FeedBurnerEver heard of FeedBurner? Stupid question, huh…

It seems as if the majority of bloggers use FeedBurner to distribute and track the use of their RSS feeds.

Every day I come across blogs showing off the neat little counter proudly displaying how many subscribers they have, just like so…

Feedburner Feed Counter

Here is the thing I have with Feedburner.

Feedburner feeds are, per default, in a format that looks like this…

http://feeds.feedburner.com/KeywordPhrase

And more strangely, when you view a blog post in a feed reader their URLs look like this…

http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/KeywordPhrase/~3/279888022/

Isn’t this a bit strange? How do you know to which site or post you’re subscribed to or what that post is about?

Another thing is word-of-mouth. Imagine you send the FeedBurner URL of a particular blog post to a friend. You eventually provide a short description to entice him/her to click trough. Yet still, it is fairly hard to imagine what one will find when clicking on such a ghost link.

Whereas, when one sends an RSS feed link of one of my blog posts to someone it is clearer what you will find when you click on it since it serves as a “URL headline.”

Do not underestimate word-of-mouth! I get lots of visitors from mail services like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Live Mail. Many of them enter my blog on individual pages. (My blog announcement list mentions the home page only.) It is likely some of them picked up the post’s URL from my RSS feed and sent it via e-mail to a friend.

How often did you hear that the headline is the most important part of a message? With a great headline you can pull a reader to your site to read all the rest. You can entice him, brag him and encourage him, but with a Feedburner feed… where is that “URL headline?”

Let’s compare the following two RSS feed links. Assuming both lead to the same location, which one would make you click?

http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/InternetBusinessGuide/~3/279888022/

http://www.hochstadt.com/aweber-secret

See?

This is my main reason why I’m not a FeedBurner.

Another thing is that FeeBurner owns your feed when you use their services. Theoretically, they could do whatever they wish with it. They could even terminate your account. In such a case, you would instantly lose all of your subscribers. Think that won’t happen?

Recently, there was a guy using myspace.com as platform to social network with others and promote his upcoming first music CD. He built a large following in a fairly short time period. He had lots of friends and even established connections to popular names in the music industry. What happened?

Myspace.com terminated his account two days before his CD came out, without providing any reason.

BANG!

What was supposed to become a hit became a flop.

Bottom line, if, after reading the above, you still think it is advantageously to use FeedBurner, I at least strongly encourage you to remove the counter (unless it shows thousands of subscribers.)

—Marcus Hochstadt

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61 Responses to Why I Do Not Use FeedBurner

  1. I currently use feedburner, mainly because it seemed to be the thing to do. I mean, every other blogger seems to use it, which now that I think about it, is a poor reason to do anything. You make a compelling case for not using feedburner. I’m going to have to think about this.

    – Dave

  2. Mark says:

    I use Feedburner and after reading your post I am wondering if I should change. What would you suggest as an alternatve?

  3. Hi Marcus,
    I use FeedBurner and haven’t had any problems, but this is a great post. What do you suggest we use in place of FeedBurner? Is there anything that is better that gives us more control?

  4. Rene says:

    I would like to know what you suggest using as well.

  5. Michelle says:

    You have a very good point and I prefer email over RSS anyways so I don’t pay much attention to it. I do agree that you shouldn’t display your RSS readers if you only have a few. In fact, I wouldn’t display anything under 500 personally.

  6. Hi,

    You should always use a self-hosted WordPress install for your personal blogs.

    Just as Marcus has commented about Feedburner being able to pull the plug, so too can Blogger / Blogspot or any other “free” platform. If one day they decide they don’t want you on their network, you’ve lost all your hard work.

    If you have blogs that use WordPress, you get a feed already built in that points back to your site.

    For example, mine is:-

    http://www.frankhaywood.com/feed/

    What could be simpler than that?

    :-)

    -Frank Haywood

  7. Hm I used feedburner just because I thought that the stats it provides is pretty cool

    I don’t really care about my number of feed subscribers yet (only 50 at the moment)

  8. Bryan says:

    OK, this is my biggest complaint with blogging. You put out a post like this and automatically everyone agrees with you. While you bring up 2 downsides to Feedburner, the truth is that it is still the #1 feed service out there, and for good reason. Case in point: I think you brought up 2 downside to Feedburner.

    1) They own your feed
    2) The URL is an eye-sore

    The advantages to Feedburner FAR outweigh the negatives. I’ve never personally heard of them just cutting off your service, but I guess it may happen. But if you really want to look at it that way, it’s the same way your web-host can just stop working, your email service stop delivering your emails, and even your team stop working. Truth is, a majority of the big-time bloggers with hundreds of thousands of subscribers trust Feedburner, just like they trust Google and Aweber and other service providers that have been around for the long-haul.

    and for #2, well, OK, I’ll give you that: it’s an eye-sore. But my argument for that is: who cares? I think (hope) you know that you have no idea whether something is going to have an effect on clickthrough unless you test. It could have no effect and I personally think it has 0 effect. Just look at Amazon or any major newspaper’s URLs. And some major blogs even still have the ?p= for their post titles. Shorter is better, sure, but I think if you’re at the point where you have to worry about the way your url looks in an email, you really should be focusing more on improving your content or building some awesome linkbait.

    Sorry, but the advantages of being able to publish, manage, and track multiple feeds with the “out-of-the-box” capabilities that Feedburner has far outweighs these tiny disadvantages.

    Ohh and the feedcounter, well, I say leave it up to the blog owner. You don’t HAVE to display it. And who says that more subscribers is better? Maybe you’ve stumbled upon a great, 4-month old blog that has really good content. That shouldn’t deter anyone from subscribing (or not subscribing ;) Sorry for the long comments, I thought the other side needed a fair shake.

    • Reg says:

      Thanks for that reply. I was considering signing up to FeedBurner, and this article deterred me, but now I think I’ll do it. Thanks for presenting the other side of the argument.

  9. Let me play devil’s advocate here:

    “Another thing is that FeeBurner owns your feed when you use their services. Theoretically, they could do whatever they wish with it.”

    I don’t think that this is true. The feed comes from your blog, you stop feeding to them they can do nothing with it. You own the rights to the content you create; however, by setting up the feed you have put the content into the public domain, and this would be true of any RSS feed.

    “They could even terminate your account. In such a case, you would instantly lose all of your subscribers. Think that won’t happen?”

    You can export your list of email subscribers at any time. You make a good point about them being able to close accounts, and as such I will try to remember to export this list regularly.

    “Recently, there was a guy using myspace.com as platform to social network with others and promote his upcoming first music CD. [snip] What happened? Myspace.com terminated his account two days before his CD came out, without providing any reason.”

    I am not sure it is fair to say that company X is liable to do something just because company Y does.

    Saying all that your post does raise some interesting points. Nevertheless, I – for one – shall continue to use Feedburner. Maybe someone from Feedburner will happen across this post and address the issues raised.

    • “by setting up the feed you have put the content into the public domain, and this would be true of any RSS feed.”

      Actually, just because the content is in RSS form, doesn’t mean it’s in the public domain. The owner still retains full copyright if he or she chooses.

  10. Hi Marcus,

    I suggest using both Feedburner and either Feedburner’s email service or FeedBlitz. Currently I use Feedburner along w/Feedblitz and have a large chunk of my subscribers getting my feed through FeedBlitz’s emails (yeah, there are still a lot of people who prefer email over RSS readers, so we cannot leave out either group).

    As far as who owns your content in your feed, you do. You, the writer of your original content, holds the copyright to your own posts, which are served through Feedburner. They do not have any ownership over your content, just like sploggers don’t own your content when they steal it through your RSS feed and post it on their splog. This is why you can file DMCA’s and have your copyrighted, original content removed from a splog after they have posted it (er, stolen it) from your RSS feed.

    I do agree that there currently is a monopoly in RSS feed services/servers, Feedburner being the flagship, and if another service were to come out that would prevent sploggers from stealing copyrighted content from feeds then I would go with them.

    Right now though, the reason that I think most bloggers use Feedburner is to offer the convenience to their readers. It’s easier to keep up with a blog by subscribing to their feed, which is also why the majority of blogger’s publish full content feeds rather than partial.

    That’s my 2 cents on it, but of course everyone has to make their own personal decision on what works best for them. If you’re rockin’ with your current system then I’d say keep on goin’ with it – you’re the only one who knows what works best for you. ;)

  11. Sam Carrara says:

    Marcus,
    I don’t completely agree with your post. The point about the links to your posts are:
    feeds.feedburner.com/~r/InternetBusinessGuide/~3/279888022/

    That is not always true! You have the choice with FeedBurner if you want it that way or the normal link. The special link is for tracking purposes only.

  12. Perhaps I haven’t expressed myself well enough. What I did mean with the FeedBurner owning stuff is not the content but the subscriber list.

    Imagine I would change my current AutoResponder service from AWeber to, say, AutoResponse Plus… I simply grab my list and import it there. No loss whatsoever.

    With FeedBurner, how could one possibly “import” a list of RSS subscribers? Kevin said it would be possible. Well, let’s say I would use FeedBurner and would like to switch to my very own feed which is automatically provided by my faithful WordPress installation… How do you go about doing that?

    As far as I see it—and this can be seen as an answer to some of the above questions—what you could do is publish a blog post asking folks to re-subscribe indicating where the new RSS feed can be found. You will have a certain amount of loss this way, which you may be able to compensate depending on how you approach it, how responsive your RSS list is, and how you word that “last” message (or the “last two”.)

    Using my very own “WordPress RSS feed service” (if you wanna call it that way ;-) is my way of approaching RSS. Besides, the importance of my blog announcement list is higher.

    By the way, Bryan, I appreciate you taking the time to respond, though, I learned that word-of-mouth is one of the most if not THE most powerful marketing method known to mankind. Guess Mark Joyner and Ken Evoy agree to that. ;-)

    And to compare FeedBurner with the replacement of a Webhost, e-mail service, or human resources… well…

    Bottom line, just because something is the “#1 service” doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to use it, or the best way to do it. (Ever heard of the addictive usage and idiosyncrasies of MS Windows? Why not switch to a Mac? It’s not the “#1” in terms of sales and usage, but the clear winner in a lot of aspects. Or what about that more than 99% approach article marketing the wrong way…)

    I especially question cases where the mass apparently blindly follows a certain route. Again, just because anyone does a certain thing doesn’t mean it’s THE way—and/or a good way—to do it.

    ~Marcus

  13. Bryan says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I never said word of mouth isn’t the best marketing out there… because it is. That’s the only advertising Google did when the started off, and they’re probably the biggest success story in history. I was just saying I thought your argument that the url looking all long and nasty wouldn’t have much of an effect on someone clicking on it if a friend sent it to them.

    As far as comparing Feedburner to a web host or team… my point is that you have to trust and rely on some service at some point in time. Sure, it may just stop working but you just have to improvise, adapt, and overcome when it does. Feedburner, owned by Google, isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and I consider them just as reliable as Aweber. I use both in all of my businesses. Funny story about Aweber. If you think they can’t just shut down your account without you getting your leads/subscribers downloaded, well, that exact situation happened to someone I know last summer. He lost over 5,000 leads for his company. He was not happy.

  14. Mike Huang says:

    Although I highly doubt FeedBurner would just wipe and terminate an account, I still agree with you that it could happen. What they should do is actually terminate all the accounts with fake counters.

    Anyways, my feedburner link is feeds.feedburner.com/Bloggin-ads or bloggin-ads.com/feed , which I think is very easy to remember already :) I use a plugin to redirect the bloggin-ads.com/feed to feedburner, which makes it easier :)

    Great post. Something different to read :)

    -Mike

  15. Mike Huang says:

    BTW, I forgot to mention that you could remove the links if you want. I just wanted to show an example and not to spam.

    -Mike

  16. Alex says:

    Hmmm, now you have made me consider using something other than feedburner! Pfft… LOL

  17. Its right feedburner feed url is not clear..

  18. Pinay Mommy says:

    hello marcus! your such a great blogger. that is why i have nominated you. please check my blog post at http://www.pinaymommyonline.com/2008/05/top-10-emerging-influential-blogs-in.html

    thanks!!

  19. turnip says:

    I like their service. But I also advertise my own feed, which I then redirect through feedburner using the FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin for WordPress. That way if I deactivate the plugin, I deactivate feedburner.

  20. dai says:

    I think removing the “readers” graphic is better idea for small bloggers.
    What else?

    :(

  21. Dennis Edell says:

    I see nothing wrong with the feed counter, whether it be at 10 or 10k. As someone pointed out, you could have a 2 month old blog with seriously good content; just not that many people have found it yet.

  22. Chelle says:

    I waited a very long time to go through feedburner – the only reason being because I did not know of any other way of getting the feed to be emailed to subscribers as easily and automatically – is there a hidden wordpress plug-in or feature I am missing that would make this easy to do?

    The way you can keep track of your RSS feedburner subscribers is go to the section of the site where it shows your subscribers and click on “Manage Subscribers” you will see your subscribers are in a table format. All you have to do is copy and paste into Microsoft excel. Then you save it in Microsoft Excel and you have your whole list intact. From there I use Outlook and an add-on program called Send2 where i can import the Excel list to my contacts and can send bulk emails out to each person individually. It works great – I’ve sent 700 messages all at once – the program delays it also so I am not mistaken as a spammer.

    Google just bought feedburner for some insane dollar amount and they made it so you can show your adsense codes – so surely they will be keeping it around until they at least get as much as they invested into it back – I highly doubt it would just vanish!! I would use Google owning it as my reason not to use it, but that would be about it.

    Anyways, hopefully my save your subscribers tip will be helpful to someone and I think you make a great point about how it is better to directly manage things yourself – I would love to know which plug-in I could use to do it that is automatic enough but is more customizable than feedburner.

  23. wtricks.com says:

    Why I Do Not Use FeedBurner…

    An interesting article about the use of feedburner and most important about the “life after feedburner”. We got so used to placing that button on our site, we just don’t think “what would it be like if we didn’t use it?”. This article explains it…

  24. Good post, but if you can see here. There’s a little trick in it for you to make the URL points to the posts URL directly and remove the ugly URL feeds.feedburner.com/~r/
    You can take a look here for an example. feeds.feedburner.com/JunkieYardDotCom
    Leave me a comment at my site and I’ll tip you how to change that. ;)

  25. Interesting write up…I’ll have to rethink using Feedburner. Dammit! Just one more thing to worry about with my blog.

  26. I understand the logic, but you should offer an alternative.

  27. I do not offer an alternative, Richard? I thought I did that with this post…

    The alternative is to publicize your feed as is. Just that. Nothing special. Simply put up the plain default link to your feed(s) and people will subscribe naturally.

    I would focus our efforts on a blog announcement list, not on the distribution of our RSS feeds and showing off the number of subscribers.

    For other pros and cons, feel free to re-read my above post. ;-)

    ~Marcus

  28. a make money blogging carnival – May 9, 2008…

    Welcome to the May 9, 2008 edition of a make money blogging carnival.

    Christine presents Money Making Blogs and Websites posted at Me, My Kid and Life: An American Single Mom Living in France.

    Matthew Paulson presents Use Your Time Wisely…

  29. […] Hochstadt presents Why I Do Not Use FeedBurner posted at Marcus Hochstadt, saying, “It seems as if the majority of bloggers use FeedBurner […]

  30. […] Hochstadt presents Why I Do Not Use FeedBurner posted at Internet Business […]

  31. Thatsblog says:

    Thanks for your submission to the fourth edition of the Blog Carnival: Blogging. Your post has been accepted and its live: http://thatsblog.com/?p=55

    -ThatsBlog.com

  32. […] Hochstadt presents Why I Do Not Use FeedBurner posted at Internet Business Guide, saying, “It seems as if the majority of bloggers use […]

  33. […] Hochstadt presents Why I Do Not Use FeedBurner posted at Marcus Hochstadt, saying, “It seems as if the majority of bloggers use FeedBurner […]

  34. Ryan Healy says:

    Interesting perspective. Although I think the main purpose of displaying a Feedburner count is social proof. Most of my Feedburner subscribers are through my Aweber email list anyway.

    That’s one nice thing about Aweber/Feedburner. Simply type in your Feedburner feed URL into the Aweber Blog Broadcast, and the Feedburner widget will automatically report all RSS readers and email subscribers combined.

    Ryan

  35. Electronic Commerce – Blog Carnival 19th May 2008…

    Welcome to the May 19, 2008 edition of electronic commerce. (Vol 2, No. 10, 2008)…

  36. Jonathan says:

    I was really glad to read this article. I have read so many blogs that point people towards feedburner, and I have struggled to understant why it is suppsoed to be such a great benefit, I personally don’t like the idea of outsourcing control over something as important as an RSS feed.

  37. […] Hochstadt presents Why I Do Not Use FeedBurner posted at Internet Business […]

  38. […] you the Author’s reasons for not choosing to use FeedBurner. You may read this article here Internet Business Guide. Robert Phillips has an ‘offer you can’t refuse.’ Entitled 24 Hour Special: Free 7 […]

  39. Just got back from feedburner. this is oooh sooo coooomplicated ! I have my account setup, my blog is showing up in the ‘my feeds’. now what ? I read on the forum that I need to modify the code in my Blogger template… buttons,… do my visitors then need a feedburner accoutn…. simplification please.

  40. Nesher says:

    Thank you for submission you article to the 5th Edition of the “Bringing more traffic to your blog” Blog Carnival. The edition was published today: http://blogging4good.blogspot.com/2008/06/bringing-more-traffic-to-your-blog-june.html

    Have a good weekend!

  41. […] Hochstadt presents Why I Do Not Use FeedBurner posted at Marcus Hochstadt, saying, “It seems as if the majority of bloggers use FeedBurner […]

  42. Kate says:

    Haha. Feedburner is ruining my big page/podcast launch riiiiight … NOW! Why? Because I saw everyone was using it and figured that it’d be a great way for my small company to track stats on its new podcast. Google owned, so it must be well-kept and legit, right? Wrong. Wrongwrongwrong. Feedburner is offcially broken, if you haven’t noticed. And no one seems to care. The stats are all broken, people are going nuts, and there’s no end in sight.
    In the words of Randy Marsh, “We didn’t listen!”

  43. ChefMesilati says:

    Hi,

    I am currently using WordPress for my site and blog, and while starting to read about FeedBurner came upon your post. I wonder if you have any insight on how to get better statistics for my RSS feed without working with FeedBurner, and if you have any ideas on how to make my RSS feed more visible…

    Thanks, Chef Mesilati, http://www.palettedome.com

  44. Matthew says:

    I have a three-part series about how to best use FeedBurner that starts tomorrow and stumbled upon your blog. In response to the URL issue, I wonder if this isn’t something that has changed since you first wrote this post, as I don’t notice a problem…

    Feed URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/SilverpenPub

    Article URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/SilverpenPub/~3/499359590/genius-review-itunes-automagic-playlist-generator

    The article title is preserved, and the base feed URL isn’t hard to remember. What’s the big deal?

    As for FeedBurner turning off, I suppose it’s a concern… I can’t figure out what other people are writing about in regards to getting your list of subscribers; I can’t find that anywhere in FeedBurner.

    I really think, though, that if you have compelling enough content, people are going to come visit if they stop seeing info in their RSS reader, especially if you have a regular update schedule. So if FeedBurner did shut off and someone didn’t see my update on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I imagine they’d come looking. I know I would (and have). That being the case, I don’t find it a big enough concern when compared to all the benefits of FeedBurner.

    • Jimmy from Chicago says:

      So, if Feedburner’s feed URLs seem to be getting simpler and more customizable, is anyone now using this to replace their standard email marketing services (like Constant Contact, AWeber, etc…)?

      Almost every internet marketer I know swears by newsletter marketing campaigns. However, I wonder if a simpler, less salesy blog update + RSS feed (to reader or email) + sales link is the future of emarketing.

      I only say this because I receive a lot of newsletters via email and tend to sift for content and immediately block out the sales pitches.

      Anyone have any opinions on this?

      Thanks!

  45. The way you can keep track of your RSS feedburner subscribers is go to the section of the site where it shows your subscribers and click on “Manage Subscribers” you will see your subscribers are in a table format. All you have to do is copy and paste into Microsoft excel.

    Am I understanding that bloggers who use FeedBurner are able to obtain specific information about those who read their feeds? This is a huge concern for me! The beauty of RSS, when I began using it 7 years ago, was that my identity wouldn’t be shared with the blog writer.

    Can this be blocked?

    • Ian says:

      As far as I’ve been able to tell, it’s not too specific. It’s more statistical – IE, how many people use google’s feedfetcher service versus some other mobile ap, or microsoft’s service, etc. There’s no person by person breakdown unless they’ve signed up by email and given that information.

  46. what about now since Google has acquired feedburner?

    I use it and I like this service, and find that it does bring me traffic. Plus, it also means that my content is getting picked up by many other sites.

  47. Sue says:

    Hi
    I have just posted the reasons why I do use FeedBurner over on my blog.

    I personally think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, but it is always good to hear all points of view.

    Regards
    Sue

  48. Matthew says:

    Perhaps the best benefit of using a service like Feedburner is that you get an RSS URL that will never change. Once you pick your Feedburner URL, you can redirect any of your own URL’s to it, so that your readers only have to subscribe to your feed once. If you change blogging platforms, or if you change the RSS feed, this will never actually affect your readers. This is very vital for companies since it is possible to lose hundreds of readers with one feed address change.

  49. Cliff says:

    Thanks for the post. I only recently understood the value of feedburner.

  50. suzie says:

    I was using feedburner before because I want to expose my rss feed. But I just observe that the feedburner just showed my posts and not really leading it to the original post. I am confused on how the decision of myspace (to terminate such account) and feedburner is connected to one another.

  51. Mumu says:

    wah whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!!! is that true? but i will continue using it because its free. you know when i started using feed burner my readers increase from 3 – 5 a day becomes 10 – 29 readers a day.

  52. Andi says:

    That’s because you’re unintentionally activate feedburner tracking service. If you de-activate the tracking feature then the URL will show the original one… :D

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