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Is there an alternative to Feedburner?

| October 30, 2008 | 30 Comments

We all use Feedburner to track our RSS subscribers. It’s not just to feed that egotistical need to know how many people are hanging onto our every word, but the number of RSS feed subscribers you have is an important metric for indicating the success (or failure) of your blog. It seems that the number of subscribers has a connection with the number of visitors to a site since I’ve found that the number of people visiting a site seems to rise in relation to the number of feed subscribers, but this metric also indicates the stickiness of your content.

But recently Feedburner has not been behaving. We have one client whose feed consistently showed a page that said something like “Kraaak bork, your Feedburner feed is not working,” a stressful site to say the least for a guy who wants to make sure his feed subscribers are getting his content. Many people have been complaining about problems with Feedburner in the last while: ReadWriteWeb reported that Feedburner was slow on pinging feeds, and over here at WordPress Garage I had the pleasure of watching our readers plunge from 1030 to 380. The next day the number went back up, and I can’t imagine it’s because 700 of you unsubscribed and then regretted your decision and resubscribed.

(And may I just take this opportunity to thank all our subscribers for sticking with us. We love you. You rock.)

Anyways, this situation is yet another example of the scariness of a) The Google monopoly (Google bought Feedburner) and b) The problem with allowing services to “own” your content. This is similar to the problem with hosting your blog on WordPress.com, which I’ve discussed here in the past. In the case of Feedburner, your are at their mercy if they have trouble with the service, or if for some reason they decide to cancel your account, in which case  you lose all your preciously collected subscribers.

So…the question is: is there an alternative to Feedburner? After doing a bit of searching, I found the following alternative ways for measuring feed subscribers:

  1. Check how many people are subscribed to your blog on feed reader services that offer these types of stats, like Bloglines and Google Reader. See this post for instructions on how to see the number of subscribers on each service. This solutions would allow you to see general trends, like if the number of subscribers is going up or down, and you could even calculate percentage growth or decline. However, you would not get a good indication of the total number of subscribers on all feed readers.
  2. (The following methods were all described on this post on the Free Marketing Zone.) Access logs: Use server logs to track how many times your feed page was accessed. This apparently does not give accurate results.
  3. Images: Put a 1px by 1px image in your feed, which will be accessed every time your feed is opened in a reader. However, this only tells you how many people are reading your RSS, not how many are subscribed.
  4. RSS Buttons: track the number of clicks of your image button that leads to an RSS feed. This is also not accurate since some people may just click and then not subscribe, and many people subscribe to an RSS feed without clicking on a button on your site; they use the RSS access in their browsers address bar, or simply enter your site’s URL in their feed reader, and the reader detects the URL automatically.
  5. Tracking URL: Create a unique URL for every click to access the feed, so that whenever a person clicks the button, a unique URL is assigned, like the following: http://domain.com/feed.xml?uniqueurl_countvisitors. But I don’t know about that option – it sounds a bit much to create so many new URLs for a site.

As you can see, these options are ok, but not great. So if anyone knows of another service that provides feed subscription stat services, please let us know. And if there isn’t another option, please can someone create one? It would do all of us a great service.

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Category: News & Views

About Miriam Schwab: Miriam is the friendly CEO of illuminea, a WordPress design and development agency. Miriam is a huge fan of WordPress and has been using it for over five years now. In addition, Miriam and her team have been organizing the local Israeli WordCamp conferences for the past few years. View author profile.

Comments (30)

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  1. Neowster says:

    Well, I too am fed up with feedburner, and decided to do something about it. Check this out if you’re looking for an alternative.


  2. Andrew says:

    I have nothing I’m afraid, but I am interested to see if there are alternatives. Especially for the hosting aspect of Feedburner.

  3. DerFrankie says:

    In order to not lose your subscribers (if anything in the future would happen) you should always make the readers subscribe to the original feed and redirect them to feedburner.

    You for example give the Feedburner-Address and not feed  – The wordpress-plugin from Feedburner will do the trick for you, and if you have to go away from feedburner, you just disable it. You wont have any metrics, but you wont loose any subscriber.

  4. DerFrankie says:

    Addition: I looked on the RSS-Symbol, there you use the Feedburner-URL, for the rest you already use redirection.

  5. […] Is there an alternative to Feedburner? (tags: feedburner rss) […]

  6. Miriam Schwab says:

    @DerFrankie: I don’t think redirection is the answer, because the person ends up subscribing to the feedburner feed, even if the original feed they accessed was the native WP feed.

  7. derFrankie says:

    I checked again, and your right. But maybe the CNAME Trick would be an option. So you have a custom subdomain for feeds and the “redirect” is on a deeper not visible layer to the readers. Have to try.

  8. Shrihari says:

    Hey, i think this post provides a nice walk-through to set up your own FeedBurner alternative…

  9. Shrihari says:

    Just a small request… In my previous comment, i’d like the URL to be changed to http://gotchance.com/blog/

  10. DerFrankie says:

    Now I’ve got it togheter. It’s not an alternative, but it’s about saving your subscription for the future.

    I added through my ISP a CNAME redirection to Feedburner and added the domain to “MyBrand” – Direction can be found under your Feedburner account/Mybrand

    Then I use the Feedburner Plugin to redirect to my own feed. The plugin collects all …/feed ../?feed=rss2 etc. and redirects it to feeds.spaghetti-mit-knoedel.com/SpaghettiMitKnoedel

    In case I want to get lost of Feedburner I just need to change the CNAME redirection in the DNS to the my main domain and make a permanent redirection in the .htaccess file to the feed.

    Sounds more complicated than it is.

  11. […] to the number of feed subscribers, but this metric also indicates the stickiness of your content. via Views: 0 Comments: 1 Posted on : elbandito on 22 August, 2008 10:38:22 Daca ai […]

  12. Christy says:

    I am so glad I’m not alone in this. I think Google would have us all believe we don’t really have problems and just be good little stepford customers for them. I am really interested in finding a reliably alternative to burn my feeds, one with customer service.

  13. I cam across your post when trying to solve my issue with Feedburner. My feed was down for a week (showed no subscibers, and no one could subscribe), came back up for a day. Now it is off again. While i like the metrics what really upsets me is that readers who find me can’t subscribe. Is there a way to have two Feeds…in case of this issue? Or is there a beginner way to do what you described….I have no idea what CNAME is or how to do it!

  14. TC says:

    I came across your post while searching for a feedburner alternative. I’m just at a loss here, the subscriber metric is an important tool for a blog (the chicklet count display) when trying to attract advertisers and new subscribers. I’ve been experiencing nothing but heartache with feedburner.

    This week alone my chicklet count has plummeted *FOUR TIMES*.

    My problem is that I have over 10,000 email subscribers alone and where can I move them too that I can count on to be steady and reliable? I checked one email delivery service (aweber) and it’s $150 a month!! After I break 25,000 subscribers, they don’t even list the price, you have to contact them!

    Never mind having to get each and every email subscriber to click a confirmation email when you move to a new service. It’s a nightmare.

    My advice for anyone starting up new blogs, make sure to use the cname for your feeds, but that won’t help with email subs through feedburner. Don’t even think of using feedburner for email delivery because it will be a nightmare for you. You’ll finally get fed up enough and want to move, but how many subscribers will you lose in the process?

    It’s too bad Google has ignored & treated its users so poorly. Check out the feedburner support group when you have a minute. It’s the saddest thing, you’d never expect to see that kind of non-response from Google towards its begging, pleading for help user base.

  15. Paul says:

    Hey guys,
    Feedburner does not seem to like my feed either… and I cannot find help anywhere. Now I’m looking for alternatives, but more like Services that do the same as Feedburner and not some work-arounds (sorry…) ;)
    So, does anybody know a similar site?

  16. SEO'Brien says:

    Thanks for the post!  I don’t know what they are doing but since the account merge (with Google) things have been a disaster… all of my feeds disappeared when the merge resulting in an email address from Google, unassociated with Feedburner, was set as the email address in Feedburner. 

  17. Christy says:

    Hey Brian! I had that same issue! they disassociated my email address with the account and after days, weeks, and numerous tries, I found out an old email addy I had NEVER used for my feedburner was then the only one that would log in to it!

    As we say in the south “Bless their little hearts, they’re idiots”.
    ~smiles sweetly~

  18. Alexander says:

    I’ve been using Feedity – http://feedity.com for creating custom RSS feeds from various webpages (including my blogspot blog). They have basic feed stats as well.

  19. […] has died on me and has started giving me Error:500 for the last 3 days now.It seems many more people are experiencing poor service from FeedBurner. Due to that nobody got my latest post. I am discontinuing FeedBurner services. My latest post was […]

  20. […] in 2007.  If one takes a very narrow definition of the service Feedburner offers, one could argue that there is no real alternative to Feedburner.  But on the other hand: I have a very simple […]

  21. […] Useful and appreciated. Be aware that migrating this list elsewhere could be difficult, as discussed here. […]

  22. I’m looking for an alternative to FeedBurner for the stats. There’s already a fantastic WP plugin that will handle email subscribers for you…and no confirmation needed to move them there! It’s the subscribe2 plugin… http://subscribe2.wordpress.com/
    Works great, for me.

    • Wow! Thanks Kathleen! Just today we were talking to a client about how the only RSS-to-email option is via Feedburner. I’m going to try your plugin out and see how it goes.

  23. Ryan says:

    Heh, that looks pretty handy Kathleen!

    I also assumed there was no off the shelf way to do this apart from via FeedBurner. I’ve become quite cynical of using FeedBurner lately so I might implement this on the next site I need email updates for.

  24. Phil Hollows says:

    RSS to mail and a fully-featured FeedBurner alternative is now available via FeedBlitz.  See http://feedblitz.blogspot.com/2009/03/feedburner-alternative-blitz-your-rss.html

  25. Well considering this post is as old as it is I am surprized no one has answered this. There is an alternative to feedburner and its a very strong competitor. Google would rather no one know they exist but I assure you they have been there for a long time running now.


    Seriously check my blog for more blog marketing tips

  26. I only signed up to FeedToaster yesterday and I’m already looking for alternatives….

    After reading some pros and cons I’m most likely to go with the CNAME redirection for more control over my destiny.

  27. tom says:

    If you use another similar service than feedburner. You could end up in the same situation. As google is big I don’t think they kick feedburner anytime soon. Sometimes the statistics are not accurate but i hope thats because they are working behind the scenes to make feedburner better.

  28. […] Email subscription without feedburner Is there an alternative to Feedburner? news-views/is-there-an-alternative-to-feedburner/ […]

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