Your blog-host no doubt creates an RSS feed for your blog (ditch it if it does not), to keep your readers updated about the new content from the comfort of their default RSS reader. FeedBurner takes the simple functionality of RSS and “burns” your feed by adding a host of options to help you snag more subscribers.
Burning the Feed
Once you have completed the ridiculously simple registration process, you will be asked to burn your feed by submitting the URL of your blog’s RSS feed. Configure your feed title, and your feed will be assigned a FeedBurner URL instead— http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourfeedaddress, for example.
Once you have claimed your blog, FeedBurner enables the Browser Friendly and Standard Stats services to make your feed more readable in browsers and track your feed statistics respectively. The next page lets you configure Standard Stats, and I recommend checking the Clickthrough option. This lets you track the number of times a link in your post is clicked; if you are linking to corporate Web sites, these statistics should play a role in snagging advertisers.
Optimizing Your Feed
After login to FeedBurner, click on the title of your blog to go to the control panel, from where you can select the various ways to configure the way your feed looks in an RSS reader. Here following options are available:
SmartFeed: This has quite a simple purpose—to ensure that your feed is compatible with virtually any RSS reader available. Recommended, because you never know what RSS reader someone is using.
FeedFlare: Enabling this feature lets you put links into your feed posts that will help users give you feedback or tell their friends about your blog—“E-mail the Author”, “Digg This”, “Post to Del.icio.us”, and so on. Read more about FeedFlare in one of my previous post HERE.
Link Splicer: This lets you include your favourites from networking sites like Digg and Del.icio.us and tell your readers what you like to read about. It doesn’t play any role in driving traffic to your blog directly, but it will give people a sense of knowing you, which will in turn keep them visiting your blog with the same, if not greater, regularity. Overall, though, there’s no pressing reason for you to have this enabled.
Splicer: Much like the link splicer, this lets you include your photo feeds from Flickr, Buzznet or Webshots in your feeds. Again, no direct role in getting you more traffic.
Geotag your feed: This lets you add your geographical latitude and longitude to your feed. Mostly pointless; if you find any use for this, do write in.
Feed Image Burner: Lets you add a “Powered by FeedBurner” image or any custom logo to your feed.
Title/Description Burner: Lets you change the title of your feed without having to change the title of your blog (something you’d have to do otherwise).
Convert Format Burner: Lets you select a specific format (RSS or Atom) to convert your feed to. It’s best to avoid activating this—SmartFeed will do all the dirty work of making your feed standards-compatible anyway.
Content Type Burner: This lets you choose a custom MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) type for the feed. If you’re not sure what to do with this, leave it alone.
Summary Burner: This lets you add a little teaser about your blog to your feed. We recommend using this—a well-written description will draw in the crowds.
Publicizing Your Feed
FeedBurner also offers services to help you increase the number of subscribers for your feed.
BuzzBoost: This publishes your blog’s feed as plain old HTML, which you can then use on any site you control, and thus drive more visitors to your blog.
Headline Animator: The Headline Animator gives you the code for a scrolling display of your latest posts that you can paste in the template of your site, or better yet, in your e-mail signature. On online forums that allow it, use this code as your signature to get people to take note of your blog.
FeedCount: This is a simple bit of code that displays the current number of subscribers to your feed. It has little or no role to play in actually getting you traffic, but is good to use for bragging, nonetheless.
E-Mail Subscriptions: Enabling this option gives you the HTML code required to offer readers the option of subscribing to your blog’s feed via e-mail.