This one involves setting up your Google Reader as a semi-automated blogging machine, something I've been fascinated by for a while now (it works very nicely too!)
I don't claim to be a Google Reader expert or anything, this is just the system I use to set it up so that I can run my niche blogs on semi-automatic pilot.
You can use this with Keith Kogane's automated system to replace the niche blog RSS feeds that you have no control over once they're in place.
So to start off with, you need to log into your Google account (or create one if you don't have one), click on the 'My Account' link and then click on Google Reader.
If you don't know what this is, it's basically just an RSS feed reader, but it can be so much more, as you will see.
It's a good idea at this point to have a niche you want to target in mind and several subject groups within that niche that you can group posts by. So if you think of the main niche as the actual Wordpress blog title and the subject groups as the categories on that blog.
For demonstration purposes here I will have my niche as Domaining and my subject groups (I'll call them categories from now on) as Domain Auctions, Domaining News and Domain Parking.
Ok, so before we start configuring things so that we can turn Google Reader into our blogging machine, let's just add a few RSS feeds in to work with.
There are of course many ways to find RSS feeds, but one I've found works pretty well is to use the search function from right within GR.
So click on 'Add a subscription' and type in your keyword or phrase to the search box (in my case I typed in 'Domaining').
Google Reader will then give you a list of RSS feeds that match your search in some way together with some useful statisitics:
- Number of subscribers - this is the number of Google Reader users who have subscribed to the feed (note: it has been shown by various people this is not necessarily accurate).
- Posts per week - very useful for determining how active a feed is.
A little tip, whilst checking out each feed to see what the items actually are, you can just use the back button to return to the search results each time (rather than having to start the search all over again).
Use the 'Subscribe' button to add an RSS feed to your Reader, once you have a few added we will move on to the next step.
Now, over on the left hand side under 'Subscriptions' you will see listed all those subscriptions you've added. At the bottom of this panel there is a link labeled 'Manage Subscriptions' click on that now.
This will take you to a Settings screen with the Subscriptions tab selected and all your subscriptions listed. At the right hand end of each row is a button called 'Add to a folder', click on that for one of your feeds, then select 'New folder'.
Now what I like to do to keep things organised is to create a folder for each niche I'm working with and then add all the feeds for that niche to it. So in my example I would create a new folder 'Domaining' at this point. Then I would add each of the feeds I just subscribed to, to this new folder.
Once you have added all the feeds to the new folder, click on the link 'Back to Google Reader' and now you will see in the 'Subscriptions' panel that all our feeds are under the new folder we just created. You can collapse/expand this folder by clicking on the little '+' sign by it.
Now, click on the actual folder name and an aggregated list of all your feed items will appear on the right. I prefer to view this as a list showing just the headings for now, so if it's showing the whole feed item, just click on the link 'Show - List' at the top. You can show them all as expanded just by clicking on 'Expanded' instead.
Start looking through the items in your list (you can expand each one by clicking on the title), when you find one you want to use, do the following:
At the bottom of each item you will see a menu bar at the end of which is the 'Edit Tags' option.
This will just be displaying the folder name the feed is in at the moment, but if you click on the words 'Edit Tags' a little box will pop up where you can add some more.
Now 'Folders' and 'Tags' may appear to be the same thing, but they actually perform different functions. A folder, as we have seen, is used to organise your different feeds in your Google Reader to make them easier to work with. Tags are used to identify individual items that you want to group with a specific theme.
So, going back to my Domaining example, I may read through this item and decide it's a great one to add to my 'Domain Auction' category on my blog, so I'll type in 'Domain Auction' after the word 'Domaining' in my edit tags box, separated by a comma. Note, you will only need to type the full tag name in once, as it will pick it up automatically after that.
Also note that it's important you only tag each item with one tag (in addition to the main folder tag).
Now go through and find a few items you would like to post on your niche blog under the different categories you have. Add tags and notes as you need to.
OK, now we will go to create the feed that we can plug into our niche blog.
Click on the 'Manage subscriptions' link again and then on the Settings page that shows up, click on the 'Folders and Tags' tab. You should now see the folder you created and the tags you have used listed. In the middle of the row you will see an RSS type symbol which will be greyed out and if you hover over it with your mouse it will say 'Click to make this tag public'. Just click once on it to turn this function on and some options will appear along the row at the right hand end.
The first of those functions is 'View public page' , click on that link. You will now see the items and notes that you tagged with that particular tag all on one page. Near the top on the right will be a link with an RSS symbol and the words 'Atom Feed'. If you click on that link you will get the raw RSS feed displayed. If you copy the url for this feed, that is what you want to use as the RSS feed url for that particular category in your niche blog.
That's pretty much it for this basic introduction to niche blogging using Google Reader, but hopefully you can see how once you get it all set up, all you will need to do is to log into your Reader each day (or whenever you want) and review some new items for each niche you're working with. Add a few comments where you can and tag them with the relevant tag and you're done!
I find it's a great way to build up niche blogs on semi-automatic pilot, whilst contributing and adding my own thoughts to make them a little bit unique and of added value.
For me, I find that works better (and makes me happier) than just loading up a blog with whatever comes out of the RSS feed you plugged into it.
There are a load more things you can do with Google Reader to make this method even more effective and perhaps I'll add a 'Part 2' as another thread with that info if there's enough interest.
Anyway, hope you found this useful.