Friday, October 21, 2011

Blogs, Pinterest & Flickr... Playing Favorites

"What's this?" you say.  Kind of a what-I-do and why-I-do-it.  With pictures.  Maybe you can jump in with your thoughts?  Your questions?

We're so inundated with social media options that most of us take on a defensive stance - "I won't let that obsession happen to me!"  And then there's the fact that popular platforms come and go, leaving you wondering if you should follow the crowd, or not.  If you're anything like me, you need a good "reason" to jump on board, all the while considering that trump card we call time.  If you're on the fence about where to be online, this post might help you choose.  If you're firmly established, then why don't you spout off what you adore about your spaces?  You know you want to!  I'm listening!

Blogs.

Call me biased, but my #1 favorite place to be online is reading blogs.  It's kind of like the book series that never ends (usually) or the magazine that's honestly free.  Ok, it's a LOT like a free craft book too, since sewing blogs are peppered with awesome step-by-step tutorials. For a while there I thought I'd be content reading blogs, but it's kind of hard to make friends that way.  And, even if you don't think you'll make "real" friends online (I totally have!), there's the lure of feedback on your projects and opportunities to participate in quilting bees and fun swaps.  For many of these social sewing extras, having a blog may not be strictly required.  But it helps.  It helps people to know that you are real, and that you have some level of commitment to being involved.  Your blog doesn't have to be all about crafting either.  Your blog is what you make it.  How often you post, what you post about - don't feel that you should apologize for any perceived "shortcomings" in these areas.  Just enjoy it when and how you like.

My blog is hosted by Blogger, which I'll recommend to you quite highly.   I've been on both hosted and self-hosted versions of Wordpress, and I quite like Blogger better.  With Blogger I don't get spam (which can be a HUGE problem, trust me!) and it's integrated with lots of cool things like Google Friend Connect (which loosely tracks "followers"), since Google owns Blogger. 

For reading blogs, I use Google Reader.  Before Google Reader I used to try to keep up with email subscriptions, but that was pretty overwhelming to say the least.  Hard to focus on your task when fun emails keep popping into your inbox!  If you've never tried a blog reader, please do!  This one is a sanity-saver for sure.  I've not used any other readers, but usually you can't go wrong with Google.  Here's a peak at the dashboard:


You can organize the blogs you subscribe to into categories, which is useful.  I know someone who keeps her favorite blogs in a "Must Read" folder so that she never misses a post.  The other blogs in her reader she may or may not read, depending on time constraints.  Anytime you want to, you can clear out your reader by marking all posts "read".  You can also star posts or email them to people right from the dashboard.  However, you do have to click to go to the blog itself to make comments.  And comments are so important!  Show some love!

You can add blogs to your reader by copying and pasting the URL into the "add a subscription" tool in Google Reader or add new blogs by clicking "Join this site with Google Friend Connect", which shows up in the sidebar of many blogs and looks like this:

Flickr.

Psst... I joined Flickr before I started my blog!  If you're a crafty type and you're taking pictures of your finished projects, I know you're saving those pictures on your computer.  With a few clicks, you can upload pictures to Flickr for free to share them with friends and/or the online crafty community.  And the sewing community on Flickr is huge.  Massive! 

That said, if you create a Flickr account and add your pictures but stop there, nothing much will happen.  I suggest you take 2 more steps.

First, find bloggers you love by searching for them under "contacts" or finding a Flickr link straight from their blog.  Add these people as "contacts", which is a way of subscribing to their photostream.  Now you'll have a stream of photos coming in at you full of inspiration.  So, this is like following blogs, but pictures only.  A great way to keep up when you're crunched for time!  You can engage with your contacts by commenting on their photos, asking questions, even leaving notes directly on the images to talk about some particular part of the photo.  Here's an example of some of my "recent activity" where people have talked to me on Flickr and a bit of my contacts' recent uploads.  I check back with this Flickr landing page quite a bit!


Here's my photostream, should you like to add me.

Ok, the 2nd thing you should do on Flickr is check out the groups.  Groups are little clubs of sorts, but most are open for anyone to join.  They're a great place for inspiration, finding new contacts to follow and new blogs too.  Fresh Modern Quilts was one of my favorite groups getting started:


I even use groups to check out a craft book before buying.  The Handmade Beginnings group, for example, gives you a good idea of the types of projects in the book.  There are also groups for fabric collections, so if you're not sure you'll like a fabric in person take a look at it in action in a great diversity of projects.


And add your images to these types of groups so that people start finding YOU!  There are also lots of private groups on Flickr for organized communities like swaps and quilting bees.  Here's our page for do. Good Stitches, where you can learn all about the bee and apply for membership.


You can see what groups I'm active in at the bottom of my profile to get you started.  If you're a sewing/crafting blogger and want to be active in the community, I think Flickr is a wonderful place to be!

Pinterest.

Pinterest is the new kid on the block, but she's definitely turning heads.  I joined Pinterest because I appreciate being able to keep virtual pinboards of inspiration.  You can have lots of different pinboards, so as to keep things organized, and you can "pin" photos from anywhere on the web through a button you add to your browser bar.  Pinterest tries its darndest to keep track of where images originate, so that you can always get back to the source.  Because of this, you can also use Pinterest to catalog your tutorial bookmarks.  Visual bookmarks are way better than the old-fashioned kind!

The social aspect of Pinterest is following other members.  You can follow everything someone pins or just particular boards that interest you to keep your Pinner-stream relevant.  I'm pretty selective on what I follow for now, in order to keep things manageable for me.  I also rarely pin things, though that has been picking up as of late.  You can find me on Pinterest here.  If you need an invite to join Pinterest, this girl would be happy to help you out.  Add a comment with your email address!



I like to search Pinterest if I'm looking for images, since they tend to be of such a high quality!  And, by the way, Pinterest is not something you need to "keep up with", instead it's just a place to go when you're in the mood.  And you can certainly find some perfectly delightful things!  In fact, my most favorite board that I keep is called "Perfectly Delightful".  These are not things that I'm necessarily planning to make at all.  They are the supreme things I'll dub perfectly delightful, and they are few and far between.  Maybe, just maybe, you'd like to come see?



And so that concludes our tour of Rachel's social media brain. I hope you enjoyed the ride. If you have any questions about how to get involved, I'd love to lend a hand! And those of you out there who are already quite snazzy, don't be shy to share your thoughts. I always love a fresh perspective!

64 comments:

  1. great post! i'm in pretty much the same boat as you with what i like to use, though i'm really just getting into using my google reader (so far, i like). it did take me a little while to get used to flickr, but i love it! at first, i was really nervous to add my pictures to groups but now that i have i've "met" some neat people and i think it's a fun way to share projects and WIPs, etc.

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  2. I use all of the above. :)

    I absolutely love pinterest. It's great for keeping track of all the projects I want to get to "some day", find inspiration, etc.

    Humorously enough, my post on how to add a pinterest button to your blog (http://kelseyprantis.blogspot.com/2011/05/add-pinterest-pin-button-to-you-blog.html) is responsible for more traffic to my blog than any of my crafty posts - combined....oh well, lol. So it seems others are really picking up on it too and wanting to integrate it into their bloggy world.

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  3. Great post, thank you! I also joined Flickr before I set up my blog and have met such wonderful people there and found some fabulous blogs!

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  4. I have what is probably a silly question. I just started reading blogs and use Google Reader to subscribe and some blogs that I try to leave comments on say that I don't have access even though I'm subscribed. Does anyone know what is going on? BTW, love your blog!

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  5. I definitely spend the bulk of my online time on blogs and flickr. And I do love pinterest as well! I find my use of pinterest more sporadic. I also use ravelry for keeping up with knitting, although I use it less nowadays. I recently joined twitter, which I'm liking. But I can tell it will be sporadic, like pinterest.

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  6. I sometimes have trouble commenting on blogs that use Blogger unless they have the option of Name/URL. It is very frustrating because I miss out on alot of giveaway opportunities. I am just starting with Flickr so your comments are very helpful and I love Pinterest!

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  7. Girl you are only following 8 users on Pinterest? What the what?

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  8. have you discovered the 'next' button for google reader? i LOVE it! i like being able to see people's whole pages.

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  9. Thank you for this post! I'm new to following blogs about quilting and I'm loving it! So much creativity and inspiration out there. I've started my own, too, please feel free to stop by.

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  10. I love blogs and Flickr. I also started using Flickr before I began my blog. Following links to blogs from Flickr photos is a great way to find new blogs you will like.

    I agree with Kelly that the "Next" feature on Google Reader is amazing. It takes you directly to the blog posts on your unread list.

    I don't do Pinterest or Twitter. Blogs, Flickr and Facebook are enough for now!

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  11. That's where I'm at too. Well, those things are for me. I also use facebook and twitter, but that's just to keep up with the kids who live in another city.

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  12. I could definately use a few more tutorials on Pinterest. I think browsing pictures is great fun. It is inspiring, but most important is being able to track them back to their origins.

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  13. I'm pretty sure that I use google reader too, but I added it to my tool bar...so every time a new blog post shows up from someone I follow, it tells me. I can always go there and click straight to the blog.

    I'm with you on pintrest...meaning that I use it when I need inspiration for something in particular. It was a great place to go a few months ago when I was trying to help a friend find the perfect hair style for her wedding!

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  14. Thanks, Rachel! This was very helpful. I have a hard time keeping up with all of these things but just started with Pinterest in addition to my Flickr and blogging (which I just started recently too). All good stuff if I make the time for it. And thank you for all your inspirational blogging...it's the best! Happy weekend!
    Cristina

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  15. Thanks Rachel, that was very helpful. Being a lady in her late 60's I sometimes get confused with all of these sites although I did get on google reader about a year ago and enjoy reading all of the quilting blogs including you. Thanks for explaining the other things. I might think about Pinterest. Blessing Sandra

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  16. I thought Pinterest would be interesting, but when I was sent the invitation, it turned out they required me to link to my facebook account, which I am not willing to do!

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  17. I love Flickr,Blogs and Google Reader! I spend way too much time following quilt blogs and do it yourself remodeling blogs. I love them all! I would appreciate an invite to Pinterest. I've tried twice on their site and it says "when we find time" or something of the sort. My email address is gtsbackacres@molalla.net. Thank You! Toni

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  18. Fun post! Yup, I do all that too. And I was also going to mention the 'next' button in reader - then you don't have to click out to comment. In 'manage subscriptions', to to 'Goodies'& scroll down to 'Put reader in a bookmark'. The next button makes it even easier to read/comment thru the blogs you follow!

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  19. yep - i use all those you mentioned! pinterest is my newest passion...i tried to stay away from it for a while, but i'm totally hooked now. in fact, i'm having a birthday party for my youngest daughter tomorrow, and most of the ideas i got from pinterest! twitter is the main social media thing that i've never had any interest in getting involved with.

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  20. Nice summary! It's amazing how much social media stuff there is to know, huh?

    It was great to chat with you and Angela at dinner at the Sewing Summit!

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  21. I like reading your thoughts on these. I've been blogging for almost 2 years I think, but only got active on Flickr this summer when I started quilting. I LOVE IT! It's great to get that instant feedback without always taking the time to blog , and to just look at a bunch of inspiring pictures without reading thru blogs. At the same time, you can find great new blogs thru there too. I'd actually like to get active on twitter because I'm really over Facebook lately.

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  22. I had a Flickr pro account way before I started my blog, but only as a place to safely store photos. Since I started reading blogs, I have joined a few photo streams for swaps.
    I've tried several times to join Pinterest. The first 3 times I got no response. Finally this week they put me on "the waiting list". Progress! :D
    I'll have to look into Google Reader. I like the idea that you can group the blogs you read!

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  23. You got to the the most helpful person in this sewing/quilting community! I so wish someone had posted these tips when I started my blog. All these things were something I've learned over the past few years. So cool to have one blog post like this we can direct to when we have questions from newbies! Thank you Rachel!

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  24. I love Pinterest, it's so much more useful and inspiring than I expected it to be! And amen to first two points, I don't know what I'd do without my blog and Flickr is a must-have for any crafter.

    Just a note to Linda if she ever pops back - Pinterest only suggests you use your Facebook login, you don't have to (though they obviously want you to). I changed to an independent login because I was tired if it trying to cross-post to Facebook, and I don't really need FB knowing more of my business than it already does!

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  25. Great post Thanks! I currently subscribe to several, mostly modern, quilty blogs (yours was an early favourite) in Google reader and am a recent Pinterest partaker (but looking forward to the iPad app!) I debate with myself a lot about starting a blog. I'm in the "I don't really have much to say worth sharing" phase, and wonder if anyone would read it, plus Can-I-be-bothered-learning-a-new-techy-thing; not to mention the: Aren't-there-better-things- I could- do-with-my-time question, which I so far haven't answered sufficiently; so your post is all grist to the mill. Anyway I thought I'd comment so you know that plenty of people read and enjoy your stuff!

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  26. This post is a lovely public service! I always look for new folks around blogs/flickr and hope that they'll find me too.

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  27. Ahh, someone else with the same obsessions as me reading wise... I have to admit that I didn't read Facebook when I went off on holiday last week, and *gasp* I haven't read it since I got back. It's definitely been replaced with blogs/Pinterest/Flickr in my priority list.

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  28. This is great! I just started a blog a few weeks ago (its a little rough right now...but check it out if you're bored! I'd love to have a few followers to motivate me ;-) ) I also joined flickr, but I'm still pretty lost with that. However, thanks to this post, I now know I can "add contacts", and congrats, you're my first! lol. Pinterest I'm OBSESSED with, and I've actually done a few projects/cooked a few recipes that I found on tehre.
    Thanks for this informative post! Love your blog!

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  29. Oh also, to Megan up there if she checks back...I had the problem with commenting a few weeks back, trying logging out of your blogger and close your browser, then when you open it back up and log back into blogger, DO NOT select "remember me" or whatever it is that keeps you logged in. Hope this helps!

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  30. This has been a pleasure to read. Thanks so much for sharing. I love to read blogs all the time and receive updates via email. I go crazy trying to keep up with the tutorials I want to try. I'll email it to my yahoo account and keep it in my iPhone but it's still crazy. I'm going to see if Google Reader makes it any easier for me to get organized. I'm an organization junkie most of the time.
    Will you send me an invite to Pinterest? imastampr(at)cableone(dot)net
    I've been on the fence about it but it looks so interesting. I'm already on FlickR but I haven't uploaded many pictures.
    Blogs are like my books and magazines also. I love..love... to read. I'm spend more time 'reading' about crafting than actual crafting. geeze....

    Thanks for an entertaining post.
    And thanks for an invite to Pinterest when you have time.

    Debbie

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  31. I just started a blog (meaning only three posts in so brand new to this world) but I have to say thank you! This post was very interesting as I don't use most of the sites you recommended. Time to start! I really need a quilting network to inspire me, motivate me, and bounce ideas around with. I think my new mission will be to join a virtual bee, now just where to find one?

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  32. this is a great post. i have to admit that the many different methods of leaving comments is a big detractor for me with reading blogs. the name, the email, the web address, the extra clicks and the word verification slows everything down so much that i prefer flickr's method of leaving comments better. then there is the whole gushing over a flickr photo and then seeing it again on the blog--do i need to leave a comment all over again? but, i like receiving comments on my photos and my blog posts. but this girl only has so much time in the day....
    so, i resolve it by trolling flickr daily, being judicious about which blogs i regularly comment on, and reading google reader weekly or bi-weekly in one big batch.

    i also have to express my LOVE of pinterest. it is easy to get sucked in by other peoples pins, though. but just the idea of having a place with visual bookmarks with categories really frees up brain space for me. when i do my big batch blog reading and commenting, i can pin a few photos that sparked my interest and i can know that i have them marked to ponder later. sooooo good.

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  33. That was a very interesting post! I heard so much now about pinterst that I would love to try it. Would you mind to send me an invitation?
    sigrunmoller@web.de

    thanks a lot and have a nice weekend!
    Sigrun

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  34. I blog and use Flickr, and I've been invited to Pinterest, but I have no idea how to go about using it! Any suggestions would be gratefully received. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! Thank you!

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  35. This was a tremendous help - thanks SOOOO much!

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  36. Love the post, Rachel, you're so helpful and I opened several tabs while I was reading so I can now go back and play. As a knitter, I'm with Jacey on Ravelry; it's a great place to keep your projects organized. Still trying to get into flickr, but I'll get there!
    Thanks!

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  37. Happy Saturday! thank you for this post - I've been wanting to become active on flickr but haven't been sure just where to start {when it comes to computer stuff, I'm easily comfused :D}

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  38. Wow! Awesome, solid info. Thank you so much. I will have to break down and start a blog instead of reading everyone else's. Some of your info I've discovered on my own but much I did not yet know so want to shout out a great big thank you for this post.

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  39. Rachel you are so cute! Leave it to you to have a little overview of the who's who of your fav social online sites. And um, my Least favorite social sites (which will remain nameless because badmouthing is just not nice and you should Never Yuck another Person's Yum!), are missing. I always knew you had impeccable taste. ;) Keep it going chica!

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  40. I would be thrilled to have an invite for Pinterest. Thanks so much. tparkie@optonline.net
    Janet

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  41. I am on PinInterest but I haven't bookmarked much lately.

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  42. Thanks so much for writing this post! I've been thinking about starting a blog for months now and kept chickening out. Reading your blog today finally convinced me! Now I'm blogging at http://1sassymama.blogspot.com/. Wish me luck!
    (I've also been trying in vain to explain Pinterest to my mom, and I think you might have helped me out there too.)

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  43. I've never used the google reader before, but I hear everyone talk about it. I will have to check it out! Thanks for your insight, I'm new to all of this so your tips will help!

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  44. Great post, Rachel! Someone may have mentioned this in the comments already, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Google "Next" button. I put it in my browser's bookmark bar and when I click on it, it takes me through all the new, unread blog posts that I have in Google Reader, beginning with the newest and going through the oldest. And it takes you straight to the actual blog post, instead of the post in Reader, which makes it super easy to comment. I can't live without it!

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  45. To Megan about commenting - I think the easiest way to comment is through your google account. If you are using google reader or have a gmail account or ANYTHING google, you can stay logged in on your google account and use that as your "identity" when commenting. that works well for me!

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  46. thanks for that round-up. I was rreading blogs for a few months before I found Google reader, which is fantastic, BUT I now leave less comments - not good - as it is too easy to read down 25 blogs in a few mins.

    I LOVE Pinterest to bits as I now don't print off lots of ideas, I just pin one of the pictures and then I can find the blog again.

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  47. Sounds like we have the same taste in social media--except I'm a Wordpress gal.

    I was at tumblr for a while and liked it, but then I thought I'd try out the Pinterest and was way more impressed. I love how you can group things onto boards. And it's great that you can follow just specific boards from someone instead of everything they post.

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  48. Thanks for a very informative post...I use almost all but yet to explore on Pinterest and twitter!!

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  49. Thank you for the post! It's interesting to read other people's perspective! Blogs are my favourites, too and for me flickr came before my own blog, too. I love flickr for the sheer amount of pics and visual goodness. I'm a little bit on the fence when it comes to Pinterest, simply because of the time issue, but as you say, it's not something you HAVE to keep up with, so I will think about it. How difficult/time consuming is it to set up an account and then pin pictures?

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  50. Thank you for posting this! I just started my blog last week. I had thought about it for a while, but thought it would be too much work. It is exciting to read everyone's comments.

    www.shrimp-and-grits.blogspot.com

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  51. I operate several social media accounts for FaveQuilts.com. I've found that I really like Pinterest for identifying trends in the quilting world and connecting with other quilters. I really try to keep up with pinning because I like the idea that other quilters might follow the FaveQuilts boards to see what's beautiful and interesting in the quilting world. I try to give it a real "curated" or "edited" feel...like a magazine.

    I've also found that I can connect with different communities depending on which social media platform I'm using. Facebook is so much different from Twitter and other social media. Facebook is the one place where I really get to know quilters who aren't really in the blog world.

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  52. Rachel I love your blog! I have been following you for the better part of the past year and I am inspired every step of the way. I am a quilter/sewist also and I struggle to find time to create. I do lay in bed at the end of most days with my lap top perusing the blogosphere admiring all the hand made goodies that are at my fingertips. Pinterest is my latest addition and I have been waiting 'forever' for an invite. I would be forever grateful if you would extend an invite to me and make me the happiest girl! My email addy is sbova1118@gmail.com By the way, I have done the Martha Stewart sweater mend you show on your blog and love the results! Thank you, Sam

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  53. Wow- never new about the folders in Google reader. Seriously awesome! I never used it before because it was just too much for me- always just bookmarked my favs & followed them that way. Yippee!

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  54. thanks for a great post - and I've added you as a contact in flickr :)

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  55. Thanks for such an informative post! I'm pretty much doing it all but I did learn some new things to make it go smoother, whoo-hoo!

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  56. I would like to try Pinterest too (beckwin@gmail.com). Sounds interesting.

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  57. I would like to try Pinterest too (Dora.ramalho@gmail.com)
    Tks

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  58. I love this summary! If there aren't too many requests, I'd love an invite to pinterest too (eleanorfholmes@gmail.com)

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  59. Another great feature of Google Reader is the Next button for your browser. This allows you to view the blog posts at the site rather than just in the reader. While in Google Reader, click the little gear thingie at the top right corner next to your name/email. Select Reader settings. On the page that opens, click the Goodies tab. Scroll down to the section titled "Put Reader in a bookmark." Click and drag the orange Next button onto your toolbar. When you click that button, it will take you to the next blog post in your reader. If you have a Must Read or other category, you can create a next button for that group, too. Just select the tag in the drop down, then drag that button to your toolbar. You can right click on the button on the toolbar and click properties to rename it, if you'd like.

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  60. Thanks for reminding me about the social aspect of Flickr. Oftentimes I am just there browsing and searching. Since reading this I've decided to start actively uploading my photos and take the time to comment on others' photos. And, yes, I could be a better blog commenter. Though I tend to be a serial "liker" on Facebook, but that's a whole other story ;)

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  61. I got to look at your boards on Pinterest today. Love them! I would love to try this out! I remembered this post so I was wondering if you could you send me an invite? Thanks a lot.

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  62. Hi, I know you wrote this post ages ago, but I just read it today and have spent the morning playing on Google reader. It's a revelation!! Thank yoooooooou!

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  63. Today Fall is literally falling in heavy tears of rain so, a good way to spend time is reading your recent and older posts. I've only being following your blog but will join on Flickr and Pinterest, this happens to be the three ways I keep in touch with quilter friends around the world. Thanks for the excellent advices and enjoy your time.

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