Q&A With FeedBlitz CEO Phil Hollows

I didn’t know what a merry ride of inspiration this last week and more would be when all of a sudden Feedburner stopped distribution of my blog. It was something I didn’t monitor, didn’t care about, and didn’t want to learn; until it was broken. Then it was forced attention; the kind I love to hate.

Miraculously, a direct email campaign arrived in my box from FeedBlitz, “How To Migrate From Feedburner to FeedBlitz” with an ebook. That was all it took; didn’t care that I had to pay after a 30-day free trial (most things cost something) and didn’t care to do my research for something better. The timing was right and FeedBlitz has a reputable brand.

On my merry-go-round that is still circling, I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with Phil Hollows, the very accessible CEO of FeedBlitz who manages support questions, to my surprise.

A series of posts here, here and here last week launched the Feedblitz series on about 10 blogs with many more conversations about the whole RSS thing. It’s still a confusion for me, but it’s because I’m stomping my feet and trying not to pay attention.

Phil was nice enough to play along with me and answer a few questions for bloggers that don’t know why they need RSS, don’t know why FeedBlitz is so special, and generally are on the fence about migrating from free and dead Google Feedburner to something robust with email marketing and publishing.

Thanks, Phil for taking time from your Sunday to share some thoughts:

Soulati-‘TUDE! — What is RSS?

FeedBlitz – RSS is a standard format for producing a machine-readable form of your blog. (Jayme: what does machine-readable mean? That the blog can be read on all devices, desktops, tablets, notebooks and laptops, etc.?)

Soulati-‘TUDE! — Why do bloggers need RSS?

FeedBlitz – RSS is the glue that ties your site to other services and platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Every service or plugin that takes your posts and makes them appear somewhere else is using RSS to make that happen.

Soulati-‘TUDE!Should every blogger have an RSS feed?  Why?

FeedBlitz — Every blogger already has an RSS feed! All blogging systems produce an RSS feed by default. It’s actually work to disable. And yes, you should publicize it, so that visitors who don’t want to subscribe vie email can add your site to their RSS readers (such as Google Reader) and have your content pushed to them automatically.

Soulati-‘TUDE! — Do you cater to the largest bloggers or do you also realize that small bloggers grow to become big girls and boys?

FeedBlitz -- Every blogger starts with zero subscribers!  We at FeedBlitz welcome people who are just starting out – and we also serve the RSS feeds for some of the best known bloggers around, such as @Copyblogger with hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

Soulati-‘TUDE! — What are your differentiators over other options on the market today?

FeedBlitz -- You need to track RSS statistics so you can monetize your blog better. FeedBlitz is the only RSS service offering both RSS feed statistics and email / social media subscription options.

Unlike the only other service with both options, Google’s FeedbBurner offering, which is currently failing to deliver any metrics and is completely unsupported, FeedBlitz is fully supported, continually under development, and has much greater flexibility in terms of RSS and email management.

Soulati-‘TUDE! — Your service charges based on subscribers; Feedburner didn’t. Tell us about cost per subscriber and whether a large blogger with many subscribers might be forking over a lot of cash for the privilege of using Feedblitz.

FeedBlitz — FeedBlitz charges for email subscribers; RSS readers come along for the ride at no extra cost to our paying customers.  FeedBlitz is price competitive with other premium email subscribers, but offers RSS serving and metrics and much more flexibility for blog email subscriptions than anyone.

A full list of features compared to Feedburner is here http://kb.feedblitz.com/article/AA-00444. As I write, FeedBurner hasn’t produced any metrics for anyone for over four days straight, and is completely unsupported. If you depend on your blog to generate business, and you depend on your subscription service to get your word out, the benefits of a small monthly fee (and working with a partner that respects you and your audience) compared to the current cost of free is surely obvious. If your blog is valuable to you, surely its subscribers should be served by a vendor that values them. (Jayme ponders: EXCELLENT point!)

Soulati-‘TUDE! — Why are you managing support questions yourself? You’re the CEO!  Is that like sweat equity? Or does it also give you the pulse of your customers?

FeedBlitz – I like the Craig Newmark (Craig’s List) approach – get on the front lines, see what’s what. We’re all hands on deck as FeedBurner has imploded. Finally, my being here makes everything real. I care about our clients and their communities and how we make a difference. Standing up and supporting them is a key differentiator. I’m happy to do it!

Soulati-‘TUDE! -- What are the top three reasons a blogger should migrate to your service? i.e. what sets you apart?

FeedBlitz — Support, greater flexibility to reach your subscribers and superior branding.

Soulati-‘TUDE! — Tell me your impression of mid-tier and smaller bloggers — someone in my community suggested your marketing campaign is not tailored to all sizes of bloggers…obviously the largest blogger brings you the most money, but…

FeedBlitz — We’re tailoring our messaging right now to people who feel frustrated with and abandoned by FeedBurner. Everyone using FeedBurner faces the same challenges, no matter how large or small their site is. Size, in this case, really doesn’t matter. We want everyone using FeedBurner who wants a better, supported replacement to feel welcome here.

Soulati-‘TUDE! How many subscribers does your blog have? 

FeedBlitz — FeedBlitz News has about 30,000 subscribers, mostly via email.

Soulati-‘TUDE! Do you think subscribers are the de facto metric when it comes to blogging, or how do you measure blogging success? 

FeedBlitz -- Engagement is the winning metric; it indicates quality. I’d take 1,000 committed subscribers over a list with 100,000 people in it but nobody reading what we’re saying any day.

This has been a Soulati Media On the Street with Phil Hollows, CEO, of FeedBlitz. Bring on the questions for Phil, Peeps! 

10 comments
bobWP
bobWP

Great interview with Phil! And yes, I just moved over my blog to Feedblitz and now am in the process of moving my wife's. I understand Susans concern on pricing, and the email subscribers, as we had to give that some serious thought. But I know the importance of our RSS readers, and as one SEO peep told me one time, "Your RSS subscribers are your goldmine readers". They love your blog so much that they want to be notified every time you do a post.

 

With all the other online services that I pay for, a bump to make sure my readers stay subscribed, was obviously worth the investment. : )

susansilver
susansilver

Thanks for the interview Jayme and Phil. I am still a little worried to switch to Feedblitz.  I am worried about the pricing structure. I suppose though that most people do not end up becoming email subscribers so it could be safe. I would hate to get a bill I was not expecting at the end of the month!

Latest blog post: Keywords Now What?

phollows
phollows

Thank you for the interview, Jayme! Pleasure talking and working with you.

rdopping
rdopping

 @bobWP But Bob don't your readers who are subscribers get notifications and not the other way around? The sites I have an RSS feed to are searchable in my Reader and I value them for sure but the email subscribers are the ones that get notifications directly when I post. I still have to actively pursue the RSS feed. Not saying one is better that the other or know if they are but it concerns me that if I want subscribers with whom I can engage I have to pay again when I already have Aweber. Or is there a difference between Feedblitz subscribers and Aweber?

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @bobWP Great comment and exactly what bloggers need to hear. Subscribers are your money; the investment for growth. Paying a tad for that honor of having a committed reader should not be a factor.  

 

We've all been spoiled! So much on social media is FREE; people  have to alter thinking...after all, you get what you pay for...right  Feedburners?

phollows
phollows

 @susansilver You won't be surprised, Susan, because we will tell you as and when subscribers join or leave your list, in real time, daily or weekly. There ought not to be any surprises and the difference from tier to tier is large enough that once in steady state changes don't happen that quickly. Also, we only charge for active subscribers; not people who are pending, unsubscribed or bounced out.

 

bobWP
bobWP

 @rdopping mmm, I think I might have confused you or not explained things right. Yes, when someone subscribes to get notifications via RSS, they obviously use a reader, such as Google Reader or Reeder, as you mentioned. And as a reader you need to subscribe.

 

The other part of that is people who prefer to subscribe to your RSS via email. Instead of using a reader, they are notified by email, each time you do a post. Both options are important.

 

Now the confusing part... yes, you can use Aweber or a similar email program to send out RSS blasts. But you still need that RSS feed to do it. What Aweber does is bascially create a newsletter type mailing for your feed, which of course, will satisfy your email RSS subscribers.

 

Where Feedblitz comes into the picture, is the normal RSS feed. The one people subscribe to using a reader. Feedblitz gives you so much more flexibility on what the feed looks like and also other features as well, like social share buttons, related posts, etc. Also, within Feedblitz they have tools that allow you to automatically post to Facebook and Twitter without having to use other plugins in your blog. 

 

Finally, yes, both Aweber and Feedblitz allows you to create custom RSS emails. 

 

So which should you use? I use Feedblitz for my RSS readers and RSS emails. Then I use Aweber for my newsletter. Why do I do this? To be honest, since moving to Feedblitz I'm not sure yet.. and still trying to figure out how to streamline it all. In fact there is a couple blog posts brewing in me once I get this all straightened out.

 

Sorry in advance if I have confused you even more ; )

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