Feedburner – PTC006

Before I go into feedburner, a bit of news about it. Google Announced a year ago, that the Feedburner API was going away next month. (Oct 2012). Does this mean feedburner is going away? Maybe and maybe not. Just something to think about.

Feedburner started in 2004 as a feed management service. Back in the day it was the easy way to add all the tags that iTunes needed for podcasting (after itunes started doing podcasts in their iTunes store). It was started by Dick Costolo who is now the CEO of Twitter.

In 2007 it was acquired by Google for $100 Million. Google quickly made the stats and “my brand” service free.

What does feedburner do?

Feedburner basically takes an RSS feed and “burns it” What that means is it adds all kinds of things to the feed to make it compatible with feed readers and other services. It also redirects your feed from an unformatted XML file to a Web-friendly page with subscription buttons at the top of the page. So if someone goes to your feed with a web browser, it doesn’t look like Gibberish.

What about podcasting?

Back in 2005, when podcasting started, there wasn’t an easy way to edit your RSS feed (XML file) so you either had to write your own using a text editor and hope you got all the tags just right, or you could just write a simple feed and let feedburner do the tags for you. This is now known as “Smartcast”. This allows you to have a very simple feed that you redirect though feedburner and then feedburner formats it for podcasting in iTunes and other services.

Reasons NOT to use feedburner….

1. Feedburner is a 3rd party service. Yes, it’s owned by Google, but, it can (and will sooner or later) shut down.

2. You do not OWN your feed if it’s on feedburner. It’s owned by feedburner / Google. Now, most of the time, Google will allow you to redirect or download any content you might have on a service they have shut down (such as WAVE and BUZZ). and WHEN (Not if) they shut down feedburner, they will likely to do the same. There is a redirect option now that I’ve been testing and so far it’s working on a couple of feeds I had there from way back. I will let you know how long that works and if I had any trouble.

3. Branding. You want all your URL’s to be your brand. You paid for your domain name, you might as well use it. Instead of feeds.feedburner.com/mypodcast/ You can have MyPodcast.com/feed/podcast/. Much better to have your own domain. You can setup feedburner to use your domain, but it’s cumbersome and of little use if the service goes away.

4. Feedburner basically hasn’t updated anything in at least 4 years and maybe longer. It doesn’t take into account, changes in the RSS2 specs, and more importantly for podcasters, itunes changed podcast specs.

5. Their stats service is of little or no use. All they track is hits on your rss feed. One week they will show that you have 1000 subscribers and the next 200. Trust me, neither one of those numbers is close. What you want to track is downloads of your podcast files.

Reasons to USE feedburner?

Only one I can think of. IF, as we discussed last week, you HAVE to use a free or cheap podcasting service, you should use feedburner to make sure you own (at least a little bit) of your feed. But as I said before, this is only if feedburner stays around.

There is an email subscription service attached to feedburner that is kind of cool, but with all the disadvantages that feedburner has, I would use something like MailChimp or Awebber. There are lots of mailing list services out there.

Question of the week:

Q. I am using blubrry powerpress on my wordpress blog for podcasting. My blog’s name is not the same as my podcast show name but my Podcast only feed does have the same name. How do I change the name of my podcast feed without changing my blog’s title?

A. In blubrry Powerpress, you need to enable podcast channels. This is at the bottom of the main powerpress settings page in your dashboard.