Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday Tools: Keeping Your Readers Up to Date

FeedBurner may or may not be going away. So, when do you move your subscribers off FeedBurner? Or, do you? If you do, how do you choose a new service? Today I share some tips.
T minus 1 until FeedBurner API shuts down. Are you ready?
In case you missed what started the hysteria, Google announced it was removing AdSense from RSS feeds by December 3rd, beginning October 2nd. At the same time, they quietly set a date of October 20, 2012--two days from now--for the shutdown of the FeedBurner API. (They'd announced earlier that as of May 26, 2011 the API was deprecated but hadn't set a shutdown date at that time.)
What does this mean? Think of FeedBurner like a person. The API is FeedBurner's brain; it subscribes your readers, sends them daily updates, and presents that data to you. Last May, a doctor gave us bad news about FeedBurner; FeedBurner was in a coma and it didn't look like it was going to make it. FeedBurner still hasn't woken up; in two days, the doctor will be removing life support.
Earlier this month, Amit Agarwal, contributor to The Wall Street Journal's Tech Journal, warned it might be too early to hit the panic button on FeedBurner. He might be right, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
First, before you do anything, export your email subscribers. Be sure to do this BEFORE October 20th just in case there's no access after the FeedBurner API is shutdown. (Whichever service you use, you should regularly back up your subscriber list.) Mailchimp has a good step-by-step guide.
Now that you have your email subscribers saved, before you jump off FeedBurner, it's time to do some research; the worst thing you can do is choose a service that won't grow with you or is less than reputable. Before you jump to a new service, and before you select another free service, ask these questions.

Criteria for Finding a FeedBurner Replacement

  • Is there a company behind the service?
  • Is the company reputable?
  • Who uses the service?
  • If the service is "free," does the service display ads? Can you control the types of ads shown?

The available alternatives depend on what platform you're using for your blog: Blogger, WordPress, or something else. Here are three alternatives that came up often in searches for blogs hosted on Blogger. One -- FeedCat -- should be avoided as in the past as it has placed pop up ads that redirected readers away from your blog. For managing my email subscribers, I'm strongly considering FeedBlitz for its customer support.

FeedBurner Alternatives for Blogs Hosted on Blogger

ServiceFree?Monthly FeeAd Free?Reputable?
FeedBlitzNoStarts at $1.49/mo Depends on service you're using. Refer to Terms of Service.Yes. Live support available. Physical location provided.
No. Refer to Terms of Service.No. Business behind service is unclear. (Sources: Zimbio, WebUpon, Sucuri, and Hello Los Cabos.)
FeedityNoStarts at $6/moYes. Refer to Terms of Service. Unsure. No direct support. No physical location provided.

Are you taking a wait and see approach?
Or, did you switch to another service?
Happy Analyzing!
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