The internet is all abuzz this week with the news of Google Reader's imminent demise. Bloggers are panicking that no one will follow their blogs any longer, readers are panicking that they won't be able to keep up with their favourite sites. Totally understandable, especially for bloggers who rely on their blog for income and might see their traffic drop. But- there's no reason to panic, if you're a reader- there's plenty of other options. I read a heap of blogs, but I haven't used Google Reader in a couple of years- and I get by just fine!
I used Google Reader for years, but after a while, I realised wasn't in love with it's aesthetic and looked for an alternative. Sure, it does the job, and I liked being able to organise blogs and other sites into folders, so I could pick and choose how I wanted to read on any given day. But I primarily read design, DIY, lifestyle and fashion blogs, and a big part of that is the overall site aesthetic, which you don't get by reading through in Google Reader. I also got really lazy about clicking through to sites and leaving comments, which as a blogger was totally hypocritical, since I love comments on my own blog. For me, the alternative came in the form of Bloglovin', which I switched to maybe 18 months ago.
Here's what I love about Bloglovin':
- It's prettier than Google Reader, and gives you a nicely designed pictorial preview of the post (and thumbnail for the blog) before you click through.
- When you click a post summary, it takes you to the actual blog, giving you the full site experience as it was designed, and you can easily leave comments.
- You can still categorise blogs how you'd like. I organise based on the location of the blogger, as I like to keep an eye on my favourite UK & Australian based blogs separately from the North American blogs I follow (as they easily get lost in the sea of US and Canadian blogs I read).
- If you select the option in Setting to open blogs within the Bloglovin' frame, you can then easily click to the next/previous post in your list, based on the folder you were viewing (e.g. all unread posts, or just a particular blog or category of your subscriptions).
- The new(ish) app for iPhone works well (the Android version I used a while back didn't work as well, but I can't comment on what it might be like now). My only complaint here is that a couple of the Typepad hosted blogs I follow don't have their images show when reading posts within the app, so I need to click through to the original post, but I'm not sure whether this is due to something on Bloglovin' or Typepad's side.
- You can import your subscriptions directly from Google Reader (although this might be a great opportunity to tidy up and delete any old subscriptions that no longer interest you).
I highly recommend trying out Bloglovin'- it's changed (in a good way) the way I read blogs- and you can follow Apples and Green while you're there!
I've heard positive things about Feedly, but I've only just signed up to see what it's like. It seems pretty, but a little cluttered for my liking- but it's too early to make a judgement.
While we're at it, remember that most bloggers offer multiple ways of following them- you don't need to rely on one Google service! In my sidebar, you'll find a number of social media links, including a link to my RSS feed (the one that looks a bit like half a rainbow). A lot of bloggers have one, and it will help you subscribe to our blogs in a number of different blog aggregators. I also have the option of subscribing by email (no icon, yet- it's coming soon!). While we're at it, you could also follow Apples and Green on Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.
Moral of the story- don't put all your eggs in one basket, and don't forget to look to look beyond Google for options to make your online life easier (says the girl using Gmail and Google owned Blogger to run her site!). Do you have any recommendations for following blogs and other sites?