One of the most popular ways for many bloggers to manage their RSS feeds is through FeedBurner. FeedBurner was bought by Google a few years ago, but the company hasn’t ever done much with it. On top of that, during the last half of 2012, Google issued a notice that it is shutting down their API, having issues with stats and discontinuing their blog and twitter account.
All of these issues have caused many to think that Google is phasing out FeedBurner, and no one knows what will happen if FeedBurner goes down permanently in the near future. Instead of waiting for what could be the end, it makes sense to consider alternatives right now and ensure that you don’t lose all the subscribers you’ve built up.
For the email subscriber portion of FeedBurner, I highly recommend Aweber. I moved all my email subscriptions over to Aweber, which can be done by contacting support and having them verify the opt-ins in your FeedBurner account, sparing you from needing subscribers from having to opt-in again. This was done even before all the concerns over FeedBurner’s future. At the time I did it for the ability to send out better looking emails and be able to occasionally send out non-RSS content. Now it has the added benefit of hosting my email list somewhere more likely to be around years from now.
It’s possible to find other services that can help you manage RSS subscribers. One of the more popular options is FeedBlitz. You have to pay for FeedBlitz, which is different from FeedBurner’s free service. However, it’s fairly low-cost at $1.49 at month. I tested FeedBlitz out with a smaller site’s feed and while I liked their service at first, I had various issues from having my settings cleared out to being double charged. When I told their support that I was double charged, they refunded it promptly, but that then triggered a notice that my account was unpaid and will be set to a 15 day ad-supported service. The biggest issue with any move to a new service is if you’re using the FeedBurner url for your RSS feed, realize that you might need to ask your readers to re-subscribe after you move to a new RSS subscription service.
MyBrand: Little Known Way to Reduce Your FeedBurner Risk
Another option is a little-known FeedBurner option called MyBrand. With MyBrand, your RSS feed is under your own domain name. For many using FeedBurner, the RSS subscription address is one for FeedBurner, and not for your domain. That means that others don’t subscribe to your domain name in their RSS reader; they subscribe to a FeedBurner domain. MyBrand allows you to coordinate your branding efforts and gives you the freedom to change services in the future without losing any RSS subscribers.
Using MyBrand, new subscribers use a link that is unique to your domain. Previous subscribers can keep the old link. This setup allows you to keep your current Feedburner subscribers, while building new subscribers on your own domain, all with combined stats and subscriber count count.
If you want to use MyBrand with your feed, here is what you need to do:
- In the DNS records for each domain in question, you need to create a CNAME entry. It can take up to 24 hours for this to take place, so you might need to be patient. Also, understand that you might need to check with your web host or registrar to see if you can change your own CNAME. If you can’t, you need to switch up your services if you want to use MyBrand.
- Once you have your CNAME changed, you can add your feed specific domain names so that they point to the right place. Your domain name RSS link with redirect to FeedBurner, but readers will see your brand, rather than the FeedBurner brand.
- Activate the MyBrand service from your FeedBurner account. You should be able to do this from the My Account menu within FeedBurner.
Once you have completed the steps, test to make sure that everything is working as it should be. You want to make this a smooth transition.
Encourage Prior Subscribers to Change
So now you’re building up new rss subscribers with the new url, but what about the old ones if something happens to FeedBurner in the future? To improve my chances of getting them onto my domain, I added a footer to every post in the RSS feed as a reminder.
If you’re using WordPress SEO, you can simply head over the RSS section of the plugin and enter a message (with a proper href for the link) similar to:
If you’re reading this post in an RSS reader, please update your subscription to http://feed.createhype.com/onlinemoneynet
After all these steps, you’ve reduced the risk associated with a FeedBurner shutdown, but in the meantime haven’t shot yourself in the foot by losing subscribers while changing providers over something that might happen in the future.