How to Move from Feedburner to MailChimp (RSS to Email Delivery Service): A Step-by-Step Tutorial

If you’re interested in moving your blog’s email feed from Google Feedburner over to MailChimp’s RSS to Email service, today’s tutorial is just for you!  Perhaps you’ve read a switch away from Feedburner should be on your to-do list, with Google Reader being deprecated and many predicting Feedburner is next on the list.  This was part of my motivation, but I’d also seen a few fellow bloggers make the switch, and noticed how much more attractive their emails looked (with more features and more control) after doing so.  A comparison is below from my inspiration blog’s RSS email (top is Feedburner, bottom is MailChimp), with a table outlining the features also below.
feedburner-example2

mailchimp-example

MailChimp is an e-newsletter provider that also offers the ability to send out your latest blog posts automatically using their ”RSS to Email” feature, with many customization options (see table below).  You control how it looks, who is on the list and when it sends! Although this tutorial may seem longer than my usual, know that the process can be tackled in a manner of hours, or a few good blocks of time over the course of a few days.  I haven’t looked back since making the switch! Disclaimer: Switching RSS email providers should be handled with care and consideration.  This tutorial was created to assist in your efforts, but I am not responsible for your results. 

Google Feedburner vs. MailChimp Comparison for RSS Email Delivery Services:

Feature

MailChimp

Feedburner

Several layout options, including a header space to include a custom design (or your logo)

Yes 

No

Customized templates that include side columns

Yes

No

The ability to match the colors and fonts of RSS newsletter to your blog and brand

Yes

No

Seamless automation after set-up

Yes

Yes

Ability to create additional newsletters (outside of your RSS feed) on the fly

Yes

No

Reporting to track open and click-thru rates

Yes

No

Simple sign-up form code to place on your blog for future subscribers

Yes

Yes

Free service

Yes (up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 monthly communications, after that affordable pricing)

Yes (always)

Once you get familiar with MailChimp’s dashboard (which is very simple), you may find yourself inspired to create a monthly newsletter in addition to the automatic emails sent each time you make a new blog post.  You may also appreciate the analytics available in MailChimp regarding the open and click-thru rates of your communications. 

Onto making the switch!
Side note: MailChimp is free for those with fewer than 2,000 subscribers, and allows for up to 12,000 total emails sent over the course of a month (at the time of this post).  If you exceed these numbers, their pricing is quite affordable (check their website for the latest pricing info). 

How to Move from Google Feedburner to MailChimp’s RSS to Email Service:

The first steps take place at Feedburner…

1. Login to your Feedburner account and click on your blog feed.
2. On the left-hand side of the page, click on ”subscribers” under ”feed stats”.
3. Scroll down and look for ”Feedburner Email Subscriptions” and click on it to expand,
4. Then click on ”manage your email subscriber list”.
5. Click on ”export” and then ”CSV” format, then save the file in a place you can easily navigate back to.

Now you’re ready to head over to MailChimp…

6. In a separate tab, visit http://mailchimp.com and create an account by clicking on ”sign up free,” then login to your new MailChimp account.
7. Click on ”lists” by expanding the icon on the top left-hand side of the page (three stacked lines), then click on ”create list” on the top right-hand side of the page.
8. Name your new list (a suggestion is ”blog subscribers”) and fill in the fields below (your ”from” name, subject line, etc), click ”save”. You’ll be taken to your new list, where you will now click on the list name to begin importing your subscribers.
9. After clicking on the list name, you should see a message saying you don’t have any subscribers yet.  This is where you click on ”import subscribers” and ”upload from file”.
10. Navigate to the saved Feedburner file from step 5 above and click ”open,” then ”import list”. Mailchimp should pull in the column header info (such as ”email address” and ”subscribed”, which should be matched as ”opt-in time”) as well as the subscriber info, then click ”done” to import your list.

After seeing the confirmation message stating your subscribers have been successfully imported, you’re ready to setup your MailChimp RSS to Email template.  If you need to, feel free to break the conversion process up over a period of two days.  Handle steps 1-10 on day 1, then move onto the steps below for day 2.

How to set up your MailChimp RSS to Email Template and Campaign:

11. Login to MailChimp (if not already logged in) and proceed to navigate to ”campaigns” by clicking on the dashboard (icon on top left-hand side of page).
12. Important! Drop down the arrow to the right-hand side of ”create campaign” to select ”RSS-driven-campaign” as the campaign type.
13. Paste in the RSS feed URL.  For example purposes only, my self-hosted WordPress feed URL is http://marketingwithlaura.com/feed.  If you also have a self-hosted WordPress blog, your feed address may be similar but it’s important to check first.  If you aren’t sure what your feed URL is, MailChimp allows you to type in the URL for your blog, where MailChimp will then search your blog for the feed address.
14. Fill in the days and times you’d like your emails to be sent.  Note: Emails will only be sent when new blog content is available (by way of a new blog post).
15. Click ”next step: recipients”, then select the list you uploaded for your blog.
16. Name your campaign (for internal purposes) and verify the ”from” email address domain by clicking on ”verify this domain”.
17. Click on ”next step: design” and click on ”predesigned” templates to view the RSS templates available for customization.  I selected RSS 3A but pick the RSS template that appeals to you.
18. You can now begin to customize your template by adjusting the colors, header image and sidebar info.  It’s important to leave the RSS code intact (essentially everywhere you see ”RSS” in the copy, followed by text and code, since this will let MailChimp know to pull from your RSS feed and populate with the content from your latest blog post. Don’t forget to edit the ”teaser content” just above your email header.
19. Open a pop-up preview test of your e-newsletter to see how it will look when populated with your blog content (by clicking on ”pop-up preview” under “preview and test”).  This is important, since you want to make sure all content is displaying beautifully and that you haven’t missed anything. 
20. Click on ”next step: plain text,” then click on ”copy text from HTML email”.
21. Click on ”next step, confirm”.
22. Click on ”start RSS”.

Now back over to Feedburner one more time…

23. Now go back over to Feedburner.com to deactivate the your RSS email delivery over there, otherwise your subscribers will receive duplicate emails from you each time a new post is published.  Make sure you have saved your subscriber list (from steps 5 and 6 far above) in a safe place, since once you deactivate the service, you can’t export it from Feedburner again.  To deactivate your Feedburner list, login to Feedburner and click on ”email subscriptions”, then scroll down to expand “view subscriber details” and click ”deactivate”.  After doing so, you should be taken to a screen that says “this service is inactive”.

Remember to update the sign-up box on your blog if you previously featured a Feedburner sign-up box. You can quickly create and grab the code for a  new sign-up form in MailChimp (instructions on doing so are here: http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/how-can-i-add-my-signup-form-on-my-website).

Also make sure the RSS icons on your blog link to your RSS feed, not the Feedburner feed that you may have linked to. This tutorial was perhaps my longest to date, but I am confident you’ll be able to quickly work through the steps and that you’ll be pleased with the end result!

Be sure to subscribe to my blog by email if you aren’t already a member and ”like” me on Facebook.  Questions? Tweet me @lauracatherineo and comment on this post so I know you found the tutorial helpful.

Do You Keep?

I’m checking in from our Summer Adventures to share a fun website with my stylish readers! If you love Pinterest, fashion and shopping online, there is a handy website that brings fashion and shopping together, Pinterest style, called Keep.  I came across Keep months ago but was reminded to try it out when Chassity of Look, Linger, Love shared her Keep loves with her readers (you should check out her blog if you haven’t already…here’s one of my favorite recent posts of hers).

If you’re like me, you may have plenty of fashion pins with outfits that you love, but have noticed it can be difficult to get to the original source of the look to ultimately purchase (or at least learn the cost of the item).  Often clicking on a pin won’t take you to the original site, which can be disappointing.  Problem solved with Keep!

I’m sharing a screenshot below of a dress on Keep.  One click on ”buy” and you are able to view retailer and price info, with the ability to purchase if the item is in stock.

keep-screen

Similar to Pinterest, you can also see what is ”trending” on Keep (simply click on ”trending” from the homepage, sample below).

keep-trending

For those who love home décor, there is plenty to be found on Keep as well.  It brings a whole new dimension to all of those beautiful decorating ideas you’ve seen on Pinterest…many are also on Keep, with price info. Screenshot below.

Love this chalkboard print!
keep-wonderful-world

I couldn’t find a Keep app yet, but can imagine it will popular when it launches.

If you create a Keep account, be sure to find me at http://keep.com/u/lauracatherineco/. I’m new to the space and would love to see your finds!

I’d love to hear how your summer is going, and if you’ve come across any new apps or websites that you can’t get enough of.  Comment below, tweet me @lauracatherineo or connect on my Facebook page.

How to Change Facebook Thumbnail Image When Sharing Links (includes uploading custom image)

If you regularly share links from your blog or website on your Facebook business page, you may have experienced the frustration of the thumbnail image(s) not being pulled into Facebook from your blog or website.  For example, you may have included three gorgeous images in your blog post, but when you attempt to share on Facebook, all you can select from is your bio photo and/or images from your blog widgets.

In the past, I worked around this by simply sharing my status update as an image, with a link to the blog post.  However, I didn’t always have high res images to upload with the post, so when Facebook filled the entire photo space with a low res photo, the result was blurry.  Plus, I wanted to put the focus on the blog link and make it easier for people to click over.

Just this week I noticed a workaround on Facebook! It seems they have introduced a new option, where one can upload a custom thumbnail when sharing a link on a Facebook business page.  Refer to the simple tutorial below!

How to Change Thumbnail Image on Facebook when Sharing an External Link:
1. Paste the link in the Facebook status box as usual (do not post yet).
2. Allow the link to load with a thumbnail image.
3. If not pleased with the thumbnail that loads, click on upload image just below the thumbnail image.
4. Select the desired thumbnail photo from your computer files.
5. Click “post” when photo has been selected and link is active.

thumbnail-image

I hope this post was helpful! I’ve been blogging and vlogging weekly over at LauraCatherine.co but have a several good marketing tutorials planned for this marketing blog over the summer as well!

WordPress Themes of the Month via ManageWP

If you manage your own self-hosted WordPress website or blog, you may find yourself looking to do a little theme housekeeping from time-to-time (aside from the usual updates).  For example, the theme you selected when you launched your blog or website may not have the functionality and responsiveness that many of the newer themes offer.  While that doesn’t always mean it’s time to change themes completely (especially with the mobile-friendly plugins that can bridge the theme gap), there comes a time when you may be ready for a change. Or, if you’re creating your WordPress website or blog now, you may find yourself overwhelmed with the many wonderful options to choose from!

I came across a monthly feature on the Manage WP website called themes of the month that I’ve quite enjoyed.  Manage WP features their five favorite WordPress themes (normally free) with easy download links.
wp-themes
If you’re in the market for a WP theme, browse the featured themes here: https://managewp.com/tag/themes-of-the-month.

If you’ve found yourself with a WordPress theme that doesn’t display well on iPhones and mobile devices but aren’t ready for a new theme, consider the WPTouch plugin. I’ve used it in several WordPress websites and it’s a simple plugin that ensures your blog posts display well for mobile visitors.  That said, I’d recommend a WP theme with mobile functionality built in from the start if you’re in the process of launching your website or blog.

Vine vs Keek: Social Video Sharing App Comparison

By now, you’ve heard the buzz about Vine and Keek.  Both apps me of Instagram on video steroids (in a good way).  I’m here to share my thoughts on both services.  If you aren’t a user of either app but are a big fan of Instagram, it may be time to get on board! Instagram users can relate to the frustration of trying to fill a wide box with a tall photo (portrait vs landscape doesn’t quite explain it when talking mobile). With Vine or Keek, you can share more of your world, but can’t add color filters at this time, so there is a bit of give and take. Before I go into details on both apps, I’ll tell you that Vine is my favorite for two main reasons, which I’ll be discussing below.

My Vine Experience
vine-screenies
Vine recently topped the U.S. list of free iPhone apps (via Mashable here).  It allows you to create short, beautiful, looping videos in a simple and fun way for your friends and family to see.

Easy to configure / customize account?
It should go without saying that both apps are a breeze to install, but I found Vine to be much easier to configure when it came to connecting to a specific Twitter account.  Makes since, since Twitter released Vine.

Easy to connect with friends?
Finding friends was simple on Vine since it seamlessly integrated with my Twitter account and displayed those I’m following on Twitter for me.  It’s worth noting that 300 or so of those I follow on Twitter (of around 4,000 people) were using the service.  That may sound low, but it felt like a good enough number of friends to have interaction on the app.  I couldn’t find a way to connect with my Facebook friends, which would be a wonderful addition to the service.

Video length?
6 seconds, then looped.  You’d be surprised what you can get into 6 seconds.  This woman made headlines for sharing a video resume on Vine! That said, if you’re using Vine to share mini-YouTube style vlogs, you may prefer the Keek format of 36 seconds.

Here is a recent Vine video of mine, to give you an idea of the length and format. Choppy and quick, but very convenient to record and share.

Multiple videos in one upload?
Yes.  Vine allows you to combine clips into one seamless video/upload.  You control your recording with the touch of a finger, lifting on and off your screen to record within the 6-second timeframe.  This feature is one of my favorite things about Vine, because it allows me to share more of my world in one video.  For example, I can share multiple shots from King Street, more than one view from my nature walk and close ups of a sewing project.  My Vine upload examples are below.

Hashtag-ability?
Vine is hashtag friendly! For Instagram addicts, this is good news, since you’ll find yourself hashtagging away and connecting with new Vine friends as you explore shared interests.

Overall?
Love the app, wish the format was longer than 6 seconds looped. Also would love to see instagram-style filters.  May also be worth noting that there isn’t an option to create a private account on Vine (at the time of this post).  For some, that could be a concern.  I avoid sharing photos or videos of my family online, but if I were to do that, I’d like the option to make my account private as well.  6 seconds is pretty short, so longer formats would be a welcome surprise in the future!

14354_keek_inc_255255255My Keek Experience
I learned about Keek through YouTubers, and it makes sense to me that they would prefer Keek over Vine.  The main reason for this is most likely video length…Keek gives you a full 36 seconds of video compared to the 6 seconds over on Vine.  Keep reading for more about Keek.

Easy to configure / customize account?
Word to the wise: be sure you’re acting as your preferred Twitter account before downloading the Keep app. Keek seemed to grab the Twitter account I was logged into on my iPhone at the moment I created my Keek account, without giving me the option to specify which Twitter account I wanted to use (I manage more than one account). Even after disconnecting the Twitter account, switching to my personal Twitter and then attempting to reconnect on Keek, I got stuck.  Then I went online to Keek on my desktop and still no luck.  Major bummer. I eventually closed that Keek account, uninstalled the app and began again.  Learn from my mistake.

Easy to connect with friends?
After my slight hiccup, I was able to connect with my Twitter friends on Keek.  Far more are using Vine at the time of this post, but people can be pretty picky so that can could change at any moment.

Video length?
36 seconds…significantly longer than Vine video format.

Multiple videos in one upload?
Not at this time

Hashtag-ability?
Hashtag friendly!

Overall?
My overall experience wasn’t as positive as Vine, but I can see the 36 second format as being a win for those serious about micro-vlogging. A lot of the fun is dependent upon how many of your friends are vine-ing vs. keek-ing.

I hope this review was helpful.  Be sure to look me up if you are in either place…I’d love to connect! (Vine @lauracatherineo, Keek @lauracatherineo)