Say you find a blog post that you want to read but don’t have the time right now. Instapaper is a tool that allows you to clip and save the article so that you can read it either on the Instapaper site or Instapaper app at a later date. It works great for this purpose (as does Pocket), but it’s not the primary reason why I use it. My main use for Instapaper is to sort articles I like into RSS feeds. I can then use these RSS feeds to power curated blogrolls on my own website.
The first step involved is very easy. If you sign up for an Instapaper account you can go to your Unread Article feed (which is filled with articles you clip and save) and create folders (click any of the screenshots below to enlarge them):
You’ll see in the above photo that I have a bunch of folders sorted by topic area, most are running related since I write a running blog.
To add an article from your unread list to a folder (I only have one unread article in this example), you simply move your mouse over to the right hand side near the heart icon and the option to move the article to a folder will magically appear:
Next, click on one of your folders in the gray column on the left and a feed of posts contained in that folder will appear. For this example I’ll select the Recommended Posts tab, which is now feeding to a widget on my blog homepage (Recommended Posts from Around the Web):
(Tip – you can grab that little black box on the bottom of folder feeds and drag it to your browser bookmark bar to clip posts directly to that folder)
Next comes the tricky part. In older versions of Instapaper there was an icon to view the RSS feed for the selected folder at the bottom of the page. That no longer seems to exist. However, you can find the RSS feed by right-clicking your browser window (I’m using Chrome here) and selecting “View Page Source.” That will bring up a screen that looks like this:
The RSS code you need for the folder of interest is indicated by a red box (added to the above image by me) – you can search for RSS if you are having trouble finding it.
One more step – we need to make a slight addition to change it from:
by adding http://www.instapaper.com before the initial backslash to yield this:
And there you have it – this is a functioning RSS feed for my Instapaper Recommended Posts folder, and any post I put into that folder will enter into this feed. And what’s cool is that I can use the feed in any Blogroll or RSS widget on Blogger or WordPress to show a curated RSS feed of posts that I have read and liked.
Since Instapaper integrates with Feedly, I can read through my collected RSS feeds in Feedly, click the Instapaper button in Feedly when I read something I like, and have everything ready to be sorted in my Unread folder next time I log into Instapaper. If I’m on the web I can just click on the folder bookmarklet in my browser (mentioned how to do this in above) to shoot articles directly into my Recommended Posts folder and they will show in my blogroll automatically.
This tool works better for me for sharing recommended articles on my blog than having say a Twitter or Facebook widget since I use those services for more than just recommending blog posts on other sites. I’ve found this to be very useful, I hope you do to!