What blogs do you read? You ARE reading blogs in your industry or market, right? If so, great. If not, you need keep up with your niche. Either way, this quick guide will get you acquainted with the leading tools for organizing, reading and sharing your favorite blog subscriptions.
There are basically 3 ways to read blogs via an RSS feed which you subscribe to:
1. Newsreader software installed on your desktop - The first option is software that you download and install on your computer. When you want to read your blogs, just fire up the program and you're set.These software packages typically accentuate speed and usability. They do one thing and they do it well. Desktop readers are a good option if you always read blogs from the same machine. If you read blog feeds on multiple machines then a desktop-only solution is not a good fit This group represents the first generation of feed readers. Currently, desktop newsreaders are losing market-share to web-based readers.
Desktop Newsreaders: FeedDemon, RSS Bandit, Newzcrawler
2. Web-based newsreader - You register at a site, log-in and read your blogs. These sites are are centered almost exclusively on blog-reading and blog-searching. The best of these services are well organized, easy-and-enjoyable-to-use and extremely reliable. Because these sites are meant only as blog-reading tools, it is easy to manage and organize a large-number of changing feeds. If you're reading just a few blogs (say, less than 12) than a personal portal may be a better option for you.
Web-based Newsreaders: Bloglines, Newsgator, FeedLounge
3. Web-based personal portal page - Growing in popularity, the "personal portal" pages are customizable pages that can display blog feeds in addition to email, photos, file storage and other modules. Functions and features can be quickly added, modified or deleted. The benefit of this new crop of personalized pages is the additional content that can loaded into the portal. Ebay auctions, to-do lists, bookmarks and email are just a few examples of the type of content, in addition to blogs, that can be added to personalized portal pages. Because the feed reader is not front-and-center (reading RSS feeds is simply integrated with the other features), it may be short on advanced newsreader functions. Also, it can be difficult to manage a large number of feeds in personal portal. However, for keeping a few feeds and lots of other useful content nearby, the new generation of personal portals are a good choice.
Web-based Personal Portal Pages: Netvibes, Pageflakes, Google Personalized Page
I recommend Web-based readers (category #2 above) for reading blogs. Because the web-based readers do just one thing, they tend to do it well. These newsreaders are the best choice for small business owners. Read your feeds anywhere; your subscriptions can be neatly and easily organized and maintaining a large, active reading list is simple, not headache-inducing or overly technical.