San Carlos Real Estate Agent, San Carlos Realtor Blog Tip #1: Subscribe to the Site | The White Oaks Blog
San Carlos Real Estate August 4, 2008

Blog Tip #1: Subscribe to the Site

by Chuck Gillooley

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Editor’s note:  This is the first in an occasional series of posts that will include tips on how to get more out of this blog, and perhaps your other favorite websites as well….CG

Blogs are definitely a peculiar breed of website.  Unlike a normal major news website (like Yahoo, CNN,) blogs aren’t usually updated every single day, although there are always some exceptions.  In fact, I can tell you from first-hand experience that I don’t post new content every day.  As you can tell from reading this blog, the pattern of what, how, and when I post an article is very irregular.  Sometimes I’ll post 3-4 articles a week at regular intervals, and other times the blog may sit idle for the better part of a week (this tends to happen when the busy season hits.)

As a reader, this makes it challenging to know when to check back in to see if the author has penned something new.   It’s time consuming and a little frustrating to thumb through your bookmarks one at a time and manually read through each of your favorite websites, only to find that it looks exactly the same as it did yesterday.    This is where subscriptions come in.

Subscribing to Websites:

Subscribing to a website is very akin to using TiVo to record your favorite programs on TV.  Program it once, and then boom…the new episodes from all of your favorite shows appear under a single menu…automatically!  TiVo (and the generic DVR) totally changed the way we watch TV.   Similarly, website subscriptions are totally changing the way we surf the ‘net.  The “Tivo-esque technology” that is used for the web subscriptions is a little technology called RSS.

RSS = Really Simple Syndication

Without going into too much detail, RSS is a method for re-publishing (or “re-syndicating” as the name implies,) the content on a given website.  Think of it as an index, or summary, of what is published on that site.   RSS packages the site’s content and makes it available as a “feed.”    A feed is very much like the stock ticker you see running across the bottom of your TV screen.  They’re both live summaries of what’s happening.  Instead of using a TV, you use a web program called a “Feed Reader” to view your feed.  If you’d like to dig deeper into the what’s and why’s of RSS, check out this very well written article on the subject:  All About RSS.

I use RSS quite extensively on my blogs.  In the left sidebar, you’ll see various feeds from the likes of the Mercury News, CNN Money, BankRate.com just to name a few.  Since they are true RSS Feeds, they are updated real-time thus giving the readers new content continuously!

 How To Subscribe

Fortunately, subscribing to a blog or website is VERY easy.  The symbol you see on the left is the universal symbol for RSS — so if you see this button on your favorite site, it’s good indication that the site offers the ability to subscribe.  So click the symbol and get started!

Most subscription are offered in two different forms:  Readers and Email.   I’ll discuss both very briefly here:

  • Feed Readers:  A feed reader is a custom “page” that you create by subscribing to various different feeds.  The job of the reader is to gather, or “aggregate” the feeds into one easy to read page.  That way, if you want to get the latest updates from the 10 or so sites you’re following, you only have to check ONE site — your feed reader.  Think of it as your own “custom” webpage that has only the content that you subscribe to.    All the big web companies offer feed-readers:  Google, Yahoo, and dozens of others.
  • Email Updates:  The second very common method to subscribe to a site or blog is via good ‘ol fashioned email.  When you sign up for email updates, you’ll get an email with a summary of the new post.  If it’s a topic that interests you, simply click the link in the email and you’re taken right to that article on the site.   One of the nicest features about email subscriptions is that you only get an email if there’s new content.  If there’s nothing new, you don’t get an email.  I personally use this feature to keep tabs on several sites that I follow.

Subscribing to THIS Blog

I’ve made it SUPER easy to subscribe to my blogs.  In the right-sidebar at the top of the blog, you’ll notice a widget titled “Subscribe to the Blog.”  In that widget, you have the option to pick a feed reader, or simply enter your email address and start an email subscription.   If you opt for the latter, do so knowing that your email will never be used for any other reason than to deliver feed content.  So, no spam, no annoying follow-up emails!  So log-in, subscribe, and let us do all the work!

I hope you found this Blog Tip useful….  Stay tuned for other tips in upcoming posts — if you subscribe, that will be easy too  🙂
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