A Potential Blogging Mistake That May Cost YOU and ME Traffic / Subscribers

25 March

feedburnerThe writing has been on the wall for some time and I could kick myself for not taking action sooner.

Everyone’s been talking about the death of Google Reader and many are also speculating Feedburner is the next service to get the boot.


Well in case you didn’t know, last year Google abandoned the Feedburner Twitter feed, shut down AdSense for Feeds, and hasn’t put anything into the development or support of Feedburner for quite some time.

So with the recent news about Google Reader shutting down, it’s becoming clear Google wants out of the RSS game.

If this happens, this will be a HUGE loss for bloggers and podcasters.  Whether you realize it or not, a lot of people may subscribe to your content using this free service.

RSS Profits

Now, I don’t know much about Google’s financials in this area, but my guess is that RSS is just not a profitable department for the search giant.

For example, if AdSense for Feeds was drawing in money from advertisers, they wouldn’t have discontinued it.  Period.

And with regards to Feedburner email, think of all the bandwidth costs that go into sending out those millions of Feedburner emails everyday.

That’s a lot of resources wrapped into a product if it’s not profitable.

With Google Reader dying in July, Feedly is becoming the go-to alternative for RSS subscriptions.  So if you do follow my blog via RSS or would like to start, now’s a great time introduce yourself to Feedly.  If you want to get away from apps tied to Google’s API, try Newsblur or The Old Reader.

I Really, Really Hope I’m Wrong

Let me just say, this is all speculation that Feedburner could be going away, so please don’t take my word for it.  Nevertheless, all signs seem to point to “yes.”

This will be huge loss for bloggers and podcasters — including myself.  My Feedburner list is now in the 5 figures, and it’s going to be impossible not to lose some of those readers if I switch to something else.

So that’s why I’m making the transition now.

Feedburner Alternatives

The good news is, you can actually migrate your Feedburner email subscribers over to Feedblitz — but not without a cost.
Yes, no one likes going from free to paid services, but at least paid services tend to offer more stability than the free ones.  Plus, you won’t lose any of your current subscribers because they don’t have to re opt in.

The other option is to use AWeber (affiliate link), MailChimp or one of the other email services for broadcasting your blog posts.

AWeber has a very nice blog broadcast feature that you can schedule, plus you can also send other things to your list (unlike Feedburner’s service).

The downside of going this route is there is even though you can import your Feedburner subscribers to AWeber, they will have to opt in again.  And of course that means you will lose some subscribers.

I’m Taking My Chances

Well despite the risk, I’ve decided to merge my Feedburner list with my existing AWeber list.  I have more confidence in their longevity so I’m just going to use my existing email list to broadcast my blog posts too.

(Which is probably what I should have done ages ago.  ARGH!)

I thought about setting up a separate email list just for my blog broadcast, but that would just make it confusing to manage and for my subscribers.  It’s easier to keep everything under one list.

Plus, I only blog once a week (and sometimes every other week), so it’s not like it’s going to add much email volume to my existing AWeber subscribers.

Since Feedburner is still live and kicking, at least those that don’t switch over to my other list will still get my blog updates.  So as of right now, it’s not as risky.

That’s the advantage of transitioning while Feedburner is still active.  At least those that don’t do anything will still get my updates — that is until (if) Feedburner kicks the bucket.

I’m Mad at Myself

You know….

I’m always preaching about how you shouldn’t rely on free services for your business, and I made the same mistake with my own blog relying on Feedburner’s email service.

I guess I felt secure when it was bought out by Google years ago.  I assumed the service would be around for the long haul.   Now that assumption could cost me some subscribers down the road.

In any event, just wanted to give you a heads up if you’re a Feedburner user.  If Google does decide to shut it down, no doubt they will provide enough notice like they did with Google Reader — so no need to panic.

But if you do use it for your blog or podcast, it’s time to think about what that will mean if the service goes away.

How to Prevent Missing My Future Blog Updates

If you receive my blog updates through Feedburner’s email service and would like to continue receiving email updates, make sure you subscribe to my main list below and unsubscribe to the Feedburner email you receive on Tuesdays.

(Feedburner email subscribers:  You may have to click here to view the form.)

Don’t worry, I don’t send a lot email. I also reward my list with exclusive freebies on occasion.

I will continue to send my blog posts out via Feedburner indefinitely in case people miss this message, so make sure you unsubscribe or you’ll receive duplicate emails about my blog posts.

If you are already on my email list, no need to do anything.  And if you’re not sure if you’re subscribed, simply attempt to subscribe in the form above, and AWeber will tell you if you’re already on the list.

It’s Hard to Please Everyone

I know this transition is a bit messy, but there really is no way to do this smoothly.  I realize some of you who are on my main list, prefer not to get emails about my blog posts because you subscribe via other methods (RSS, etc.)

However, I just feel this is the best way for business.  The good news is, I don’t blog that often (2-4 times per month) so it’s not like your inbox is going to be flooded with emails from me.

The other thing I have to remember is if people do unsubscribe from my main list because of this change, they probably aren’t that interested in hearing from me anyway.

So on one hand, this could be a good way to do some list housecleaning.  See there? I’m trying to focus on the positive.  :)

An Opportunity to Gain/Reinforce Reader Loyalty

The one good thing about Google Reader dying and Feedburner’s uncertain future is this gives us bloggers a chance to reinforce and endorse other ways to keep up with our sites.

A lot of people still don’t even know what RSS is or how it works.  It sounds complicated but it’s really a simple and convenient way to follow blogs.

Not to mention sites like Feedly make subscribing and reading blogs from mobile devices convenient since many of these services have apps.  Feedly will also transfer all your Google Reader blog subscriptions right over to them.

So if you use Google Reader, consider using them to follow blogs you love.  There are convenient add-ons/extensions for both Firefox and Chrome.

Cutting Out The RSS Middleman

You might be wondering, Lisa, why would you recommend Feedly or another free RSS service and risk them shutting down like Google Reader?

First of all, email and RSS are two different animals.

There will always be ways to subscribe to blog RSS feeds because it doesn’t cost anything to create and display a feed.  So I’m less worried about losing track of RSS subscribers because they will find other readers.

Heck, they can even use their browser to subscribe with RSS if they want.  (More details on this in a bit.)

Email is completely different because it can be a very costly service to maintain for the provider — which is why MailChimp is only free for up to 2,000 subscribers and AWeber is not free at all.

Relying on Feedburner’s email service to be free or last forever seems unrealistic — especially if the service is not making money for Google.  So for email, I think you should be careful about relying on free services for your blog.

I’ve sure learned the hard way.

Promoting Your Direct Feed

You may also want to consider educating your readers about subscribing to your direct feed that’s hosted on your domain.  That way you cut out the middleman (Feedburner, Feedly, etc.)

For example, if you use WordPress, your blog’s feed (which is simply a list of your latest posts) is http://yoursite.com/feed.  Your visitors can subscribe to this link right from the their browser.

If you use Firefox, go to Bookmarks >> Subscribe to this Page.  Now you can subscribe directly from your browser using their Live Bookmarks feature.

live bookmarks

From now on, you can access any blog’s latest posts from your browser’s Bookmarks.

Chrome has a similar feature with the RSS Subscription Extension. (By the way, Google did recently change their mind and decided to keep this alive in spite of Google Reader’s impending death.)  But you need to install the extension.

So in this case, you’re still relying on Google to keep this extension around.  To my knowledge, Chrome does not have a default, built-in RSS reader like Firefox does. Although, I could be wrong.

In any event, take this opportunity to educate your readers on how they can keep up with your blog updates.

In fact, I’ve just added a More Subscription Options link underneath my opt-in form to enlighten my future subbies on other subscription alternatives.

You can’t always assume everyone understands RSS — even in 2013 (unless your audience is more tech savvy.)

I used a similar page when my blog and RSS was fairly new.  It drastically increased my number of subscribers.  Not sure why I stopped using it.

Google ReaderLet’s Sum This All Up

Google Reader is shutting down on July 1st.

That’s no rumor.  It’s a fact.

That means anyone who subscribes to your blog’s RSS feed using this service will have to find something else.

Feedly seems like a logical choice because they will migrate all your Google Reader subscriptions right over.

So make sure your readers know about this big change coming up.  I’ve even considered adding a small blurb about it at the bottom of my future posts just to remind my readers of all the changes.

There is no official word that Feedburner is dying, but just in case it happens, it might be a good idea to slowly begin migrating away from their email service and use Feedblitz, AWeber, etc. for those who’d rather sign up for email updates on your blog.

And if you think email is dead?  Think again.  I actually have more email subscribers for this blog than I do RSS.  Just because you’re tech savvy, doesn’t mean your readers are.

And finally, it’s really best for people to subscribe to your blog’s feed using the built-in URL from your domain, so they aren’t relying on a 3rd party service or extension.

However, it’s not realistic to expect everyone to select that choice considering some people are heavily reliant on mobile devices and prefer to use Feedly and other similar apps/extensions.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to explain the options and even consider creating a “How To Subscribe” page that will appease all types of readers.

So what about you?  Do the Feedburner rumors concern you at all?

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