You may be “following” your favorite artists work on Facebook, or have a long list of bookmarks you like to check, however there is a better way. Over the past few months, talking with several friends, it has become apparent that there are quite a few people that don’t know about RSS and the benefits it has.
Let me start by explaining what RSS is. RSS is “Rich Site Summary” or some call it Really Simple Syndication. In ELI5 fashion, it is a feed or channel that you can subscribe to that the RSS reader compiles for you to read at your discretion. Essentially it’s a single website that collects the new content for you, marking it as updated. Instead of bookmarking 30 blogs that you check daily, loading each one in a new tab and trying to remember which posts you’ve seen or read already, all you have to do is add the URL to the reader and it will begin aggregating the posts for you. There may be several reasons you would use an RSS reader, e.g. keeping a list of inspirational photographers, tracking industry news, or following your sisters family blog. With Facebook pages reach being crushed recently, there is no assurance you will see the updates from those you wish to follow. Due to this I can see RSS readers making a resurgence.
Now comes the time to choose which aggregator you want to use. I was a fan of Google Reader until they killed off the project last year, so I had to do some digging to find a new one, it was a bit overwhelming. There are tons to choose from, ranging from desktop applications to web based solutions. I chose to go with the latter. We as photographers tend to be on the move quite a bit and I didn’t want to limit myself to one computer, so I chose a web based platform. There are 2 that seem to be user favorites and they are The Old Reader and Feedly. Both allow you to log in with Google or Facebook accounts so no need to worry about creating another account. I chose to go with The Old Reader do to my familiarity with Google Reader, which it was modeled after.
Awesome, I want in, but how do I start?
First things, first log in, that was easy enough. Now just add the content you want.
Now that you’ve amassed all the blogs you want to follow, enjoy all the content you want all conveniently in one location for you to read while you sip your coffee. (As you can see it’s been a few weeks since I have been though my feed.)
RSS has many other benefits that aren’t as apparent at first glance. Unlike subscribing to an email list. You don’t have to reveal your email address. If you want to stop receiving content, you don’t have to request to be “taken off the list.” All you have to do is remove the subscription and it’s gone. Since there are no email addresses involved there is not selling your email, no spam, no phishing.