Using a Feed Reader and Notes from Last Night's Blogging Talk

Last night Kristen of Fantasy Cafe and I gave a talk on blogging at our local library. Many of the attendees were librarians who maintain blogs for their employers, while others were just regular folk with basic questions about blogging.

To my great surprise, many of those in attendance have never heard of a Feed Reader. When they want to visit a blog, they just go to the URL. Some of them are on Blogger, and use the Follow function to visit other blogs.

A feed reader is a way to put all the blogs you read in one place. I use Google reader, which allows me to quickly identify every new post. I can favorite posts, email them, etc. If I want to comment, I just click on the post title, and land on the actual blog. There is no commitment to actually reading posts, and the reader is never “full” like some email inboxes. If I’ve been busy or on vacation, I just click “Mark All As Read”.

There are many many feed readers, and, looking at my stats, some of this blog’s visitors are starting to use these other services in larger numbers. These include Feed Demon, NetVibes and Feedly. LifeHacker has a nice post that clearly and helpfully describes the top feed readers.

To “subscribe” to a blog, which means getting new posts in your reader, just click the button:

Click to subscribe to RRR

If you click the link above, you see how many choices there are.

If you are a blogger, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make it easy for a reader to find and click your subscription button.

Kristen and I put together some basic blogging tips for the group. Our audience was most interested in attracting readers. They were very excited about reader comments and wanted more. Here’s what we wrote:

How do you attract visitors?

  1. Above all, write good content
  2. Comment on other blogs in your niche
  3. Link to other blogs in your niche (both in posts and in a links list)
  4. Write guest posts for other blogs in your niche
  5. Respond promptly to any comments
  6. Write posts with clear titles, and good “tags”, or “keywords” that make it easier for search engines to find it
  7. Link your blog posts to your Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and other social media accounts

For me, the idea is really to focus more on being a good community member.

One of the attendees was a publisher looking for tips for her self-published authors. I’m not sure if she saw my eyes turn black and my fangs descend once I realized I had, in relative captivity, a member of that wild and woolly marketing species known as the “self-published author”, but we definitely took the time to share some author “dos and don’t” from our point of view as book bloggers.

Finally, a librarian informed us that she had secured a grant to loan each library book club member a Nook, loaded with reading selections of their choice. A rep from Barnes & Noble came in to show staff and patrons how to use their borrowed Nooks. I don’t know anything more about the program, but it sounds wonderful.

If you’ve got anything to add, or a difference in opinion, please share. I’ll forward it along to the coordinator.



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