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.
2. Social Media
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, engaging with #academictwitter and #archaeologytwitter
- Snapchat: behind-the-scenes 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.
There are other ways of following blogs that are driven by the reader’s side. Here are two options:
1. Bookmarks Folder
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.
2. RSS Feeds
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.
My Method: Feedly and Pocket
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!
The header image is a stock photo.
I do exactly as you do by using Feedly and Pocket. I hate the extra step but saving to Pocket or saving to read later in Feedly is still 1 click. And, as you said, Pocket can be read offline. I think Feedly can too don’t you have to pay for that feature. Plus, I use Feedly as my sifter of sorts. I scroll past what I don’t want to read and read the brief ones that I but the longer ones that I really want to take the time to absorb late I save to Pocket. And then……………if it is really something I want to keep I save to Evernote. You can keep it Pocket too (and Feedly) but Evernote is where I store most everything else I want to keep so that is my permanent spot.
Hi Karen! Great to hear from you. I really liked your point about sifting. I use Feedly as sifter as well as it is super easy to scroll through and figure out what warrants a deeper read. It’s definitely one of my morning habits! Also, thanks for sharing your Evernote tip! That’s a solid option for those who are looking to permanently save certain pieces.
Just wanted to give you a big thanks for this article! Your comprehensive run-down answered exactly the question I was asking and your solution is a great one. Much appreciated!
Thanks Ben! I am glad this post was useful to you. Happy blog following!
Exactly what I was looking for as well. Quick question – I’m on Feedly but it’s not apparent how exactly to save to Pocket. I see above it’s “one click”, but just can’t seem to find it. Help a n00b out?
Hi Dave! If you’re on a desktop, check the share button to save to Pocket. On mobile versions, Pocket should be in the top right corner. Here is more info:
Hope this helps!
Thanks for spelling this out. I’ve had people ask me to follow a blog but only see email options. Not a huge fan of more email.
Happy to hear this post was useful 🙂
Thank you for the information. I’ve just started blogging & I find it very helpful when I read good advice! By the way, in a recent blogging class, the teacher instructed us to not insert an image at the beginning of the post but rather to insert after the first paragraph. Any thoughts?
Thanks for your comment Sharon! I would agree with your teacher. Typically, search engines prefer text to figure out what a post or page is about and and an image isn’t as helpful. If you prefer starting your post with an image, you can always configure header images.
Awesome post! Thank you so much for this amazing article. Definitely will share this useful article with my friends and family.
Go ahead and keep posting such an awesome informative article.
Thanks so much Charles!