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Subscribing To Blogs By Email Instead of RSS Simplifies Your Life

by Gip Plaster on February 8th, 2011

Keeping everything in one place can lead to a simpler, more deliberate life, and that’s why I subscribe to blogs by email rather than RSS.

Even if bloggers don’t make it easy to subscribe by email, you can get any RSS feed by email if you know a couple of tricks.

Reading blogs by email is easier than reading them by RSS, and it eliminates something from your life, reducing the digital clutter that threatens to overcome us all. Even better, it makes you more likely to actually read the things you’ve subscribed to.

I’ve experimented with RSS readers like Google Reader, but it’s very easy to skip over good articles in an RSS reader. Depending on your settings, you could mark an article “read” that you only scrolled through quickly. You’ll never see it again, whether it’s any good or not.

Doesn’t Subscribing By Email Create More Clutter?

Having all of my electronic communication in one place is the simplest way for me. That’s why I’m not an advocate of having separate email addresses for separate projects. I have a couple of extra email addresses for testing purposes and to receive backups of my blog’s database, but I don’t visit them daily — or even weekly.

Having blog feeds in your email may seem like it’s adding extra clutter, but it’s actually reducing it by eliminate an RSS reader from your life. If a blog’s most recent post doesn’t interest you, delete it. If it’s really good or you want to use it as the basis of your own post, file it in an email folder.

Whatever you do, however, don’t let a blog post — or anything else — languish in your inbox. That’s clutter. And here’s a simple tip for avoiding that trap: Don’t check email if you don’t have time to read it. It’s that simple. Checking five minutes before bed does no good if you’re too tired to respond to anything.

How Can I Subscribe By Email When The Option Isn’t Offer?

You can subscribe to any RSS feed by email, and smart bloggers make it easy for you. But you can get what you want even if a blogger doesn’t make it easy.

There are three ways to get blog posts by email when there’s no mention of an email option.

First, the email option may be offered but not mentioned.

Most bloggers provide their RSS feed through Google Feedburner, a free service. And a subscribe-by-email option is available to all bloggers who use Feedburner.

If you don’t see a way to subscribe by email on a blog, click the RSS feed option. If you get a page that says “syndicated content powered by FeedBurner” under the blog title at the top, look in the box to the left. Under the “(Choose Your Reader)” drop-down menu, you may see a line of text with a tiny envelope beside it that says “Get [blog title] delivered by email”. If you do, you’re all set. (Click my RSS button at the top of every page or the feed link in the sidebar for an example.)

Second, ask the blogger to offer an email option.

Bloggers who use Feedburner can add the email option for free with only a couple of clicks. Other services make it more complicated, but it’s available.

Bloggers exist to serve their readers, and many new bloggers don’t have much web experience. If you approach them as a helpful friend rather than as a cantankerous customer, they’re often happy to make small adjustments, even if it only helps one or two of their readers.

Third, use a free third-party service to subscribe by email.

I subscribe to one blogs by email with Feed My Inbox. It’s free to use for up to five feeds per email address. A paid option is also available if you need to follow more feeds, but that really shouldn’t be necessary.

I was subscribed to four blogs with this service, but I checked my account last week and found that two of them are no longer being updated, so I dropped them. I subscribed to Jeff and Gena’s Ha Nui Loa with this service a couple of weeks ago, but when I visited last week, I realized they have an email option, so I changed that over.

Now, the only blog I follow that doesn’t seem to offer an email option is Joshua Noerr’s blog Personal Development – One Mind At A Time, and Feed My Inbox does a nice job providing it to me. Joshua uses Feedburner, but it doesn’t have the email subscription option turned on. I can’t remember if I’ve ever asked him why.

By the way, I try to make it easy for you to read So Much More Life. There’s an Email button at the top of every page of my site and a link in the sidebar.

If you’re a blogger, offering a subscribe by email option is a simple way to increase the active participation in your community.

I consider living in the blogging world without an RSS reader freeing. Have you tried it?

If your digital communication is out of control, consider ditching the RSS feeder in favor of email subscriptions. Even when bloggers don’t make it easy, it’s an option that’s always available to savvy simplifiers like you.

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From → Simpler Living

16 Comments
  1. marianney | A Life Set Free permalink

    I always subscribe by email but have noticed that a lot of blog’s subscribe forms are only updates they send out once in a while, not their newest posts. I will check out that Feed My Inbox, good idea.
    marianney | A Life Set Free recently posted 1 Powerful Video About Minimalism

  2. Deb - Life Beyond Stuff permalink

    We seem to agree about a lot of things :-),
    I hate RSS, it’s just one more thing to think about.

    Thanks for your subscription it has just showed me that I don’t get notified of subs on http://www.lifebeyondstuff.com like I do with my typepad blog. Will have to get my techy genie to have a look.

    I’ve subscribed (by email) to you too, I like what I see also.

    This sounds like a mutual admiration society. Better go before I make make myself sick. 🙂
    Deb – Life Beyond Stuff recently posted Contentment- when Consumption is the only Game in Town

    • I’m glad we’ve discovered each other, too, Deb, and I look forward to much more conversation.

      My blog notification emails used to never show up either, but they started working one day. I think my email provider’s spam filter had something to do with it.

      Gip

  3. Jeff & Gena S permalink

    Gip,
    Great recommendations! We were just looking at our feed this week and talking about how we tend to go to blogs either via our favorites list to see what’s new on a blog or site or we are liking email subscriptions more, and I do think its for the reason you mention here; its simpler, more straight to the point, plus I can access your blog for instance from my email set up on my phone. We also want to thank you for mentioning us in your post, we always enjoy your visits to Ha Nui Loa and hope you do too! 🙂

    • You’re welcome. I’m surprised to find people agreeing with me that email subscriptions are simpler than RSS. I assumed most people use RSS, but that may not be a true assumption.
      Gip

  4. Alex permalink

    Gip,
    There are also options to get RSS in your email client ( both Mail for Apple & Outlook for Microsoft do this) of course this relies on you not getting access to you emails in the ‘cloud’.

    This is way I do things, then have a few smart folders so can easily access them all for easy reading when I am ready …

    like all tools its about how you use them 🙂

    • That’s right, Alex.

      And you’re right, it is possible to read RSS feeds in many email clients. That’s also a convenient way for people who use only one computer most of the time like I do.

      Gip

  5. Recognizing the prevalence and strong sentiments of people preferring to receive things by email, I take the opposite approach. I receive too much email (and, yes, I use many filters to move things to folders and look at those whenever I feel) and adding blog articles to email delivery is too much for me.

    I also think an inbox is too confined, physically, whereas .com or such sites are more open design-wise.
    Ari Herzog recently posted 6 Readers Share Why They Read Blogs by Email

    • Thanks for joining the conversation here, Ari. As you know, I’m a longtime reader of your blog.

      You’re right about an inbox being confining. I supposed my preferred place to read posts in on the blog itself, but I would never remember to go there without emailed posts to remind me to visit. Since I often comment, I end up on the blog anyway.

      Gip

      • Because I also enjoy social sharing blog articles on occasion, and that I don’t know of a way to do that in email, my feedly blog reader lets me tweet, for instance, without leaving the reader.

        • I have to admit that I looked into feed readers again after writing this posts and I can see some benefits, but I still like my system. I do wish I could comment on posts directly from my email. I don’t share with social media very often, but that’s sometimes available in email depending on what the blogger sends in their email feed.
          Gip

  6. I choose to receive my blog updates in e-mail, and I appreciate you explaining how to subscribe in e-mail when all I see is RSS.

    When it comes to tools, sometimes it just doesn’t feel worth the effort to add any more to the mix. I already have to check in with Facebook, Twitter, and two different e-mail accounts each day. Seeing my blog notifications in my inbox allows me to keep perspective on all the things clamoring for my attention.
    Tammi Kibler recently posted Google Beta Testing Social Results

    • That’s a good point, Tammi. Who needs one more thing in his or her life?

      I’m glad you’ve joined the conversation here, and I look forward to getting to know you.

      Gip

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