Readers of your blog don’t always visit your blog to read your latest entry. Some receive your entry by email, sure, but those aren’t the individuals I’m talking about. Instead of visiting your blog to see its cool design or hear the music you’re feeling at the moment, they login to a feed aggregator and get access to their favourite blogs that way.
What is a feed aggregator?
It’s a website that brings the text, images and pictures of various blogs to one place (there are more detailed and technical definitions out there, of course), but it leaves the design of the blog behind. I personally use Google Reader as my feed aggregator. If you have a google account for email for example, all you have to do is select Reader once you’ve logged in (the option should be at the top) and you’re set. I like that I can add blogs, group them into different categories and I can easily see the blogs that have been updated. If I want to leave a comment on a blog, it’s a quick click and I’m on the blogger’s actual website.
Not every blog can be read using a feed reader: the owner of the blog in many cases has to create a feed of their blog so that feed aggregators can find them. I think some blogging platforms automatically create feeds but some blogs require the user to create the feed.
Why would anyone read blogs through a feed aggregator?
It’s a central location for all your favourite blogs, which is nice. Rather than typing url after url into your browser to access your favourite blogs, you can go to one address, enter all the urls once, and have access to nearly all the blogs you read. The advantage is you can check to see if all the blogs you read have been updated by visiting one site rather than checking on your favourite blog day after day. It’s efficient.
Why read blogs through an aggregator rather than visiting the actual blog? Well first off, your well-designed website might catch the attention of people who I may not want to know that I’m reading blogs (I think you know what I mean). The feed aggregator site is very neutral and innocuous looking, which is a perk in certain situations.
And now we get to the reason I wrote this entry. If you decide to have a feed for your blog, please, please ensure that those reading your blog get the full entry and not just a snippet. I personally find it annoying when I see that a blog has been updated and I click on the link within Google Reader, only to get just a few lines of the entry. Depending on where I am, I will either go to the blogger’s website to read the rest of the entry or remove the blog from my feed aggregator. If I remove a blog from Google Reader, it doesn’t mean I won’t read your blog ever again, but I’ll have to count on being triggered to find your blog again through someone else’s blog or because you pop into my mind (and given how many blogs there are to keep track of, the latter isn’t always a guarantee).
There are a few reasons some people don’t provide their full entries in the form of a feed:
- They feel the blog entry is too long
The entry will be the same length in words whether I read it on the feed aggregator site or on your blog site so this rationale does not work for me.
- They want you to visit their site because they want you to leave a comment
If I read an entry on a blog and I’m not compelled to leave a comment, I don’t. If I read a blog entry using a feed aggregator and I’m stirred to comment, I will. There may be statistics out there that show if someone reads your entry on your website they’re more likely to comment, but I value quality over quantity in terms of comments so I’m just as satisfied if I feel my words have been heard. I don’t want someone to be leaving a comment because they find themselves on my site and they feel bad leaving without commenting.
- They want you to visit their site because their blog is monetized
Some blogs like this one have ads on them, and the blog owner is paid a certain rate based on how often a certain site or page is loaded onto someone’s browser. In some cases you only earn money if a visitor to your blog clicks on an ad. My goal with ads is to consistently earn enough to pay my monthly site hosting fees and I certainly wouldn’t mind earning more than that. In my view there is nothing wrong with monetizing your blog, but the content should always be the most important aspect of blogging. I would rather feel heard than have people visit my site and click on a few ads.
If you’re currently sharing only a sliver of your blog entries with those accessing your blog using a feed aggregator or reader, I urge you to reconsider. If there’s another reason you’re not sharing your entire feed, do let us know in the comments.