Google can’t stop killing products.
From a never-ending stream of acquihires to discarding products both great (I still miss Google Reader) and not-so-great (I’m having flashbacks to Google+), the tech giant has earned a reputation for poisoning products in their prime.
But one product in Google’s lineup has been a rare exception to the rule, outliving rumors of its impending demise for nearly two decades. FeedBurner’s unassuming content delivery service has supported millions of bloggers, podcasters, publishers, and creators over the years, delivering countless e-newsletters to fans worldwide (and proudly upholding dot-com-era web design standards).
But changes are finally afoot for the venerable RSS service—and if you’re one of the handful of dedicated users, now is the time to take action.
FeedBurner: The internet’s plumbing service
After co-founders Dick Costolo, Eric Lunt, Steve Olechowski, and Matt Shobe first launched their “Tivo for Internet sites” way back in 2004, FeedBurner grew like a weed. By late 2005 the fledgling company boasted nearly 70,000 publishers using the service and already managed almost 16,000 podcasts only a year after the term “podcasting” was first coined. This rapid growth inevitably caught the attention of Google, who acquired the company for a rumored $100m back in June of 2007 and quickly offered the service for free.
These days, thanks to the death of popular RSS readers like Google Feeds (thanks again, Google), RSS feeds might be less ubiquitous than in the service’s heyday of the late 2000s. But despite the endless rumors that Google would shut it down, the FeedBurner service has persisted far longer than anyone expected.
That’s because RSS still keeps much of the creative content flowing around the web. Many services still rely on the syndication service outside of traditional written content, from social media and email newsletters to podcasts and YouTube videos.
Think of RSS like the plumbing in your house. You might not notice how hard the hot water pipes are working, but it only takes one unexpectedly cold shower to catch your attention. In fact, save for a handful of dedicated users, there’s a strong chance you’re already using FeedBurner without even realizing it.
So RSS’s prevalence might mean Google can’t shut down the plumbing entirely. But they can still renovate the bathroom—and that’s precisely what they’ll be starting this coming July.
Here’s what’s changing for Feedburner in July 2021
In April, the FeedBurner team announced a series of upcoming changes to Feedburner:
Starting in July, we are transitioning FeedBurner onto a more stable, modern infrastructure. This will keep the product up and running for all users, but it also means that we will be turning down most non-core feed management features, including email subscriptions, at that time.
FeedBurner isn’t disappearing entirely. Instead, the team will focus exclusively on core feed management features, including “the ability to change the URL, source feed, title, and podcast metadata of your feed,” as well as basic analytics.
For many users, Google says no action is required. “All existing feeds will continue to serve uninterrupted,” according to the team, “and you can continue to create new accounts and burn new feeds.”
If you’re among the handful of FeedBurner diehards using the soon-to-be-deprecated email subscription service, here’s where you should pay attention. As part of the transition, the FeedBurner team will be turning down “most non-core feed management features,” including email subscription management. That means you need to be thinking about Feedburner alternatives now, and not in July after the service disappears (although Google confirmed you will still be able to export your subscriber list even after the service begins phasing out in July 2021).
If you rely on functionality that will be disappearing, fear not: migrating from FeedBurner to ConvertKit will take you a lot less than two decades. In fact, you can start automatically sending your readers new content as soon as it’s published in only a few clicks.
How to migrate from FeedBurner to ConvertKit in only 3 steps
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
First, you’ll need to download your email subscribers from FeedBurner. Google provides instructions for exporting email subscribers on the FeedBurner support site, but we’ve summarized them below to save you time:
- In FeedBurner, click Analyze, and select Subscribers.
- Click FeedBurner Email Subscriptions, then click Manage Your Email Subscriber List.
- Under View Subscriber Details, Click CSV (next to “Export”).
Next, import your subscriber list into ConvertKit.
Once you have your CSV file of subscribers from FeedBurner, you can import them as new subscribers into your ConvertKit account. It’s a good idea to tag imported subscribers as “Import,” “FeedBurner,” or similar so you can find them easily (and exclude them from any welcome sequences you might already have set up).
Finally, create an RSS automation with your FeedBurner URL.
Connecting your blog's RSS feed to ConvertKit will allow your subscribers to be updated about your new posts. You have the option of setting up a weekly digest containing your most recent posts with links back to your blog instead of sending out an email for each and every post.
You can follow the steps in this article to easily set that up. Note that RSS Automations are not available on a ConvertKit Free plan.
Here’s to you, FeedBurner
So the question remains: Why now, Google? Why mess with FeedBurner if nothing’s broken?
Well, according to the search giant, the new infrastructure updates are designed to “support the product’s next chapter.” Given Google’s history of sending products out to pasture, I can only speculate on what that next chapter might bring—but it’s heartening to see continued support for the core functionality. In the meantime, we’ll do our best to continue building the best FeedBurner alternative on the market.
So here’s to another two decades of RSS greatness, FeedBurner. We’re rooting for you.