Late last week, I noticed something very strange on my blog. Looking at the right sidebar, the Feedburner RSS subscriber count was showing “0 readers.” It didn’t seem particularly plausible that I would lose all of my subscribers overnight, so I figured that Feedburner was experiencing a hiccup. The next morning, I learned it ran much deeper than that.
You see, Feedburner is a property that is owned by Google and it looks like they are allowing Feedburner to die a slow and painful death. If you have a look around the Internet, you’ll see that they let the Japanese domain expire and that the Feedburner API could disappear some time next month. That’s not good, especially since Feedburner is one of the many ways that Google dominates my life. Given the lack of technical support, it is quite possible that Feedburner could completely shut down at any moment.
Something must be done.
What Happened to Feedburner?
Along the way, I implemented features like Feedburner FeedSmith, but even those have been integrated into current builds of WordPress. With the future of Feedburner shrouded in uncertainty, you want to make sure that you lose as little as possible. Your regular RSS subscribers may by unaffected if you are pointing them toward http://www.example.com/feed rather than the Feedburner domain, but what about your email subscribers? You don’t want to lose them. You want to recapture them.
Saving Your Feedburner List
Even before you really decide what you want to do, you’ll want to save your list of Feedburner e-mail subscribers. First, log into your Feedburner account. If you have multiple RSS feeds in Feedburner, choose the one that you want to manage right now.
That should bring up a page similar to the one above. You’ll likely also see the “0 subscribers” and “0 reach” figures on this dashboard. Don’t worry; for the time being, your subscribers are still there. Use the pulldown menu on the top right and change the “show stats for” date to one a few days ago. September 17 worked for me. You can then see a more accurate representation of your subscribers.
The next step in recovering your Feedburner email subscribers (that are potentially soon-to-be lost), navigate to the Publicize tab in the Feedburner dashboard. Along the left sidebar, you’ll see an option for Email Subscriptions. Assuming that you’ve been using this, click on the link.
Scrolling partway down the resulting page, you’ll see a sub-section called “Subscriber Management.” Here, there is a link for “View Subscriber Details.” Click on that. This will bring up a list of all your current email subscribers, including their email addresses, start dates, and status.
The easiest way to save your email subscriber list is to export the list as a CSV file (comma-separated values). The link for that is below the one for “Search Addresses.” The CSV file can then be easily read in a spreadsheet program of your choosing, like Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice Calc.
Exporting Email Subscribers Somewhere Else
Okay, so you have this CSV file with the email addresses of all your subscribers. Now what?
Well, I’m stuck in the same position. For the time being, I’m going to continue using Feedburner and hope that Google keeps supporting it. Moving forward, though, I will likely need to move to another RSS and RSS-to-email management system. I’ve looked at possibilities like MailChimp, FeedBlitz and Aweber. I’m also considering a myriad of WordPress plugins, as well as some free alternatives to Feedburner like Feedcat and RapidFeeds, but I’m not sure which (if any) support RSS-to-email.
For all my fellow blog owners out there, what is your plan of action moving forward? What do you feel is the best service to use in place of Feedburner?