A common freelance writer ritual is, at some point, usually at the beginning and maybe again in the middle of their day, freelancers will take trip through their feed readers and see what’s happening on the ‘Net. The idea of the reader is to allow people to follow their favorite blogs and Web sites without having to go to each and every site to look for updates, saving precious time. But every so often a writer must ask themselves “What is my feed reader teaching me?”
Great writers read voraciously, are curious and follow other great writers. Are you following great writers or popular ones? Do you pick up someone’s feed because you like their work or because you see in their feed burner stats that 2000 others seem to like it? Are you constantly starring posts and news because it’s interesting, thought provoking and potential article or blog topics or do you find yourself scanning and then marking the whole feed as “read?”
If you can’t come up with three things you’ve learned from the sites on your feed reader you need to revisit what you have.
Your feed burner should bring you some of the best writing the web has to offer and not just in areas of your niche. Reading items outside your area of expertise is a great way to gain a new perspective and to broaden your appreciation for a well thought out turn of phrase. Great writing and successful sites are opportunities to learn what works well with audiences.
News to Me
Your reader should bring you news – local, world and industry news. I like to do a Google search of terms under the news tag and then save the search as an item to my reader, ensuring I get not only up-to-date general news, but news that is focused on my areas of writing interest. Nothing generates more hits, whether on a blog site or through a query to editors, than a timely piece on a popular news story.
Filter the Jobs and Junk
Another habit I have is go through my reader periodically and get rid of the sites I thought were going to be a wealth of info, but turned out to be either duds or not right for me. You can’t follow everything – you don’t have that kind of time – so be selective.
I also send job searches from Craigslist and others, through my reader. It helps me keep track of not only what gigs are out there for the moment, but what the market trends are like in my area. *Let me be clear, it’s not a substitute for the great work Jodee does because she gathers leads from all over and most writers don’t have time to go through all of the hundreds of thousands of gigs out there, including the repetitive ones.
So this afternoon or tomorrow morning as you scan through the latest feed reader entries ask yourself “What am I learning?”