UPDATE: FeedBurner stats are working again as of Monday evening, September 24, 2012. Bloggers and podcasters are panicing that Google could be shutting down FeedBurner. I don't believe that will happen, but these steps will explain how you can move anyway. You may want to change your feed so it uses your domain, but still filters through FeedBurner. Or you may want to completely abandon FeedBurner. The following information will help you in either case. These podcast shownotes are long and in-depth, so buckle up!
Quick overview of my recommended process
- Change your public feed URL wherever it is.
- Plan ahead and notify your subscribers for at least a month.
- Use PowerPress's iTunes and Feed settings and turn off FeedBurner's SmartCast feature.
- Export your FeedBurner feed's email subscribers and import them into a service like MailChimp.
- Activate the “new-feed-url” tag in PowerPress.
- Wait a couple weeks and delete your FeedBurner feed and use their 30-day redirection.
- Wait 15 days and re-open the same FeedBurner feed and delete it again for two more weeks of redirection. Then re-open it again.
- Leave the original FeedBurner feed operational and using your new feed as its source.
If this is all too complicated, I'm available to do this all for you for $200 per feed with quantity discounts. Email Daniel@DJosephDesign.com or call (859) 353-4332 if you're interested. I'll have an official request form available soon.
Is FeedBurner shutting down?
As of September 24, 2012, Google has not announced that FeedBurner will shut down. But the following events will give you pause.
- The FeedBurner API was deprecated as of May 26, 2011 and will shut down on October 20, 2012. These APIs were used for tools like FeedFlare, subscriber chicklets, Feed Awareness plugins, and such. This will affect subscription-number widgets where people show off their RSS subscribers (built into themes like Standard Theme).
- The Feedburner Twitter account was “retired” on July 26, 2012. Google simply wasn't using it. But they did refresh it with a new post to alert followers to recent issues (see below).
- Also on July 26, 2012, Google announced that the AdSense for Feeds blog would be closed. Again, this makes sense because they weren't posting much content and even acknowledged that.
- Google failed to renew the Japanese feedburner.jp domain and lost it, resulting in many last subscribers for Japanese sites.
- On September 19 (earlier for some), FeedBurner stopped reporting subscriber counts and stats and then dropped to 0. This is a known issue that Google has acknowledged and said they're working on. It's also not the first time this has happened.
FeedBurner alternatives like FeedBlitz jump all over things like this, trying to get people to switch to their service. FeedBlitz looks good, but may still be unnecessary going forward.
What if FeedBurner does shut down?
Again, I don't think FeedBurner will shut down. But if they do, they'll probably offer options similar to the “delete feed” feature I describe below. The worst case is that your feed will disappear and you'll lose any subscribers who were subscribed to it.
Change your public feed URLs
Whatever your new RSS address will be, it needs to be the public URL everywhere your old FeedBurner URL was. This would be on your site, in podcast directories (I'll explain iTunes below), and anywhere else you link to it. Make sure you stop publicizing your old URL whereverit is, even if you have to edit old posts!
Plan ahead and notify your subscribers
Some of these methods will work seamlessly, but others could break subscriptions for some of your subscribers. Because of this potential doom, start telling your subscribers that you'll be changing RSS feeds and that if they're using anything other than iTunes, they may want to resubscribe to your new feed. Make sure you do this several times for weeks in advance. If a subscriber is using a system that doesn't seamlessly update their subscription to your new feed URL, then they'll at least know to watch for it and what they should do to continue receiving updates.
How to migrate your podcast settings
If you host a podcast, then the first thing you want to do is get your podcast setting right. I already recommend using PowerPress to configure your RSS feed instead of FeedBurner's SmartCast. And this will be crucial for moving away from FeedBurner.
- Login to FeedBurner and open your podcast feed (only one at a time).
- Go to Optimize > SmartCast.
- Open a new tab/window and login to your WordPress site.
- Go to PowerPress settings > iTunes.
- Copy all the information from the Feedburner fields to the PowerPress fields.
- Copy any other FeedBurner information into PowerPress settings > Feeds.
- Save your PowerPress settings.
- Deactivate FeedBurner's SmartCast feature.
Now, all your podcast information—like category, keywords, cover art, etc.—will come from your WordPress site instead of FeedBurner's. Congratulations! You now have more control over your podcast settings and access to advanced features that have been around for years but FeedBurner never supported!
How to migrate your email subscribers
One of FeedBurner's still handy and automated features is Email Subscriptions, which sends new content at a preselected time every day there's something new. These are the easiest subscribers to migrate because you have their exact information—their email addresses.
- Log in to FeedBurner and open your feed (only one at a time).
- Go to Publicize > Email Subscriptions.
- Click “View Subscriber Details” at the bottom of the page.
- Click “Export CSV.”
- Open a free MailChimp account or use another email newsletter service.
- Login to your email service and follow their instructions for importing your CSV from FeedBurner.
- Follow your email service's instructions for setting up a manual or automatic RSS-powered email newsletter.
How to migrate your RSS subscribers
Moving away from FeedBurner is risky because you could lose some RSS subscribers. The only way to prevent that entirely is if your public feed has always an only been a URL that you control. This could be on your domain as a WordPress feed (like theaudacitytopodcast.com/feed/) or FeedBurner's free MyBrand feature (which would result in something like feeds.noodle.mx/). But let's assume you're not setup either of those ways.
What are 301 redirects?
Just like when you change addresses and notify the Post Office to forward your mail, we need to do the same thing on the Internet. When somethings moves from one URL to another, there are different ways to redirect visitors who have the old URL:
- A 307 redirect is temporary. Requests for that URL (such as a download, a click on a link, or typing the URL in a browser) will be seamlessly redirected to a temporary URL. Nothing changes on the visitor's system or software.
- A 301 redirect is permanent. Requests for that URL (such as a download, a click on a link, or typing the URL in a browser) will be seamlessly redirected to a new, permanent URL. Many systems and software will see the redirect and appropriately update the address that they look for.
Most podcast and blog subscription apps and sites will recognize a 301 redirect and stop checking your old feed URL and switch to checking your new feed URL. But a 301 redirect is only good while it exists on the original URL. If you tell your local Post Office to forward your mail for just a day, anything after that one day will still go to your old address. Tell your Post Office to forward for a year, and that gives plenty of time for changing your address everywhere people have it. If you have a 301 redirect for just a couple weeks, then anyone who tries to visit the old URL after those couple weeks will hit a dead end. Learn more about 301 redirects for podcasts from PodcastFAQ.com.
Redirect iTunes and subscribers
iTunes is a smart podcast client. If you implement a 301 redirect, iTunes will figure out what you intend and will update for future use. But there's another feature you'll want to start right away before you try a 301 redirect. Assuming you now have power and full control over your podcast RSS settings (by using PowerPress instead of SmartCast), follow these steps.
- Log in to your WordPress site.
- Go to PowerPress settings > iTunes.
- Click “Set iTunes New Feed URL.”
- Enter your new podcast feed URL in the empty field.
- Click “Save Changes.”
This will tell iTunes subscribers and the iTunes store to switch to your new RSS feed. Your subscribers won't notice it and nothing will break. This must be done on the source feed that FeedBurner uses. Even if you use FeedBurner's SmartCast feature, the “new-feed-url” tag will pass through from PowerPress to your subscribers.
Delete your FeedBurner feed to implement a 301 redirect
The only way to set a 301 redirect on your FeedBurner feed is to delete your feed from FeedBurner. This is drastic, but here's what FeedBurner says will happen:
As a courtesy, FeedBurner offers publishers who delete a FeedBurner feed 30 days of complimentary traffic redirection. During the first 15 days of this 30 day period, subscriber requests for: [YOUR FEEDBURNER FEED] will be redirected to your original source feed: [YOUR SOURCE FEED] During days 16-30, this feed consists of a single content item that reads “This feed is no longer active. A new feed is located at [YOUR SOURCE FEED].” After day 30, your feed will be permanently deleted and return an HTTP 404 (feed not found) message. You can use this period to notify your subscribers of the change so they can update their feed readers with your original address.
This 301 redirect is great, but I think 15 days is much too short and it should at least 90 days.
- Wait a couple weeks after implementing “new-feed-url.”
- Log in to FeedBurner and open your feed (only one at a time).
- Click “Edit Feed Details…” and ensure your “Original Feed” is your new RSS address, then click “Save Feed Details” if you changed anything.
- Click “Delete Feed…” near the top.
- Checkmark “Use 30 day redirection.”
- Click “Delete Feed.”
- You're not finished yet! Read on for important options.
The feed will now implement a 301 redirect for 15 days. During this time, most podcast and RSS clients will automatically update and start checking your new feed URL. You now have two options.
- Let the FeedBurner message show for days 16–30 and then let the feed die.
- Recommended: restart the FeedBurner feed after 15 or 30 days.
Restarting your FeedBurner feed will allow you to delete it again and thus implement another 15 days of a 301 redirect, or your can monitor the subscription numbers to see how many subscribers were not redirected.
- Wait either 15 days or the full 30 days (to let the “feed moved” message post for two weeks).
- Permanently delete the feed.
- Restart it with the same FeedBurner URL.
- Repeat the previous steps 1–5 above to delete the feed and implement another 15-day redirect,
- Repeat this for 30–90 days of solid 301 redirects (split up into 15-day segments).
- Re-open the feed one last time and leave it alive to watch for subscription numbers, client software, and make sure that any stragglers still get your content.
What you need to know about subscriber stats
RSS subscriber stats are not accurate! It's helpful to see a general trend for subscription numbers, but the nature of RSS stats means it doesn't reflect your true number of listeners.
- RSS stats won't account for website visitors who click play on the page.
- RSS stats count only how many clients check the feed on one day.
- RSS stats don't account for the overlap between days. You may see 100 subscribers each day, but that be 100–200 total subscribers who update on separate days.
Media stats and website stats are far more accurate and reliable. But I do still see a place for RSS subscriber stats, but I don't think they're as important. Learn more about podcast, website, and RSS stats.
FeedBurner does present extra control over your feed to override information like the title or image. But anything like this that FeedBurner does can also be done within WordPress. The most-requested feature is the ability to change the podcast title. This is easy with PowerPress.
- Activate Custom Podcast Channels.
- Go to PowerPress Podcast Channels.
- Edit your default channel.
- Adjust the podcast title to your preference.
- Leave other fields blank to be set by PowerPress's overall settings.
I will switch to MyBrand and protect my feeds
So what do I plan to do with all of my podcast and RSS feeds inside of FeedBurner? I'll follow these same steps, but with the goal of changing RSS feeds to FeedBurner's MyBrand feature. This allows me to set “feeds.noodle.mx/[FEED_NAME]” just like I would with “feeds.feedburner.com/[FEED_NAME].” I'll set this MyBrand feature to point to new feeds inside of FeedBurner so I can monitor the transferred subscribers. Ultimately, this means my subscribers will be using “feeds.noodle.mx/[FEED_NAME],” which will allow me to seamlessly redirect it to anything else if FeedBurner ever does shut down.
If your head exploded or may explode, I can help!
I presented all of this information in such detail to give you the tools you need to take control of your RSS feed. But I totally understand if this is all over your head! If you want to move away from FeedBurner but don't want to go through this mess, please contact me and I can do this all for you at $200 per feed (quantity discounts available). Email Daniel@DJosephDesign.com, call (859) 353-4332, or use my coming request form. 100 podcasting tips
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Check out more Noodle.mx Network shows
- The Audacity to Podcast: "How-to" podcast about podcasting
- Beyond the To-Do List: Personal and professional productivity
- The Productive Woman: Productivity for busy women
- ONCE: Once Upon a Time podcast
- Welcome to Level Seven: Agents of SHIELD and Marvel’s cinematic universe podcast
- Are You Just Watching?: Movie reviews with Christian critical thinking
- the Ramen Noodle: Family-friendly clean comedy
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