UPDATED AT THE END:
I've realized that a lot of my friends and family haven't yet discovered the awesomeness that is the blog-o-sphere...or they have, but they visit the few blogs they like when they remember to check them and catch up on posts that way. I used to do the same thing years ago. I'd go to Dooce, Questionable Content, Picky Palate and Attic24 maybe once or twice a week, never really paying attention to when they each posted new content, just hoping there was something new when I visited.
Then, I discovered google reader. I now follow 99 different blogs. Ninety-nine. Can you imagine how much time it would take to go to each and every blog? It'd be impossible! Especially with two young kids and a husband who's gone most of the month. I learn so much and soak up limitless inspiration from each and every blog I follow, whether it's a webcomic, a crochet blog, or just a fellow mommy-blogger; I can't imagine giving that up now. I spend maybe 20-30 minutes most mornings and afternoons catching up on my feed, which usually has 10-15 new posts. I don't read each and every word of every post, but I do read a lot, and the ones I do read have helped me immensely! There's so much to learn out there, all you have to do is look!
So, in order to help you make your transition into a blog-reader, I decided to write up a quick little tutorial on Google Reader. If you already know how to use it, great! Comment and tell me what your favorite blogs are:) If you don't, then you're in luck, friend.
First thing to do (obviously) is create a google account if you don't already have one. You use your google account on any google site; gmail, google.com itself, blogger, google +, etc. It's the same no matter what tool you're using.
Next, go to the blog (or web comic) you want to follow. There should be a "Join This Site" button somewhere on the blog (it will look like the picture above), but if there isn't, don't worry...I'll tell you what to do in that case later. Click on the Join This Site button, and a window will pop up and ask you to either log in (do so) or whether you want to follow this blog publicly or not. All this means is that if someone were to click on your profile, they would be able to see which blogs you follow. Not a big deal unless you wanna follow some sketchy erotica blog without the world knowing ;). And that's it!
Now all you have to do to read your blogs is go to www.google.com/reader . Log in if you have to, and then you should see something similar to this:
See that big orangeish/red button over on the top left? It's hard to read in this screen cap, but it says "Subscribe". Use this button if the site you want to follow doesn't have a "Join this site" or "Follow with Google Connect" button. All you have to do is type the URL of the site (or even just the name...it's google after all :D) and you'll subscribe! Use this to subscribe to your favorite news sites or really any website that posts new information on a regular basis.
This page is your home page...kind of like a landing page. It'll show you all your unread posts and a couple lines from each one. If you want to read all the new posts, just click "All Items" over on the top left. Or, you can scroll down on the left and choose which posts you want to read by the source it came from. As you scroll down through the posts, Google will automatically mark those posts as "read" so they'll disappear from your unread posts count.
If you come across a post you either want to come back to later, you can star it by clicking on the star in the bottom left corner of the post. To access those starred posts later, just click Starred Items under the "All Items" link.
If you'd like to actually comment on a post you're reading, or Pin it to your Pinterest account, simply click on the title of the post. Google Reader will open the page in another tab for you, and you can comment or Pin away to your heart's content!
And that's it! It's a really easy tool to use, and makes exploring the blog-world so much easier. Let me know if you have any questions! And, don't forget to enter our giveaway! It's a great chance to start using Google Reader :)
UPDATE: My friend Valerie just shared an even cooler feature of Google Reader that allows you to read the blogs on their actual website instead of within the reader. Go here for more details and how to do it: http://www.linuxjournal.com/video/google-readers-next-unread-blog-feature Thanks Valerie!