Review: Using Pocket for start-up bloggers
I would like to tell you about Pocket, a wonderful little app I’ve been using as a ‘save button for the web’.
Have you ever come across a fabulous blog post that you have either read and enjoyed thoroughly, but don’t want to lose it? Or one that you know is going to be wildly interesting and extremely valuable to whatever you’re writing about, but you haven’t time to read it there and then?
Would it be useful to be able to keep those posts somewhere you can find them again at a later date?
I use Pocket to capture the posts I don’t want to lose, or want to save for later. In fact I have no idea how many posts I have saved on my Pocket account (if I did I would feel really guilty for not having read them all!). But I have this really good feeling that I haven’t lost, mislaid or abandoned something I considered worth saving to read later.
What happens when I see a post I like?
I get lots of notifications about blog posts that may interest me every day. And then there are the others I find as I explore the web, or bump into when perusing through social media. And sometimes I actively go out and find relevant content when I’m doing research for my own posts.
Since I usually do all of this on my Mac computer (it’s much easier than using hand held devices), I have installed a Pocket Chrome extension:
Which I merely click on when I find a post I want to save, and when the little Pocket logo goes red, and a little menu plops down:
I know the post has been saved.
(Sometimes I’m really lazy and save posts without checking them first, which is always a bad idea. It’s too easy to move your mouse up to the Pocket icon before determining whether the post is worth saving or not. This means your Pocket list becomes cluttered with crap when it really should be preserved for only the best.)
Where does my saved posts go?
When I want to look at all the posts I’ve saved, I go to https://getpocket.com/a/queue/ to view a visual list laid out in a magazine style:
See any posts you recognise? Sometimes this list can be quite revealing…
What is a good thing is that you don’t need to necessarily be connected to the web to be able to read the contents of your list. This is very useful when I view my list via my iPad app. I just need to make sure all my posts have been ‘uploaded’ properly when I have access to wifi, and I can happily read them on the train during a boring journey.
But it’s worth being aware that when the post is saved, it is captured at that point. This means it is not updated when the post is reviewed or republished, but it also means should the original post be deleted for any reason, you still have a record of it preserved in your Pocket list!
Are there any other uses?
Well, the most obvious one I can see is the Recommended feature. I confess I don’t use it very much, as I’m always dubious about what other people think is good content for me (they invariably get it wrong!). I know this is me being a bit snobbish, but am very particular about what I want to read and keep for later.
If you are into Curation (which is a very good thing to do if you want to raise your profile around the social web), then looking at Pocket’s Recommendations is a good place to start. Its algorithm looks at the kind of content you have saved in your own list, and produces examples it thinks you might be interested in:
Hmmm, there’s a couple I might investigate later…
As you can see, they glean content from quality bloggers and respected writers, so the only bone I have to pick with them is probably the subject matter.
How can you encourage others to save your posts on Pocket?
By making sure the social sharing buttons clearly show the Pocket icon. The floating sharing button bar on the left certainly has it (check it out)! And the sharing buttons on WordPress.com have included it for a long time:
Of course it stands to reason you need to write posts that are worthy of saving in Pocket, but if you make sure the Pocket icon is readily available, and your readers have an account, there is a good chance they will want to pop your post into their list.
And I think I read somewhere that the act of ‘bookmarking’ draws the attention of the search engines to your posts, since the algorithms deem the content to be worthy if others want to save it in this way.
What I think about Pocket
The good bits
Finally a reliable save button to capture my posts to read later
So far I think I can access all my posts, even those saved ages ago
Posts that have been deleted online are still available in my list
There is a good search mechanism available
The save button is easily accessible in my Chrome browser bar
It was easy to set up an account and it’s free!
I can access my Pocket list via my iPad without needing to be connected to wifi
It’s good to know the Pocket icon is included in social sharing buttons
Things worth noting
It’s a terrible drain on memory as a mobile phone app
I have yet to investigate the prowess of their recommendation algorithm
Some images are not captured when you view the posts offline
Of course the links don’t work when you’re offline
Without a browser button, you’ll need a Pocket social sharing button or go into your list and paste in the post’s URL via the + icon at the top to save it
If Pocket’s servers are down, you can’t read your posts
You might never get round to reading all the posts you’ve saved (like me)!
What extra items can you add to these lists? You’ll only know by giving Pocket a try.
How can this benefit you?
When you’re starting out on your blogging journey, one of the best things you can do is to read lots of posts. Having Pocket by your side means you can save and capture these posts, not only to read later, but to refer to when necessary.
I use Pocket to save important posts that I know I will need later. When I’m researching a complicated post, I store what I’ve gleaned in Pocket for safekeeping.
And using Pocket’s Recommendation system will put you in front of more posts that would be interesting and could inspire you towards better writing. It’s a great place to find eminent and noteworthy bloggers for you to follow and learn from.
If you need any encouragement about setting up and using Pocket, don’t forget I am here to help. In fact you can use me for any blogging problem you may come across, particularly in the first stages of your blogging careers.
All you need to do is to click on the button below to get the process going:What burning questions do you have?
I look forward to hearing from you.
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