If you’re blogging regularly, whether for business or pleasure, a primary goal is almost always to build a community of folks who enjoy reading what you write. Getting people to visit is the first trick (here are 5 SEO Tools that might help w/ that), but once they’re there, it’s nice to keep them reading.
Why use a Feedburner account
Every WordPress site comes w/ a default RSS feed, which means it’s generally pretty easy to allow people to subscribe to get updates when you write new posts. But if you simply use that option, you don’t get to know how many people have subscribed, and you have no way of knowing who these people are, much less how to reach out to them.
This is why I always recommend setting up a Feedburner account. Certainly you can continue to offer the option of subscribing to your feed in a feed reader. But the additional functionality Feedburner allows (actually, there are lots of other benefits to Feedburner) is to create a widget or link on your site where people can opt to subscribe to your site by email. Which means that every time you publish something new, they will get it emailed to them. It also allows you to have access to the email addresses of those who choose to subscribe that way. So let’s get started.
How to set up a Feedburner account
First thing you have to do is sign into your Google account because Feedburner is a Google product. Once signed in, do a Google search for Feedburner. Click on the 1st link that shows up – should be the main Feedburner site. They’ll ask you to put in your Google password again and then they should give you the option to ‘claim your feeds’.
Once you’ve clicked on through, you’ll be at a screen that won’t have much on it if you’ve never created a feed before. But at the bottom, you’ll have something that says “burn a feed right this instant”.
In the field, simply put the url of where your blog resides. If it’s the front page of your site, it will just be http://your site domain name .com/net/whatever. If your site has something else as it’s front page and the blog is on a tab called something else, like blog, it will be the same thing, but with a /blog at the end (or whatever the name of the page is that you’ve set your blog to appear on). Type it in and click NEXT.
It’s possible that Feedburner will identify two feeds at the address you enter, one for the posts and one for the comments. If it tells you such, pick the one for the posts/feed and click NEXT. Once done, or if it only finds one feed, you’ll get to a page that says Welcome, and it will have two entry fields – Feed Title and Feed Address. I typically leave the information that is automatically filled in there, but you can change them if you like. Once you’re satisfied, click NEXT.
You should be at a screen that congratulates you on a job well done and it will list the feed address in blue just below the congratulations message. Go ahead and click NEXT, and then do so again at the next screen (which will offer you some additional options, but which are not relevant to this tutorial, so just click on through). You should now be at a page that says you successfully updated the feed at your site, and should look like this:
Now that your feed is set up, let’s get the code necessary to create an email subscription option on your site. Click on the PUBLICIZE tab toward the top. On the left side of the next screen, under SERVICES, you’ll see EMAIL SUBSCRIPTIONS…click on it. The first thing we have to do is activate the service, so go ahead and click ACTIVATE.
You should be at a screen now which has a bunch of stuff on it, but what you’re looking for is the first edit field where you see some funky looking code which starts with “form style = … as shown below:
This is the code that you’ll need to copy and paste onto your site. So go ahead and highlight the entire block of code and hit the copy function (ctrl c, command c, file/copy, whatever you like). Once you’ve done so, click the SAVE button at the bottom. You can go ahead and exit out of Feedburner now as we’ll be moving on to your site.
Adding the Feedburner Email Subscription code to your WordPress blog
Sign into the back end of your WordPress blog and go to the Appearances/Widgets menu along the left. Decide which sidebar you want to put the Feedburner email subscription box into (you could put it in a page or post too, but I’m assuming you want it in the sidebar for the purposes of this tutorial) and drag a Text Widget into the appropriate place.
Simply paste the code you copied from the Feedburner account you created in the previous step into the text widget you just put into the sidebar, click save, and you’re golden.
Feedburner Email Subscription options
I’m not going to go into the details and how-tos here, but I wanted to point out a couple of options you have as it concerns your new Feedburner Account and the email subscription box you just installed. If you want to know more about the below, feel free to leave a comment or email me with your questions.
- Your subscription box can be styled differently than it first appears when you put it in a widget in a sidebar on your site. Height, width, border, background color, the text that appears, etc…all of it can be altered to match your site/preferences.
- Whether by feed reader or email, your subscriber count will appear in your Feedburner account, so you can know how many people are regularly reading your content.
- From within your Feedburner account you can see the email addresses of all the people who subscribe to your feed via email.
- You can customize the email that goes out to those subscribers when new content is published. Change colors and fonts, add a logo, etc. You can also set what time the emails should be sent.
As I said, if you want more details on this last bit, please holler. I just wanted to give you an idea about some of the added benefits of a Feedburner account. Hope it helps you spread the word. Cheers…