Friday, May 9, 2008

Create Feedburner Email Subscription Service

Feedburner is a free web-based service that provides all kinds of options to enhance the way that people make use of RSS, the content feed that is associated with blogs, discussion forums, and other websites that are prone to have lots of new content on a regular basis.

The main reason I use the Google-owned Feedburner service is so that I can distribute the content of my blog to people via email. Although I'm not much of an email user myself anymore, there are still plenty of people who rely on email as their primary mode of Internet communication and updates. So, by using Feedburner, I am able to instantly have an email subscription service for my blog. Every day that I post something new in the blog, an email is sent out to the people who have subscribed to the list. I don't have to do anything. People join the list and leave the list of their own free will; again, I don't have to do anything. I can make some choice about the way the email is configured, but Feedburner does all the work of actually maintaining the list and sending out the email.

So, if you have a blog with an RSS feed or a discussion board with an RSS feed, you can create a free email subscription service to go with it (no advertising either! very clean, very nice!). In these instructions, I'll explain how to do that. The example I'll be using is a Blogger.com blog, but pretty much any blog service has an RSS feed that you can use to do this, as do discussion board forums of various types, Twitter, and so on.

Feedburner account. Now that Google has acquired Feedburner, you can use your Google log-on as your Feedburner account. If you do not have a Google log-on, create that first at Gmail.com, and then go to Feedburner.com. You can use the same Feedburner account for as many feeds as you want - one, or a hundred.

My Feeds. After logging in at Feedburner.com, you will be taken to a page called My Feeds. On this page, you will see a box that says Burn a feed right this instant. That is where you will paste in the RSS address from your blog. Then click Next.

Based on the information you provided, Feedburner will try to assign an appropriate title and feed address - you can accept what they propose, or type your own choice here. When you are done, click Activate Feed.

To proceed to the email service, click on the link that says Skip directly to feed management. The option you then want to choose is Publicize.

From the Publicize options, click on Email Subscriptions in the list of services on the left. Then click Activate.


Let people subscribe. You then need to let people know how to subscribe. There are many ways to do this. If you are using a Blogger.com blog, you can click on the "Use as a widget in Blogger" option.

You can also just cut-and-paste the HTML code (for example: http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/emailverifySubmit?feedId=452101) for a simple link which you can use to let people sign up, creating a useful link text: Sign Up for Email Here.

More options. You will also see a variety of options you can configure listed on the left, such as the specific format of your email, the time of day it will be delivered, etc. You can make changes to these options at any time.


When you are done, make sure you click Save at the bottom to record any changes you may have selected in the various options.

Review your subscribers. You can log on to Feed Burner at any time, and select your feed, then click on Publicize, and then Email Subscriptions and see the email addresses of the people who have signed up to be on your email list!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Confirmation email. For someone to subscribe to your email list, they have to click on a link in a confirmation email. Sometimes that confirmation email gets routed into the junk mail box. If someone is having trouble getting signed up, you might tell them to check their junk mail box to see if the confirmation email has ended up there!