If you’ve just started a blog, it can be a little tricky navigating all of the things that you need to do to make your blog easily accessible for readers. Feedburner is one of those things that looks and sounds tricky to begin with, but is actually relatively simple.
A “feed” sometimes called your “RSS feed” is basically your blog content, served up to readers in an easy fashion. Feedburner makes notifying services when you post, much much simpler, because it does it all for you.
Feedburner also makes offering subscription services easy, as well as giving you a great way to track subscriber numbers.
Firstly, you need a Google account and a blog. If you’re working on the blogger platform, you’ll already have a google account, but if you’ve set up a self hosted blog, or are using wordpress.com, you might not. Feedburner is owned and run by Google, so your Google account is the key to the door.
Go to Feedburner and find the part that looks like this:
Type in your URL and click Next.
Identify your feed source (I generally use the top one) and click next again.
Feedburner will welcome you.
Make sure you title your feed and use something relatively easy as the feed URL (where I’ve got testfeed123) – you will need to choose something that isn’t already taken. This becomes your personal feed URL.
Press next again and next again, until you see this:
Which is all very self explanatory. If you’re using self hosted wordpress, you’ll want to make sure you have the “Feedburner Feedsmith” plugin, that will automatically redirect all of your subscribers to your new feed.
You can click on these options, or just click next. Either way, you’ll likely end up back at the main page, with feedburner telling you that your feed is still so new, we’re all playing with bubblewrap still.
Now, you want to make it easy for your readers to subscribe. Along the top of the main feed page, you’ll see some tabs.
Click on Publicise and then click on Chicklet Chooser to start.
Select your RSS chicklet and then copy the code at the bottom of the page. On your own blog, paste it into a text/HTML widget for your sidebar.
Congratulations! You now have an RSS subscription option.
Once you’ve got the RSS sorted, you want to offer email subscriptions. Copy the code you see after you click on Email Subscriptions and paste it below the code for the RSS icon from a moment ago. In that same set of options, you can change your communication preferences, the email branding and delivery options.
Some readers prefer to subscribe via RSS and some prefer to subscribe via email. It’s beneficial to offer both of these options, so readers can choose.
Also along the sidebar is Pingshot – which offers to notify interested services when the feed is updated. I suggest activating this, it seems to speed up how fast my articles end up in my Google Reader.
Feedcount is a personal preference. Do you want your readers to know how many RSS subscribers you have? If you do, you can activate this and copy/paste the code into your blog sidebar.
Socialise is my favourite recently added option. With Socialise, I can opt to have feedburner automatically tweet my blog post as I press publish on it. You can also tell feedburner to add a hashtag and change how the headline looks when it’s tweeted.
And that’s it really! Feedburner is very simple and easy to work out, once you know where the basics are.