Okay, I’ll back up a bit. An RSS feed for your blog is a way for people to subscribe to your site – via email or by using a feed reader such as Google’s Reader. Basically the feed syndicates your content to a third party; personally, I use RSS feeds to gather all the blogs I read to one site to make it easier to read through them. If you don’t have an RSS feed, well, you need one. Gone are the days that we have pages of bookmarked blogs to keep track; RSS readers update only when a new post goes live, preventing needless clicking.
So, back to Feedburner. For years Feedburner has been a free RSS creation service. Back in 2007, Feedburner was purchased by Google (for a nice $100 Million). Unfortunately, since 2009 Feedburner has languished with Google, and Google recently shut down the Feedburner blog and closed the Feedburner Twitter account.
This does not bode well for those of us using Feedburner to manage our blog subscribers.
I’ve been frustrated with Feedburner for years. I’ll check in and find, randomly, that suddenly 700 subscribers have vanished. They usually mysteriously return in a few days, but recently I lost over 1000 subscribers, and they have not come back. Now, while it’s entirely possible that 1000 people decided to all up and stop reading my blog in the same day, it seems pretty unlikely. The search for an alternative began.
After much research, I’ve decided to switch to Feedblitz. I chose Feedblitz because I’ve met the CEO Phil Hollows several times at conferences and I’ve heard great things about the amazing customer service. But what really sold me was the ability to alter how the feed looks; I can customize and make it pretty and add things like my logo or site banner into the feed (something Feedburner doesn’t offer) as well as get far more information about WHO my subscribers are.
But it’s not a simple process to transfer the feed over. First I had to change my email subscribers over, create a new feed, switch my blog’s links to the feed, and turn off Feedburner’s email feed. Honestly, it would have taken a considerable amount of time if Phil hadn’t taken the time to guide me through the process via Skype.
Current subscribers were sent a note asking them to resubscribe to the feed. So far only a few hundred have done so, but I also haven’t updated my blog since changing the feed over.
Now, Feedblitz is not free. It doesn’t charge for RSS subscribers, but there is a fee for email subscribers. For me – I have fewer than 500 email subscribers at this point – it’s going to cost me about $10 a month. This will go up if I grow my subscriber base, but I am considering this an investment in my blog.
It’s entirely possible, of course, that the rumors about Feedburner are highly exaggerated and Google actually has amazing plans for it. But since they’ve depreciated the API, that seems unlikely. I think Feedblitz is a great alternative if you’re willing to pay a little bit of money for it. There is a free 30-day trial (you do have to give a card number); give it a shot. Let me know what you think.