October 19, 2011

Ways to Follow this Blog

This is one post I never expected to be writing so soon. But hey, I'm not complaining.

Some of you, albeit mostly family and friends, have expressed an interest in following my blog but are not sure exactly how to do this. I figured for every person that actually takes the time to write or talk to me about it, there must be at least another three who don't have the time to bother. So I will do my best to explain some of the different ways of following, the pros and cons, and how to go about setting up each one. I'll try to provide some general information, but will keep it short because there are literally hundreds of thousands of articles out there on this subject. These instructions mostly apply to this blog.

Keep in mind that I am by no means an expert on anything blog related but the beauty of the Web is that knowledge and information are readily available to those who seek. Unfortunately, there is a LOT to sift through and you also have to filter out all the garbage, which is what I'm hoping I did here for you.

So, let us get straight down to business...

Subscribe in a Reader:

One of the most common ways to follow a blog or website is to subscribe to its RSS feed. RSS is short for "Real Simple Syndication" and it's a very popular technology which allows users to receive updated information from all the websites they follow. However, in order to receive these feeds or updates, you will need a reader. One of the most popular is Google Reader and if you already have a Google account, there is no need to create a new one. You can also subscribe to a reader using MyYahoo! and AIM. Other popular readers include Bloglines, Newsgator, Netvibes and Pageflakes.

Once you have a reader, it's as simple as clicking on the "Subscribe in a reader" link which you'll find on the right-side column of any page in my blog. You will be asked to select a reader and you're pretty much done. The link looks like this:

Subscribing via RSS in a reader can be very convenient because you receive updates from all the blogs and websites you follow in one platform. You can also organize and share information with others easily. However, you do need to go into your reader to access this information. Unless you also follow by email..

Follow by Email:

Whether you decide to subscribe in a reader or not, you can chose to follow a blog by email. With this option, you'll receive an email with the updated content on those days in which I post new articles. All you need to do is enter your email address in the box provided for "Follow by Email", which is also located on the right-side column, directly under the "Follow Via RSS" option. This is what it looks like:

Once you click on Submit, a small window will pop up in which you'll be asked to enter some letters in order to help prevent spam. Do that then click on the button to Complete Subscription Request. Shortly after, you'll receive an email with a link you need to click on in order to verify the subscription.

This is a good option if you only follow a few blogs or websites, and these don't update information very frequently.

Join the Site with Google Friend Connect:

This is the method I understand the least about and I'm still trying to get my head around it.

Google Friend Connect appears to be the most interactive way to follow a blog or website because it allows users to engage more dynamically with the content and other users. It works in a similar way as a social networking site. For example, you can post comments, send messages and invite other users to join, as well as look at their profiles and the list of sites they own and/or have joined. You can create a GFC account very easily using existing accounts from Google, Blogger, OpenID, Yahoo, AIM, Netlog, Plaxo, or Twitter. The first two are the best to use if you want to benefit from all the integrated features.

To follow with GFC you will need to click on the link to "Join this site" also located on the right-side column of my blog. You will be ask to select a profile to join with, or if you are already signed in with Google, you'll just need to select whether you want to follow the blog publicly or privately. Following the blog publicly will display your profile image with a link to your GFC profile on the Followers box. This is a nice little way to let the blog owner and the rest of the world know that you are a fan. The link you need to click on looks like this:

The one thing I don't really understand and haven't been able to figure out is how a GFC Follower views new content published. I personally use my Blogger profile with GFC and I view the updates for websites I follow on my Dashboard and on Google Reader but I'm not sure how it works with Google, Yahoo, Twitter and the rest. What I normally do is combine GFC with the "Follow by Email" option.

Add to Favorites:

If all the above just seems too complicated for you, the easiest way to follow, and that which involves the least amount of commitment per say, is to bookmark my blog's URL so that you can easily come back to it some other time. I assume this method doesn't require a lot of explaining. The main problem with following in this way is that you won't know when I post new articles, and since I don't post everyday, you will need to check in from time to time. Also, if you follow more blogs and depending on how many, this becomes an even less efficient method.

Hopefully this post helped clear things up a bit but if you still have questions, I'll be more than happy to answer or try to find the answer for you. Also, if it contains erroneous information or you can help improve it in any way, please don't be shy and comment.

And honestly, I don't mind if and how you follow. There are millions of blogs out there and mine is not going to win any major awards anytime soon. I'm hopeful it will get more interesting though, as I add new content and improve on my writing skills, which let's not forget, is the main reason why I started this blog. For now, just the thought that I may have some readers out there makes me one happy camper!