How to Subscribe to Blogs

Sorry I have been away for a few weeks. One of the heaviest semesters of Grad School ends in a couple days, and all of my writing efforts have been focused there. Look for more regular content again soon!

The internet is a treasure trove of professional development opportunities for teachers. Twitter allows you to follow educational experts and even participate in chats with other teachers. Blogs are another great source of information and inspiration, but I recently learned that many teachers do not know easy ways to follow them beyond checking back at a website regularly.

The goal of this post is to share an easier way to follow blogs called RSS.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and what it essentially does is allow you to subscribe to RSS Feeds so new blog posts are automatically pushed to you instead of you having to seek them out. It will also generally gather all of your feeds in one place so you have a convenient way to read all of the blogs you follow.

What do I need to get started with RSS?

Unlike some of the other, more technical tools I have shared here, getting started with RSS is easy and can even be free depending on how you choose to do it. Here is what you will need:

An RSS Subscription Service

In order to actually subscribe to feeds, you will need a service that can manage that for you. There are many great options out there including Feed Wrangler, Feedbin, and Newsblur. However, my service of choice and recommendation is Feedly. Feedly is great for a few reasons:

  1. It’s free
  2. It has its own, free app for most mobile devices
  3. It’s supported by almost all 3rd Party RSS Apps
  4. It has a premium version should you need more features
  5. It’s free

I’ve been using Feedly to manage my RSS feeds for almost two years now, and have never had any issues whatsoever. Even as a major user of RSS, I have never had any need for the premium version.

To get started, simply go to feedly.com and create an account. Once registered, there are easy instructions on how to add feeds to your account.

If the only place you ever plan on checking your RSS feeds is on a computer (as opposed to a mobile device), then you can stop here. Whenever you want to read blog posts, just log into your Feedly account, and content will be waiting for you. If however, you want to read on your mobile device (where I do the majority of my reading), press on.

A Mobile App Which Can Access Your Subscription Service

I know that I am not the average person, but I prefer to do a lot of my blog reading on mobile devices. There’s something so nice about holding content in your hands as you read it 1. If you’re like me, you are going to need some sort of mobile app to access your feeds.

My first recommendation is Feedly’s own app. It is available on both iOS and Android, and is free. This is the most basic option, and a perfectly acceptable way to read blog posts. However, to me, the user interface is difficult to navigate and can be frustrating at times.

Multiple pages in Feedly's iPhone app.

Multiple pages in Feedly's iPhone app.

So for anyone who would like a slightly better experience that isn’t free, I will make a few recommendations.

My first recommendation is Reeder 2. This app is $4.99, but the app is Universal (1 purchase for both iPhone and iPad). I was a Reeder user for years. The app is simple, intuitive, and easy to read on.

The same pages displayed in Reeder 2

The same pages displayed in Reeder 2

My other recommendation is Unread (iPhone) (iPad). I recently started using this app as research for this blog post. Several tech bloggers I follow have made the switch from Reeder to Unread, and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. Essentially the difference boils down to the fact that Unread is a beautiful app that makes reading a pleasure.

Unread's view of the same pages.

Unread's view of the same pages.

Unread is free to try, but requires a $4.99 In-App Purchase after the first 50 articles you read. The one issue with this is that since the app is not Universal, you have to pay that on both iPhone and iPad making Unread the most expensive option of the 3. In my opinion, for an app I use multiple times a day, this is completely worth it.

RSS is the primary way I read and follow blogs. It is a simple and fast tool to learn more about topics I care about. I hope this helps you in your professional development, and that if you do choose to start following blogs, this would be one you follow.

In a future post, I will talk about Read-it-later services which help you save content you don't currently have time to read so you can access it easily later.

  1. Nerdy, I know.