I personally came late to the Google Reader party. I didn’t set up my personal RSS feed until late 2011, after it became too much for me to manually check each of my favorite blogs and news sites every day. A day after I started on Google Reader, I wondered how I ever lived without it.
It seems I’m destined to remember, since Google announced the end of Reader as of July 1st of this year.
After the tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth by the Reader faithful (there is even a Change.org petition with nearly 140,000 signatures to save the service), there remains the question: What now?
For blog readers, there are certainly other options available. In particular, I have read that Feedly is planning on offering a clone RSS service that will provide readers with the same or similar experience to what they love from Google.
For those of us who are regular readers in the finance blogosphere, #FinCon13 has already set up two aggregates to make sure we keep the good stuff coming even after the end of Reader: an RSS feed for those who prefer their news syndicated, and a Twitter feed for those who love to tweet. (A big thank you to Daniel Packer of Sweating the Big Stuff for creating the #FinCon13 aggregates!)
Of course, this doesn’t solve all the potential problems that Google Reader’s end may cause. For us bloggers, the death of the biggest-name RSS could potentially affect much more than our daily reading. Many are calling this the beginning of the end for RSS itself, considering the fact that Reader was often synonymous with the service. (I’m not sure that I personally buy that theory, considering how incredibly useful RSS is, but I can understand where the nay-sayers are coming from).
It will certainly still be possible to allow readers to subscribe via RSS, but without the giant of Google making easy and ubiquitous for non-techies to handle, it may become less of a source of subscribers as it was during Reader’s heyday.
Some marketing bloggers are suggesting that we bloggers start focusing on other methods of reaching our audience—in particular email subscribers and social media. I know that many finance bloggers already offer their readers the option of email subscriptions, and it is certainly a powerful method of engaging with readers.
But of course, email subscriptions are not for everyone. RSS provides readers with a happy medium between getting blog updates sent directly to email and having to navigate to blogs on their own. It makes it easier to stay on top of many favorite blogs at once, without having to pick and choose which ones should be invited into the inner sanctum that is your email inbox.
And as for social media, replacing RSS feeds with Twitter or Facebook updates adds an additional time burden to already swamped bloggers (or at least, that’s how this blogger feels). RSS is so simple because it allows bloggers to update feeds automatically and it allows readers the option of perusing their favorite sites at their leisure. With the real-time aspect of social media, it can feel as though you have to schedule tweets or updates for optimum exposure, and still risk missing key readers.
Though Google Reader will certainly be missed, I suspect that other technology and services will rise to replace it—and not just the clone sites that will help us recreate our favorite features. Bloggers will find ways to reach their readers, and readers will always find convenient ways to read their favorite blogs.
Ultimately, the same rule for blogging will be as true on July 1st as it is today:
Write excellent content, and the readers will come.
What plans do you have for navigating the end of Google Reader?