Do not send your subscribers directly to Feedburner

By Daniel Scocco

Feedburner does provide a very useful service, but sending subscribers directly to the Feedburner feed is a mistake that many bloggers (including myself until recently) commit. By sending subscribers directly to the Feedburner feed I mean placing an RSS link on your website that points to “http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourfeed”.

Why is this a mistake? Because on this way the readers will not be subscribing to your feed but rather to the Feedburber burned feed of your blog. This means that a third party is in control of the subscribers. Should Feedburner break down or decide to charge money for the service on the future you will lose the subscribers.

A simple solution for this problem is to make readers subscribe to your feed (i.e. http://www.domain.com/feed/) and redirect them to Feedburner. There are several ways to create the redirect.

If you already have a .htaccess file on your server you can simply add this code (it works with /feed/, if you use /rss/ you will need to edit it):

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !feedburner [NC]
RewriteRule ^feed/?$ http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourfeed [R=302,L]
RewriteEngine Off

Alternatively you can use the Feedburner Replacement plugin that will redirect all your incoming feed requests from readers to the Feedburner feed.

Finally, if you do not want to redirect your readers but still want to access the Feedburner detailed statistics you can add this code to your feed file (i.e. rss.php or similar):

$feedburnerfeed="http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourfeed";
$ch = curl_init();
$useragent=$_SERVER[’HTTP_USER_AGENT’];
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_USERAGENT, $useragent);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL, $feedburnerfeed);
$data = curl_exec($ch);
curl_close($ch);

Thanks Leo Paiva for the .htaccess tip and Mark Wielgus for the PHP code.

Update: The two redirect methods work only for people copying your feed address directly into their readers. If they click on the link, they will get redirected to Feedburner and they will end up subscribing to that feed. The PHP code method so far is the only way to retain 100% control of your subscribers.



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64 Responses to “Do not send your subscribers directly to Feedburner”

  • Steve

    I have just included a RSS on my blog. It is using Twentyten theme.
    The icon seems to be linled to the feed, but the feed title is linked to the home page.
    Does anyone know how to fix that?
    Also how do I get rid of the item display below the RSS?

    Thanks

  • Robin Alley

    Thanks for sharing, but is this still relevant today?

  • Bang Kritikus

    Add rss feed url into yahoo rss feed directory

  • Maeve

    Daniel,
    I don’t know if being off line had anything to do with it, but the other day my Server shut down my site because of a billing error. It went right back up again, but when I looked at Feedburner, ALL my email subscriptions were GONE.

    When I tried to re-subscribe one, I got the message that that person was already subscribed. I phoned a subscriber today and found out that she had not received my latest post.

    Is there anything I can do to retrieve my subscribers?

  • Bob

    Hi Daniel,
    I have about 1800 subscribers now through the direct feed of Feedburner, Is there a way to redirect them to my own feed so that I don’t lose them If feedburner closes up someday…. ?
    Or it just works with new subscribers?

  • Poker Guru

    Wow awesome post. I didn’t realize that I’ve been doing the same mistake too. I though using Feedburner gives all advantages and takes away nothing. I would implement this in my blog.

    Cheers

  • Neil

    Hi Daniel

    I think I may found the problem, my client’s blog is now working, tomorrow I shall see if my own blog is operating correctly (the feeds that is).

    The problem seems to be that I was requesting emails to come through between 7am and 9am, for some reason feedburner doesn’t always deliver during this time…

    Thanks

  • Daniel Scocco

    Neil, I can’t understand the problem, you need to give more information.

    Did you activate email subscriptions? Are you sure they are not going to the spam folder? Did you subscribe via email yourself to test?

  • Neil

    sorry..

    why my emails ‘are not’ coming through?

  • Neil

    I just started using feedburner for myself and a client but we are both not receiving emails when we update our blog. I’m not to worried about inserting code to redirect visitors to original feed. I can download the subscribers from feedburner to an excel spreadsheet. My question is why my emails are coming through? I’ve checked the feedburner forums and this problem seems to have occurred hundreds of times before…

    I’m worried I’m going to lose credibility here because of this problem.. but it has such a good backend system… Daniel, your help would be much appreciated..

  • Ray Fowler

    Daniel and others,

    I have been using the method I described in comment #39 for six months now and it seems to be working fine. Here is the link to an article I wrote about it if you are interested in following up:

    http://www.rayfowler.org/2008/02/06/feedburner-hack-maintain-control-of-feed-and-subscribers/

  • Earth & Economy

    There is another FeedBurner option. Earth & Economy chose to use the MyBrand Pro option which is a free service. MyBrand lets you use your own domain name to host your feed instead of feeds.feedburner.com. So instead of doing a redirect, you can control your subdomain via a CNAME entry. That way if you wish to change where the subdomain points to in the future you can. Keep int mind that changes to a CNAME take time to propogate where a change to a redirect is almost instantaneous. Good Luck with your configuration.

  • Maeve

    Daniel,
    I just installed Feedburner for my website http://www.AmericanEnglishDoctor.

    The RSS feed link in my footer brings up the URL:
    http://feeds.feedburner.com/%20Americanenglishdoctor
    This gives a Feedburner error page
    which does not work because of the inserted %20.

    The RSS feed link in the URL line of my browser brings this up:
    feed://americanenglishdoctor.com/wordpress/?feed=rss2
    This produces a Safari error page

    What must I do to correct these faulty addresses?

  • Maksimil

    Hi ! …
    Mobile phone is not a luxury but a tool…. To help you with this!…
    You look at Mobile telephone!

  • Ray Fowler

    Hi Daniel,

    Any thoughts on my comment/question above? (July 23, 2007) Does anyone know if this is an effective way to use feedburner without losing control of your feed?

    Thanks,
    Ray

  • Ray Fowler

    Daniel,

    Here is what I am doing, but I am not sure if it solves the problem or not.

    I am using FeedBurner, but under Optimize | BrowserFriendly at the very bottom I selected the “Redirecting Your Feed Traffic” link. Then I put my original feed (http://www.rayfowler.org/feed/) in the “Redirected Feed URL” box.

    Now when people subscribe from my web page they go to my FeedBurner landing page as usual, but when they click one of the subscription buttons it subscribes them under my original feed link instead of the feedburner feed link.

    Does this take care of the problem you are addressing in this post?

    Thanks,
    Ray

  • George S., Blogvasion.com

    So…FeedBurner.com is down and guess what? Yes yes, I found this post. The point of view expressed is correct. Even though FeedBurner.com is a part of Google Inc. it may still get out of business one day. Even if this never happens, such downtime can and most likely will have negative effects on the bloggers.

    Well, I’m seriously considering implementing the ideas expressed in this post. Thank you for the insight.

  • Daniel

    Dan, notice that the redirect methods will not work 100%, I am still looking for something more solid, since I still want to use Feedburner services.

    I will post updates.

  • Dan

    That is definately one tip worth putting into practice, I imagine if they decided to charge and you decided not to pay it would mean a significant reader loss.

  • Andy Beard

    You probably forgot to read all the comments on Marks post, especially from the feedburner guys who said it wouldn’t work.

    After that, the guys at Weblogs Tools Collection put together some much better code, if you really really insist that you want to have total control of your feed.

    From what I have seen, Feedburner have extremely good uptime, better than most servers, and even when the site is down, the feeds still work.

  • Ashish Mohta

    @Sahil: Yes we all get your poin but its called as “Prevention is better than cure”. Feedburner is a service which is MAJORLY used by everyone. In Search engines we have options, there are many search engines not all will go down and they never wil.There is chance of getting hits again from search engines if they go down, people will stil use it and come back.
    But if once reader gets a 404 for your feed rad its bad for your blog .Feedburner is kind of service
    which we are depending on too much. They will also not go down chances are 1 out of 10. But you dont loose your readers when they go for temporory shutdown. Its always good to have a backup than having nothing at all….

    No offences but thats what is being explained here.

  • lunakizz

    Great! It’s look like a way to get traffic.

  • Sahil Gupta

    I am not getting this..
    the post is based on “WHAT IF” one day feedburner goes down….
    This “what if” can do whatever you want it to do.. what if one day google search goes down.. “Shouldn’t we make our own seperate search engine to save us from that day”

    ya i know that was sheer exaggeration .. but anyone getting my point…??

  • XmasB

    The biggest problem is that many readers also get the redirect. Then they end up with feedburner either way.

    And, lets face it, the (human) readers won’t do the extra “work” of copying the url into the feedreader. They click on a link, or an rss-icon, and ends up with the feedburner in the end.

    It’s a good idea, but it needs a better implementation. For now, I’m counting on feedburner to be somewhat stable and free. 🙂

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