You might think of RSS feed readers as these basic applications that help you stay up to date with what’s being published out there.

But there’s so much more beneath the surface. I’ll show you how to turn your RSS reader into a powerhouse of a productivity tool in no time. It’s time you move away from the basic features and look into the paid features that definitely make a world of difference.

What you need to know about RSS Feed Readers?

RSS feed readers are tools available either on your browser or as an app on your mobile device, which syndicate content from a lot of sources and display it on a single dashboard. That’s RSS in a nutshell. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Download your reader, set up your profile and then add whatever sites you visit. You’ll receive every new post within seconds of publication in your dashboard, all neatly lined in chronological order. Current readers go beyond news sites and blogs, but also support social media feeds, podcasts and video sharing sites.

That’s all you need to know.

Why is it suitable for everyone?

RSS readers are quite handy and versatile, which makes them suitable for most people’s needs. At paid subscription plans, users unlock a whole host of features, which I’ll discuss below.

What I can say is that RSS readers have made the jump into the world of productivity. Students, journalists, marketers, writers of all kinds and any type of professional, who has to keep up with trade news can benefit from the convenience, organisation and automation RSS readers provide.

What are some of the advanced options?

Create custom RSS feeds

Customizing RSS feeds comes naturally after you’ve had time to adapt your RSS feed reader. The filter options are always there, waiting, and most are available at the free plan, so even you don’t necessarily want to spend more money on your subscription plan. There is great power in knowing that you can trim down a feed down to the components that make sense for you. 

You can remove articles and posts that talk about a specific topic. Maybe you’re trying to follow global news, but want to exclude COVID from the headlines. You can totally do that. Or perhaps ONLY follow articles and stories about a single topic. The level of filtering varies from reader to reader with Newsblur known for its incredible filters being at the top. 

Content discovery has been the mainstay for most RSS feed readers. However, what separates the leaders, Inoreader and Feedly, from the rest is the expansion of search capabilities.

Yes, RSS feed reader allows users to search within their own subscriptions to find relevant articles. That’s a given. But to have access to the entire database of feeds added to the RSS reader is quite a different beast. For Inoreader this manifests as global search, which can also be augmented to be an active search that continues to give results whenever an article matching your criteria is posted. Feedly classifies this type of search as ‘searching beyond Feedly’.

Offline mode

Offline mode is not a guarantee. After all, RSS feed readers are meant to be used with an Internet connection in order for syndication to work and many browser-based readers will not offer you an offline experience. 

Feedly, for all its excellent features, is quite useless as soon as the Internet drops. But you can still find RSS readers with that feature. Inoreader comes in to save the day with offline folders. This requires a bit of forethought and planning. What are the feeds that you can’t part with? What will come in handy at all times? Once you decide, you go to the setting of the folder and select the offline setting, which will download all unread articles from these feeds and load them for when you don’t have an Internet connection. 

Another reader worth mentioning is Byline, which is an iOS exclusive application.  

Collaboration feature

Collaborative features have been on the cards for a long time. The advent of social media has made developers think about all the different ways to connect RSS readers to the rest of the Internet and this process started with the ability to share articles on your social media as a way to link to your colleagues and friends.

The next logical step was to offer in-app collaboration. The Old Reader has placed value on your social connections and its online community as a whole. You can share your articles with others quite easily and you can see what articles are trending in the reader as a whole. Then there are RSS readers like Feedly and Inoreader, who have created shared boards for teams to use.

Inoreader’s Team feature is the perfect tool to help teams compile shared research in one place under the supervision of a single leader. Feedly’s shared boards and collections serve a similar function overall. 

Integrate with IFTTT and Zapier

There are ways to further automate your RSS experience through IFTTT and Zapier. These two platforms offer users commands that create a chain of actions based on a single trigger. This allows you to send an article on an important news story directly to your email or perhaps a company chat service like Telegram or Slack. Maybe save it on Evernote or publish it on Instapaper. There’s no real limit to what you can do as Zapier, for instance, has a catalogue of over 1200 applications that can be connected to each other.

The initial investment is quite low, so it’s suitable for start-ups and small businesses. Both IFTTT and Zapier rely on users to generate their own commands, so you already have a wide selection of commands at your disposal. There are commands that are for general RSS use, but also you will see subsets of commands for your specific reader of choice. 

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By Clare Anderson

Not a green elephant! Part-time blogger in technology, gaming and gadgets.

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