Subscribe by Email or by RSS Reader?

rss reading

Not everyone makes the same choices when it comes to reading blogs. There are those that keep blogrolls on their site and read blogs by clicking on the links. Most of us know that is quite inefficient, especially if some people hardly ever update their blogs while others update every day (or worse, they update haphazardly, at unpredictable times).

Assuming if you read blogs regularly and you want to subscribe to a blog, how do you prefer to receive your subscription? Personally, I have been using Google Reader for many years, and I go there when I feel like or have time to read blogs. Many years ago on another blog I wrote a post about Google Reader – if there is interest, I can rewrite it for this blog. I can’t understand why anyone would want their email cluttered with email subscriptions. But obviously many feel differently! Actually, I’m guessing that most of you reading this post prefer email – but using the poll at the bottom, you can prove me wrong.

A few weeks ago a kind reader requested a subscription by email. To make a longish story short, I have now set up an email subscription for this blog using Mail Chimp. You can also click on the Subscribe by Email link on the top right corner of this Websites for Small Biz blog. If you want to learn more about MailChimp, why, Jeri wrote a great post on the MailChimp service! I will just add that I had read users were unhappy with Feedburner, so I did my research, and MailChimp is indeed a good way to go for mailing lists and email newsletters.

I will finish this post with a poll (poll will be open until Feb. 27th):

[poll id=”10″]

Your Turn, Please

If you use an RSS reader (example is Google Reader), which one do you use and why? If you use a service for converting your blog RSS feed to email, which service do you use? If you like the idea of subscribing to blogs but don’t really understand the difference between these two methods, would you like more explanation?

28 Responses to “Subscribe by Email or by RSS Reader?”

  1. Hi Leora: I prefer to have e-mail subscriptions b/c I don’t get to them if I have to go to a feed.

    That a cool feature you have done with the online poll with immediate results. I’ll be interested in hearing the final results.

  2. Catarina says:

    Leora, personally prefers e-mail subscriptions. But then again that’s most likely based on habit:-)

    • Leora Wenger says:

      And I suppose if it’s a habit that works for you, you probably don’t have a strong reason to switch.

      From the current results, it looks like it is important to give subscribers both options.

  3. I am probably the odd one out here, but like you I prefer my google reader. I don’t care for sifting through all the stuff that ends up in my email that isn’t actual mail. With that said, I actual like receiving newsletters. Those feel more like mail to me than just getting a post feed.

  4. Susan Cooper says:

    I do both. I subscribe to the blogs I enjoy and/or support. I use G Reader to brouse other blogs or sites of note. I have an email account just for my blog subscriptions and other blog business which then doesn’t clutter up my personal email account. That works very well for me. :)

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Makes sense, Susan – you have discovered a method that works for you. I subscribe to over 1000 blogs (not that I read them all), so I can’t imagine having them in my regular email. A dedicated email account might be a good solution for some.

  5. Jeri says:

    Thanks for mentioning the post I wrote on setting up MailChimp. As a reader of blogs, I’ve used Google Reader for over a year now. I like how it’s easy to skim what’s new and star posts I want to return to later, while also being able to mark everything else as read. I’ve recently starting the WordPress RSS Reader again as well for blogs I want to keep my eye one, but am not as committed to yet. I don’t like having a cluttered email inbox either, but I think more people are comfortable with accessing posts via email than through the mysterious RSS reader ;)

    But when it comes to people who subscribe to my blog, I’d much rather have them do so via email. That way I get access to their email address. A week or so ago, I participated in a blog “like-fest” on the site Indies Unlimited. It was pretty amusing to see everyone try to figure out how to follow Blogger vs. WordPress, etc. The effective management of information is key, and it is indeed an art worth learning.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Jeri, you state it well in your comment, too. For any post I want to follow, I just go to Bookmarks in Firefox and then Subscribe. Easy – works for any platform that has a feed.

  6. I’ve never tried google reader but it sounds like something I would like to look into! Nothing is more annoying than a cluttered e-mail inbox. I get at least a hundred a day and it is so annoying! If one were to subscribe by email, I would suggest to them to make a new email specifically for subscriptions so they wouldn’t have to deal with the clutter interfering with their everyday business.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Morgan, you should definitely read more about Google Reader and try it out. I have it on my phone as well … I can read posts while waiting for appointments and star them for later commenting.

  7. Mary Slagel says:

    I am in-between on the two. I voted for email but I feel like it needs further justification. I don’t like my e-mail to be cluttered with updates but that is why I have a work email and a junk inbox essentially. Also, I find it easy to just delete the ones I don’t want. However, with e-mail I am actually reminded to go and read the blogs and sometimes I am more prompted to do so when it is in my face rather than having to do it on my own time. At the same time however, sometimes I get things in my email like groupon and livingsocial deals that I look at and decide to read later and completely forget about.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      So there’s no incentive for you to open up Google Reader? I have all my blog posts in there – I check it whenever I’m ready to go around commenting on favorite posts. Or when I want to find a post to tweet. I have three email accounts – one for work, one for business, and one for other – the other is where subscriptions go if I must subscribe, but essentially I’m more apt to look in Google Reader first anyway.

  8. Susan Oakes says:

    I have always used Google reader and prefer subscribing via RSS. I separate the blogs that I read into different sections it makes it easier to read. The one thing I have noticed is some blogs do not give the option of RSS which is a shame as many times I will not subscribe.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Great point, Susan, about how one can categorize with Google Reader. I have a category called Frequent – in there goes some of my dearest friends who are bloggers. Another category is called goodbiz; I’m guessing your blog is in that category!

      Sometimes the feed is hidden. If you use Firefox, you can tell by going to bookmarks -> Subscribe. If subscribe is grayed, then you are correct, no feed. Usually that means the person who set up the site isn’t terribly aware of how blogs work.

  9. A.K.Andrew says:

    As both a blog reader and a blogger, this question is a double edged sword – it’s easier, as you say, to not have our email boxes cluttered, but people also have a tendency to skip over an RSS feed. Out of sight , out of mind. If the post lands in your email box, it’s more apparent.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Actually, I am much more likely to read blogs via Google Reader than any that come in my email. I use my email for work, so I mostly just delete any blogs that come that way. Too much clutter.

      I like reading blogs, but I put aside time to do so when I am not in the middle of work projects.

  10. Kelly Wade says:

    I’m not sure I fully understand what an RSS feed does because when I want to subscribe to a blog I just do it by email, although getting notifications to my email on my phone every time a new blog is posted can get a little bit irritating.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Kelly, when you see those orange buttons, that identifies an RSS feed. Whether you subscribe via email or by reader, the subscription is using a feed.

      If you find the number of emails to blogs irritating, you might want to check out Google Reader and subscribe to a few blogs in that way. I love it. You can categorize each of the blogs by a topic of your choice.

  11. Grace says:

    I find it much easier and more organized to use Google Reader. When I was subscribing by email, I was constantly getting emails that I didn’t have time to read. Now when I have a few minutes, I open my Reader and read through them. This way no posts get lost in my email and eventually, I get through them!

  12. Tim Sumner says:

    Hi Leora

    This is an interesting topic! I can’t say I prefer any in particular.

    I guess I prefer email at the end of the day but I regularly go through phases where I used Google Reader or other RSS clients as well…

  13. Leora — I think I may be the reader who suggested you offer the option of email subscriptions, which I prefer. I use Google Reader but hardly ever check it, whereas I’m on email all day. If I get behind on reading my emails I sort them by name and then look through for the emails that are urgent and the emails from bloggers and then click on the ones where I want to comment. I haven’t set up an email for blog subscriptions but I like that idea and may start to do that.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      You guessed well, Jeannette! Your thoughtful email inspired this post. I think the post gives useful information to small businesses or freelancers who maintain blogs – not everyone reads blogs in the same manner. A blogger can provide both methods of subscribing.

  14. Leora – I do not have any preference, but Google Reader works just fine for me.

    I do have my subscription list on MailChimp and it works great, they have wonderful campaign programs that we can launch and very easy to use and configure.

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