I moved away from Feedburner a while back because I didn’t like the service much and was worried with it seeming like it might go away. I moved over to Feedblitz for my RSS and RSS-to-Email needs, which has been great, but with Google Reader being killed off, I am finding that my email subscribers are growing really quickly. Feedblitz was affordable when most people were just using it for the RSS feed and it made my Blogger to WordPress move easy, but it’s getting too pricey now. So I was wondering what you use/what you thought would be the best solution. I would like to keep things as simple and in house as possible. I don’t want to lose everything if a service goes belly up, and I have no problem paying for a monthly service if it’s reasonable. But my measly 200 RSS subscribers and 100 email subscribers do not justify no 10$ a month, so there has to be a better solution. Thanks!
I’ll talk you through some of the options that exist out there, and what I personally use on my own blog. 🙂
How to track RSS
For starters, it’s important to understand that you don’t need a service for RSS. Your RSS feed ( http://www.yoursite.com/feed ) already exists without a third party service. The only thing a third party service would do for you is try to help keep track of subscribers. But even without that service, people can still subscribe to your feed.
Personally, I don’t use any kind of third party RSS service. People have my RSS URL if they want to subscribe ( https://www.nosegraze.com/feed ). If you want to be able to keep track of your number of subscribers, there are many WordPress plugins that will do that for you. Example: Simple Feed Stats. This plugin keeps track of the number of “hits” your RSS feed gets. So every time someone views your RSS feed in a reader, the plugin gets notified and keeps track of it.
This is actually probably a lot more accurate than other options out there. Some options just track the number of subscribers. But if you have 500 subscribers, that doesn’t mean 500 people read your RSS feed. Maybe only 100 actually check it. Simple Feed Stats is more accurate because it counts the number of times your RSS feed gets viewed by someone in a reader. So it will ensure that your numbers are accurate and up to date.
For email subscriptions, there are a few “in house” options. As far as WordPress plugins go, here are a few:
I personally despise Jetpack. It’s bloated, slow, and I could go on… But the email subscription service is lacking. There are very few options and the post formatting gets simplified. Shortcodes will not work on emails that get sent out, which can result in unprofessional-looking emails.
However, it is an easy option. It’s quick and fast to set up, and actually a ton of WordPress bloggers use this feature. I’m just very particular about what I want, and I know that Jetpack isn’t for me. But many bloggers do use it and seem to be okay with it.
MailPoet and MyMail
I personally use MyMail and love it (Click to view note) (I think MailPoet is a similar option, but I can’t really speak about it with experience). MyMail offers detailed statistics, much like MailChimp, but it’s a one-time payment only for $35 (no monthly subscription fee).
The downside to MyMail and MailPoet is that they can be a lot more complicated and confusing to set up and get right. The problem is that services like this need to use a cron job, which is basically an alarm that gets set to perform a specific action at a specific time (in this case, sending an email). But since the services exist through WordPress, they use WP-Cron, which isn’t a real cron job, it’s a “fake” one. Since it’s not a real cron job, there might be problems with emails not getting sent on time (or at all).
The way around this is to set up a real cron job instead. But something like this requires more technical knowledge and can be confusing for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
In short, these are both excellent options that will allow you to keep everything in house. However, they require more technical knowledge and set up time in order to get them right and get them working 100%.
A third-party option: MailChimp
MailChimp is the best option if you’re looking for something as easy as possible. But it is a third party service.
For 100 email subscribers, MailChimp would be a great option for you. They have a free plan that allows you to have up to 2,000 subscribers and you can send up to 12,000 emails per month. So if you post once per day, you can have 400 subscribers (because 400 subscribers x 30 days = 12,000 emails per month). MailChimp is one of the best services because not only will they send emails, but you can easily customize the email template and see excellent statistics on the emails you send.
However, if you think your blog will grow and you’ll earn a ton more subscribers, then MailChimp may not be the best option. If you post every day, you can only have 400 subscribers. Once you exceed that, you will have to start paying money to keep going!