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Vital Basics: How to use RSS feeds and Google Reader

Working at a creative agency I’ve quickly learned how important it is to never stop learning. Vital Design encourages its employees to do this in many different ways including Twitter, attending events, and my favorite, reading industry articles and blogs. Blogs can be one of the best ways to learn about your industry, and there’s a simple way to get all of the resources you’re reading in one place.

To maximize your reading time use an RSS feed reader such as Google Reader. RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a standardized format that allows content creators to syndicate their content automatically. By using Google Reader you’ll be able to receive this content automatically. This means no more visiting your favorite blog day after day to check for new content. Google Reader will collect all your blogs’ content in one place, making it easy to sort through and read. Simply, more time reading and learning, less time aimlessly surfing the web. So how can you take advantage of an RSS feed?

Activating your Google Reader account and how to subscribe to your first RSS feed

1. We first need to visit and activate your account. Activating your account is very simple and can simply be tied to your Gmail or G+ account.

2. Now that you have activated your Google Reader account it’s time to subscribe to your first feed. Most every website or blog you’ll visit will have an RSS feed. You’ll first want to find and click on the RSS icon. Websites display RSS feeds many different ways so here are a few examples from some of our favorite websites.

Examples of RSS feed icons

3. Let’s subscribe to your first RSS feed by click on Vital’s RSS icon in the top right corner of this page. You’ll now be taken to our Feedburner page. Feedburner is a popular RSS management tool for content creators, and will provide you with a multitude of subscription options. To add Vital’s blog to your Google Reader account simply click the Google button and then Add To Google Reader.

Congratulations, you’ve just subscribed to your first blog!

4. There are some websites that don’t use Feedburner, and that’s OK. If you find a website that doesn’t use Feedburner simply copy and paste their RSS URL into Google Reader’s subscribe option. This URL is usually provided by the website, and the Google Reader subscription button can always be found on the left hand side after login into your account.

Now that you know how to subscribe to RSS feeds, take a moment to subscribe to your top blogs and resources across the web. I know you’ll see how powerful a tool and time saver Google Reader is in just a few days.


Next steps

Some people quickly become feed junkies–if you find yourself losing a lot of time on Google Reader, it’s a smart idea to create folders to sort your different feeds. You may want to create professional and recreational folders, or sort your feeds by high and low priority. The idea of an RSS reader is to make your online reading more efficient, not less–so think about the way you consume information and come up with a sorting system that will keep you both informed and on-track.

If you find yourself getting addicted to reading feeds, check out this post on Google Reader keyboard shortcuts–they’ll save you time when browsing your feeds.

Another thing about keeping yourself on track: Don’t be scared to hit “Mark All As Read.” Especially if you don’t check your reader for a couple of days, a lot of things can build up and it can feel like you need to read all of it. When this happens, just hit “Mark All As Read” and start over with a clean slate. It’s okay, really.

Add These to Your RSS Reader

Here are a few blogs that I subscribe to and think you might enjoy.

Abduzeedo – A blog about design that has great inspirational content as well as how-to guides.

The Next Web – A great news source reporting on the latest technology, business and culture news.

Sprout Insights – We love Sprout Social’s platform for managing social media and their blog, Sprout Insights, is always filled with great social media content.

Fast Company’s Co.DESIGN, Co.CREATE, Co.EXIST, and Co.LEAD – Probably my most favorite source for tech and business news.

Lolzombie – Because laughter is important

Have a blog that you think should be on our list? Leave a comment in the comment section below or connect with us on Twitter @Vital_Design. We can help with a blogging, social media and online marketing strategy for your business. Talk to us today to learn more. 



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