Update (April 17, 2021): Google’s Feedburner will stop offering email delivery of RSS feeds in July 2021.
When I launched this site in late 2009, it was a no-brainer to use Google’s free service Feedburner to give people a means to subscribe to my blog via email or RSS. It was clean, simple, and easy to integrate into my WordPress site. It also required no work from me.
Nearly three years later, it feels like a dead-end solution. It’s not being actively developed or supported. Last week, after not posting to their Feedburner Adsense blog in 2 years, Google finally said they’re shutting it down. The primary Feedburner blog hasn’t been updated since 2011. Google also recently shut down their Twitter account for Feedburner, where they had 12,000 followers.
However, Feedburner is free, so it’s hard to shake your fist at them. And since I’m not directly/actively monetizing this site, moving to a paid service doesn’t make a lot of sense.
But I believe in two things: (1) the power of email communication (at least for my demographic of readers) and (2) the power of providing good service to those loyal readers. As of this writing, I have 1,000+ people subscribed to this blog through email, and another 1,000 through RSS. These are valuable readers, and they deserve to be taken care of.
Why was I dissatisfied with Feedburner?
- I couldn’t offer subscribers the option of weekly digests.
- I couldn’t send a message only to email subscribers.
- I couldn’t include anything additional in the emails (e.g., sidebar info or ads)
- I couldn’t add sharing or forwarding buttons in the emails.
- I couldn’t add a preview of comments on the posts.
- I couldn’t remind readers of most recent posts.
And there were many other reasons, but you get the idea. Further customizing the messages or delivery wasn’t possible.
- Choose a new service. MailChimp offers RSS-to-email sends, so the choice for me was easy—I was already using MailChimp for original newsletter sends and already had a MailChimp account. MailerLite and ConvertKit also offer RSS-to-email functionality.
- Export your subscribers from Feedburner and import them into the new service. You can export all of your Feedburner subscriber email addresses into a .csv file. Every email marketing service will accept a CSV file.
- Deactivate Feedburner for email subscribers. This is a matter of checking a box inside Feedburner that says “Deactivate email subscriptions.”
- Replace links on your website (or elsewhere, as needed), redirecting new subscribers to the new email subscription sign-up form (in my case, it’s hosted at Mailchimp).
Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.
In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.
Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.