Google Reader: The Hunt for an Alternative
So, farewell Google Reader.
It's served me well for over 5 years. I've kept up with around 300 blogs without going insane. I've even filed away long-gone favourites in there in the hope they'd be revived some day - and to my delight some are from time to time.
So like many others in the blogosphere I've started the work this week to see the potential impact and what needs to be done ahead of Google Reader's demise in July.
Looking at my subscription rates*, around 700 of my subscribers might go. Thanks for subscribing if you're reading this via your Google Reader BTW! So what are the options for you going forward?
I've come up with the following possibilities so far:
1. Use one of the other facilities you have to hand
I already use the Google Follow facility (as shown in my left sidebar) to read lots of blogs. It isn't just confined to Blogger blogs either as I've successfully added my WordPress and Typepad faves. This means I see the latest from everyone on my Blogger dashboard whenever I go in to write a post. In fact, I usually have a good read - and comment - before I start my own blogging! I also use the blogrolls on the right of my blog in a similar way as I have a couple of them configured to show post titles and to move them around according to what my blogging buddies are publishing.
If you're on Blogger, you could use these options. Wordpress has a Follow facility too, though I don't know whether it works in the same way as the Blogger one does. Let me know in the comments and I'll update this post :)
Update: I've had a play with the Follow facility in WordPress and found it's very easy to copy and paste the URL of a non-Wordpress blog using the Edit facility.
However, if you want to file your reading away into various categories or you don't blog, then these options aren't really for you.
2. Sign up for posts by email or blog newsletters
Only really viable if you read a few blogs, or to catch those which are more random in their posting frequency, otherwise your inbox will get full very quickly. It's also dependent on bloggers having these facilities on their blogs. I like the flexibility Wordpress offers for its email signups as you can elect to have them on a weekly basis and on a particular day.
Update: Janet helpfully said in the comments that email filtering can be used to categorise and store blog posts for later reading.
3. Use Twitter/Facebook
It's dependent on you using these forms of social media and the blogger tweeting or sharing their posts to them, but I do catch a fair few of my favourites (and others spotted and shared) this way. I also use paper.li to combine tweeted links into various virtual newspapers on a daily or weekly basis, which are great to catch up with over a cup of coffee. It also means I don't have to hunt through twitter to find the blog posts I've missed.
I showed you how paper.li works here. Not on Twitter, or don't want to join paper.li? You can subscribe to my Plotting Daily instead if you like :)
I'm also going to have a look at what Google+ has to offer, especially as I have a feeling it may replace Google Follow sometime... I'd appreciate your comments if you have any experience of reading blogs in this way.
4. Sign-up to another reader
The only real option if you want to continue reading blogs in a similar way to now...
The candidates available are in the dozens if not hundreds. So how to choose? I'm playing a wait and see game at the moment, but looking at the random straw polls that are my Feedburner and blog stats, I can see the following are proving to be early leaders:
- Bloglovin' - and this is how Veg Plotting looks on there :)
- Feedly - which claims over 3 million have switched over from Google Reader so far
- Netvibes - which is also one of the options Google presents if you click on my feed button
- The Old Reader - probably the closest to the Google Reader experience
Update: Wordpress has since announced its own Reader option which works with the Follow option mentioned above.
Not impressed with my straw poll? Then read Lifehacker's more considered list of the best Reader alternatives.
Other things I'll be doing in the run up to July
- Backing up my Google Reader data just in case the switch over to my new one doesn't go as smoothly as advertised. You can find out how to do that here.
- Consolidating my various methods of reading blogs into fewer options!
* = to find your subscription numbers, go into your Google Reader, then click on View all Recommendations under the Explore option (you can see this option to the left in the picture at the top of this post) and then perform a Search on your own blog name.
Update: Helen has commented Feedly doesn't support Internet Explorer, so you also need to factor in browser compatibility with your choice of new reader. She reports it works fine in Firefox, the transfer went smoothly and she prefers it to Google Reader.
Matt says he uses Apple Mail to manage his RSS feeds. He likes having feeds and emails in one place, but points out this will only work at the desktop level, which is fine for him. I also have a number of feeds showing in my stats which are associated with Macs or particular browsers - another example of making use of what you already have to hand :)
Janet has reminded me that using filters to automatically forward new posts to a separate folder is a great way to handle lots of email subscriptions. As a result it's her favourite way of keeping up with blogs. A very useful tip, thanks Janet :)
Also, don't consider using iGoogle, as this is due to go towards the end of 2013.