As some of you may know, I recently launched a photography blog, Photostry. And one thing I discovered very quickly about the photo community is if you want comments, you better start giving comments first.
I started out on sites by photo bloggers I met at a photowalk in downtown Phoenix and branched out from there with people in their comments and on their blogrolls. In just a few weeks, I have found a lot of great photo bloggers to interact with. Once I started interacting, I saw my own comment numbers start moving in the right direction as well.
So how do I organize all of those blogs? In Google Reader, of course.
And naturally, after I organized my photo blogs, the next step was to organize the rest of the blogs I wanted to comment on. So after a full weekend of removing feeds that hadn’t updated in a year, I began to slowly collect feeds from new bloggers I have connected with since the last time I did a full sweep of my RSS subscriptions.
The result? I now have a total of 538 blogs, appropriately categorized by the potential Fetching Friday topics they would fit under.
Why I Use Google Reader
The main reason I use Google Reader is convenience. I can access my RSS feeds on any computer I am logged into my Google account. This comes in quite handy since I have a computer at work and two at home. And I can access my RSS feeds on my phone via the Google Reader app for Android.
Plus, I get to do a lot of other nifty things in Google Reader like:
- Star posts I want to use for my Fetching Friday mashup. On Thursday evenings, I can just click on the Starred Items link and see everything I’ve marked throughout the week.
- See what posts have the highest engagement on any of my feeds with the PostRank Chrome Extension. This comes in handy if you want to subscribe to those blogs that have several articles a day just to see which ones are the most popular and skip the rest.
- I can share posts with others, or maybe mark posts I’d especially like to save beyond just Fetching Friday.
Google Reader & Blog Commenting
When it comes to commenting, the obvious bonus of using this system is that you get alerted to when your favorite site has a new post. That way, if you are trying to get in that first commenter spot, you have a better chance of doing so by jumping on the post when it goes live.
You don’t even have to go check Google Reader all the time – it will show you the count of new posts in the tab of your browser!
Also, I know what you’re thinking. How does one keep up with hundreds of RSS feeds? It’s easy. Most feeds won’t have something that you want to comment on every time they update with new posts. So you can take a quick peak at the title, summary, or even the first paragraph or two to decide if you want to visit the post and comment, or just mark it read and continue on.
Keeping Track of Twitter Handles
Whenever I comment on a post, the next step I like to take for most is to tweet it to my followers. I also generally include the blogger’s Twitter handle in that tweet. Some blogs, however, still don’t have social sharing buttons, or maybe they do have a tweet button but it doesn’t put their Twitter handle in the tweet.
And worse, on some sites, you have to search long and hard, or even resort to Google search to find that blog’s Twitter.
So I do the Twitter hunt once, and it’s when I subscribe to the blog. Then I rename the blog subscription as the blog owner’s Twitter, hence why all of the subscriptions you can see in the screenshot earlier are @username. That way, when I go to tweet a post, I have their Twitter username right where I can find it quickly.
As an added bonus, it might help you recognize blogs that you may interact with the blog owner on Twitter often, but their blog title and Twitter username are different.
The biggest roadblock to getting your Google Reader organized is taking that first chunk of time to do the cleanup, find blogs to subscribe to, subscribe to the, and then do the Twitter renaming, if you choose to do. I will admit, it is very time consuming.
But once you do get it up and running, you will find that your daily hunt for places to comment and the latest news in your niche or industry will be much simpler to keep tabs on. Trust me on this one!
I would also suggest using little bookmarklets like the one on Feed Preview. Drag over the Auto-Detect RSS link to your bookmarks toolbar and you will never have to hunt for the RSS subscription button on any site. Just click on that link in your toolbar when you are on a blog you want to subscribe to, and it will find the RSS feed for you.
And, as you notice, it conveniently gives you the option to add the feed straight to your Google Reader!
Before you invest the time, you want to know what the benefits of doing a lot of comments are, right? I’ve only been at it a week or two, but what I can tell you is this. On average, my traffic to Kikolani has jumped by about 34%. I have also gotten comments from people saying they found my site from a comment on ProBlogger or another blog.
As far as my photo blog, I went from zero to an average of 15 – 20 comments per post. The traffic has been great, so much so that I got an email asking how a blog only a month old has an ok Alexa ranking. And thanks to sites that have the Recent / Top Commenters links sitewide, Google Webmaster Tools reports it to have 1,297 links already. Not too shabby for such a new domain.
Just remember that *these results are not typical* and that you won’t see any good results if you are not leaving valuable comments on the blogs you visit.
If you can’t write a great comment, just don’t bother and move onto a post where you do have something great to say. Great comments are the ones that get the click thrus back to your site! Bad comments are likely to get stuck in moderation.
Your RSS Subscriptions
Now it’s your turn. Do you use Google Reader, or RSS subscriptions in general? Have any other great organizational tips? Please share them in the comments!