Google announced that as of July 1 2013 it will be closing the door to its Google Reader service. According the company the service has a loyal following but there has been a steady decline in its usage over the past few years.
The announcement was made on this Google blog post and has definitely kept the blogging world in complete disbelief, in fact many are fearing a loss of not only subscribers, but also a good source of income.
In case you didn’t know, Google is the definitive RSS feed reader on the internet and it is also a service that powers almost every major RSS feed reader on the market. This means all those blog subscribers who syndicate their favorite blogs RSS feeds, are suddenly going to be without updates.
This also means for blog owners, that on July 1, countless RSS subscribers are going to be lost. Some blogs are known to have over 50,000 subscribers using the Google reader service. Even if 3/4 of those people find a new service, that’s still over 10,000 lost readers.
Answers to this problem have already started to poor in and many services have already popped up to replace the Google reader service. One such service known as feedly may even be working a complete mirror of the Google reader api. However none of these solutions address the real problem at hand.
The problem I am referring to is that if you rely on third party services, when those services close you are the service user ends up losing out. Often times we grow to depend on such services to such an extent that it can cause the bankruptcy of companies.
The real solution is actually very simple but not many people know it. The solution is, stop relying on third party services. For the blog owner what this means is stop making your RSS feeds available to the public. The problem with giving out your RSS feeds is you have no control over where or how people use them. RSS feeds are one of the greatest things online for keeping people up to date with news, however we have come to a point in technology where giving out our RSS feeds no longer makes sense.
Instead we need more control over how people are accessing our feeds. The answer is really easy. Instead of giving access to feeds, create apps that syndicate your feeds and give out those apps. That way you have total control over where and how people get your content.
Now you may be sitting there reading this thinking to yourself “yeah but I don’t know the first thing about creating apps and this sounds like a lot of work”. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is incredibly easy to turn your rss feeds into apps that EVERYONE can use.
To start you need to know the basic apps you require. You are going to need an app for android phones and tablets; an app for ipods, ipads, and iphones; and you are going to need an app for all other users.
First if you run a wordpress blog, turning your RSS feed into an android app is as simple as installing a plugin. There is a plugin called feed-nu It takes your feed and creates an installable android apk app. This app works on all major android distributions.
For those who run a blog on a platform other than wordpress, there is an equally easy solution known as app yet This app allows you to take any RSS feed on the internet and turn it into an android app to share with others, and this includes your own blogs RSS feed.
After the android app, comes the apple devices, which I collectively refer to as idevices. To create your RSS feed into an idevice app takes a bit more effort and a bit more technical expertise. In fact it may just be easier to find a third party service for this, but I strongly recommend against it.
If you can handle following tutorials, there is a follow along tutorial for creating your own custom feed reader app for idevices that lets you add any feed you want to it, and then distribute it. You can find the article on creating this app by reading this article on how to make a simple RSS reader for iphones
After you have both of these apps ready, the final step is to make an app available for everyone else. Luckily Google makes this really easy because the chrome browser, also has a built in chrome app store. A person just needs to turn their blog into a chrome store app.
Google has already provided all the information to turn any website (even a blog) into a chrome app and they explain how to get your app then listed in the chrome store. All you have to do is follow their very easy tutorial on the subject.
Although this may all seem like great lengths to go just to avoid third party services, it is absolutely worth every second you invest in doing so. First of all it avoids problems like the one bloggers are currently facing with the shutdown of Google reader, but even more important than that is that it gives total control over how the RSS feed is viewed to the owner of the blog.
Also there is the fact that each day more and more people are turning to smart devices. Windows recently launched its own smart operating system, that of windows 8 and it also has an app store. The wave of the future is apps already, so its only a logical choice to make this move from RSS to smart applications before the rest of the industry starts doing it first.
So where does this leave you as a blogger? Does this move by Google affect your blog? What are your plans to deal with this situation? Have you considered making the switch to apps from RSS feeds? Let me know what you plan to do.
CEO and Director of Partnerships at the Marketers Cooperative