Long Live RSS

Long Live RSS post image

I was at a cafe in London, reading a gossip newspaper (I enjoyed it). My friend, who tries hard to only read paper books, magazines and newspapers (like The Financial Times), was clicking around on his phone most of the morning.

“I’m not reading as much anymore”, he said, “and I’m less satisfied with it.”

Inspired by all the ‘paper’ talk, later that day I picked up a “real” copy of Bill Bryson’s Mother Tongue. That was good.

And in the following weeks, I started skimming the Financial Times when I’d grab a coffee.

In truth, I preferred the gossip magazines, but above all I enjoyed the feel and smell of the paper/coffee mix.


The thing about the Financial Times is that its articles are written by professional writers. People whose job it is to fill space with entertaining-enough words. For FT readers, I suppose, that’s reporting on what the former prime minister of Japan said about architecture, or what some ‘experts’ predict is going to happen in London. “Who relates to this stuff?”, I found myself wondering.

Thanks to blogs, I’ve spent years reading amateur writers. Stories directly from those doing the doing (not those payed to generate interesting stories).

Those who don’t (necessarily) write to further their career, or to build their resume, or to fill space in a magazine or a book.

Imagine what we’d know about hyper-globalized internet businesses if we’d waited for journalists to cover them? (Do they even qualify as a “growth sector” yet?)

The best amateur writers tinker around during the week and, when they get a chance, come back to their blog and share with us.

Aside from picking up a great book, my favorite reading habit is waking up in the morning and opening up my blog reader (called “RSS” reader).

For those of you who don’t use RSS here’s a video on how it works. You can sign up with a feed reader (my current favorite is Feedly). Your RSS reader will update when the blogs you follow do the same.

I don’t use RSS to track trends or watch industries. I don’t subscribe to blogs that update multiple times a day or are run by ‘professional’ companies. I avoid anything regarding the “media”–  and, by that, I mean pundits, opinions, and news. That’s the quickest way to get sick of your RSS reader.

I like to keep my RSS reader free from junk. I mostly follow simple, single author blogs written from experiences which update once a day or less. Practitioners in their field who are sharing their experiences and stories as they happen.

Much internet ink has been spilled about the ‘end of blogs’, but the writers that I’ve been following– many for close to a decade– are alive and well and, moreover, seem to be profiting (at a minimum spiritually!) from their efforts to create meaningful writing for others to connect over and comment on.

In 2006, when I first started a career in entrepreneurship, it was books that primarily gave me the tools to launch a business, but it was blogs which helped give me inspiration, on-the-ground tactics and like-minds to connect with. I’ve since met, or talked with, many of the authors who helped guide me on this journey.

If you haven’t ever thought of adding blogs to your daily reading ritual, I encourage you to check out Feedly. The accounts are free. You can paste this blog’s URL (tropicalmba.com) into the “add content” area and see how it works. 

Do you read blogs via RSS?

I’d love to hear some of your favorites as I’m always looking to update my reader.

Published on 08.02.16
  • Found this via RSS. I use ReadKit on Mac to keep up with things or Reeder on iOS. I agree with paring it down to single-author blogs with lower frequency as much as possible.

  • Amanda

    Feedly is great but I made the mistake of subscribing to some mass content sites and it got a bit overwhelming. I think I need to clear the list and try again. I use Facebook to follow a small number of bloggers (Found My Fitness/Dr Rhonda Patrick, Tim Ferriss, AlmostFearless/Christine Gilbert, Legal Nomads/Jodi Ettenberg, Seth Godin). For those I really want to see posts from, I’ve changed the notification settings so each new post appears at the top of my newsfeed. Others I subscribe to via email (Taylor Pearson, Chase Jarvis, Kevin Rose). I saw this post on Twitter. Which blogs do you follow/recommend ?

  • Tim Welsh

    Dan, care to share some of the feeds you follow? I follow Brain Pickings and Farnam Street.

  • I’m a fan of Feedly. Love it for it’s usefulness. Currently subscribing to photography blogs (60+) for one of my bigger clients. The “feel” you get from this towards the industry is amazing. Less noise, more depth. The quality of the posts on the blog is a great reflection of the organization behind it. Besides that I’m following doer/writer blogs. Especially the saas bootstrapper founders. Tip: check out the suggestions via feedly, search on quora for top writers or create a whole new blog post about the top xxx blogs to follow regarding the topic you’re interesed in. That last suggesting works really well long term. That’s about as precise I can be. re: individual posts, this one is a homerun and you can subscribe via feedly to his emails: http://us2.campaign-archive.com/?u=6b601ddd13ae676e0c4d8b6a2&id=1dfd8631e0

  • It took me a while to get over the loss of Google Reader, but I am now fully onboard with Feedly. I have blogs arranged into folders, and I have so many folders now that I have a must-read travel and general folder.

    Agreed that subscribing to news sites is useless as it will blow up your feed in no time. I figure that if a news site publishes a post that knocks it out of the park then it will turn up on Twitter and Facebook. I use Nuzzel for this situation, which aggregates the most shared articles each day.

    Now I just hope to see tropicalmba bolded in my RSS Must Read folder more often :)

  • I was once upon a time a Google Reader addict, now I use flipboard instead which is an awesome way to get the highlights without the noise. It’s like RSS with a layer stacked on top of it to filter the noise and is in magazine format on on ipad

  • yep, I’ve gone down that over-subscribe route a few things with big sites and industries I wanted to watch and it made my overall experience of the product much worse.

    I subscribe to most of the blogs you brought up as it so happens! Although I use Feedly instead of Facebook, Twitter, or other tools. I enjoy the serenity of it, also many of those other platforms have lots of other kinds of vibes, like promotion, money collection, friends/family, etc etc whereas I think of feedly as my own personal newspaper. I guess that’s also because I (almost always) go to it first thing in the morning when I get to my desk, which I reserve as my reading time, whereas with those other services I might go to them at random times.

    Incidentally– I rarely read articles in Feedly. I prefer to ‘click out’ and read each article on it’s native site. So on a lucky morning I’ll have 10-20 tabs open and ready to be read :)

    I’ve written a few times about the blogs I read in the business space:



    It would be interesting for me to take a look at how many of these have persisted and what has changed. Obviously single author blogs change a lot. One of my greatest pleasures is finding smaller blogs that are hidden away in interesting niches, for example, I follow a few “family travel” blogs that I just stumbled upon and enjoyed the writing.

    Just peaked into my reader, looks like I’ve got 100 options for tomorrow, some updates that jump out at me are from Marginal Revolution, DC Rainmaker, Steven Pressfield, Red Kit Prayer (I’ve added a lot of cyclists to my newsreader in the past year), Expat Edna, Study Hacks).

    I also like to follow a lot of little quirky blogs out of the business space, things like random expats living in weird countries and so on.

  • woot!

  • I was not aware of this. Never had a tablet yet!

  • yeah for a while there it felt like a panic/shitshow, I remember downloading my RSS reader data and uploading it to like 5 services… it didn’t take long for Feedly to step up.

    I stopped using Nuzzel for some reason, I can’t remember exactly, but I think it had something to do with not caring (and therefore not clicking). I’m so specific about who I subscribe to (you for example), that it’s not that relevant to me how many people shared something on Facebook, so i think that’s why I eventually stopped using them.

  • I follow a lot of the bootstrap crowd as well…, thanks for the tip!

  • Sure thing, pasted some in the comments above! Perhaps should make an update post sometime in 2016.

  • The Feedly app on my iPhone is the only way I keep up with news and my favorite blogs. I know some people want you to go to their sites but….So much easier to read via RSS :-) Matter a fact I was just cleaning out some junk feeds this morning.

  • Amanda

    Thanks for the links! There’s actually quite a few on your list that I already follow (love Mr Money Mustache). I’ll check out the others too.

    Agree with not reading the articles in Feedly, EXCEPT when the site in question has a cap on the no. articles you can read. One mass-content site I do quite like is HBR.org and it’s simpler to just read it in the app than mess about with browsers or caching.

    I didn’t realise Steven Pressfield has a blog! This has completely made my day :)

  • true! I’m a big fan on being on the ‘real’ site, but then again 95% of the time I’m on my laptop when I’m reading. Their iPhone app is good too

  • Yeah you should! I came to the comment section specifically to suggest a 2016 blogs worth following post :-)

  • :D alright good to hear!

  • I’m still hurt by the abandonment of Google Reader. Years of therapy have not been able to right this wrong.

    I actually get most of my reads on social media, by using an IFTTT formula that adds anything I favorite on Twitter or save on FB to my Pocket account, which I read in the morning.

    That way I don’t have to wade through an RSS of articles I may or may not enjoy, simply because they are on my preferred sites. I instead only read the things that look interesting to me. I’m a snobby reader that way.

    Plus, I can share links all day long with Jodi.

  • Ryan Nagy

    I had never heard of Feedly. Thanks (everyone) for the tip. I have reached the point that I hate reading online. Perhaps because I do so much it. Once a month or so, I order from Amazon and have 4-5 English language books shipped to me in Mexico. I then head somewhere – coffee shop, beach, strip club (haha) WITHOUT my iphone or laptop and I read without distraction. Seems to help me on some level.

  • still something nice about a good old fashioned book!

  • i do remember how worried so many of us were, i remember thinking it just might go away forever at the time. for some reason i got off of pocket, but perhaps should take a second look

  • woot! :D agree.. something nice for me about being on the author’s site

  • BTW, I really liked that you shared a list of the bloggers you are / were following from a couple years back (I think it is called 50 bloggers i follow).

  • thank you!

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