So what does it mean to subscribe to a blog? Or to follow a blog? Five years ago, I didn’t have a clue. Any site or blog I wanted to remember, I added to my browser favorites. And then I quickly forgot about them as they got buried under new favorites. If you’re like me, the whole concept of “subscribing” or “following” seems quite complicated and far too much work to manage.
In fact, I didn’t start actively following blogs until about three years ago because 1) I didn’t know how and 2) I didn’t know what I was missing. Today, I am subscribed to hundreds of blogs based on my interests - and thanks to the magic of new readers, I can easily keep current with my favorite blogs all from one spot. And I control when and what gets delivered to me so my mailbox is never jammed with notifications or alerts.
Since I know how complicated the whole “follow” and “subscribing” thing can be, here’s a couple easy tips to clarify things:
Subscribing brings the content to you - rather than you manually visiting a site to check for new content. I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to let internet bots check for new content and notify me when it’s available - I’ve got better things to do with my time than manually check for updates. If you have a lot of favorite blogs, this can be a huge time-saver.
What is a News Reader?
If you want to keep your email inbox free from clutter, a news reader (also called an RSS reader) is the best method for managing blog subscriptions. News readers aggregate updates from your favorite blogs so you can enjoy the content at your leisure, all from one customized spot.
News readers are easy to use and typically browser-based so you don’t need to download or install any software (except perhaps a browser plug-in). There are lots of different news reader options, but I highly recommend Feedly.com (find out why).
What is Email Delivery?
If you prefer to receive updates from your favorite blogs by email, then email delivery is a great option. Most blogs include an email subscription signup - you provide your email address and new content is automatically delivered directly to your inbox. With email delivery, you never need to remember to check a news reader.
However, if you’re subscribed to more than a handful of blogs, your inbox can quickly be overwhelmed with blog update notifications. In this case, consider using a news reader to manage your subscriptions instead.
No matter what method you choose, here are step-by-step instructions to get started.
How to subscribe using a News Reader
- Select a reader
- Google “news reader” and you will find all kinds of different news reader options. But I highly recommend Feedly.com and I really think it’s the best choice. Pick whatever news reader you like, but my instructions are based on using Feedly.com.
- Creating an account with your selected news reader allows you to customize your experience, build a list of subscriptions and (if your reader supports it) sync subscriptions between devices (such as laptop and smart phone). Creating an account with Feedly.com is as easy as logging into a service you already use such as Facebook, Twitter or Gmail.
- Once you have completed the necessary steps to set up your news reader account, you can begin adding subscriptions to blogs you want to follow. Different news readers handle adding subscriptions differently, but most allow you to search for content by URL.
To add a subscription using Feedly
How to subscribe by email
- Select email subscription method
- To receive notifications of new content from you favorite blogs, you must first sign-up by visiting each blog you wish to follow and locating the “subscribe by email” link. Most blogs include such a link somewhere near the top of their blog, often in either the left- or right-hand columns.
- Once you’ve located and clicked the “subscribe by email” link, enter your email address when prompted (and any other required fields). Make sure to click the “complete request” or “subscribe” button to complete your subscription request.
- Once you have completed your request, you will receive a confirmation email. Follow the instructions in the confirmation email to confirm your subscription. If you fail to complete this last step, you will not receive updates.
Still need help? Leave me a comment or shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have.