We’re constantly being told how important it is to read blog related to our industry and keep up with the news of the day. By taking on this practice it keeps us in the loop, alerts us to conversations happening off our site, and it gives us fodder for our own blogging and/or social media updates.
But…with everything else you have to do, how are you supposed to find the time to read those blogs in the first place? How can you move blog reading from a “should do” to an “already done?”
As someone who has always had to make time for blog reading (and writing) this is one issue I’m particularly sensitive to. Because, as a business owner, you can’t afford to miss important industry updates or not know what’s going on. You have to be alert so that you can take advantage of what’s happening around you.
Reading blogs is your job.
Below are five ways to make blog reading part of your day:
1. Justify the Investment
First off, understand why it’s so important that you (and the people on your team) take the time out of your day (or even your week) to stay up-to-date on blogs in your industry. Like with most things, once you break down the value it brings to your business, the more likely it is you’ll dedicate resources to it.
As a business owner, reading blogs:
- Ignites your passion on a topic
- Increases your subject-related knowledge
- Introduces you to new thought leaders and future partners
- Highlight communities you should be aware of
- Opens the door for guest posting opportunities
- Ensures you stay abreast of important industry issues, search engine changes, or other areas
- Gives you something to say/link to in your blog
- Provides fodder for Facebook, Twitter and other social media updates
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Being serious about your business means being serious about your industry and taking part in it. One big way to do that is to read blogs and become part of those conversations that may (and usually do) lead to bigger opportunities.
2. Find Blogs Worth Reading
It goes without saying that not every blog is going to be worth your time. As with anything, there are high quality blogs that will bring a lot of value to you as a business owner and then there are blogs made up of just filler. To get the most out of your investment, you want to find the blogs that are worth reading.
How do you do that?
- Use blog aggregators like AllTop  or TechMeme to help you find the most respected blogs on a subject.
- See where your favorite blogs link out to or who is in their blogrolls. If you like what they’re sharing, you may like who inspired them.
- Perform keyword-related searches on Twitter and see what content is being passed around and who the author is.
- Search Google News for terms related to your topic. Many of Google’s top new sources are actually blogs.
- Use social media to ask for blog recommendations. Everyone has a favorite or a handful of blogs that always seem to steer them in the right direction.
- Have a couple commenters who always leave valuable insights on your blog? See where they’re writing.
That should help you get your initial list down. From there, you’ll need to manage it…
3. Use a Feed Reader At Home & On The Go
You’re probably already using a feed reader to help you manage your blogs while at your desk, but what about when you’re on your smart phone or seated in front of your iPad? If you’re currently using Google Reader, you can take advantage of its mobile app or upgrade to a service like Feedly , which will give your Google Reader subscriptions a more magazine-style layout to make them easier to read on a smaller screen.
Other apps like Feeddler , Reeder  or NewsRack  will give your feeds a simple and intuitive interface; PulseNews to make your blogs more interactive; or use a service like InstaPaper  to help you save blog posts or pages you want to read later.
Regardless of which app you use, by using a feed reader it allows you to take your blogs with you. You can read them on the train into work, while you’re eating lunch, or during commercial breaks when you’re sitting on your couch. With all the reading options available, SMBs will find it hard to use the “I don’t have time” excuse.
4. Schedule the Time
Hey, sometimes that’s the only way things will get done. Make blog reading part of your day by making it part of your day. Set aside 20 minutes to catch up on what’s happening in your industry. The 20 minutes could come at the start of your day over coffee, it could happen after lunch, or it could be at 11pm before you hit the sack. It doesn’t matter when you find that time, just that do you, consistently, and that you make it part of your ritual.
5. Do Something With What You’ve Read
I don’t know about you, but the best way to make me accountable for a task is to tie an action item to it. Maybe your blog reading will result in a weekly post for your blog or maybe it will be your job to share three interesting stories a week with your team. Whatever it is, look for ways to use what you’re reading about. After all, that’s the point of doing the reading in the first place, right?
While many of us can certainly sympathize that it’s difficult to dedicate time to reading blogs, it doesn’t make it any less important. The tactics above help me to stay up to date on my blog reading. What works for you?
Blog Reading at Lunch  Photo via Shutterstock