How to Use RSS Effectively

When Google decided to kill Google Reader, a lot of people were upset. Even if it wasn’t a popular product, they claimed, it was heavily used by the influencers and communicators who drive the web.


I was among those who were displeased when Reader was killed.

For a while, I managed to live without an RSS reader. But now that I’m serious about a career in public relations I can’t imagine working without one. There are too many blogs and news feeds to monitor without an RSS reader to organize them for me.

Despite Google’s claims to the contrary, RSS still matters. Here are some tips to help you use RSS effectively.

Find a reader that works for you

There are many RSS readers available. The death of Google Reader was surprisingly good for those in the RSS reader business. With Google out of the business there was more opportunity for smaller players to emerge.

I use The Old Reader, which mimics much of Google Reader’s functionality. Other popular options include:

Organize your feeds

Most RSS readers allow you to organize your feeds—either using folders or tags.

The Old Reader, for example, allows you to create folders by dragging and dropping feeds into your sidebar. Some of the folders I’ve created include:

  • Public Relations
  • Webcomics
  • News

Organize your feeds in whatever way makes sense to you.

Subscribe selectively

Once you realize the power of RSS, you may find yourself subscribing to a lot of feeds. Just before Google Reader shutdown, I made a conscious effort to cull my subscriptions.

I was subscribed to over 150 different feeds—most of which I didn’t bother to read. I cut that down to just 10 that I monitored regularly and slowly began adding more.

If I find that I no longer read a feed, or that I’ve started to dread checking my RSS reader, I know that it’s time to eliminate some of my subscriptions.

It’s easy to subscribe to too many feeds and overwhelm yourself. Only subscribe to feeds that are relevant and interesting to your work, hobbies, or personal life.

How do you use RSS?

What tips and tricks do you have for using RSS effectively? What reader do you use and why? Let me know in the comments!

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