Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Google Reader is changing the way I Blog.

It is now 12 days since I switched to using Google Reader in which time you can see I have 58 blog subscriptions, have read over 1000 posts, starred 54 and shared 27. That took surprising little time and I thought I would share how using Google reader is changing the way I read and write blog posts.

First a few comments on how I am using the tools in Google reader.

I have set up a number of folders and tags that enable me to organise the subscriptions. Folders and tags are pretty much the same - except that I keep Folders specifically to organise the blog subscriptions by topic area and Tags to record individual posts I want to be able to refer back to. I was initially relying on the Star feature for this - but this quickly becomes unmanageable. When I come back to interesting posts I usually want to look at a specific subject area and so it is much easier to organise interesting posts with Tags than Stars.

When viewing the posts I either click on All Posts or select a specific Folder if I just want to review one topic. I have found the best way to read is to start at the bottom of the list of recent posts and press K to move up to the next. Once read it stays in the list until I refresh the page - then it is unlikely that I will ever see it again. You can start at the top and press J to move down but I found that unless I clear all posts I end up with unread posts getting older and older.

My sense of timeliness has also changed radically - when you get 100 posts a day - a week is a long time so I have noticed that I tend to scan more quickly though older posts when I subscribe to a new blog. I have also noticed how much more aware I have become of the interaction going on between bloggers. These are the main things I have noticed about the way I read posts that are changing the way I blog.
  1. I seldom follow through on a partial feed. If all that is available on the post is a heading and a few lines, it has to be pretty compelling for me not to press K. Denise from the Blog Squad posted a poll a few days ago on this and I see that currently nearly 65% are in favour of full feeds.
  2. The same is true of posts that rely on me following a link to get the information. I find I need a reason to to take the time to follow the link - I want to read a Blogger's commentary then follow through because it sounds interesting.
  3. FeedBurner's FeedFlare has suddenly become much more important because it allows me to place tools for social bookmarking at the foot of the feed - so they appear in the reader - most stuff from my blog never reaches the feed.
  4. I take about 2 seconds to decide whether to read or move on - so if the post is confusing and I can't see the message quickly - it's gone. The Title, the first paragraph and subheads are critical to draw a reader in and this is basic journalistic practice but I still forget.
  5. I am starting to add more links in my blog posts because I don't see any of the links around the post - at the same time I find lots of links in a post discourages me from reading it - needs a fine balance.
  6. Making comments is not so easy because the comments link is not included in the feed - so I have to make a point of going to a post on the blog to comment as a result I am not tending not to make as many comments.
The big problem for bloggers with Google reader is that you have no idea if I am reading your posts because Google only registers as a single reader in feed stats. Not sure if Google are going to deal with that but overall I love the product and it is definitely changing the way I do things.

Rikki Arundel
Motivational Speaker
Speaking and Marketing Tips
The GenderShift Blog

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