Saturday, March 5, 2011

Friday Focus: Google Reader

This week's Friday Focus is for my friends who have discovered the world of cardmaking blogs because they started reading my blog. 

Years ago, I was in the same situation - I started watching one friend's blog, then started checking out her links and then started checking out the links from cards at Splitcoast Stampers - and pretty soon I was trying to click on dozens of blogs (which has now grown to an unmentionable number of blogs!)

Then my friend did a post about Google Reader and my problems were solved, so I want to do the same for my new blog readers!

I have to say - I am NOT an expert on the different ways to subscribe to blogs.  My friend pointed out Google Reader and that's what I use.

FYI: I do have a place on my blog that allows you to subscribe via e-mail.  I have a friend who requested that option.  I have never used it.  My blog is the only craft blog that my friend reads - so I don't know how blog posts with lots of pictures will look via e-mail.  If you are only reading a few blogs, it might be worth trying.  If anybody uses it and loves it - leave us a comment so we know about it!


What is Google Reader?

Google.com has many great tools available - one of which is Google Reader.  You tell the Reader which blogs that you like; it monitors those blogs and lets you know if any of them have new posts.  Here's a screenshot of my Reader right now:



On the left column, you can see that I have 111 new blogs posts to read!  Wow!  After I finish this, I am going to have some fun seeing 111 new cards and ideas!

Under that you can see "starred items".  As you read your posts and you find one that you want to keep ("ooooh, it's so cute, I want to CASE it!") - you click on the post's star and Google Reader keeps it for you!  Then when you want to find it, click on this "starred item" and all of your saved posts show up!

At the bottom of the left side, you see "Subscriptions" with a bunch of categories.  Those are categories that I created to organize the 100s of blogs that I read.  For example, I can click on "Challenge" and the Reader will just show me new posts on the blogs that I categorized as Challenge blogs.  For now, I'm not going into details - but if anybody asks about how to do it - I would LOVE to tell you!


So...I know that I have 111 new posts to read and the main screen shows summaries of those posts.  Now I just click on that "All Items" and here is what I see:



This is the first post of the 111.  The entire content of the post is there.  So I just scroll through and read it.  Then the next post of the 111 is right after that.  I can scroll through 111 new posts in one place!  How handy is that!

Can you see that open little star next to the name of the blog post?  That's what you click on to save the post so you can find it again later.  The star also shows up at the bottom of the post, so you can read through it and then click on the blank star at the bottom.

(Make a little mental note that if you look right above the post, you will see a line that says "Show: 111 new posts- all items".  If you suddenly seem to have thousands of items to view and they aren't all new - you have probably accidently clicked the "all items" part of that line and you are seeing everything that every blogger has ever written.  It happens!)


Downsides to Google Reader:

There are a few downsides to using the Reader.  You are only seeing the blog content of your bloggers, so it has the following limitations:
  • You don't see the pretty titles, colors and styles that the blogger has worked so hard to create
  • You don't see the other content of the blog - many have a column that categorizes their posts, lists their favorite links, etc.
  • You can't leave comments right on Google Reader.
  • You can't see "Mr. Linky" pictures.  (This is part of websites that issue challenges.  When you have created your card, you go back to their site and link it.  There are small pictures of all of the cards that are linked so you can see what everybody else has done with the challenge.  And you can click on their pictures to go to their blogs/galleries and learn more about their cards.)
I haven't found any of this to be a problem.  You can easily get to the actual blog by simply clicking on the title of the post.  In the above picture, I would just click on "A Sweet Tilda & A Sketch" and up pops the actual blog.  I don't pop into all 111 blogs - but when a card particularly tickles my fancy - I pop over to leave a comment - and take a peek on anything else that is on their blog!


How to get started:

First, you need a Google Account.  It's free.  You don't get any bothersome advertising.  You can do it without using their gmail.  It's easy!

Go to Google.com.  Click on the "more" drop down button.  Click on Reader.


Since you haven't been there before - it gives you this screen:


Go to the lower right side - create an account.  It will simply ask for your e-mail address (it doesn't have to be a google e-mail) and your password.  There might a couple of other basic questions.  Then if I recall correctly, it sends you an e-mail to confirm your account.  You are ready to use the Reader!


Adding Blogs to Reader:

There are three ways that I know of to do this.

1. Become a follower of the blog.  I had never done this before I had my own blog - I truly didn't know what it meant.  But now that I have my own blog, I have discovered the joy of having followers. Following a blog does two things: (a) shows the bloggers that you love them and (2) sends that blog over to your Google Reader - it automatically subscribes you, you don't have to "add a subscription" (#2) or cut and paste (#3) or anything!

Here's a screenshot of my followers.  You just have to click on the Follow button to add yourself!  You do not have to add a picture if you would rather not.  I have a number of followers (when I click on the more button) that just shows a generic icon.  That is totally fine - many do it.  But if you want to show your picture, I have instructions later.



FYI: Not every blog has a "follower" section.  There are different "types" of blogs and some types don't have a follower option.  Then you have to do #2 or #3 or some of those blogs have added a Google Reader sign-up function.

2.  Click on the Add a Subscription button at the upper left of the Google Reader screen.  It gives you a blank box.  You can search for the blog.  So if you want to add my blog you can type in my name or Joyful Creations with Kim and all references to my blog will show up.  In my case, the first few that show up are "bigger" blogs that have mentioned my blog - so just scroll down until you find mine.  Click on it and it's in Google Reader.

3. Or when you get that blank box after you hit Add a Subscription - you can cut and paste the name of the blog.  So let's say you have your browser up and you are looking at the blog.  Just highlight the http:// address up in the box where you type your web address, copy it (I hit Ctrl-C), go to Google Reader Add a Subscription and paste it into that blank box (I hit Ctrl-V).  It's in Google Reader!  Typically when you first do this, it gives you the last 10 or so posts because as far as Google Readers knows, the whole blog is new!


It's time to read!
My favorite part of the day is early morning - the rest of my family is still sleeping - I have a great cup of coffee.  I go to google.com, click on the More drop down and click on Reader (just like the sign-up picture above).  Or stick google reader in your favorites, or I actually have it as a button on the top of my computer screen.  Just get there...and enjoy!



Two Miscellaneous Items:

COMMENTING:
I know that a number of my new readers have found it difficult to comment on blog posts.  You want to comment, but it starts asking all kinds of questions like are you signing in with URL/ID, Typepad, and all kinds of other computer-geek words and options.  Huh? 

Now that you have signed up with Google - that's your easy option.  If you are already signed in for Google Reading - you don't have to go through any of those computer-geek options - it lets you easily comment.  If you aren't signed in already - just click on Google Account - type your e-mail and address and you can comment!!!

YOUR PICTURE:
This is very definitely optional - but you might notice that other commenters and other followers have little pictures of themselves.  It's personal and nice - but many, many don't have it - so it is definitely optional.  Here's how:


In the upper right, next to my name (I have already signed in) is that funky circle tool thingy.  Click on it and go to your account/profile.



See my picture to the left.  I added that by editing my profile.  It has all kinds of things you can answer or add.  One is your picture!  The others are a bunch of things like your blog name and even things like your favorite movies, etc.  FYI: This other stuff does show up if you become a follower of the blog and the blogger clicks on your follower photo - they can see your profile.



OK....you are equipped to read lots and lots of blogs.  Go forth and read!!  Obviously that's what I am doing now - in the time that it took me to type this I am up to 132 new posts!!

2 comments:

Andrea L - EnchantINK said...

Now ... this has got to be one of the most helpful posts I have EVER READ!!!! Thanks Kim! Must set a Google reader up asap! Hugs xxaxx

JERILEE KERR said...

THANKS FOR ANSWERING SO MANY OF MY QUESTIONS.