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Use A Startpage to Blog More Efficiently

This post was written by Glen Stansberry of LifeDev.net (feed). Check out LifeDev if you’re interesting in adding more productivity and creativity to your blogging and life.

There are tons of startpage options to choose from: Google Homepage, Netvibes, Pageflakes and a slew of others. Personally, I’d recommend either Netvibes or Pageflakes, but to each his own.

A startpage can be a very valuable tool if you find yourself doing a lot of blogging. The most immediate benefit of using a startpage is the ability to do many blog-essential tasks from one interface. Tasks like searching, jotting down post ideas, and reading news. These can become pretty cumbersome if you do them frequently. Using a startpage greatly speeds up the process, and in some cases can even automate it.

Here are some of the most immediate pluses to using a startpage as opposed to a traditional feed reader.

1. Customizable feed layouts. You can subscribe to many different feeds like a traditional feed reader, but instead of showing up in a river of news style the feeds show up in boxes. You can visually manipulate the layout to display the feed boxes however you want. You can toggle them open or closed, and you can arrange your most important feeds towards the top, leaving the less active ones at the bottom. This allows you to quickly scan the page for new items.

2. Tons ‘O Tools. You can have a plethora of resources to aide your blogging. Todo lists to keep track of post ideas, rich media (video, image, podcast) searches, blog search, instant messaging, imported del.icious links, email… the options are virtuously limitless when tricking out your startpage.

3. Multiple pages. Most startpages allow you to create multiple pages. So for example, you could have an entire page dedicated to one blog, with all the relevant feeds, rich media searches.

4. Shareable pages. If you’ve got more than one author on your blog, share your startpage with them. That way you can both use the same resources, as well as easily stay on top of what the other is doing.

So to put an example startpage in action, check out a demo of one I made here for cars at Netvibes. I only added one feed, but you could add many many more. I just wanted to showcase the power and simplicity of being able to search blogs, movies, podcasts and more in one interface.

I’ve been using startpages for a couple of my niche blogs, and I can say with certainty that it has greatly cut down the time used per post. While I do like Google Reader, a startpage just brings more overall blogging functionality to the table.

How about you guys? Do you have any unique setups with startpages that help you blog?

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Comments

  1. Jen says:

    At first I had one Google Homepage tab for each day of the week, trying to distribute the feed-checking tasks more evenly and not to miss anyone, but that system went out the window as soon as I had a crazy-tight real-world deadline that meant I missed part of one day’s list.

    As of yesterday, I’m trying a new system that divides my “feeds to follow” by subject, one tab for each of the major sub-categories within my blogging topic. Too soon to tell how it’ll work…

    Both cases, I had one other tab for tools – notepads, Gmail check, calendar, temporary bookmarks, currency calculator, Babelfish translation tool, that sort of thing. Oh, yeah, and horoscope…

    I’ll be extremely interested to learn what others do!

  2. Donnie says:

    Very good post. Thanks for the tip.

  3. I use a personalized Google homepage but I never thought about setting it up to help me blog. I just set it up for the things I want to know about – my email, the weather, news, etc…

    That’s a great idea to set up something just for blogging or to share with your co-authors on multi-author blogs. Thanks :)

  4. Arstan says:

    A very good article indeed, as a newbie blogger that’s a lot to read and learn.

  5. Justyn says:

    Great post, I think it’s a great idea for every blogger. I got to this post from a startpage and I’ve found it to be a huge timesaver! I have my feeds, related news, analytics all in one spot. I personally use Google and have a couple tabs for each aspect of my business.

  6. Joost says:

    Good advice! I definitely see how this will improve efficiency.

    From what I’ve seen so far I, personally, like netvibes best because it feels a lot like sugarcrm.

  7. Ashish Mohta says:

    Pageflake is pretty neat.I had been using it from last 2 mnths.But only problem is if you have a lot of feed it loads all of them and slows your system.I would still use a normal reader which can act fast

  8. Darren, I live by NetVibes. Have different tabs or different categories of blogs that I read and use as sources for my blog. Additionally, there are task reminders, wiki resources, and translaters that add to the helpfulness.

    Netvibes has greatly reduced the ease of capturing the kind of information in one place to make blogging more efficient.

  9. Samsara says:

    I use Google homepage and based on responses I am going to have to see about NetVibes [Steve!].

    Some of you are making it sound like the alpha/omega of essential tools for the serious blogger. Well, I plan on becoming a serious force to be reckoned with one day – so get to know me now while I’m still humbly unknown. :)

    I also appreciate Jen’s idea on multi-tabbing by topic. Unfortunately I have probably 20 feeds per tab and with one tab…that too with my GMail, calendar, and various modules. No good for a speedy “get to.”

    Great ideas and comments in this post.

  10. Until I can figure out a way to transfer the “keep new” entries from my Bloglines to another reader, there’s no reason for me to event think about creating a new start page. My Bloglines is, at last count, at 1852 feeds including search queries. I have it organized into about 25 folders related to different topics of my sites. There’s about 10 folders strictly for surfing, like amusing sites, video sites, podcasts, local provincial & city sites, etc. Maybe about 70 folders by “blog network” and their feeds that I may or may not read but follow in general how many posts they make a week or watching specific writers. There’s about 5 folders of people or groups of people sorted, regardless of topic or network .. that whenever it seems there is a new site created, I add the new sites! (like this one! i.e.22 feeds under a Problogger folder) .. Oh ..I’ve got one folder I call WTF that’s NSFW or feeds for stuff in progress that I do not want public yet, and One for my Daily “Must Reads” that I tend to read first, so I don’t accidentally click on the folder and mark all the other ones I’ll eventually read or not, as read.

    I find this way quite efficient when I’m actually blogging, because I just go to the folder/topic/niche that I’m working on and all the related feeds are there. But, when I’m not blogging it’s quite inefficient, because by the time you reach the bottom the list – the feeds at the top of the list have all refreshed and its a viscious cycle. So, usually I end up picking my ‘lot’ and surfing sidebars instead of going off on tangents.

    For general news, I do have a bookmark at My.Msn.com for general news, stock quotes, comics, movie trailers, etc – created before I started blogging, but easier to see the headlines. I usually get my horoscope emailed to me once a week, and remember to browse on the weekends. It doesn’t help me with my blogging whatsoever.

  11. Thilak says:

    Great Write-up Glem, I surely agree that Startpage can be quite handy in time management. I didn’t try a startpage yet, but Netvibes sounds promising.

  12. Andy Merrett says:

    Personally I find a startpage too cumbersome for the amount of feeds I need to consume. Google Reader wins every time for its functionality and features. I couldn’t go without its categorisation, ability to star and share features, flip through articles with a single key presses, and so on.

    I tried setting up a tab for one of my blogs in Pageflakes but I’d be forever opening and closing boxed individual feeds with my mouse – just would take far too long. However, most of my feeds are very text-intensive (not much rich media involved) so I need a system that helps me cut through many headlines quickly.

  13. I go to Netvibes several times per day to check to see if my favorite bloggers have had muliple post days, such as yourself. It’s invaluable in keeping my screen clear of clutter when I’m going from one story to another.

    One of my most adored abilities when using Netvibes is weeding out posts that do not have catchy titles. If a post doesn’t have a title good enough to make me click it, I probably don’t want to read it.

  14. I’m a big Netvibes fan … with blog and email sort capabilities, plus whatever else I need like news, weather and my collection of James Spader images all on one page. Life, unquestionably, is better now.

  15. TourPro says:

    The last blog I setup will be a collaborative effort. Modding the Dashboard (Angusman’s Dashboard Hack is a great starting point) has been the best thing I’ve ever done! Got rid of the WordPress feeds, added the functionality of the Our Todo List Plugin. Changed some of the default links to include: link to blogroll management, Our ToDo List, Blog Search, News Search, and to each authors own blogs. A group Flickr from which we could pluck pictures would be sweet.

    Sort of a private group synergy startpage.

  16. Rangga says:

    I’m too, big Netvibes fan — love it!!!

  17. Clark says:

    Start pages are so 1997

  18. Mike Panic says:

    I’ve been using the Google hompage since the first week it was announced, I couldn’t live without it. This past week I started to play around with the Firefox extension, Sage. While it is nice, it is not dynamic, since I tend to add feeds on a regular basis while I am on my work computer, home computer and laptop, I need them to sync. No matter where I login at, Google always has my stuff.

  19. Andy Merrett says:

    OK, now I’m thinking the Google start page might cut it – logical really that it would integrate Reader. I might have to adjust my viewpoint :)

  20. marcus says:

    good info…will have to experiment with this. tried it once with another with no good results…river of feeds link is not worknig but will check it back over the weekend…hopefully it is up..netvibes is lovely

  21. I use a start page (netvibes)

    On the other hand I use a traditional feed reader (feedreader 3.0x)

    Just as Dave has mentioned I use netvibes to jot down ideas,
    do multi-facto searches (wikipedia / google / yahoo…)

    But a traditional feed reader enables me to read feads offline, this way I can also read, think about what to write and even create a first draft of a blog post without needing to connect to the internet.

    Of course fine-tuning a quality post requires an additional 2-3 hours of online connectivity, but why should I waste my time if the angel of muse has just come while I’m on a boat or a train and I have my lovely laptop on the top of my lap.

    Additional benefits of traditional readers to me are:
    - The allow more advanced filtering than start page counterparts
    - I can define smart feeds (based on AND / OR / NOT query combinations and aggagate several blogs into a customized funnel to my liking)

    May be it’s just because I’m a archive-minded obsessive geek who believes that everything I browser that is interested should be stored off-line on my hard drive, else I may lose it forever.

    However I cannot deny the necessity and usefulness of start pages
    (Netvibes is a “permanent tab” (search for this extension — it is really useful) in my Firefox (do you still use M$IE ? )

    Cheers.

  22. Stephanie says:

    I use a combination of Google Homepage with a specialized page on one of my sites with everything I visit regularly.

  23. Larry Keiler says:

    Hey, I’m beginning to think I’m catching on to how to do this! I began my own Netvibes start page a couple of weeks ago. ie. I figured out independently that I needed this sort of thing! Hooray for me, eh?

    However, I’m actually using 3 start pages: Google, Yahoo and Netvibes. Kind of defeats the purpose. I’m still experimenting with how best to organize it all.

  24. Bob says:

    Very useful post! I’m doing something similar and thought you might like to hear about it.

    I’m am currently working on several sites that will lauch at the same time. Being the more technical type and a seasoned internet programmer by trade, I have created *my own* startpage that gives me access to almost everything I need.

    This not only helps me during my research, but also helps by conglomerating alot of the metadata details of my content into more manageable (cross-site) chunks… chunks that can be shared, searched and added to. It would also increase productivity for sites with more than one primary contributer.

    I would recommend using a custom startpage to anyone serious about blogging sites across different areas of focus and platforms.

  25. redwall_hp says:

    What I do, is I have a bunch of folders on Firefox’s Bookmarks Toolbar for each of my sites. For example, for my blog Webmaster-Source (http://www.webmaster-source.com/), I have a folder marked “WSC”. I stuff bookmarks in there (a bookmark for the site itself, one for Google Analytics, etc). For RSS, I use a feed reader I wrote myself. It’s called MyNT (http://my.ntugo.com). I have a bookmark that lets me jump-in and read my feeds in MyNT with a single click (that’s one of MyNT’s strong points: You don’t need to log-in to browse your feeds).

  26. Daniel says:

    I love this post!

    It’s sooo important to have a start page…as a matter of fact all my blogs not only rank in the first 10 in the search engines, they all have start pages too!

    If used correctly you can use this not only to educate your visitors, but to have them join your opt list willingly!

    From there ethically speaking, you should really have their best interest in mind.

    Daniel

    http://www.blogi360.com/

Trackbacks

  1. [...] March 24, 2007 at 9:46 pm · Filed under Weblog Use A Startpage to Blog More Efficiently [...]

  2. [...] – If you’re visual, keep tasks in a place that you can see them (either on your desk or on a start page as Glen suggests). If you are auditory, create sound cues as reminders or play music to keep you [...]