Google is commendable for being so willing to experiment with new potential products. Where would we be if they never fooled around with, say, Gmail or AdSense? Yet it seems like for every product that succeeds, a handful of others get the axe. Most recently, Google killed Reader. What happens if they come after FeedBurner next? Do you have a backup plan?
That’s one downside to free services – when they stop being profitable, or when they start being too much of a burden, they need to be cut. And most of the time, you don’t see the cut coming until it’s too late, which leaves you scrambling for a solution. There hasn’t been any confirmation that FeedBurner will die soon, but you should be aware of your options. Here are some of the ones we recommend.
What Is FeedBurner and Why?
If Reader was Google’s RSS product for consumers, then you can think of FeedBurner as Google’s RSS product for producers. Reader aggregates a bunch of different RSS feeds into a single location for easy consumption; FeedBurner is what blog owners and website creators can use to provide their users with those feeds.
Why is FeedBurner even necessary? After all, blog platforms like WordPress comes with feed functionality straight out of the box, don’t they? Yes, they do, but consider this: every time a user wants to refresh their RSS feed aggregator, they request data from your blog server. When you have thousands of users doing this regularly throughout the day, your web host may experience performance penalties.
FeedBurner is useful because their servers handle all of that stress for you. They provide the feed to the users AND they keep users updated with the latest versions of your blog’s feed. If you have a FeedBurner account and you’re considering just dropping it altogether to move back to the out-of-the-box WordPress feed, you may want to reconsider.
But FeedBurner has another use: feed management and analytics. With the default feed functionality of WordPress or whatever else you’re using, you can’t track user data without installing third-party plugins. How many subscribers do you have? What the demographic information looks like? Are you growing or are you tapering off? FeedBurner lets you know all of this and more.
RevResponse must be extremely confident in their service as a feed provider because they’re offering website owners $100 for every 1,000 subscribers that are imported to their service from FeedBurner. For those of you with sizeable followings, that could turn out to be a huge chunk of cash, and you may even end up with a service that you love more than FeedBurner.
The beauty of RevResponse is that you can import your subscribers without forcing them to resubscribe to your new feed – all of that is handled behind-the-scenes for you. RevResponse also has a number of great features that you can make use of: flexible scheduling of feeds, customized feed templates, detailed analytics reports, RSS-to-email conversion, and in-feed ads for monetization.
Best of all, RevResponse is entirely FREE. It’s packed with so many features and its bang-for-the-buck is huge. Perhaps FeedBurner should be seen as an alternative to RevResponse, not the other way around.
If RevResponse doesn’t scratch your itch, then maybe FeedCat will. It’s also an entirely FREE service that offers many more features than simply providing an RSS feed on your behalf. The downside is that the interfaces for the website and the widgets are pretty darn ugly. If you can get past that, then you’ll see that they do well in the areas that matter.
FeedCat provides you, the website owner, with a little button that you can embed on your site. This button keeps track of how many users are currently subscribed to your feed AND allows visitors to instantly submit your site’s feed to their RSS aggregator of choice AND allows visitors to share your site on social sharing services like Digg and StumbleUpon.
The one downside to FeedCat is that they’re a little behind the times when it comes to social media. If they incorporated more recent networks like Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Pinterest, Reddit, and Google+ to their share button, maybe they wouldn’t seem so archaic.
Feedity is a quick and easy way to transform an already existing site into an RSS feed. The service is unique in the fact that you, as a consumer, can actually produce RSS feeds of other people’s websites with Feedity. What a wonderful feature for those sites that don’t provide an RSS feed of their own.
Feedity is a paid service but they offer an unlimited time free trial with the following limitations: up to 5 feeds, up to 10 items per feed, feeds updated every 24 hours, and ads displayed in those feeds. If that’s good enough for your needs, then give Feedity a shot and see if you like it.
FeedBlitz is the most reliable, most feature rich alternative you’ll find to FeedBurner. They’re so big that they’re currently serving over 2.7 million RSS blog posts every day. And what makes them so big? Social media integration, scheduled RSS updates, feed transfer without losing subscribers, reliable metrics and analytics, and more. On the surface, FeedBlitz is everything FeedBurner offers and more.
So why is FeedBlitz last on this list? Because it’s not free. FeedBlitz runs on a subscription model that starts at a $1.49 USD per month and increases depending on how many email subscribers you have on your feed. RSS subscribers do not cost more money, so if you only need RSS feeds and no email lists, the price isn’t very much.
FeedBlitz offers a 30-day free trial which gives you ample time to decide if you want to pay for their service. If you ultimately decide against it, hopefully one of the services listed above suffices for your needs.
My top choice if I was forced to switch away from FeedBurner? RevResponse. The value for the package is just too good to overlook – it’s FREE. I would only go for FeedCat if there’s some quirk in RevResponse that you just can’t stand. Feedity is nice if you want to make an RSS feed from a site that doesn’t offer a feed of their own.
Know of any other alternatives to FeedBurner that I may have missed? Have any experience with the services listed above? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments!