With the decision by Google to shut down Google Reader (which is used to read RSS feeds), and the other clues with the FeedBurner blog shutting down, AdSense for Feeds being discontinued, it is only a matter of time before FeedBurner gets the chop.
One of the most helpful articles to assist me with my decision on what to do was a post by Sarah Arrow who suggested a mix of alternatives
1. FeedBlitz – a paid service for RSS and email
2. Bring My Blog Visitors Back – a local RSS feed option
3. Aweber – a paid email service
The great thing about FeedBurner was that they took care of both the distribution of RSS feeds, and it also had a basic email service which distributed latest post via email and handled email subscriptions.
As any blogger would know, the 2 services that need looking after are the RSS feed, and the ability for readers to subscribe via email to updates.
After Reading Neville’s review, I looked at FeedBlitz. It is a paid service, with the pricing based on the number of email subscribers – with the RSS feed part thrown in for free.
Their pricing starts at $1.49/month but soon jumps to $10/month once you have more than 100 email subscribers.
The other issue with moving from one hosted RSS service to another, is that one day, FeedBlitz may also close down, or increase their prices or T&C to cause me to move again.
Thankfully, a year or so ago FeedBurner allowed you to use your own domain to point to the feed – so I chose feeds.londoncalling.co/andrewgrill – which then redirected via a CNAME to FeedBurner.
Moving away from FeedBurner has therefore been pretty painless – as I control the londoncalling.co domain – the old FeedBurner address now points to londoncalling.co/feed – a locally served version on my server hosted by the team at WebHostingBuzz.
Note: I am a WebHostingBuzz ambassador, so my hosting is provided as part of a sponsorship arrangement – read my review of their service.
This brings me to the reason for choosing to locally host my RSS feed instead of with a 3rd party.
I decided to enhance my local feed with a paid plugin called Bring My Blog Visitors Back which adds some interactivity to the feed, while still allowing me to host on my server, and have full control over the feed. This means that I have control over caching, server downtime, DNS, speed and the like without having to outsource this to a 3rd party.
The final piece of the transition was to find a home for my email subscribers.
I did consider a locally hosted option such as the Subscribe2 WordPress plugin , however this is a very basic email solution and does not give me information on who has opened the email or bounce and subscriber management etc.
I decided to go with MailChimp, and their “free forever” option. This is a good choice if you have under 2,000 email subscribers, and send less than 12,000 emails per month.
As it is a free service, you do have the “powered by MailChimp” message on every email, which I think is a small price to pay, and it also sends a message to those subscribing to my blog via email that I am using a professional platform to send emails, and their unsubscribe preferences will be honoured.
Hopefully I won’t have to worry about another service closing down for quite some time.