Here is a great little hack that will allow you to gain all the benefits of Feedburner without ever losing control of your original feed and subscribers. (I don’t usually blog about blogging, but I have not seen this hack covered elsewhere, so I thought I would make it available here.)
A LITTLE HISTORY:
If you have a blog, then you probably want to know how many people subscribe to your blog. There are plenty of programs to help you track visitors, but tracking subscribers is a particular challenge. Most blogs generate several feeds, and subscribers use a variety of different feed readers. How do you capture all this information in a single number?
Enter Feedburner. Feedburner provides a way to consolidate all your feeds into one “burned” feed and then gives you back detailed information about your subscribers — such as how many subscribers do you have, which feed readers do they use, what items on your blog do they view, etc. This is helpful information for any blogger, and Feedburner provides all these statistics free of charge.
However, many bloggers hesitate signing up with Feedburner because they do not want to lose control of their feed. The question arises: “If I sign up with Feedburner, and all my subscribers subscribe to my new Feedburner feed, what happens if I ever want to leave Feedburner?” Sure, you could ask all your subscribers to re-subscribe to a different feed, but not everyone will, and you could lose some subscribers along the way.
That is exactly the situation I faced last summer when I was trying to decide whether or not to go with Feedburner. One possible solution was to use Feedburner’s MyBrand. MyBrand allows you to use Feedburner while running everything through your own domain instead of theirs. The problem with MyBrand, however, is that the set-up is somewhat technical, and you still need to create a new feed name to use the service.
Here is a much simpler way that allows you to take full advantage of all of Feedburner’s services while still maintaining control of your original feed and subscribers. Basically, you redirect all your feeds into your one burned feed, but then have new subscribers subscribe through your original feed on your Feedburner landing page. Here is how to do it. (Note: If you already have a Feedburner account, you can skip straight to Step 3.)
- Sign up with Feedburner. Give them your original feed, and then choose a name for your new “burned” feed. Here is an example using my own blog feeds:
- Follow Feedburner’s instructions to redirect all feeds coming from your blog to your new burned feed. (Note: If you have a self-hosted WordPress site, the Feedburner Feedsmith plugin will do this for you.)
- In your Feedburner Dashboard, click on the Optimize tab at the top (second tab over).
- Under Services in the left sidebar, select BrowserFriendly.
- Scroll down to Content Options at the bottom of the page where you will see these words highlighted in blue: “Use your redirected feed URL on your BrowserFriendly landing page.” Click on the words, and a hidden option will magically appear: “Redirected Feed URL” with an empty box next to it. Put your original feed in the box (here is an example from my blog once again: http://www.rayfowler.org/feed/), and then click Save at the bottom left-hand corner of the page.
- Voilá! You now have full access to all of Feedburner’s services, but you have created a direct path for your subscribers to subscribe through your original feed.
- You can see how this works on my site by clicking the Subscribe button near the top of the right sidebar, or you can just click the word Subscribe here. Either one will bring you to my Feedburner landing page. Even though my burned feed (http://feeds.feedburner.com/rayfowler) shows as the URL, if you click on any of the subscribe options under Subscribe Now, they will automatically subscribe you under my original feed (http://www.rayfowler.org/feed/).
Although this method is not foolproof, you will find that most of your subscribers will end up subscribing under your original feed. A few may still go to the trouble of copy-and-pasting the burned feed from the landing page URL, but most subscribers will just click on one of the links under Subscribe Now. So far this method has worked great for me. What are your thoughts?