FeedBurner Alternatives? What I’m Doing

Here’s the bottom line (updated Nov 20, 2013): I recommend Mad Mimi*. She keeps getting better and better. I’m so glad I made the switch.

Updated June 1, 2013: It’s official. I have been won over by the excellent customer service, the dreamy interface, the lower price and the recent updates (addressing many of the concerns expressed in the comments below) at Mad Mimi, so I’ve made the switch.

*There are affiliate links in this post.

***

Summary of this post: When it comes to my subscription service, I’m in wait-and-see mode regarding FeedBurner. I’m also considering paid-for options. Currently, my RSS subscribers are at FeedBurner and my email subscribers are at FeedBlitz, but I’m considering moving them to MadMimi (see update above).

(If you don’t know what I mean by “feed,” check out this post.)

Long version: You’ve probably heard the rumblings about FeedBurner shutting down on October 20, 2012. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding it and I don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs, however, there’s no indication the FeedBurner service itself will die on October 20, just the FeedBurner APIs. (The APIs allow developers to interact with it. I know that’s Greek to many of us, so if you want to know more, read this post from Phil Hollows at FeedBlitz who knows what he’s talking about. In that post, he tells you too that there’s no indication the service itself is going away.)

Suffice it to say, FeedBurner should still work and subscribers should still get posts after October 20.

Important companion to this post and I highly recommend you do this: How to Download Your FeedBurner Email Subscriber List

What’s the plan for FeedBurner, Google?

Still, there does seem to be some sort of shutting down process going on over there at Google when it comes to FeedBurner, and we’d all like to know what’s up. Mostly, we’d all like to know whether or not we can count on a free service in the future, whether it’s a new and improved FeedBurner or a different service that does the same thing.

All I know is that there are a WHOLE LOT of bloggers who use FeedBurner (big and small) and if FeedBurner just drops off the face of the earth one day, there will be a lot of really mad people. Not that Google is responsible (or cares) whether or not people are mad, but it wouldn’t be great PR for Google, to say the least.

It’s very difficult for me to imagine Google would do that without ample warning, but what do I know. (Phil Hollows says they did it in Japan, but I’d be curious to know how many bloggers were significantly impacted by that.) Given the popularity of FeedBurner as we know it, it seems to be in their best interest to give fair warning.

Plus, think about all the data they have access to when people sign up for FeedBurner. I’m no Google or RSS guru, but it seems reasonable to me that they’re using all that information for something and wouldn’t want to just let it go.

Recent FeedBurner woes

Then there was the glitch that caused everyone’s subscriber count to plunge to zero last week. Again, it’s not that everyone’s subscribers actually went away, it’s just that the counter seemed to stop working. As of this writing, it’s still not working although Google says they are working on it. It’s what prompted my last post about downloading the list of your email subscribers as backup. You should do that.

Here’s what I’ve done

When I first started hearing the rumbling about FeedBurner possibly going away, I decided to try another service because I knew people were going to start asking about alternatives.

FeedBlitz

I have heard nothing but good things about FeedBlitz (affiliate link since I’m a paying customer), so I decided to give it a whirl. The raving fans about FeedBlitz’s customer support are absolutely right and Phil Hollows graciously walked me through the process to switch. My RSS subscribers are still at FeedBurner, but I moved my email subscribers to FeedBlitz. I’ll be honest, it was a bit complicated and it costs $50 a month for the service–a HUGE jump from free. (Note that rates vary depending on how many email subscribers you have, RSS subs aren’t counted. I have the 2500-4999 subscriber plan.) Based on my experience the last few months, if it’s in your budget, I would recommend FeedBlitz. Frankly, fifty bucks a month for me is painful. So, while I haven’t used anything else I’m considering other options…

Conclusion: FeedBlitz is my current service for email subscribers and I’m happy with it, but the price is a bit prohibitive. (See the update at the top of the post.)

*Noted to add: Since I wrote this post, an issue arose with my FeedBlitz service that was out of the ordinary for me. It seems only about 1/3 of my list received my last blog post via email, How to Download Your FeedBurner Email Subscriber List. It’s unclear why. I heard from one other person who experienced the same thing with her FeedBlitz account on the same day (September 22, 2012). I have not yet heard back from FeedBlitz, but I will keep you posted on the resolution…

Update 11/20/12: I did receive prompt attention to the matter and was refunded one month’s fee due to the hiccup. It was very much appreciated.

MailChimp

MailChimp (not an affiliate link) has a free deal for those with less than 2000 subscribers and who send less than 12,000 emails a month. You don’t get all features with the free package, but it might be worth it for some. If I were to switch to MailChimp, it would cost me about the same as FeedBlitz ($50/mo). The main thing that makes me nervous about MailChimp is their Terms of Service (see Part 1, Section 11f) state affiliate marketers are not supposed to use the service. Posts from former users on the subject like this one (particularly the comments about sites being shut down) are giving me pause. Granted, what they mean by “affiliate marketer” is unclear. So many affiliate marketers are spammy, but a lot of us are legit. The question is, where do they draw the line?

Update 12/11/12: Erin from Design by Insight (excellent designer BTW) sent me this link in the Support Forum at MailChimp: Does MailChimp Ban Affiliate Links? It’s definitely worth the read and sheds some light on how to use MailChimp and affiliate links safely. (The section “Ah-hah! In your list of risky content, you say: ‘Affiliate Marketers.’ Busted!” is particularly helpful.)

Conclusion: MailChimp doesn’t seem like a good option for me at this point. is one I’d consider given the update above.

AWeber

Another popular service is AWeber (not an affiliate link) and it’s cheaper too. According to their pricing plan, I would pay $30 a month nearly $50 a month (many thanks to Beth from In Good Cents who pointed this out in her comment here). There are a gazillion posts about MailChimp vs. AWeber (google it if you’re interested) and as far as I can tell, lots of people prefer AWeber over MailChimp.

Conclusion: AWeber is a possibility for me, but won’t save me anything.

MadMimi

Another service I’ve looked at is MadMimi (affiliate link because I’m a paying customer). I continually go back to them, mostly because I love their site, I always get great customer service and their interface is dreamy. I’m a paying customer for non-blog newsletters. For 5000 subscribers, their service would cost me $29/month ($24 for the base service plus $5 for the RSS to Email Add-On which I would need to send out my blog posts via email). Update 11/7/12: MadMimi has changed their pricing structure. Now it would cost me $27/m0 for 5000 subscribers (this now includes RSS to Email for free).

Conclusion: MadMimi is a definite possibility.

Update: I’ve now switched to MadMimi.

FeedBurner

What? Yep, I’ve even (gasp!) considered moving back to FeedBurner. For me currently, it would be a savings of $50 a month. Fifty bucks. I like fifty bucks. :) Am I nuts? Oh maybe. But honestly, I’m holding out that Google’s going to come through for us. Like I said earlier, it’s super hard for me to imagine Google pulling the plug on FeedBurner without any warning and without any alternative. I think there’s a good possibility they’re cookin’ up something over there. Only time will tell, I guess.

Conclusion: I’m still considering going back to FeedBurner.

Others

There are other services I’ve come across as I’ve researched. The ones above are the most popular I’ve found so I haven’t explored anything else too deeply. If you have a recommendation, please, leave it in the comments!

My plan

For now, I’m waiting. It’d be great to hear from Google (although I’m not holding my breath). My RSS subscribers are still at FeedBurner and for the time being I’m leaving them there. My email subscribers are at FeedBlitz, but I lean more and more in the direction of MadMimi. I’ll let you know if I take the plunge. That is, if Google lets me down. :(

Why this whole thing frustrates me

Look, I like free. My goal is to make blogging as cost effective as possible, not only for myself, but for you too. I do my best to only promote paid-for products I really, honestly feel make a difference and are reasonable. FeedBurner might not be the fanciest RSS-to-email service, but for a lot of us, it does the trick. Most of us don’t need a lot of bells and whistles–just send my posts to my subscribers and I’m good.

Why panicking is unnecessary. Numbers lie.

Why do I think there’s no need to panic? Because numbers are for the birds. Why do we put so much stock in them? Really. Let’s think about this.

We talk about the importance of the numbers and keeping track. I think it’s important to look for overall trends, but honestly, how often do we use the numbers just to feel good (or bad) about ourselves? Maybe it’s just me.

And also, this subscriber thing is not an exact science. Sometimes the numbers don’t give you an accurate picture.

Case in point: After I moved from FeedBurner to FeedBlitz, I had 1000 fewer email subscribers in FeedBlitz than I did in FeedBurner. I was a little concerned, so I asked Phil Hollows from FeedBlitz where those 1000 subs went. Were they lost in the transition? According to him (I trust him), it’s not that the subscribers were lost, it’s that FeedBurner simply doesn’t track the numbers well. (I’ve looked for my conversation with Phil so I could quote him, but unfortunately, I can’t find it. I’m trying to remember–Phil, if you’re reading, correct me if I’m wrong–but the bottom line is, there are people on the list that don’t get emails due to bounces, unverified addresses, etc. but FeedBurner counts them as subscribers anyway. But they aren’t getting the emails so they shouldn’t be counted as a subscriber.)

You might say my FeedBurner numbers were lying. I didn’t really have 5000 subscribers, I really had 4000 (or whatever it was). What was really interesting was how deflated I felt after finding out the truth. For a minute there, my feelings of worth decreased right along with those dumb (fake) numbers. I have issues people.

And then I started thinking about all of the stats that get thrown about in media kits and on advertising pages and I wondered how many of those numbers are just plain wrong too. I’d guess a lot of them are. I still think media kits and advertising pages are worthwhile, I just think we should recognize they don’t guarantee anything.

On top of that, let’s think about how many people actually read our stuff. To often we equate subscribers with readers, but they’re not the same. I’m absolutely positive a lot of people subscribe to my blog but never read it. How many blogs have I subscribed to that I never read? Lots. How many emails do I get that I never read? Less, but still quite a few. How many emails do I open but delete within the first two lines? A fair amount. In that case, I’m counted as an “open” and the assumption is I actually consumed the information, but I didn’t.

Sometimes I just want to pull an Ann Voskamp and skip worrying about the stats altogether. It’s obviously working for her. And there’s something freeing about the idea.

Where I’m at now

I realize there has to be some way of measuring this stuff. I realize there are a lot of people that really get into the nitty gritty of the numbers and I’d even argue it’s important in a lot of instances. But for me, a smaller blogger who has other stuff to think about, I have to ask myself if I’m putting too much stock into the numbers. And do I want to pay for the privilege?

Just my $.02. What do you think?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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Comments

  1. says

    I’m currently testing FeedPress.it as a FeedBurner replacement. It doesn’t have all of FeedBurner’s features but so far so good.

    I use Aweber for my newsletters and was considering moving my FeedBurner email subscribers there too, but that would boost me from the $50/monthly bracket to the next one at $130/month! So I’m just using FeedPress’s email capabilities for that too.

  2. says

    Some how I have very large email subscriber around 50k, how to do when actually Feedburner stops working or become paid service.

    Check all the best ones which are around $250 or quite more for 50k/unlimited email. Seems by luck I have gathered those subscriber, offcourse they are not quite useful except some traffic but if at all I have to pay for it, only option is just forget all those.

    What you guys ahve to say on the unique situation?

  3. Rachael says

    Excuse my naïveté, but how do these email marketing services differ from the built-in email subscription JetPack widget that comes with WordPress? Is it just that it enables you to somehow track people who are subscribed to you via RSS through other various channels like Feedly or something?
    I’m not really seeing how I can benefit from one of these services at all if all I want to do is get my posts out and not make a separate newsletter or something. Correct me if I’m wrong, but all blogs (regardless of whether they use an email marketer or not) can be found on RSS services like Feedly, right? You don’t have to pay for FeedBlitz or Mad Mimi to get subscribed to via RSS, right? Is the benefit of signing up with a service like Mad Mimi just that it enables you to see how many people subscribe to your blog via one of the numerous RSS outlets?

  4. Heather F says

    Hi Amy,
    I’m new here, and just getting started building my blog. Your website has been so helpful!! Today I was working on setting up ‘sign up for newsletter’ functionality on my blog, and I decided to try MailChimp since it’s free up to 2000 subscribers (and I don’t have any yet), and the buzz out there is indicating that people are moving away from FeedBurner. Anyway, I discovered that MailChimp requires me to include my actual physical mailing address on all emails to comply with current anti-spam laws. I don’t want to publish my home address to a bunch of strangers! How are small bloggers dealing with this and staying legal?

    Thanks so much for all the useful information and guidance you are providing here!

    • says

      Many of us use a PO Box. If you’d prefer not to spend money, I think I’d just start with FeedBurner for now though. :)

  5. Sheila says

    Hi Amy,
    Just read about your switch to Mad Mimi in your new Useletter (very nice)
    I am new and just signed up with MailChimp but was concerned about the affiliate marketing issue so thought I would take a look at Mad Mimi since you recommend them.
    A bit confused about one issue with Mad Mimi though. Are you allowed to use affiliate links in an e-mail sent through Mad Mimi? Their TOS says: “You may not use Mad Mimi to send email campaigns that link to or display . . . affiliate and network marketing materials, or any other content we deem inappropriate. They also say they charge 250.00 for violations resulting in spam complaints.

  6. says

    Hey Amy a couple of things,

    I’ve missed a couple of your emails because I’m not yet familiar with your last name. I read the one that said you were branding to your name instead of Blogging with Amy, but I’m not conditioned to open the new one yet!

    One more thing…I have an email responder that gives yo demographics, auto responers, and entry ways with QR codes, facebook links, linked-in links and more…but most of all THEY WILL MOVE YOUR LIST FOR YOU! Check them out at http://brendatrott.com/bestautoresponder (affiliate link since I’m a paying customer:)

  7. says

    I am using feedburner as of now but read somewhere the mailchimps allow you to customize the way your feed looks (email). I am confused. Also, I don’t know much about feedburner. It just send the whole article to the subscriber. Will read your How to Get & Optimize a Feedburner Feed article. Thanks.

  8. says

    Hi, and thanks for a very useful post. I’ve just moved my (rather insignificant) blog from blogger to wordpress and am trying to get the subscribe thing to work … And I’m able to sign up, confirm etc, but I (or anyone else who’s tried) don’t get any e-mails when new posts are published.
    I searced the FAQ and found the same question from several people, and only one got an ansver, from the Feedblitz guy, giving a couple of suggestions (been there, done them) and then recommending his own service if things didn’t work out.
    Thanks,
    Cicci
    As, for, me, paying a set sum for such a service is currently unthinkable (my number of subscribers is i two digits – at best :-) ), I’m hoping to get some help with the non-existing e-mails from Feedburner. Do you have any light to shed on the subject? (The feed is updated, the subscribers registered, etc).

    • says

      Hmmm…not sure on this one. As a free service, the support is pretty much nonexistent unfortunately. You might try downloading your email subs and then deleting the feed and trying burning it again. (Maybe you’ve already done that but that would be my plan of attack.)

  9. says

    Hi Amy, Yes! One can now opt for full posts, provided:
    1. The feed setting itself (nothing to do with Mad Mimi) allows for full posts.
    2. The ‘Automatically format RSS feed for clean display’ box is unchecked in your Mad Mimi account RSS set-up.
    The full post will go through, although there may still be a ‘Read More’ tag inserted at 1000 characters. We’re working on getting users a toggle on/off button for this.
    I hope this info helps your community! Be in touch, for sure, if there are more questions.
    Best, Kate

    • says

      Thanks for replying, Kate. I’m not sure I’m understanding…so if I opt for full posts, will my readers only see them if they are under 1000 characters?

      • says

        Hi Amy,
        If you opt for full posts, your reader will see the full post, no matter how long the post is. But, for now, they’ll also see a Read More tag at the end of the post. I quickly set up an example for the Mad Mimi blog feed. You can see what the Preview looks like, with the ‘Automatically format RSS feed for clean display’ box unchecked : http://mad.ly/5e6183
        I should have started with this picture, because it shows what I mean better than I told :-) If you look at the Mad Mimi blog, you’ll see the posts in the RSS email above are the full posts.
        Best, Kate

        • says

          Thanks Kate! OK, I think I understand now. But you’re working on the option to toggle the “Read more” link off? I think that would be excellent. In any case, this is great news for those who want to make sure their readers get their full posts in their feed. I appreciate you adding to the conversation.

  10. says

    Hi All,
    I’m sorry I’m so late to this comment party, but I just came across it. I work for Mad Mimi – that rockin’ woman! – and would love to help with as many ‘RSS to email’ feature questions as I can. I’m glad some of you reached out to Mad Mimi support already, but also wanted to let you know that we’ve changed our pricing structure since this was originally posted, as you noted, Amy, and our RSS to email feature is better than ever! I noticed a couple of things that came up in the comment thread repeatedly, so here’s a look at the current snapshot of our feature:
    *Mad Mimi’s RSS to email feature is now free – for both Free/2500 contacts and paid accounts.
    *We offer a ‘clean’ checkbox on the RSS to Email set up. By default, as of this week, it’s unchecked. The option of this check box gives users more control over the full post vs. excerpt and also affects how Mimi handles the images for you.
    Remember, however, your RSS feed has its own settings, too, so sometimes it just requires some tweaking to get everything the way you want it.

    Please feel free to email support@madmimi.com any time. We’ll get right back to you and help as best we can! You can also sign up for a free account, just to test the RSS to Email feature and see if you like it/if it works for you. Viva bloggers!

  11. says

    Wow, it sure would appear there’s a wide open opportunity here for someone to introduce a free Feedburner alternative. Currently, I’m just linking to /feed/ on my Genesis blog and allowing people to subscribe via Google Reader that way. But of course, I’m missing the opportunity here to collect email addresses. Once my new site picks up steam, I’ll switch to a paid solution.

  12. says

    Amy, your a genius at this blog stuff ;O)
    I am so green and have tried all of the above…and have forgotten how to illiminate the options. Some people have subscriptions from places I don’t even know about.
    My real question is {sigh}, I have a women who email me irate that she is getting my updates. I know, right!? She had to have verified it no matter where she’s getting the feed from. I tried to explain to her how to unsubscribe but that made her even madder. I went to feedburner {fav so far for getting & tracking subscriptions} but she’s not listed there. I am now trying to check an old feedblitz account but can’t find where I set that up.
    Do you have any helps for me???

    • says

      Oh yikes, if you’ve checked all your accounts for various services and can’t seem to find her, I would just email her again, apologize, assure her you’ve done everything you can to try to find her email address but there must be a glitch that is not allowing you to find it. I would then try again to encourage her to simply click the Unsubscribe link in any of her emails and that should do it. So sorry!

      • says

        Thanks Amy! Thanks for making me feel less like a goob!
        The only thing I don’t know how to check is my apparent feedblitz account. I have one for reading blogs but can’t find an account for my blog sending stuff. I at least had one at some point because I personally get an email from that feed {that’s how I test stuff}. Is there a way to figure out that account? Or is there even a way to see subscribers using that feed?
        I did email her and just ask that she ‘spam’ me…I don’t know what the consequences of that will be but at least she won’t continually be upset with me.
        THANKS again for your sweet {and fast may I add} response!!!

        • says

          If you login to FeedBlitz, on the left side, there is an orange link for “My Sites”–click on that. Any of your sites with a feed should be listed underneath. Click the envelope icon to see any email newsletters associated with your site. Hope that helps!

  13. says

    Thanks so much for the advice. I am confused about what to do. I am on Blogger and my email subscribers are still getting my posts. They just can’t click through to my site. Any recommendations? I really don’t want to have to pay for a service. Thanks!

    • says

      FeedBurner still works so you shouldn’t have to pay for a service at this point. Not sure why they can’t click through your site. That sounds strange to me. Maybe Blogger Help has some advice.

  14. says

    Hello Amy:

    I pray bottom of my heart that feedburner doesn’t shut down. There are many big sites still didn’t plan for any migration, such as mashable.com , probloggers, etc. I just visited their sites to know what they are doing. They are still using feedburner.

    I think that Google is planning big that will blow all other feed service providers in the market. They are enough fool enough to ignore millions of bloggers and their fate.

  15. says

    My Feedburner hasn’t sent anything in a few weeks. Do we know if it’s really gone for sure?

    I’ve been trying to figure this out, and it’s so, so frustrating.

    I can’t pay for a service when my blog isn’t making money & I can’t use mailchimp because they want a physical address.

    WHY GOOGLE. WHY??? lol.

    • says

      Hmmm…not sure why this would happen. I’d make sure the email subscription setting is activated and everything else looks good. You might also ask your readers to see if they are getting your posts and/or subscribe yourself with another email address and see if you get them. Might be something with your email address??

  16. says

    Amy, my head is about to explode, trying to figure out what to do with my email subscribers. I got the feedblitz manual, quickly read it, and am completely overwhelmed with all the tech stuff, as I am soooo not techy. Anyway, it looks like I only have 50 or so feedburner email subscribers as I am pretty new to blogging. I do not use ad sense on my blogger account, and have my blog strictly as a creative outlet with no income. That suits me fine so I am not looking into paying for any service. Is there an EASY way to fix my problem for us non-techy people who just want their subscribers to get my posts via email? I subscribe to my own blog via email and RSS. My RSS works fine but I haven’t received any email posts since Sept. Dummy me just figured this out today cuz as soon as I write a post, I get it thru blogger, but not as an email subscriber. My friend just told me today she wasn’t receiving my email posts and that’s how I finally found out there was a problem!

    • says

      Hi Lisa, make sure your email subscriptions are Activated. I’m not sure what to tell you other than that. I’d google it to see if others have had this issue. Not sure why it wouldn’t be sending your emails out. Sorry I’m not much help. :(

  17. says

    For a new blog/site, or a hobby site (self hosted WordPress), what do you think of the new built in JetPack subscription service? It’s free, and surely not fancy, but until/unless I get to the point where I want to pay for it, have you heard much about what people think? Would love your thoughts!

  18. says

    Great to read all your comments here … great informations! But all these services are very expensive … too expensive, if you have just a little blog – still. I tend to Mailchimp, but I’m also concerned about the affiliate issue :-(

    If you just need feed statistics, this is a great plugin for WordPress:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/feedstats-de/

    and I’m going to try this one, too – http://wpplugins.com/plugin/46/subscribe2-html/, but it’s all not for sending out special e-mail newsletters, just alternatives for Feedburner mail subscriptions.

  19. says

    I started using Google feedburner a few weeks ago. Today I realized my social networks weren’t being fed, so I went to my feeds account and guess what? All my feeds were gone! I’m really pissed at them, but I have no idea what would be the best free alternative. I don’t use email subscriptions, just RSS.

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