Out With the Old; In With the Old Reader (If They Don’t Kill This Too)

When Google announced last spring that it was killing Google Reader, my response  was the same as others around the Twitterverse: an impassioned NOOOOOOO!  I’m a big believer in RSS readers for a variety of reasons, and Google Reader had definitely been my reader of choice.  I especially loved that I could follow those feeds on my smart phone through a compatible app, Feeddler, which synced my feeds, along with the folders I created in Google Reader to organize those feeds.

Like everything, eventually it all worked out (maybe imperfectly, but still). I am sure I’m not the only one who waited until the Very. Last. Second. to grab my data from Google and transfer it to my reader alternative, Old Reader (which is compatible with Feeddler–yay!). One by-product of waiting so long to make the shift:  I now have almost 2,000 blog posts to catch up on. (See photo.)

What happens when you wait too long to sync your RSS feed to your mobile phone app.

What happens when you wait too long to sync your RSS feed to your mobile phone app!

Because the few months after Google’s announcement had people suggesting so many great alternatives (totally debunking the idea that RSS readers are outmoded), I am also experimenting with Feedly and Flipboard, both of which I love for the non-work related blogs I follow, since those blogs are more visually oriented than the stuff I read for work.

But while I have all this handled, I still have to figure out what reader will be best for my students, as signing up for Google Reader was a regular class assignment.  Along with Feedly and Flipboard, others have suggested Newsvibe, Digg Reader, Pulse, AOL reader (yes, you read that right), and NewsBlur. It’s tempting to jump to something more visually exciting, but I have a feeling I’ll default to Old Reader since it basically replicates Google Reader’s interface.  Why mess with a good thing?

Except that they are.  Or maybe they aren’t. With Old Reader’s future in jeopardy, it may be a crap shoot to hold on.  But hold on, I will.  At least for now.


Tips on Establishing an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog

You’ve decided on a topic for your blog.  You set up your blogroll to ensconce yourself in that particular community.  You’ve connected your Twitter account to your blog and asked your Facebook friends to check out your new blog. You post once, twice, maybe even three times.  Then?  Nothing.

Why?  You’ve run into writer’s block and can’t think of what to write about.  Sound typical?  It is.  But there’s a way around this: establishing an editorial calendar.  That’s exactly what my JOUR 121 students are going to do and that’s exactly what I’m doing, too.  What’s an editorial calendar?  It’s a list of ideas for your posts and, possibly, when you plan to post them.

There are several different ways to organize your editorial calendar:

1. Each day has a different theme (especially good for bloggers who post daily).  One blogger suggests a weekly schedule that might, say, look this: Mondays–tech posts; Tuesdays–writing tips, etc.  Tell your readers about your schedule, and they’ll begin to anticipate your posts.

2.  You could also do monthly themes.  As with the previous idea, once your readers know what to expect, they’ll be more likely to come back to your blog, especially if the themes offer them something they need.

3.  Or you could establish the categories you’d like to create blog posts for.  For example, Pushing Social asserts that bloggers actually mentor people, and that as such, your blogs posts should do one of three things:  1) guide people, 2) inspire confidence, or 3) provide tools.  With this in mind, Pushing Social says, each post in your editorial calendar planning should seek to achieve one of these goals.

You might have your own categories in mind.  For our department blog, I came up with three primary categories:  a) where they are now (for a look at what current and former students are doing now in the field), b) career and major advice, c) tips from professionals in the field, and d) department news.  Once I did that, I was able to easily brainstorm post ideas under each category.

Of course, you can always deviate from your calendar (unless you’ve broadcast it to your readers), should new ideas come to mind.  But one thing’s guaranteed:  Establish an editorial calendar for yourself, and you’ll spend more time writing and less time with writer’s block.