernote app ;) Ooh, think I’ve just let my inner geek out to play!

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Annabel Candy October 28, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Hi Nikki, I think you got my share of geek:) This is still on my to do list but I have started reading books on my iPad so making progress!

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se7en October 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm

I used to be ruled by my RSS feed… and I subscribe to quite a few blogs there… I started to organize all my feeds in a “logical way: news, crafts, moms ad so on… it was not my style and chaos ensued!!! I had to learn how to organize it for me into categories that made sense to me: blogs I observe, blogs I almost always comment on, blogs that inspire, blogs I almost always want to pin from… and so on. Now it works. But since I started playing on twitter I only read my feeds about twice a day… I went to most of the blogs I follow in my rss and followed them on twitter: now I can see a post title as it comes up and chose to read it or not – huge time saver. Though lots of blogs, especially local ones, are just not on twitter – some actively loathe it!!! They are in a category in of their own: non twitterers… and yes there are a couple that are just hard to follow, ?Like media!!!? but I like them so I usually seek those out on weekends to see what they have been up to.

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Annabel Candy October 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Hi Se7en, interested to see how you categorise your RSS feed blogs. Makes sense. I feel quite miffed if I discover a new blog and the blogger isn’t on Twitter. It’s such a great way to keep in touch with people and let them know you appreciate their blogging.

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Jimmy October 28, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Hello Annabel,

I am new to your site, and it seems that I have found another blogger who can offer me valuable and detailed advice.

This post on RSS feed is certainly the best I have heard without confusing me. In essence, I just click RSS of blogs I like and get them on Google Reader right? These are two actions I will do now.

We new bloggers need detailed and practical actions to fly faster with the flock. You certainly can provide that Annabel.

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Annabel Candy October 28, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Hi Jimmy, sounds good. Give it a go. Great to see you here and if you have any questions just ask:)

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Dave Doolin October 29, 2011 at 1:35 am

While I’m not using RSS at the moment, I have to say that it’s the best tool ever for really keeping track of what’s going on in Blogistan.

A while back, I deleted everything in my RSS feed out of frustration. That was a mistake. The next time I wanted to do a round of promotion, I had to rebuild it. Now, it just sits there with 300+ feeds, waiting for when I need it again.

And I will need it again (yes, that’s an oblique hint :).

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Annabel Candy October 29, 2011 at 10:07 am

Hi Dave, mine is the same. There when I need it and all organised too:)

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dExTeR October 29, 2011 at 6:30 am

hey annabel (i found you thru digitalparents!)

nice article.

i tend to use email. ive tried google reader but found the content too overwhelming. even now with emails its a whole lot of “6 ways to do this”, “20 ways to do that”, which again becomes a little overwhelming.

least with the email, if the title doesnt appeal to me, ill mark it as read without even viewing it.

if ever the abbreviation “TMI – (too much information)” was most suitable, it would be for following blogs.

dEx

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Annabel Candy October 29, 2011 at 10:10 am

Hi Dexter, that’s brilliant, great to see you here:) TMI applies to all blogging tips here as far as I can tell. That’s why I’m trying to cut it down to the essentials, reduce overwhelm and leave people time to get on with it!

Those are terrible headlines! We need the one best way to do something. Fewer options, not more:)

Let me know if you need help or ask any questions here and we’ll see what we can do:)

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Sylvia October 29, 2011 at 6:59 am

I also found a Free service called diphur.com that you can put in your bar and any site with an RSS can be made into a subscription for your email . It’s a great way!

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Annabel Candy October 29, 2011 at 10:10 am

Hi Syliva, thanks for the tip, I’ve never heard of that one, I’ll check it out:)

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Di @ Mummy Di-alogue & Di-licious Cupcakes October 29, 2011 at 7:58 am

Hi Annabel
Once again you’ve cut through the goobley gook!

I organised my Google Reader after you originally recommended Kikolani’s tips. I was so excited and spent a day getting on top of it all. Then a few weeks later I’ve got hundreds of unread posts to skim over – at least I can handle them in chunks now.

I need to find a better way to manage my reading time. I downloaded GWizz Free for my iPhone but there’s so much advertising on the screen that it makes it hard to read articles.

I agree with the previous commenters about email subscribitions for my true favourite blogs (yours is one of them :-) ).

I also find Twitter and Facebook helpful but I’m still very much a newbie to Twitter.

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Annabel Candy October 29, 2011 at 10:12 am

Hi Di,

Music to my ears:) So glad you’re an email subscriber. Play around with Twitter and have fun with it. Remember everyone is new to it! If you’re looking for Twitter tips mine are here: http://www.successfulblogging.com/twitter-for-bloggers/

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Seana Smith October 29, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Hi Annabel,

I do like to use Google Reader and have organised my feeds into categories, but it can be totally overwhelming.

Email only works for me when there aren’t too many posts. Yours works well as I know that I won’t be overwhelmed by millions of posts I don’t need but will read one really info-packed useful long post.

I don’t think my own emails are working well as they are too long and that’s on my list to make changes to.

Thanks!

Seana x

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Janet Poole October 30, 2011 at 11:37 am

Hi Annabel,
Great idea to get back to the basics. As Chip and Dan Heath say in their excellent book ‘Made to Stick’, many of us have what they call the ‘Curse of Knowledge’, where we forget what it’s like not to know.

I’m a fairly new blogger, I also live in Australia, and it’s been a steep path of learning, but the generosity of bloggers out there is amazing. So much (great) information, as your readers say it’s easy to get information overload. Rather that though. I prefer e-mail as I reckon a prompt is a great way to see new posts… and see the headline.

Thanks, you’ve also done a great job on getting the message across that you’re really easy going and approachable!
All the best
Janet

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Michele August 1, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Hey all! Need some help! I am new to blogland and I have been following people by using the Twitter option, but I seriously can’t find where a list of the blogs I follow, links to those sites, or updates are posted. How can I see what I follow? I logged into my twitter account, checked the blogger dashboard, etc… help!

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MJ June 6, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I came across this webpage as I was searching for an alternate for google reader. What will you use now that Google Reader is shutting down? I’ve been using google reader and don’t know what to switch too. Google Reader was so easy and fluid.

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