I am forever adding new gardening blogs to my reading list. I mean how could you not, there are so many gardeners out there producing great blogs. Follow one and you discover 5 more. After a while though the list got a bit unruly. Add to that all the work related sites and news feeds and, even with RSS (Really Simple Syndication) through my bookmarks, things were becoming a little overwhelming. Then I discovered Google Reader.
So what is Google Reader?
A free, web-based reader for RSS feeds, technically Google Reader is a news aggregator. It let’s you follow your favorite websites, blogs and news feeds all in one easy to use location. New content appears in your Google Reader feed when it’s posted, so you don’t need to visit individual sites. Once you’ve read an item it disappears from your feed (unless to decide to keep it), so you only see unread items every time you come back. Items are organized by site, allowing you to decide what to read first.
Think of it as something like having a separate e-mail basket for your blog feeds and news sites. Everything in one location, you choose what you want to read, delete the rest.
Another great benefit of Google Reader is the ease with which you can follow blogs. Even if they don’t have an RSS feed button it’s easy to add most sites. Any blog you want to follow must have an RSS or Atom feed associated with it, but nearly all blogs do. Just copy the URL of your favorite blog. The address of the feed associated with that blog is usually a more than just the blog’s address, but that doesn’t matter. Google will find the feed associated with that page for you. Click on the Subscribe button in Google Reader, paste the URL of your blog into the entry box and Google will add that feed to Google Reader for you. It’s that simple.
While I won’t bother writing about how to use Google Reader (there are lots of posts out there about that already) I will say that you need a Google account to use it. Mine is integrated with my Google Plus account but you don’t have to have Google Plus to use Google Reader.
So if you are an avid follower of blogs (gardening or otherwise), or are looking for an easier way to follow more and aren’t using RSS yet, why not try out Google Reader. Whether you log in once a day or once a week, I’m sure you’ll find it a great way to keep in touch.
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