Making use of a good RSS feed reader is essential to the daily routine of most bloggers. Feeds give you a way to quickly seek out the latest hot news for your niche audience from across the web. Wouldn't it be nice, though, to be able to read your feeds and publish your blog posts from a single application?
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Blogging is a conversation, and it takes place daily between the thousands of independent publishers honing in and sharing their thoughts on their particular brand of niche-targeted news. There are very few pro-bloggers who don't start their day working through their personal collection of RSS feeds, filtering out signal from noise, and sourcing the foundations of their latest content. The quickest way to get through the hundreds of incoming feeds is to use an RSS aggregator - otherwise known as a feed reader.
But usually, once you have found what you would like to comment on or blog about, it is a matter of taking the information, copying and pasting it across to your blogging platform or application, going back to copy and paste the link, attribution details, maybe even the image used. This can take time, and not everybody has all day to devote to their blogging.
Fortunately there is a simple solution that will assist you in finding great content, whatever niche area you are interested in, making it easy to scan through your feeds regardless of whether you are on a Windows, Mac or Linux box, and then going a step further by allowing you to instantly create a blog post, complete with image, quote, links and attribution right from the same interface.
Furthermore, if you are a micro-publisher working on a number of blogs, you can even post to these different destinations, setting different category headings for each one.
The tool is Blogbridge, and these recently added features make it easy for you to do both newsmastering work as well as to post your favorite news items right to your blog in the space of seconds.
Blogbridge is a free feed reading application that will run on Windows, Mac or Linux, right from your desktop. Since Robin Good reviewed the service in 2005 Blogbridge has improved its offerings in a number of ways, adding to a set of rich features that allow you to not only aggregate and filter your RSS feeds from a single application, but also to tap into 'reading list' recommendations created by an assembled team of experts.
Each expert has focused on their particular area of know-how, and it is possible to access their OPML-powered lists of recommendations from both the Blogbridge website and directly through the Blogbridge reader itself.
This already sets Blogbridge apart from the competition, bringing in a human element to an otherwise automated technology. Whether you want to learn about the best sites about collaboration via Robin Good, or the very best wine blogs via Andrew Barrow you can quickly populate your feed reader without ever having to go and search for content.
As a valuable source of news feeds and a well-featured feed reader in its own right, Blogbridge is well worth checking out, given that it is free to download and use.
Blogging as Conversation
But finding interesting feeds that will supply you with content to write about in your blog is only half of the picture, and traditionally this is where news aggregation tools and services draw the line.
Blogging is an unashamedly social form of media, and the vast majority of blog posts floating around the web are responses to other blog posts or news stories. Somebody writes something, and if it gains enough traction in the blogosphere, the meme spreads, the idea snowballs, and more and more people add their unique spin and commentary to the original point of discussion.
Creating your own related post could be as simple as writing a short line of text introducing a link that you think will be interesting to your readership, with maybe a short quote to whet their appetite, right up to a fifteen page diatribe written in response to something you profoundly disagree with.
Either way, blogging etiquette calls for you to link back to the source at very least, meaning that you have to grab and format your quotation, copy the link or links and paste those into your post, and so on. While it isn't the most painful experience in the world, it is far from the most enjoyable.
Blogbridge has a simple solution, however, and that comes in the form of its basic and publishing plans:
Post To Blog: Basic
If you decide to take a step up from the free Blogbridge service plan, for $5 / quarter you can make use of a post to blog feature that makes it a whole lot easier to share your thoughts about a news item you have located in the feed reader. All you have to do is to right / control click on the news item you want to blog about, and choose the post to blog function - you can also achieve the same effect with a keyboard shortcut, making it even easier.
If you want to chop the original blog post up and insert your thoughts intermittently between chunks of quotation, this is the way to go. WYSIWYG formatting tools make it easy to differentiate source material from your commentary.
However, if you only want to throw your readers a teaser of the full post, or are only interested in a small part of it, that isn't a problem. Just highlight the text and / or images that you want to include in your blog post, choose 'post to blog', and your excerpt will appear in the pop up text editor.
In addition to being able to format the text in your post, you can also quickly add in links to the user, article or even the feed using a drop-down menu. It's also possible to choose which category the post will be filed under in your blog, and the categories are automatically downloaded when you set Blogbridge up to sync with it.
Finally, you can check a box to save the post as a draft rather than publish immediately, which is useful if you want to put the post out at a later date, or make some adjustments from your blogging platform before publication.
Post To Blog: Publishing
Should you want to go beyond these basic features you can subscribe to the publishing plan at $25 / quarter. This adds considerable extra benefits.
For one thing you now have the option to set a date for your blog post, which means that you can write today and have your post automatically publish tomorrow, for instance. You can also use HTML editing, allow comments and trackbacks or choose to post to draft or directly to your blog.
What's great is that you can send your content out to up to ten separate blogs. Should you be working for a number of clients, publishing to a network, or just running more than one blog for personal use the ability to send out posts to more than one destination could prove very useful.
Furthermore you can click on the category description next to each of the blogs, and select one or several categories for your post to be published under. Perhaps in one blog you will use a category or categories that would be unsuitable in another - this is not a problem.
Finally, in addition to the same formatting and layout features included in the basic version of the post editor, you are also given space for an extended entry, so that you can create before and after the cut entries. This isn't possible with the basic plan, which publishes everything as a whole, without the split.
Service Plans and Specs
The Blogbridge feed reader application is free to download, open source and will run on Windows, Mac or Linux OS, even syncing data between your machines via the Blogbridge servers.
It is quite possible to use the free service as is, but to get the most out of Blogbridge you will want to make use of one of two paid services, both of which are very reasonably priced:
Those writing a single blog and looking to instantly publish feed items to it from Blogbridge will more than likely find the basic plan sufficient for their needs, and at $5.00 a quarter it isn't going to bankrupt anyone.
If you want to add the ability to quickly post content to multiple blogs, synchronize your content as many times as you like, and add extra useful features such as the removal of duplicate posts in your smartfeeds, the Publishing plan is probably more suitable. This is aimed squarely at those working across a number of blogs, whether on a personal or professional basis, and makes posting to these different destinations really easy. At $25 a quarter this is also a very fair rate for the features offered.
Blogbridge continues to grow and expand as a feed reader - aggregator and now as a newsmastering and full blog publishing tool. With its firm foundations in open source, a ready supply of feed recommendations, and cross-platform appeal Blogbridge is both easy to use and well-featured.
The recent addition of this post-to-blog feature is a very welcome addition which makes the process of aggreagting, filtering, selecting, quoting, linking, attributing and publishing content located through your RSS feeds as simple as it can get.
Gone is the need to copy and paste multiple pieces of information across from a news item that has caught your attention, such as the blog, author, link and images. With Blogbridge you can have your quotation and meta-data ready to publish as soon as you have added your thoughts to the conversation, and post straight to your blog just as easily.
Whether you are publishing content to a single blog, and taking advantage of the $5 / quarter basic plan, or you are involved to publishing to multiple destinations via the $25 / quarter publishing plan the cost is more than worth the ability to scan your feeds, select the content you want to write about and pull it straight into a blog editor, ready to send to your website. It would be very easy to get used to this sort of convenience.
Blogbridge has come a long way since Robin Good first reviewed the service back in 2005. With weekly updates posted to their blog, you get the impression the small Blogbridge team keenly listen to what their users have to say, and try to consistently improve their product.
The result is a streamlined, easy-to-use, cross-platform feed reader. Now that it has also taken on publishing capabilities Blogbridge is going to save bloggers a lot of time spent copying and pasting data from one post to another. Joining the conversation just got even easier.
If you would like to learn more about Blogbridge Publish to Blog features, and the service in general, you might want to check out the following links:
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Originally written by Michael Pick for Master New Media and originally published as: "RSS Feed Reader Makes It Easy To Get In On The Blogging Conversation: Blogbridge Post To Blog