You could easily spend all day reading blogs but we don’t have all day, do we?!
We all need to be more organized with our time and one of the best tools for streamlining the way we read blogs is Feedly.
What is Feedly?
Feedly is a web-based, news-aggregation service.
If any site provides content in RSS (Real Simple Syndication), you can add this site to Feedly and then read that blog’s content on Feedly on your desktop or mobile, instead of going to the source site. You don’t have to check whether a blog has updated or not, you just go to Feedly and all the new posts are in one place.
There is a very good free option and a low-cost, paid option with more features.
How to use Feedly in the Best Possible Way
1. Create Relevant Collections (Categories) in Feedly
Feedly lets you categorize the blogs you subscribe to. These categories are a great way of grouping similar topics together.
When you have content in one category, you can view everything from that category and ignore the other, less relevant categories.
You might have a category for personal stuff, a category for influential bloggers, a category for friends who blog, etc.
To define your categories, you need to find something to add to a category!
In the following example, I’m searching for sites that are influential in social media:
When I find a site, I click on the green + icon to either add this content to an existing category or to create a new category for it.
Note: A hot tip is to change the name of the subscription to the blogger’s Twitter ID. This means that when you want to share out content from this site, you don’t have to look up their address to copy them in on Twitter!
Tip: Another tip is that you can drag and drop your categories to re-order them in the list on the left of your screen.
To edit a category, select ‘organize’ (bottom left-hand corner). You can then edit/delete categories. You can also rename your subscriptions.
2. Add Your Subscriptions to Your Categories
A subscription is a feed of content from a particular blog (or news site). There are a couple of ways of adding subscriptions.
a) As we showed above, you can do a search using a hashtag in Feedly and it will display external sites related to the term you search for.
You can then add this subscription to your category or create a new category.
b) You can select the ‘add content’ option (top left of Feedly) and this brings up a search box where you can search through millions of news sources.
c) You can import feeds that you may have from other RSS reader applications. You will need to export the feeds into a format called ‘OPML’, which is a list of the feeds you have subscribed to before, and then import them into Feedly.
d) The Feedly subscribe button. This handy little tool is available as a browser extension and makes it easy to subscribe to the blog you are reading.
Chrome users can install the Feedly subscribe button here. Then, whenever they are visiting a website that has an RSS or Atom feed, the Feedly icon appears in the address bar.
When you click this button, the tool provides you with links to all the feeds on the site. You will nearly always want to choose the main feed, rather than the comment feeds.
When you click on the feed you want to subscribe to, the tool takes you directly to that website’s page in Feedly, where you can subscribe and add it to a category.
3. Set up Your Reading Style
When you are reading content from the blogs you have subscribed to, you can set up a reading style and this can be different for each blog.
- Title only – This just displays a list of titles. You have to click on the title to view details.
- Magazine – The popular articles are displayed on top and then you see a list of articles, which includes an image and a summary.
- Cards – Articles are displayed with image and text in a rectangular card type format. This is the format I generally use.
- Full Articles – When the owner of the content has set up a full-article feed, you can view the full article within Feedly.
4. Take Action on the Articles
When you have read an article, you may want to take action. Here are your options:
- Delete the article – The article will not be displayed in the feed any more.
- Mark it to ‘read it later’ – There is an icon on the top right hand corner that allows you to tag posts with ‘read it later’. You can then view a filter of your ‘read it later’ articles.
- Save it to Evernote – This is a Pro feature.
- Tag it – You can add a custom tag to an article so you can filter at a later stage based on the tag (e.g. ‘great article’ tag).
- Email it – You can email it to yourself or someone else.
- Share it – There are a wide variety of sharing options, although some of these are a Pro feature. You can share to Twitter, Facebook, Buffer, and many more channels. The pro version also supports IFTTT, which helps you automate sharing to a whole load more of apps!
5. Take Advantage of the Feedly App for Mobile
Feedly provides a really good mobile app so that, when you are out and about, you can catch up with your articles.
When you have 10 minutes to spare, take out the mobile app and catch up on your reading. Upgrade to a phone with a reasonable-sized screen, which makes it easy to read.
6. Defining Your Favorite Content Sources
Out of all the content you are subscribed to, you can tell Feedly which feeds are the most interesting to you.
I couldn’t find a menu item for this but, if you are logged into Feedly, click here.
On this screen, you can edit the subscriptions. You can also highlight the ones you are most interested in by selecting the star (see the blue star below).
Feedly will give priority to those items in the feed.
7. Using Feedly Shortcuts
While browsing Feedly, if you type ‘?’ you’ll get a display of shortcuts you can use.
8. Other Features of Feedly
a) If you highlight any text when you are reading, Feedly gives you some extra options, e.g. share it on Twitter.
b) In preferences, you can set up the default tools you want to share to. For example, Buffer is not automatically listed as a default tool but you may want to add it to the list and remove others. ‘Preferences’ is available on the bottom-left part of the screen.
c) In preferences, you can set up integration with Dropbox so your favorite articles are automatically saved. This is a Pro feature.
9. Feedly Pro Features
If you update to Feedly Pro ($45 per year), you get a host of additional features.
- Advanced search of your feeds.
- More sharing options.
- Premium support.
- Fetch stories up to five times more quickly.
- Dropbox integration.
- Support for IFTTT and Zapier, which gives you more automation capabilities.
- Custom sharing – You can set up sharing to other tools not on the default list.
- Access to the newest features first.
Feedly is one of the best applications for catching up on blog posts and news stories.
There is a great web and mobile offering and the free component is very comprehensive.
Do you use Feedly? Are there any features I have missed out? What other tools do you use?