Update: Google has quit maintaining Feedburner and we no longer recommend it. We now encourage people to attract subscribers to their email newsletter (using a tool such as Campaign Monitor or Mailchimp). Amy Lynn Andrews wrote a great article on why she stopped using, recommendations, *and* some tips on using Feedburner if you still really like it and want to stick with it.
The other day I had a great coffee date with a local fashion blogger. We were talking about blogging when she confessed, “I don't really know how to use Feedburner.”
Feedburner is an imperfect, but entirely necessary and useful tool in a blogger toolbox. Feedburner is an RSS site that allows bloggers to collect all subscribers in to one site, track how their posts are doing, ping major sites like Google, Technorati, and Digg, manage and maintain email subscribers, and syndicate live posts to Twitter.
When you log in to Feedburner (after set up), the first thing you'll see is this:
This gives you a very quick snapshot for the day– a total number of your “Subscribers.” The term subscribers is a bit inaccurate as Feedburner uses it. The subscriber number on Feedburner “represents the total number of individuals who had the feed requested on their behalf on that day.” (Source & more details on how Feedburner works.)
The default page once you've landed in Feedburner is the Analyze Page, and above shows what you're likely to see on any given day. The green line indicates the day to day activity of your Subscribers and their fluctuation. The blue line indicates reach–the total number of people who have taken action — viewed or clicked — on the content in your feed (source). My own blogging has been really erratic the past few months due to my work schedule– the spikes and drops indicate the days I've posted on my site (or haven't in several weeks).
If you click your Subscribers page, you'll get something similar to the above pie chart: a breakdown of what devices your subscribers are using to receive their updates. This can just give you a basic idea of what are the most popular feed readers for your site (you can make sure you're making it easy for your readers to follow!).
In Optimize, one page to pay special attention to is Summary Burner. In the event you decide you do not want your blog posts to appear in full in readers, but rather want them as a partial feed, here is how you can set it up. Partial feed will give a summary or the first few sentences of a post and then direct the reader to your site for the remainder of the content.
(Frankly, I don't encourage this. Most bloggers I know, myself included, would rather unsubscribe to a blog than only receive part of the content. However, sites like Bloglovin' work solely on this method, so many readers are accustomed to receiving only partial feed. There are many pros and cons to whether or not you go with partial feed or full feed, and the choice is yours.)
The next page you may want to take advantage of is the Publicize Page, and if you haven't enabled email subscriptions, you should. As you can see from the above, email subscribers make up approximate 15% of my subscribers, and this feature can be utilized in Typepad and Blogger (for WordPress, I simply used the code from either and submitted it in my WordPress widgets).
- In the first set of HTML coding for your site, on line 6, you'll see height & width measurements; by adjusting these, you can customize the piece to fit wherever you need it to!
- You can also create just a link for your site by using the second set of HTML coding.
- Clicking View Subscriber Details will give you the email addresses of your subscribers.
Also under Publicize is the Socialize option– a way to integrate social media with your Feedburner account. You first have the option of tweeting the title, body, or both. You can see I have it enabled so that only the title is tweeted.
You can incorporate hash tags based on your category listings– this is great if your blog's categories are set up as search terms. If I were writing a post about plus-sized clothing, and checked a category titled “plus-sized clothing,” the hash tag #plussizedclothing would pop up along side my tweet. This is an incredibly useful search tool, and could have some positive effects in building traffic. When I enable the hash tag function, I get the following sample tweets:
There are so many features that Feedburner has for you that sharing these is just the tip of the iceberg. These are some of the most basic, but useful functions that a fashion blogger can enable for instant results with minimum work.
Do you have any tricks or tips to share for the Feedburner newbie? What do you find essential in the program?
Still not sure that Feedburner is for you? Check out this old post from the IFB Archives: Fashion Blog Tips: Burn Your RSS Feed.