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Why FeedBurner? | Kestrel's Aerie

Why FeedBurner? | Kestrel's Aerie

Why FeedBurner?

Logo GIFAs many of you know, I’m the so-called “wikibrarian” (wiki + librarian) for the Twisted Nether Wiki’s (or, as I like to call it, the BLOB). It’s my job to turn the information bloggers provide us into a wiki page for each blog submitted.

One of the most important pieces of information we request for each entry is a blog’s RSS feed URL.

Default RSS Feeds

For Blogger blogs (blogspot.com), the default feed is found at http://yourblog.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default. Unless you scroll way down to the bottom of many Blogger blogs, you may not find the link to the Atom feed. Until I added this to our instructions on how to provide information to the BLOB, a lot of bloggers—old and new—had no idea what “RSS feed” meant. (More on the answer to that question shortly.)

Likewise, for WordPress bloggers at wordpress.com, the default RSS links (http://yourblog.wordpress.com/feed) are found in the footer of the main page (click the picture to expand):

WPDefault

Of course, not many people use the default theme, and most WordPress themes do put RSS links in a more prominent position. However, the point of this post isn’t to address why or how to implement RSS, but to advocate something other than the defaults for these two popular blogging platforms.

I would guess that 99 percent of the blogs listed in the BLOB are either Blogger, WordPress.com, or self-hosted WordPress blogs. The other one percent are TypePad, LiveJournal, or semi-self-hosted.1

Again, I haven’t counted, but of that 99 percent majority, I’m going to guess well over half are either on blogspot.com or wordpress.com. After all, they are free, they’re reliable, they work (for most people). I’d go further and guess that 90 percent of the self-hosted bloggers started with either Blogger or WordPress.2

Move Your Blog…Lose Your Feed (and Readers!)

So what happens to all your loyal RSS readers when you make that leap from Blogger or WordPress to hosting your own site? (And in case you didn’t know, the vast majority of your loyal readers subscribe to your feed, rather than visit your blog directly: Of the 200-800 hits my blog gets each day, almost all are from IPs that have not been here before (or at least, not in the last 15 days—so they aren’t exactly regular readers!))

Your default Blogger or WordPress.com RSS feed is not transferrable

What happens is, unless you post an article and tell them you’ve moved, and include your new RSS feed, you will probably lose them. That’s because your default RSS feed isn’t transferrable!

Even if you do those things, you’re still going to lose some readers; it’s the nature of the beast. Of course, if you knew the email addresses of all your readers, you could tell them that way. Or you could Tweet it (yeah, like everyone will see that!). In other words, it’s a crap shoot as to who will follow you to your new digs.

FeedBurner to the Rescue

Of course, there is a solution (you saw that coming, didn’t you?). Your knight in shining armor, who is going to lead all your readers to the Promised Land of your brand-spanking-new blog, is…(cue trumpet fanfare)…!FeedBurner_logo

FeedBurner is extremely easy to use; the only requirement is to have a Google account (and if you have GMail, then bingo!).3

With FeedBurner, once you’ve claimed your feed, that feed URL is yours forevermore, no matter where your blog is! Even if you change the name of your blog from, say, Kestrel’s Aerie to Osprey’s Outpost, as long as you update your FeedBurner feed with the new URL, all of your subscribers will continue to receive your feed and all of your pearls of wisdom without any interruption.

Why Does It Matter?

Of course, the assumption I’m making here is that you are blogging because you want someone else to read what you have to say. If you don’t, why not just jot your thoughts down in an unshared Google Document? So if my assumption is accurate, then a corollary is you want to build and retain an audience. Again, if you don’t, you could just send emails to the people you want to enlighten.

So what generated my advocacy of FeedBurner? As it happens, I was doing some cleanup on the BLOB this week. Besides moving a whole bunch of blogs to a page of inactive blogs4, I found a lot of blogs that had moved from Blogger to WordPress, or from free to self-hosted, or from one self-hosted site to another. In almost every case, besides a URL change, the RSS feed changed as well.

Save yourself the headache! Set up a FeedBurner feed now, and don’t worry about losing readers when you do move your blog.

  1. By “semi-self-hosted” I mean a blog that is a subdomain of a larger site.
  2. I did both: I was on Blogger for a few days, moved to WordPress.com for a week or two, then set up my self-hosted site.
  3. Google acquired FeedBurner last year, and for the most part, the transition has been extremely smooth.
  4. Be honest: Did you click to see if your blog was listed there? *grin*
 

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5 Responses to Why FeedBurner?
  1. Jederus
    May 28, 2009 | 07:02

    Fantastic advice. Thank you for this gem of a post!

    Jederus last blogged about The Top Ten Types of WoW Gold Makers.

  2. Runycat
    May 28, 2009 | 07:38

    Definitely something that all bloggers should know (especially those like me who absolutely fail at site-related stuff). Thanks for the explanation, Kes.

  3. Cathy
    May 28, 2009 | 08:58

    200-800hits? You greedy bastard heheheh…very impressive:)

    Yeah thank you so much for the info. I am still trying to get a grasp on it all. Eventually I would like to have a full site of my own so its nice to know there are options for keeping folks coming back. Thank you for all the info…this old lady has much to learn

    smooches

    Cathy last blogged about Farmer for Hire.

  4. Kestrel
    May 28, 2009 | 14:55

    Whoa! Okay, you three have totally made my day! :D I truly didn’t expect any positive feedback from this article; in fact, I was prepared for some much more negative reactions (there’s been a lot of that in the blogging community lately, and, I’m sad to say, not all of it nice).

    But for three people to actually say they got some benefit…I can only hope there’s a silent majority “out there” who are also “getting it.” :D

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. […] Finally, if you’re blogging on the subject of WoW you should also check out a great post on successful management of RSS feeds over at […]

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