I love reading blog posts. There are so many creative people out there with excellent content and fascinating perspectives. Currently, there are several ways to follow blogs. In this post, I provide an overview of various ways to follow blogs, their pros and cons, and my own method.
Blogger Created Options
When bloggers create content, they want their audience to know about it. Here are two common options for sharing content that bloggers offer to their audience:
Most blogs offer e-mail subscriptions. At a minimum, this means that you are alerted when there is a new blog post. This is what I do. Other blogs offer newsletters that provide additional content.
Pro: This is the most direct way to know when there is new content.
Con: Too many e-mails? If you feel like this, then e-mail subscriptions might not be for you. Just know that many e-mail lists allow you to choose your subscription settings so you can adjust the frequency of e-mails you receive.
Bloggers have become increasingly creative in engaging their audience using different social media platforms. An individual blogger may use multiple social media platforms for different purposes. Here is how I use social media:
- Facebook: new blog post alerts, announcements, the occasional Instagram picture
- Instagram: photos of current and past travels, new blog post alerts
- Twitter: new blog post alerts, the occasional Twitter campaign
- Snapchat: behind-the-scenes frequent updates when I am on a trip
- Pinterest: carefully curated boards that are packed with information (e.g. Archaeology Told By Archaeologists, Germany Travel, Academic Productivity, and more)
Pro: If you’re a frequent user of a platform your blogger is on, then following them via social media should be fairly easy. Also, bloggers might use social media to give followers access to information that might not normally come up on their blog.
Con: Some social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram use algorithms to generate your feed based on what they think your interests are or in an effort to get bloggers to pay them to promote their posts. Nonetheless, this means that you might not always see recent posts.
User Driven Options
There are other ways of following blogs that are driven from the reader’s side. Here are two options:
In your browser, you can create a folder and bookmark your favorite blogs.
Pro: This is a good option if you only need to check certain blogs at certain times. For example, I check certain blogs for flight deals when I want to book a flight. These sites often have multiple posts in a day and I’m only interested in the content when I want to book a trip. Bookmarking the blog allows me to check on the content when I need it.
Con: This method can be clunky if you follow many blogs. Also, you won’t be alerted if there is new content.
RSS feeds are like a newsfeed of all the blogs you want to follow. You get a stripped down version of posts. Usually, images and video still show up, but any special thematic formatting (e.g. colors and fonts) the blogger has used is standardized and simplified. The two most popular ways to access RSS feeds are in your browser or through an RSS Reader. For an overview of generating RSS feeds in different browsers, check out this post, and for a list of RSS Reader options, check out this post.
Pro: You can check the latest content in one location.
Con: You might not get to experience the content in the way the blogger originally formatted it and this might impact your experience.
I am a big fan of RSS readers. I use the free version of Feedly, which is currently one of the most popular RSS readers. If I see a post, but I don’t have time to read it, I save it to Pocket, which is a great tool for collecting all sorts of content to read later.
Pro: Feedly and Pocket are available and can be synced across smartphones, tablets, and computers. Both offer the option to visit the original website if you want to see the post in the way the blogger created it. Also, both have a lot of options to organize your reading. I especially like Feedly’s ‘Collections’ function. This allows you to customize feeds based on categories you create. My collections include, ‘Archaeology’, ‘Travel Hacking’, ‘Science News’, and more. This is also very helpful if you only want to read certain content. Want to keep up with politics, but also need content that’s a bit of an escape? You can totally create different collections to generate feeds that speak to both those needs.
Con: There are two steps. Why? While Feedly does have a ‘Saved for Later’ function, with Pocket I can download the post and read it offline. This is great if you’re flying or have infrequent access to the internet (ahem, fieldwork!). Also, some blogs cut short their posts on Feedly so you would have to visit the blog anyway to finish reading the post. If you save it to Pocket, then the entire post will be there. Still, there is an extra step.
How do you follow blogs? Do you have tips you want to share? Thinking about trying one of the methods mentioned? Let me know below!