Thursday, March 14, 2013

Using Google Reader to Organize Your Blogs, Part 2

Always my luck, the week I decide to blog about using gReader, google goes and decides to shutter it.  (makes blushy face) That said, I'm going to keep this post, because gReader isn't going away until July 1, the A-Z challenge is happening before then, and I still think gReader is one of the easiest readers to learn to use. (Here is the part where you can tell I'm a teacher.) Also, if you find you like Google Reader, feedly (recced by iamfantastikate in the previous post) will be providing a seamless transition to Google reader customers. Something  to check out!

Last time I talked about how to add feeds to your reader (and it works about the same in most readers.) But if you're like most writer-bloggers or book bloggers, you probably have dozens, if not hundreds of blogs you'd like to follow. Now what?

Consider What Grouping You Need

When you first open Google reader after you've loaded all your blogs, you'll see a giant listing of "Blogs I Follow," with the number of unread posts in parentheses. In the reading pane, if you choose "expanded view," you can read all your blog posts and scroll through them 

Organizing experts will always tell you that before you try to organize anything, you should think about how you need to use the space. I think that advice is true nowhere as much as when it comes to organizing your electronic life. So my advice is to first think about how you want to organize your blogs. In my case, I wanted to maximize the comments I made on other authors' blogs. We all feel like we're blogging into the void (I swear, I fall off my chair every time someone comments on a post), and so it's a nice thing to do to reach out to other bloggers.

So I definitely wanted a category of blogs that was just other writers, so that I could quickly find all the blogs that I most wanted to try to comment on. Looking at the other blogs I was subscribed to, I saw that they fell into a few categories: Agents, blogs with a sole focus on writing and revising tips, book reviews, blogs like YAHighway that are group blogs of multiple authors, and then the random other blogs I like, like Lifehacker. So I decided to group my blogs as follows:

  • Agents
  • Authors
  • Group Blogs
  • Writing
  • Reviews
  • Other 
I've also recently made a folder just for bloggers participating in the A-Z challenge, so I can make sure I hit my 5 comments a day.

So decide on what groupings will work for you, and then it's time for...

Putting Your Feeds in Folders

On Google Reader, this is devastatingly simple. When you click the down arrow next to the name of a given blog, a menu will pop up prompting you to assign it to a folder. The first time you do this, you'll probably have no folders, so you'll click "New Folder" and give it a name; thereafter, you can just assign other blogs to that folder. 
Adding a blog to a folder

Not sure which folder that blog that is another author but also tends to focus on writing tips should go? You can choose both! Just click both folders, and the blog will show up in both groups.

(Names of the blogs I follow have not been blurred—because you should go follow those people!)


Right? The whole point is to read. So now you have all your blogs aggregated in one place, and grouped into happy little groups, and now you'd like to actually read some over your coffee. Each folder will now show the number of unread blog posts in that group, and you can just click on it to bring up all the unread posts in the reader pane.

There are some other tips and tricks of Google reader, such as using expanded view versus list view and toggling whether scrolling marks a blog post as read. But those are easy enough to find from the settings (gear icon) in the app itself. If you've followed the steps in part 1 and part 2, you should have a pretty nicely functioning reader that lets you focus your blog reading exactly how you see fit.

Happy reading!

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