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How to Set Up a Feedburner or Aweber Email Subscriber List

Credit: gajman

Credit: gajman

Years ago, you could build a popular blog relying entirely on traffic from search engines. These days, that’s a mistake. With how often their algorithms change, you really need to build something with a dedicated readership you can reach on a consistent and regular basis. Social media is a good mechanism for that except relying solely on social media creates a similar problem – your site is reliant on someone else.

Even today, your Facebook status updates do not reach every one of your site’s friends (or Fan Page likes). It’s often a very small subset (unless you pay). The Bargaineering Fan Page has around 2,300 likes and a post is seen by anywhere from 300-500 people. If you pay (boost it), you can get more.

The only mechanism that gives you 100% access to your fans is an email list. Today, we’ll explain how to set one up. When we’re done, you will know two ways to set up an email list so that your readers can get your posts hand-delivered (well, computer hand-delivered!) into their email inbox.

This is the first intermediate lesson of the Lifetime Income Blog course. The course is absolutely free, if you haven’t already, you should sign up today!

A Brief Primer on RSS

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and your blog is likely configured to publish all of your posts to an RSS feed that other programs can interpret. If you want to see what that looks like and you’re using WordPress, add /feed/ to your URL in your brower’s address bar. Microblogger’s feed is located here – https://microblogger.com/feed/

This gives your readers the ability to add it to their favorite RSS reader or, and this is becoming more prevalent, you can use it to feed an email list and send your posts into your readers’ inboxes on a regular basis.

If you want to set this up, you have two options – Feedburner and Aweber. The benefits of Feedburner are that it’s simple to set up and it’s 100% free. The downside is that you can only send your blog posts and that the service is owned by Google, who may shut it down in the future. Aweber will cost you money but it’s a full featured email marketing list service. This means you can send your blog posts, as a Blog Broadcast, but you can also hand write emails to your readers. You can replace Aweber with any number of other email marketing services, I use Aweber because it’s the most intuitive and the one I understand the best.

The Feedburner section starts right below, click here for the Aweber setup.

Feedburner

feedburner-logoTo set up Feedburner, just go to http://feedburner.com and log in.
feedburner-burn-a-feed

Type your blog’s feed URL into the box and click Next (if you’re on WordPress, it’s your domain with /feed/ at the end.
feedburner-welcome-let-us-burn

And just like that, you’re done!
feedburner-congrats

The next screen offers stats, I just keep the standard options and click Next. This next screen will show you how to integrate Feedburner onto your blog. The instructions for a self-hosted WordPress blog (that would be you) are terrible, so here’s a better way to do it.

Click on Publicize in the menu up to, it’s between Optimize and Troubleshootize. Now look for Email Subscriptions in the left sidebar:
publicize-email-subs

Click the Activate button. This next screen will give you two options for how to get people to sign up. The first one, Subscription Form Code, will put a form on the page with one text box and it looks like this:
feedburner-subscription-form-code

The Subscription Link Code just adds a link that, when clicked, pops up this window:
feedburner-subscription-link

You can use either and I recommend putting it somewhere prominent on your blog, such as a sidebar or after your posts.

Aweber

logo_smallFeedburner will only send your posts to your readers, you can’t send other email, which can be a severe limitation. If you want the flexibility to send emails, you’ll need an email marketing service and those will cost money.

Aweber is a popular choice because its web interface is intuitive and it’s an affordable option. Pricing is based on the number of subscribers and they offer a $1 trial for the first month (normal pricing is $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers).


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Once you set it up and log in, you’ll want to create a list. Click (Create and Manage Lists) (or click that link, but you must be logged in). The click on the big green Create a List button. Aweber has a three step process for creating your list: Basic Settings, Personalize Your List, and Confirmed Opt-In.

Basic Settings
Fill out the following:

  • List Name: This will identify your list, give it a descriptive name like “Microblogger List”.
  • List Description: A one sentence description of the list.
  • From Name, Address: Enter the primary email you use for this blog. I use my own name and the email I have set for my content form.
  • Contact Address: Your address. I’ve set up a Post Office Box and use that as the contact address for this form. This address will be published at the bottom of each email.
  • Notifications: If you want to be emailed every time someone signs up, enter in your name and email, then click Add. Otherwise you can leave this blank.

Once complete, click Save Settings. If successful, it’ll briefly say “Successfully saved settings.”

Personalize Your List
You could skip this entire step but I like to fill in the pertinent information – Company Name, Website URL, and Email Signature. I skip the Social Media/Sharing and Global Text Snippets for now.

Confirmed Opt-In
Depending on how ambitious you want to be, you can modify the confirmation message but I usually leave this alone. The only thing I might edit is the Success Page. For example, on the Microblogger list I give away this course, the Lifetime Income Blog course, so I send confirmations to the course introduction page. You can create a page on your site that welcomes subscribers, gives them some nice introductory gifts (ebooks, a list of popular posts, etc.), or just use the default.

The next step is setting up the Blog Broadcast.

Setting Up Your Blog Broadcast
Head back to the Home part of Aweber and make sure that your Current List, at the top, is set to the right list. Hover your cursor over Messages and click on Blog Broadcasts. You should see this screen, click Create a Blog Broadcast:
blog-broadcast

Type your RSS Feed URL into the field, it should be your site’s URL with /feed/ at the end. Microblogger’s feed is at https://microblogger.com/feed/

Next, look at the Templates menu and scroll through until you find a template you like. When you find it, click the green Load Template button. It should fill in the Subject, HTML Message, and Plain Text Message fields.

You can modify the template as much as you want, you just need to keep the text inside the curly braces, which are the { and }. Aweber will replace this text with your post titles, description, dates, etc.

You can configure how often you send Blog Broadcasts in the drop downs below. I’ve found that sending one email each day is usually overkill and for Microblogger, we send out one email a week.
blog-broadcast-settings

(You need to check that box if you want the emails to go out automatically – otherwise they sit in a queue waiting for you to send)

When you’re done, click Save Blog Broadcast. It should send you to another screen where you can now test your list. Underneath the name of your list, there are three gray links – Edit, Send a test, and Delete.

Click send a test and send yourself an email. Now check your email and see if you like the look of your list.

Using Your List

With both services, there’s nothing else you need to do. When you publish posts, it’ll send them to subscribers.

If you’re using Aweber, you can also email your subscribers any time you want. If you have a new feature on the site, if you want to ask them a question or put out a survey, or just want to say hello… you can. Just send out a Broadcast and configure it as you did with the Blog Broadcast. If you want to create a short series of emails, those are called Follow Up Series. There is a lot of flexibility with Aweber, explore and have fun!

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Jim

In 2005, I founded a personal finance blog (Bargaineering.com) that became successful enough that I quit my career as a software developer in the defense industry. It is my goal to share everything I learned so that you can do the same - build an online business that let's you pursue your passion.

7 responses to “How to Set Up a Feedburner or Aweber Email Subscriber List”

  1. Eartha says:

    Hi Jim,

    I have used the Feedburner option in the past but I prefer using Aweber. I really like the blog broadcast feature and being able to send regular email messages as well. Another email subscribtion option I like is the blog subscription feature that comes with the Wordpres Jetpack plugin. It is a widget you can move into your sidebar with a subscription form. When you publish a new post, it sends it in a nicely formatted email to your subscribers. It’s a nice option for those who aren’t able to use an autoresponder like Aweber.

    • Jim says:

      I prefer Aweber for the same reason, you can send your own emails in addition to the broadcast. I actually forgo the broadcast here because I prefer to hand write emails on Fridays that take the place of the broadcasts, I find writing it out myself gives me more control and it’s a more personal way to connect.

      Thanks for sharing what you use!

  2. Michael says:

    That final point — about being able to send out e-mails to subscribers whenever you want, without being limited to just sending out posts in your RSS feed — is a huge one. It’s well worth paying for a service like Aweber to have that sort of flexibility.

    • Jim says:

      Yes and that’s the primary advantage of Aweber over Feedburner. I think that you can start with Feedburner and then, after you get a hang of everything, implement Aweber so you can reach your users outside of blog broadcasts.

      • Michael says:

        The downside of implementing Aweber sometime in the future is that there’s no easy way of moving your e-mail subscribers over once they’ve signed up for Feedburner.

  3. Caleb says:

    Great article Jim. How does Aweber compare to Mailchimp? It seems that these services are more comparable than Aweber and feedburner (beside the RSS part).

    Thanks!

    • Jim says:

      I’ve never used Mailchimp so I can’t speak to them but after asking a bunch of personal finance bloggers, it seems Aweber is a clear favorite for a variety of reasons. I know a few folks who are or have moved from Mailchimp to Aweber (including someone with a 60,000 person list). As for actual comparisons, I don’t want to say 2nd hand stuff in case I remembered it wrong.

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