Feedburner Hack: How to Use Feedburner and Still Maintain Control of Your Feed and Subscribers

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?

Feedburner FlamaconEnter 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.

THE HACK:

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.)

  1. 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:

  2. 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.)
  3. In your Feedburner Dashboard, click on the Optimize tab at the top (second tab over).
  4. Under Services in the left sidebar, select BrowserFriendly.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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/).

FINAL THOUGHTS:

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?

Click here for more Helpful Hints.


8 Comments

  1. dauclair says:

    Bravo! I am going to implement this on my blog. I have been searching for a way to do this, and I think this is a great way. Most people click on the subscribe link, not copy and paste the url anyway!

    Thank you!

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    dauclair – Hey, I am glad this will work for you. And I agree, most people who want to subscribe usually just click through.

  3. Joe Berg says:

    Ray,

    This was a great tip. Thank you.

  4. Ray Fowler says:

    Joe – I am glad you found it helpful. All the best with your blog.

  5. dauclair says:

    Ray,
    I am now using Feedburner’s MyBrand for some of my sites and it is working great! I think it achieves the goal of subscribers consistently signing up for the feed at one address, and the address is under your control.

    God bless!
    Daryl

  6. Ray Fowler says:

    Hi Daryl,

    Good to hear from you. Thanks for the update, and I’m glad to hear MyBrand is working well for you. Keep up the good work!

    Ray

  7. alice says:

    Hi Ray,

    I was looking for an answer to this feedburner question, and found your article about it.

    I did as you said, but at the end, subscribers still get the feedburner address to subscribe to.
    That is, even if they click on my own address, feedburner redirects them to the burned feed (feedburner address).

    I think this way, the subscribers end up on feedburner’s side again.

    Any ideas? I noticed that on your feed I get your own feed address, so I’m wondering if I’m missing something here…

  8. Ray Fowler says:

    Hi Alice,

    I just went over to Feedburner and re-traced the steps in my post — just in case they had changed anything — but it all seems to be the same. The only step I see that may be missing is to make sure you activate the BrowserFriendly service. The Activate button is on the right hand bottom side of the BrowserFriendly page across from the Save button. Let me know if that was the missing step, and if so I will add it in to the instructions. Also, what is your website so I can try subscribing over there and see what happens.

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