The Easiest Way to Keep Up With Online Content

On Tuesday we talked about RSS feeds in general terms. We answered the questions “What are RSS Feeds,” “Why Are RSS Feeds Important,” and “Who Uses RSS Feeds.”  Today we will walk you through setting up RSS feeds in a feed reader so you can begin following websites and blogs right away. We hope that this will save you time and help you keep track of the information that is most interesting to you.


How to Use RSS Feeds
Setting up RSS Feeds in a feed reader is as easy as setting up a new email account.  In fact, many of the free online email clients like Google’s Gmail and Yahoo mail have their own feed readers which makes it even easier for you to follow your favorite websites and blogs. So the first step in using RSS feeds is selecting a feed reader.


What is the Best RSS Feed Reader?
The opinions regarding the best RSS feed reader are likely as vast as the internet itself.  The answer to this question truly lies with your own personal preference. Do you already use Gmail or Yahoo Mail as your primary email service?  If so, you may want to stick with your primary email service’s feed reader.  Do you use Outlook software for managing your email?  If so, there is a way to set up RSS feeds right inside your Outlook account.  We recommend going with the feed reader associated with your email account as it will likely be the easiest, most intuitive way for you to begin using this new technology. There are also many different mobile apps that act as feed readers, so if you find that you are on the go and want the flexibility to keep track of your RSS feeds from your mobile device, you may want to either choose a web-based reader that also offers a mobile version, or peruse the app store associated with your device for the highest rated RSS app.


How to Set Up a RSS Feed Reader
Once you choose the feed reader that best suits your needs, you are read to begin subscribing to websites and blogs you wish to follow.  There are two primary ways you can subscribe to RSS Feeds.  Please keep in mind that the two examples provided here are the two most common ways to set up RSS feeds.  There could be other ways or methods that are more helpful to your specific needs.


If you are using Google, Yahoo, or another web-based RSS reader, you are only a few clicks away from subscribing to your favorite RSS feeds.  If you already have an email account with the service you’ve selected, proceed to Step 1 below.  If not, you must first create an account with the service.  For information on how to create an account with Google click here.  For information on how to create an account with Yahoo click here.


Step 1 – Go to the website or blog you want to follow using RSS feeds

Step 2 – Look for the orange square icon (insert image) (note that sometimes the icon is not orange, but will always be the same shape)

Step 3 – Click on the icon, which will take you to the feed’s main page, where you can then select the web-based feed reader you are using. On most feed’s main page you will see a listing of the most popular web-based feed readers such as Google, Yahoo, Newsgator, Bloglines, Netvibes, AOL, etc.

Step 4 – Click on the icon of the service you are using.  For this example, we will use Google.  So you would click on the little google icon on the screen, which would then link you to Google’s feed reader. From there you can select “add to Google homepage” or “add to Google reader.” I recommend skipping the “add to homepage” feature on any of these clients, and adding the feed directly to the reader.

Step 5 – Once you click on “add to reader” the reader will open up and you will see the blog content appear in the display.  From here, based on your web-based RSS reader, you can organize your feed into different categories and tags.


And you’re done!  Now, anytime you are on an interesting website or blog and want to subscribe to that content, just look for the RSS icon, click on it and follow the steps above.


If you are using Outlook or other software based RSS readers (as opposed to web-based RSS readers) you will need to follow a few different steps.


Step 1 – Go to the website or blog you want to follow using RSS feeds

Step 2 – Look for the orange square icon (insert image) (note that sometimes the icon is not orange, but will always be the same shape)

Step 3 – Click on the icon, which will take you to the feed’s main page, identify the XML feed (which is basically the link or url to the actual feed code) and copy the url link you see in your web browser’s address bar.

Step 4 – Open your RSS reader software, in this case we will use Outlook as an example.  Once you open Outlook, depending on the version you use, you will see in the left panel under your inbox a folder that looks like your inbox folder but says RSS FEED. Right click on that folder and select “add new feed” and paste the link you copied in Step 3 in the box provided.


And you’re done!  When new feeds are available, the RSS folder will look bold in the same way your inbox folder looks bold when you have new messages.


We hope this basic tutorial will help you manage the online content that interests you in a convenient way that will save you some time. Maybe you will want to start your own blog with the extra time you save using RSS feeds. If so, check back soon and we will walk you through how to set up your own blog for personal or business use.


For more information on RSS feeds, we recommend you view the video “RSS in Plain English” by CommonCraft found on their website by clicking here.

For more information on using Google reader click here

For more information on using Yahoo reader click here


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