When I first started blogging, I read only my sister’s blog. Soon I started reading Kat’s blog (who, by the way, is flying home to Germany tomorrow from Phuket, Thailand after a 4-week vacation, and nobody in the blogosphere has missed her more than I!!!). And Katie’s (in Oz) blog. And Manic Mommy’s blog. And then more. And more. And more. If you’re one of my readers who is also active in the blogosphere, it is very likely that you know first hand how these things tend to domino.

At first, I kept a simple blogroll in my margin. It was “great”; there were only about five or six blogs listed. Pretty terrific. Pretty low maintenance. I checked them daily to see which ones had new posts up for me to enjoy.

When I started following more blogs, my list in the margin just got longer (duh). It became a bit of a nuisance to check twenty-something blogs daily to check for new posts. My sister suggested that I use Google Reader. I looked at it and thought, “Nah, that’s a little intimidating.” It’s weird; I don’t usually shy away from technology. Everything I know about computers has either been self-taught just by jumping in and messing around, or occasionally I ask Jim (for example, he originally taught me Microsoft Excel & is my Excel guru!) or Julesie (for Photoshop questions or bits of html in the beginning of my blog writing). I normally have no qualms about taking the time to goof off enough to learn about something. But Google Reader scares me a little, for some reason.

I had to do something, though. My blogroll was approaching something in the neighborhood of thirty-five blogs. It was crazy to me that I would ever read that many, but it wasn’t like I was going to give up one blog for every new one I took on. I changed my blogroll so that the newest post title would show up under the blog name. That way, whenever I posted daily on the Scrawl, I could see immediately whose blog I needed to visit without having to check them all. That helped.

Until my blogroll approached fifty in number. Are you kidding me? How did that happen? It’s a good thing I never tried any illegal drugs; I’d be dead for sure by now. I had to come up with another solution because, frankly, the blogroll was taking up too much space on my blog AND it was somewhat embarrassing to have a “live” list that long.

So I made up another page to house my blogroll, and I made it accessible to anyone who wanted to see what I read. Whew, that felt better, like putting on my comfy pants after dinner on Thanksgiving.

At some point, Google came up with the “Blog Follower” system (look over there to your left, with the cute little avatars of my followers) (and by the way, are you following me? If not, why not help a girl’s self-esteem and click it?). When you “follow” a blog on Google, it not only adds that blog to your public profile, which is another way to keep track of a blogroll, but it also adds the blog to your Google Reader, which, if you’re like me, you don’t use. Pretty handy, actually. Well, if you use your reader, it is.

My actual blogroll page is approaching seventy blogs. If I don’t have time to read blogs for a mere 24 hours and then go back and look at it, usually about 75% of them have new posts. But I don’t click on the post itself, because it’s always entirely possible that more than one post has been written since my last visit. Do you understand how much TIME that takes? Ugh.

When lunching with Weaselmomma and Michelle last week, I brought this up, and they both said, “Yeah, if you figure that reader out, let me know!”

And so, it is time.

Over the weekend, I checked in on my reader and was not overwhelmed in the slightest that I had almost 600 new posts, yet to be read. That’s because I had indeed already read them (and the number would have been closer to “infinity” had I not, every few weeks, gone in there and clicked “mark all as read”!). I started by marking the almost 600 posts as “read”. I spent some time looking at the different things I could click on. Then I remembered that I once saw a really cute Youtube video that explained “Twitter in Plain English” and wondered if there was one for Google Reader. Sure enough…

Not as thorough as I would have liked, but it’s a good way to start.

Later, I went back to Google Reader and discovered that I had four new posts to read, so I clicked on “all items” to bring everything up in a list. The new posts were bolded. I clicked on them one by one, and read them. THAT’S IT. If I wanted to comment, I clicked the title of the post and was whisked directly to the blog. Amazing. What was I scared of???

This is going to save me so much time, it’s not even funny. I LOVE one-stop shopping!

Now I have to just add the ten (!!!) or so blogs that I have bookmarked in my browser and rehab my blogroll. I’m still going to keep my blogroll page so my readers can see what I’m reading, but I’m just going to leave the blog titles in there, in a nice, neat, alphabetized list. Exciting stuff!

Hey, you folks who have been using Google Reader (Lurkers too!): do you have any pointers for Reader newbies like me? I’d love if you’d share!

Have you also shied away from Google Reader? Step forward, so we can learn together!

And don’t forget to click “Follow this blog” up there on the left! (Thank you kindly!)

Have an awesome Monday!