We’re finally moving away from FeedBurner

RSS button iconFeedBurner. Just typing it seems dated. We’ve used the service for years (maybe longer than we should have), with minimal issues, even though it seems to be running on auto-pilot. Still, we’ve gotten to the same point that probably every website owner has found themselves: where they have to make the decision to stay with a particular service or technology, or move on to something else. The choice can be difficult, because in some cases, the current technology works just fine (more or less). So why stop using it?

Well, in the case of Google‘s FeedBurner, this website owner has decided that it is indeed time to move on and start using a different service to manage our various rss feeds and subscribers. Of course we’re not unique in this decision: people have been switching feed management services since 2011 -2012 (around the time that Google announced that FeedBurner‘s APIs were deprecated) fearing that FeedBurner would wither up and die suddenly, leaving their subscribers high and dry overnight.

Reliable Alternatives to FeedBurner?
One thing’s certain: FeedBurner has been highly customizable and very reliable. Aside from a few glitches in service here and there, FeedBurner just keeps ticking along. One of the problems that people have with it is that there’s no longer any support for the service. Also, just logging into FeedBurner and the interface looks pretty much identical to how it looked  back in 2008, and 2005, and yeah, almost the same since the day it was launched. Now a flashy, modern interface does not make one product any better than another. After all, it’s what’s under the hood that counts. I think what people want (along with reliability) is re-assurance that the project is alive and actively being supported and not going to close shop all of a sudden.

So how do you guarantee that the next player in the web feed business isn’t some fly-by-night operation? Well, you can’t. Plus, we all know that small shops often grow into big shops (FeedBurner was once a new player before Google bought them) and values change over time.

What’s important to remember about rss feeds is that your feed resides with your website and not the web feed service, so even if FeedBurner shut down today, your feed would still exist. What we’re more concerned with are subscribers and the look and feel of your feed. This is all really about maintaining and managing your subscribers. So with that said, changing services is quite painless and not really isn’t a big deal.

So which service do you choose?

Free service vs a paid service?
Not everybody likes to spend money on web services that are/were generally available for free. However, sometimes a paid service provides better support, which isn’t to say that better support is guaranteed (which is why reviews are so valuable). My suggestion before moving over to a paid service would be to first check out their reviews, and have a look at the size of their user base.

“Why haven’t you switched to an alternative to FeedBurner yet?”
That’s the question that a friend asked me the other day which I found kind of presumptuous. It’s as if I was expected to bail out from FeedBurner when everyone was switching in droves. I think it’s very important to take a step back and watch the herd for awhile before joining it. Why? Because sometimes the herd is wrong and will charge right off a cliff. Ok, we will admit that we’ve taken a very, very long step back..

So, over the years, we’ve seen services like Aweber and MailChimp mature and almost become standards in their specialty. Both of these are email subscriber specific do not support RSS but if you do have large subscriber lists and heavy duty newsletters, these two will do the heavy lifting.

More feed specific services like feedblitz, SpecificFeeds and FeedPress do take care of your RSS feed and your subscribers (except FeedPress which uses MailChimp). Out of these 3, only SpecificFeeds is free and has a wide variety of features. They also make a pretty good case for moving away from FeedBurner.

I’m switching my feed management to…

For the purposes of this site which is still low-traffic/low-visibility, we’re going with SpecificFeeds for the following reasons:
a) Free – low overhead for a site that’s new and not yet profitable.
b) SpecificFeeds has a WordPress plugin that makes migrating your feed and subscribers easy-peasy.
c) Support and active, i.e., not languishing in development purgatory.

And don’t forget, regardless of what feed/subscription service you go with, you are still your most reliable service. And by that we mean you should always make a periodic backup of your subscribers!

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