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A breakdown of two major alternatives to Google Reader (feedly & bloglovin)

April 1, 2013

If you breathe blogs as much as I do, or even if you follow just a handful, the discontinuation of Google Reader is sad news. In case you’re wondering what the hell I’m on about, Laura at Hungry and Frozen has a good description of what feed readers like Google Reader do: “reading a lot of blogs can be a little taxing to the modern brain, so Google Reader lets you view them all in one place – a bit like subscribing to a lot of newspapers and magazines which then arrive on your doorstep every morning, rather than having to go to the shops every day to buy them all individually.”

As someone who now follows 380+ blogs from various genres (food, style, other lifestyle, politics), I wasn’t about to make a migration decision lightly! So, here’s my personal breakdown of two bigguns, based on a bit of research I’ve done online and from actually using the two, both on my laptop and on Android tablet (and some phone notes, but I have a Windows phone, so can’t be particularly comprehensive). Hopefully it’ll help you choose one that best suits your personal situation.

Feedly vs Bloglovin

The feedly crew knew about Google Reader’s impending demise, and basically aimed to be the arms that lost GR users would leap into. And boy are they nice arms. As someone who follows what is probably an abnormal number of blogs, I felt spoilt for choice. However, it’s not necessarily for everyone:

Transition

To transition to feedly, install the browser extension, log in to your Google account, and in the blink of an eye, everything is imported and ready to go. However, because it’s a browser extension, it’ll only work with some browsers – Chrome & Firefox are good to go, but if you’re stuck using IE, then stop reading now and use bloglovin or something else.

The bloglovin transition is even easier at first than feedly, because it’s all done without a browser extension. However if you follow lots of blogs, the importing takes significantly longer. No clear winner either way I’d say – it depends on your personal situation.

Usability, design & customisability

The first thing that hits you with both is that they’re much prettier than Google Reader. I’d argue though that feedly is better designed, and certainly MUCH more customisable, than bloglovin. Here’s what feedly looks like without me editing any of the fonts or colours, on both tablet and laptop:

Feedly's Magazine View

Feedly’s Magazine View

…and zoomed into how content is displayed, here are the four options you get:

Feedly title view

Feedly title view

Feedly magazine view

Feedly magazine view

Feedly full article view

Feedly full article view

Feedly cards view

Feedly cards view

Venturing into “themes” and “preferences,” you’re all of a sudden presented with a huge array of options you never even thought were possible or important, until they become essentials and you feel like a feed reader snob.

One thing I personally prefer too is that feedly maximises the space on your screen, but others might find that a little too cluttered. Just comes down to personal preference. If you follow a lot of visually-oriented blogs, feedly also seems to do a better job of showing you a sample image. I’m adoring the magazine view, which lets me skim through lots of blog posts in a much more visually captivating way than Google Reader ever let me do.

If you want to skim quickly, feedly also has an option where articles are marked as read as you scroll past them, which you can turn on or off. On bloglovin, you have to manually mark each as read, or mark everything as read (whether you’re viewing by blog or date).

All that said, bloglovin is ideal if you don’t follow lots of blogs, don’t have major preferences about customising, and have a serious aversion to tinkering with settings. On a desktop/laptop, you get one view, and that’s it. Sometimes it doesn’t pull the image very well either (see below – the image is portrait oriented, but instead of grabbing the centre of the image, you get the top half). If you use a tablet or phone, you can only view as a list of the blogs you follow (pictured below) or a feed of unread items, with a small thumbnail to the left and title/excerpt on the right.

Bloglovin's only view

Bloglovin on tablet and laptop

Sharing

Picking a winner in this department depends on what kind of blogs and social networks you participate in. Facebook and Twitter sharing is easy on both feedly and bloglovin, but feedly doesn’t have a pinterest button. Not a big deal for me personally, but it might be a write off for serious pinners.

One thing both reader lack is the ability to share entire feeds with your friends. Just above my Creative Commons garble in my right hand sidebar, you’ll see a link to my food feed, which is pretty cool. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get these urls for either feedly or bloglovin, which is a shame, because I’m not about to manually put hundreds of links to my favourite blogs on my sidebar.

Other downsides and upsides

There are still a few things that annoy me about feedly. I can’t turn off “featured” articles in magazine view, use feedly on my Windows phone, or seem to be able to determine if reads in feedly count towards a blog’s readership/stats. Also, this didn’t happen at first, but now I’m being prompted to log in almost every day, which is ok since I don’t have to enter a password or anything, but it’s still a bit irritating.

Bloglovin on the other hand stays logged in, and because you can “visit” it like any other webpage, it doesn’t matter what operating system or browser you use, you’ll be able to access it. Major thumbs up for this. On the other hand, I personally find the way they have kept things so simple is a bit dumbed down, making it hard to optimise your reading experience.

The verdict

Personally, I can only recommend bloglovin if you for some reason can’t use anything but Internet Explorer, don’t follow lots of blogs, don’t have preferences about customisation, and have a serious aversion to tinkering with settings. Even so, there’s no harm or major investment in trying feedly. Their magazine layout has drastically increased my use of my feed reader, and has really helped me keep on top of the hundreds of blog I follow. Ultimately though, it all depends on your personal circumstances.

Is there a major feed reader I’ve missed that’s also free and blows both feedly and bloglovin out of the water? Or have I missed something with these two? Let me know in the comments! In the mean time, if you’re not convinced about either of these, check out the comments section of The Kitchn’s post that includes a whole lot of other suggestions.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2013 7:30 pm

    Thanks for the informative post about readers. I am just contemplating what reader to use so this is very helpful. And boy you read a lot of blogs!

  2. April 1, 2013 7:56 pm

    Thanks for this post! I’ve been meaning to migrate my (1300+!) Reader subscriptions this weekend. I think I’ll be going for feedly.

  3. April 1, 2013 11:28 pm

    Great wrap up Zo! I’ve recently moved over the Feedly and am quite enjoying it – loving the clean look

  4. April 2, 2013 2:29 pm

    Thanks for this! I’m still sitting on the fence, waiting to see what appears. But feedly is definitely the leading contender at this point.

  5. nzhannah permalink
    April 2, 2013 3:29 pm

    thanks!!! this bothered me as well, ur info helped a lot :)

  6. April 3, 2013 7:46 pm

    I agree with you! Been using feedly over google reader and bloglovin for the last year. Love that they have an “index” page listing all my unread articles, too! Very informative post! #kudos

  7. Patricia permalink
    April 8, 2013 9:23 pm

    Thanks for all the work you’ve put into this research it must have taken hours or days even. I have never used Google Reader so don’t know much about it. I simply read my blogs from the dashboard – is this what’s being closed down? I thought everyone found and read blogs from the dashboard. I notice that a lot of people have signed up to Bloglovin and so I did too but haven’t actually set it up yet as such. I love blogging and hope these changes will not lose my followers or those that I follow.

  8. May 15, 2013 1:54 pm

    Thanks so much for this post! I didn’t even realize the features feedly could offer. I wondered what the big deal was about bloglovin’… Looked the same as Google Reader to me. Since my niche is definitely visual (I blog about DIY projects and design) feedly sounds like a good place to start!

  9. June 11, 2013 7:51 am

    Just what I needed to help me decide what to do. Thanks so much for a very helpful post!

  10. June 27, 2013 12:14 am

    It’s been a real chore and I am still reading reviews, such as yours to settle my blogs somewhere. I moved my blogs to Feedly weeks ago in anticipation. I’ll mention that I’m looking to move-AGAIN. If you delve into Feedly reviews you’ll see from comments MAJOR downers. First, it won’t let you export automatically once your there. So, get ready to move them out -one – at – a – time – if you decide to move. Their plugin runs in the background on your computer the whole entire time your running it and that tends to slow things down a bit. Next, you have to give over your “OK” so Feedly can access your email! Those are some pretty big negatives for me. I agree it’s a great looking and stylized blog feeder -just not worth all those HUGE negatives. Thanks!

  11. July 11, 2013 4:34 am

    Do you know if I’m able to export my Blog Lovin Subscription to Feedly?

  12. July 11, 2013 7:56 am

    I do believe all the concepts you have offered to your
    post. They’re really convincing and will definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are very quick for beginners. May just you please lengthen them a bit from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

  13. September 1, 2013 8:09 am

    I started with Feedly then switched to Bloglovin and back to Feedly. Why? Because Bloglovin does not show some of my RSS feeds… it completely removes them! Like one site I subscribe to deals with network security and so it shows some exploit codes and Bloglovin thinks that that’s bad so it removes it on my list of feeds. Feedly doesn’t care what your feed is – whether it’s about piracy or pornography or whatever.

  14. September 5, 2013 12:08 pm

    I only just learned about readers around the same time the demise of Google Reader was announced (I know, what rock was I living under?), and started out with BlogLovin. Then I switched to Feedly because I LOVE the layout options and the sleek styling. But, as a blogger myself, I’m very concerned about traffic. Have you figured out whether reading a blog on Feedly counts towards the blog’s stats? I’ve been unable to track down the answer…

  15. September 5, 2013 1:24 pm

    Marlene: I asked an online stats expert about this and apparently, if a feedly (or other RSS feed reader) user is viewing your entire blog post content within their reader, it won’t count towards your stats. However if you click through to the actual site it’ll register as a click from feedly (or whatever other feed reader you’re using, if they’ve set up tracking). So if your blog is set to provide all content to readers, then that could be problematic (if you care about stats for advertising purposes). However depending on your blogging platform you can usually set it to only provide a sample, which means readers must click through to your blog to access all the content.

    Hope that helps!

  16. September 11, 2013 8:32 am

    Thank you, that helps a lot! I’ll play around with my settings–I use WordPress but didn’t know about that option. I almost always click through when reading blog posts on Feedly, but I know many people don’t.

Trackbacks

  1. How to export your Google Reader tags to Feedly
  2. » As a Blogger; Why I choose Feedly over Bloglovin

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