- help you make sure people can follow or subscribe to your blog (and give you a few tips on ways to increase your followers in this respect); and
- give you ways to follow other peoples' blogs, particularly where there's no “Followers Gadget".
Because technology and I are not the best of friends, I’ll be using pretty general language (so forgive me if I make any mistakes in terminology etc). I’ll be focusing on Blogger, WordPress, and personal web pages in this post.
To a lot of people, “following” and "subscribing" means pressing the “Follow” button on this gadget:
Following or subscribing is basically a way for you to mark the location of a blog and read new blog content as it is posted. Unless there was some way for you to do this, you’d never remember which blogs you visited, or find the blogs you wish to return to again and again. You’d also spend hours physically checking blogs to find out if they’ve posted anything new since your last visit.
The Followers Gadget was introduced by Blogger as a means of social networking, and was later merged with Google Friend Connect (I’ll just call it the Followers Gadget here). It’s a pretty handy gadget, because:
- for followers - by clicking on the “Follow” button, you can be identified as a follower of a particular blog AND automatically subscribe to blog updates through the blog’s feed. See my previous post about Google Reader, which is a fantastic way to read the feed you’ve subscribed to as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- for blog owners - you can see which (and how many) other bloggers are interested in your blog and what you have to say. It’s also a means of adding subscribers to your blog feed, which means more people are reading your posts.
Many WordPress users (eg, if your URL is http://yourblogname.wordpress.com/) are not able to add a Followers Gadget to their blogs. If that is the case, you need to include other links/gadgets/buttons on your blog that allow people to subscribe to your feed (I discuss this more below).
Bloggers who use personal web pages are able to add Google Friend Connect to their sites.
What if a blog does not have a Follower’s Gadget?
If a blog doesn't have a Follower’s Gadget, there are other ways you can subscribe to that blog so you can read its posts:
(1) subscribe using RSS
- click on an RSS button (I’ve included the following button on my site). It usually has this orange square symbol and may be very tiny, so you might have to look around for it. In some blogs, the button is not actually labelled “RSS”.
- You’ll then be directed to a page similar to this one – click on the correct button depending on which reader you use (“Google” if you use Google Reader)
- Some WordPress blogs have both a “RSS – posts” link and a “RSS – comments” link, so click on “RSS – posts”
- Many WordPress blogs don’t have the orange square symbol, so look for this instead:
Then click on “entries RSS”
(2) click on Posts (Atom) at the very bottom of all the posts on the blog’s home page (for Blogger). This will usually take you to the same Feedburner page as clicking on the RSS button
(4) if you have Google Reader, copy the URL of the blog you wish to subscribe to, open your Reader, click on “Add a Subscription” on the top left, and paste the URL. This subscribes you to the blog's feed in the same way as if you subscribed by RSS
(5) subscribe by email (you’ll receive an email every time a new post is posted on the blog you’ve subscribed to, which may not suit some people. However, if you wish to read every post a person publishes, this can be a useful tool)
(6) on some WordPress blogs, when you make a comment you can tick the “subscribe to this site by email” button, which has the same effect as the dot point above this
And there you have it, a number of different ways you can follow a blog.
Making sure your blog can be followed
If you want to make sure your blog can be followed, add a Followers Gadget (preferable, if possible), a Networked Blogs widget (optional), an RSS button or link (essential), and a "Subscribe by email" gadget (preferable).
And keep an eye out for Part 2 of these Blogging Tips, which will give you further tips for increasing your followers/subscribers in this respect.
How about you: do you have any following or subscribing tips, or additional ways to follow/subscribe other than those I’ve listed above?