Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Publicising Updates To Your Blog

Every day, we see the question "How do I let my friends know when my blog is updated"? Well, my personal preference would be to use a syndication feed (Atom or RSS). A newsfeed reader is very convenient, and easy to use.

But a newsfeed isn't universally useful.
If your blog, or readers, are in either group, there's a simple solution - BlogSend. Under Settings - Email, enter the email address of up to 10 readers for "BlogSend Address". If you have more than 10 readers that you want to notify, you have a bit more work to do.

Use BlogSend still, but run BlogSend through a Google Group. Google Groups are unlimited in size.
  • Setup a new Google Group, similar to Blogger Help Group: How Do I?.
  • Invite your friends to the new group, and let them subscribe in any of the ways available.
    • No email - Web-only participation.
    • Send email for each message and update.
    • One summary email a day.
    • One email with all activity in it.
    Your friends can choose how they want to be notified, and change their setting at will. They can even maintain their own email address to be used for group posts, change that at will, and keep it private from other group members.
  • Under Settings - Email, enter the email address of the Google Group for "BlogSend Address".

When a post is made to the blog, a BlogSend message goes out, to the Google Group, and from there to all members of the group.

The latter procedure has its advantages and disadvantages. It's good, because almost everybody uses email. It's not so good because getting Google Groups posts by email isn't always cut and dried - some email services may see it as spam, unless whitelisted. And if you're like I am, and update your blog posts frequently, this won't help your readers - the BlogSend Address is used only when a new post is made. Updates to your posts don't go to BlogSend, so they won't go to the Google Group, and to your friends. And if the blog uses fancy formatting, and / or pictures and text artfully arranged together, your email readers will miss out - Google Groups doesn't handle any of that very well.

If you decide to use a Google Group, test the group after you set it up - send email directly to the group, from a normal, email account (maybe your own). Then, if you use both a group, and some individual email addresses (such as your own) for BlogSend, put the group email address at the beginning of the BlogSend list. And whenever you post to the blog, look for 2 notifications - one directly from BlogSend, the other from the group. This is normal proactive testing technique, and if BlogSend or Google Groups malfunctions, will save you a lot of time.

A third possiblity, newly offered, starts with a FeedBurner Email subscription gadget. The FeedBurner email subscription service is robust, and provides various controls and conveniences to let you setup and manage a turnkey newsletter distribution. A FeedBurner subscription will support any feed - blog comments, blog posts, or blog posts for specific labels - all of those are potential subscriptions for your readers, and all can be managed through Feedburner.


(Update 2010/12): Blogger made a small change to BlogSend, as a quick fix for a security vulnerability - and as many other changes, this requires an additional effort from us.

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17 comments:

briwei said...

This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for responding to my question in the Blogger Group.

Bo said...

me too, thanks!

Achilles said...

Hi, is there a way i can set up something on blogspot where i will be notified of my favorite bloggers when they post new entries?

Chuck said...

Achilles,

I think Following is what you want to look at. Again, though, it's only for public blogs, with feeds.

Meemers said...

Why doesn't this seem to work for comments? I put the google group addresss into the "send comments to these addresses" field, but it won't send them. It works for the blog posts...

Michelle N. said...

Same question as Meemers ... the Google Groups trick works great for the BlogSend Address, but doesn't work for the Comment Notification Email. Is there a way around this that you know of, or an explanation of why it doesn't work the same way?

Dave Johansen said...

I believe that it's also possible to subscribe to the feed of the group to get updates in a reader, but I will have to try that out to see if it works.

Dave Johansen said...

Is it possible to have it email just the title? Or just some sort of notification email?

I mean if you have a private blog and it's emailing the whole post, then it kind of defeats the purpose of the blog being private.

Chuck said...

Dave,

If you setup a private blog, then you setup email distribution of updates, then you are responsible for ensuring that only legit recipients are on the distribution list. Whether the list is directly based on MTB, in a Google Group, or in any other email distribution list.

As to restricting the amount of content in the email message, I bet that you could run the feed through FeedBurner, where you have various options about content.

Doug Yeager said...

Here is another twist: check out http://www.tabbloid.com

It will create a personalized newsletter from any combination of feeds (as a PDF file, including graphics)

now all we have to do is use a LISTSERV or something to send an issue out.

Miriam said...

JUst a question-I tried setting up a google group, but the blog isn't emailed, just the latest post. Is that what is supposed to happen? And if so then do your readers ever see your blog as it is? Thanks for all and any help.

Chuck said...

Miriam,

A blog is more than text, it's careful formatting, and it's accessories that you add too. In reality, you can't email a blog.

You can only email the text of the posts. And that's all that BlogSend ever does. It sends the text of the post just published.

People reading the text have to look at the blog, on line, if they want to see the blog.

Miriam said...

Thanks Chuck, clearly I'm new at this. Does that mean that even the 10 people that you automatically set up to receive your blog only receive the text and not the blog itself? Is there no way to email a blog? Thanks for all your help and thoughts.

Michelle N. said...

Miriam, look into something like constantcontact.com if you're looking to send html-formatted emails.

R Maloof said...

Interesting workaround by using Google Groups but it raises this... Why not just use Google Groups anyway? It has just about the same functionality, if not more than blogger...

Cynthia said...

Thank you! Still a rookie here ;-)

colderweather.net said...

Is there any way to make the emails go out to subscibers right away, insteand of those 'windows' that Feedburner have?!