I recently attended a scrapbook night with my MOMS Club friends. We had a discussion about reading blogs, following blogs and subscribing to blogs. They had a lot of good questions, which means others must too, so I'll do my best to answer them here.
I'm certainly not an expert, so if any of you have something to add or correct, please do so in the comments. Because I blog with Blogger, all my answers relate to Blogger. Other blogging platforms might do things a bit differently.
*Cindy, is there an easy way to read a blog? I hate having to type in the address each time.
If you read less than 5 blogs (like my mom, who reads exactly 1 blog), the easiest way to read them is by subscribing via email. Any time there is a new blog post, it will be delivered to your inbox. You can read it there, or click on it to go to the blog. You'll never miss a blog post and you'll never need to manually type in an address.
To subscribe to a blog, find the place where it says "Subscribe via email" and enter your address. A surprising number of bloggers do not make it easy to find this! Mine is on the right hand side, below the "Categories." (See bottom arrow.)
*What if I want to read more blogs than that? I don't want my inbox all clogged up.
If you read a lot of blogs, I strongly recommend Google Reader. It manages all the blogs you read and allows you to see at a glance if there is any content you haven't read.
To use a reader, find the place on a blog where it says "Subscribe in a reader" or "RSS" or "Atom." (See top arrow in above picture.) All of these will then give you the choice to subscribe in a reader or on the homepage. I prefer the reader. With it, I'm able to read hundreds (yes, literally) of blogs in less time than I used to read several dozen.
Here's a screenshot of my Google Reader:
On the left, you can see that the blogs I read are listed in alphabetical order. The ones with unread content have a number next to them. When I open one, the content shows on the right and the title of the blog is highlighted in red. I have my own blog listed in my Reader so that I can be sure the feed is pulled and sent to my subscribers each day.
*What is RSS? I see that everywhere!
RSS is a format to deliver web content that changes (for example, a blog that is updated). The acronym stands for a bunch of different things, depending on who you ask. I've seen Rich Site Summary, Really Simple Syndication, and RDF Site Summary.
*What does it mean to Follow a blog?
Every blog gives you the opportunity to become a Follower. Basically, this means you are interested in the blog and would like to have an easy way to return in the future. You can follow a blog publicly (in which case your screen name will be listed on the blog) or privately. When you become a Follower in Blogger, the blogs you follow will show up in your Reader.
To follow a blog, either find the "Follow" button on the home page of the blog, or go up to the very very top, above the blog's header, and you'll find a skinny bar with "Follow" as one of the options. Click either one and it will ask you if you want to follow publicly or privately. It is perfectly safe to follow publicly, so I'd recommend that.
I hope that answers everyone's questions! If not, or you have other questions, I'll answer them in an upcoming post.