It’s the end of the (Feedburner) world as we know it

(Astroblogging) TD Ameritrade’s commercial on the supposed Maya end time prediction has nothing on the impact of Google’s announcement that they shut down the Feedburner API on October 20, 2012.

Nor does Google’s announcement mean the end of Feedburner services . . .yet.

But the writing is on the wall.

Feedburner was and still is a lovely free service to bloggers that kept track of your posts, distributes them in the individual feed readers of your subscribers and/or sends the posts to the inboxes of your readers. Some services like Invesp use Feedburner stats in their evaluation of your website.

To entice you to use this service, Feedburner developed an impressive array of services, from keeping track of the number of subscribers who looked at your post to giving you little widgets to display your numbers.

And while Google, the owner of Feedburner since 2009, hasn’t spoken publicly about its strategy for Feedburner, why it is phasing out Adsense for Feedburner or ending the API access to programmers, one can only assume that Feedburner is not making enough money to keep its corporate masters happy.

Fortunately for you, while its the end of the Feedburner world as we know it, there are relatively painless ways to keep the same flow of information to your subscribers, especially if you are a WordPress user.

As Leo Dimilo said in his post

if you are using WordPress, you really don’t need a service. WordPress automatically generates feeds for everything from comments to pages to posts . . .

To make use of WordPress’s built in capabilities you need only look at one of my favorite plug-ins, Jetpack. This perennially useful collection of services for WordPress has a subscription widget in its arsenal. All you need to do is to upload the Jetpack plug-in, and drag it to an appropriate widget space. You can change the text messages of this widget, but unfortunately it is a little plain with no way (except through the php sections of your WordPress template) to insert an image. If you don’t want to fiddle with php then you can put a html widget and place it above the Jetpack widget. Upload a graphic to an image server like Photobucket or Flickr. Then you take the image code and plop it into html widget. If you look to the right hand side of the blog you will see I’ve done just that.

For other people who self host without WordPress, you’ll have to do a little more work, like subscribe and pay for a mail service. Plenty of blogs made lists about these services. You can check out the blog twentytwenty for some suggestions.

Start looking around and making your plans, since Google is not known for giving tons of advance time before it pulls the plug. As for me, it may be the end of the Feedburner world as we know it, but I feel fine.

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Beth Turnage authors Astrology Explored as well as being publisher of Astrology Media Press. Beth is available for private consultations. You can contact Beth at starrynightastro@aol.com.
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Blog Promotion and Social Media: What’s Your Klout?

Klout Score (Astroblogging) So you’ve got your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and various and other sundry social media accounts and you wonder:

Is My Message Getting Across? Continue reading

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Blog Promotion: Learn to Love Your RSS Feed

(Astroblogging) The Age of Aquarius, the Information and Technology Age, brings the advent of a singular phenomenon, the death of single stream news dissemination: newspapers, radios and television. The internet brings a flood of information, literally more than any one person cares to know about. Social media sites cropped up to sort through the noise with the premise that what your friends care about, you care about too.

But Social Media does not do the entire job to organize what you want to know. Long before social media cropped up as information disseminators, the folks at Netscape created a feed aggregator that individuals could use personally, that would bring content to them as the content was produced. Called at first the RDF site summary, then later RSS, which some people say stands for “really simple syndication” RSS caught on like wildfire sparking competition and no end of controversy as to who owned the RSS concept. Nontheless, RSS continues to play a role in helping readers create their individual news and information streams. If you don’t love your RSS Feed, its time time learn! Continue reading

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WordPress 3.3–Mercury Throws Shadows On Code Poetry

Wordpress Logo(Astroblogging) WordPress’ catchphrase is “Code is poetry”, which is about as romantic as some programmers get. The brand spanking new version of WordPress, 3.3, however, released on the Mercury Station just as Mercury was going direct shows what happens when poetry meets shadows.

Those for non-astrologers that are a little lost with the first paragraph, Mercury is the planet of communication. It rules anything that has to do with communications, including the written word and computer code. Two to three times a year Mercury appears to travel backward in its orbit when the Earth overtakes speedy Mercury’s position in the solar system. During this time, all sorts of communications go wonky, email messages disappear, travel gets delayed, cars breakdown and computers go caput. Astrologers breathe a sign of relief when Mercury goes direct again, but we also know that we aren’t out of the woods yet. Only until Mercury the point in the zodiac where it originally turned backward on its course, when it is out of the shadow period, is communications harmony restored in the heavens.

So it was when 3.3 was released on the very day Mercury went direct, but still in the shadow period astrology bloggers everywhere who use WordPress drew in a sharp intake of breath. Jeffrey Kishner advised us in our astrology bloggers facebook group:

WordPress 3.3 upgrade is available today, right when Mercury stations direct. This is a conspiracy by Matt Mullenweg to destroy your blog. OK I’m kidding, but I think it would be wise to wait a few days, do some testing, before you hit “update.”

Chris Brennan added that we should back up our databases.

Of course, me being a rash Aquarian didn’t take Jeffrey seriously and dashed off:

I updated Astrology Explored and it works just fine. But then again I bought my new used car when Mercury stationed, so I’m waiting for the shoe to drop on that one.

But in the end I encountered a small glitch which I’ll tell you about in a minute but other people weren’t so lucky. Continue reading

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Blog Promotion: Getting serious about Alexa

Alexa(Astroblogging) Checking my Google pagerank today for Astrology Explored got me all excited. I was back at a 4! I hadn’t seen that number since the AE dot com days before Google changed its algorithm to penalize blog networks.

Of course AE has taken some hits since 451 Press shuttered. I created Astrology Media Press on the now defunct BlogsMu platform before I finally took the plunge into self hosting my modest astrology network. All that moving around, losing content and links took its toll. Where once proud Astrology Explored was the 6th ranking blog on Invesp, now it is only 65th. And once Jamie Darkstar decided to use only Alexa rankings for his Best Astrology Blogs page I dropped off that radar all together.

So being the competitive sort, and not the kind of the person to stay down for the count I decided today to get serious about my Alexa rank. Continue reading

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Successfully Fighting Astrology Content Thieves

No spam(Astroblogging) One astrology blogger friend wrote in our blogging group:

“This spam blog is now *stealing my traffic.* It’s one thing to steal content (which I know is just plain wrong) but when I search for the above keywords, the spam blog is #2 in the results for *my blog post* and I’m not even on the front page! ”

Spam blogs, the brazen hussies of the internet, have no shame in printing every word of your post as their own. These nasty little things are the curse and bane of every internet writer, but more so for astrology bloggers since our niche is small and it takes ever so much work to get our posts noticed. Continue reading

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Where to Pimp Your Astrology Blog Posts

courtesy of Flickr user floeschie

When you’re growing your astrology blog, you’re suffering from the “tree falls” syndrome. If nobody is there to read your posts, does your blog exist?

Fortunately, there are tools available to help bring awareness to your blog.

AstroDispatch

The generous-of-spirit Elsa runs AstroDispatch, a popular aggregator of astrology blog posts, articles and videos. This site is an excellent source of traffic. Elsa acts as an editor, so there’s no guarantee your blog will be included, or maybe your blog will be included but she won’t include every new blog post you publish. (I can’t speak for her, but this is what I’ve observed.)

My advice: Link to both ElsaElsa and AstroDispatch on your blogroll, then visit her Contact page. (1) Tell her you’ve linked to her. (2) Ask for your blog to be considered, and include your blog’s RSS feed. (If you have a WordPress blog, it’s just your URL followed by /feed.)

Reddit for Astrologyblogs

Chris Brennan of The Horoscopic Astrology Blog just this week created an Astrology Blogs channel on Reddit. You can submit your own posts (or your readers can do that for you), and Redditers (?) can vote links up or down in popularity.

You can promote this group with a widget or button, and if you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, message him and he can probably help you out with a button customized for the Astrology Blogs group.

Other Directories

Comment below: What did I leave out?

About the Author

Jeffrey KishnerJeffrey Kishner is publisher of Sasstrology.



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Ack! Facebook Changes Annoy Once Again

(Astroblogging) You’ve probably seen this note when looking into Facebook:

Changes to How You Share Content in Notes
You currently automatically import content from your website or blog into your Facebook notes. Starting November 22nd, this feature will no longer be available, although you’ll still be able to write individual notes. The best way to share content from your website is to post links on your Wall. Learn more about notes.

Now that is an inconvenience! I loved how Networked Blogs would automatically post to whatever page I set up. This allowed me to post content from all my blogs at once on three separate pages, my personal page, and Astrology Explored and Astrology Media Press. Then happily the posts would move along to Twitter.

You can take away my email notifications, you can chuck my application notifications but please Mark Zuckerberg don’t take away the my auto posts. I have some choice words for you, its just that they aren’t fit for a family audience. Expect a zinging email. I’m telling you if you don’t let me aggregate I’m going to be aggravated!

Image courtesy of Franco Bouly’s Creative Commons license as detailed by Flickr.

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Beth Turnage authors Astrology Explored as well as being publisher of Astrology Media Press. Beth is available for private consultations. You can contact Beth at starrynightastro@aol.com.
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SEO: Are you fresh?

Google Caffeine(Astroblogging) Listen. I’ve got something to ask you. Now don’t take offense, but are you fresh?

Before you get your knickers in a bunch, it may surprise you to know that Google is asking the same thing each and every time someone runs a search on a topic. And the reason for this is that Google has changed the parameters of the search algorithm–again.

But lets backtrack and take a look at the recent changes Google has made to its search algorithm.

In June of 2010, Continue reading

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Social Media’s Potential Role in Making Astrology Mainstream

Social Media Image(Astroblogging) Tempe, AZ–A few years ago, I was speaking to an editor of a local paper about an astrology piece I was working on about fashion and astrology. He asked somewhat incredulously, “Astrology has to do with that?” I replied, “Astrology has to do with everything.”

In the ancient world astrology was woven in the warp and woof of daily lives. Moon and Sun cycles were studied for times as to when to plant and when to harvest. There was no questions about the efficacy of astrology. It was proven every day. But modern people have moved away from the patterns of agriculture and astrology faced stormy waters during the Age of Enlightenment when people realized that the earth moved around the sun and not vice versa. This caused a crisis of faith in astrology and eventually its practice was stripped of its role in society.

Fast forward to after a wonderful keynote address by James H. Holden. M. A. FAFA at the American Federation of Astrologers’ 2011 conference. An attendee asked Mr. Holden if he thought astrology could be made mainstream. He said no, that in essence we lacked credibility in scientific circles, and though misguided that those circles might be, its not likely we would overcome those hurdles.

This is certainly is how many of us experience astrology, and I’ll grant that for many, many years, our access to shape public opinion was limited. The access given was through the narrow lens traditional news media, and often that lens was distorted for the purpose of “sexing up” a story. (We all remember the latest round of the “thirteenth sign” story.) But with the advent of Social Media, we have the possibility of many people circumventing traditional avenues, so this hurdle shouldn’t be so great.

So what’s holding us up?

I see a few things happening. And in my opinion a lot has to do with us.

First the perception that science doesn’t take us seriously isn’t quite true anymore. Scientific studies are being done quite frequently that show a correlation between what happens in the heavens reflect what happens on the earth. Recently as study done at Vanderbilt University demonstrated that the season in which one is born has a concrete effect on personality. While not a study of astrologer per se, science keeps bumping against results that mirror what we’ve been saying about astrology all along. In fact current objections to astrology does not a have a scientific basis at all, but is part of a well orchestrated attempt by one organization to promote their “rationalist” agenda. While we do have some prejudices to overcome, they are more on the order of hill rather than a mountain.

Second many of us have to change how we think about ourselves as astrologers and our contribution to the world. How many of you don’t use your real name when you post a piece? Why is that? Are you afraid of being “outed” to the world? My point is, if we can’t bring ourselves to own what it is we do in public, how do we expect the world at large to take us seriously?

Third, most of us are not making use of the power of social media. So many of the working astrologers I associate with are doggedly slow at attempting social media. Many astrological organizations are just dipping their toe in the waters and not fully utilizing the tools at hand. For instance, and forgive me AFA, at the eve of or even in the early hours of this major conference not a tweet, or a single photograph of the event is on the AFA Facebook page. In fact, the only wall post is by Chris Brennan, a presenter at the conference.

But, AFA, just to show you you aren’t being singled out, my home organization the Astrological Society of Connecticut was very slow to adopt social media. We just got our Facebook page last year though we’ve been in business 39 years and Facebook public for the past 6 years.

Pluto in Capricorn is about breaking down old structures. Traditional news media is on its ear trying to figure out how to survive in world were a tweet can get a message out faster then they can. The Aquarian Age is here, folks and its time we step up to the plate. Yes, it takes time to build your followers, it takes work to engage them and creativity to keep them. But there is no better time than now. The more voices that speak the louder the message is. Use your social media tools to make astrology mainstream!

Image courtesy of Some_Communications by Creative Commons license as detailed by Flickr.

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Beth Turnage authors Astrology Explored as well as being publisher of Astrology Media Press. Beth is available for private consultations. You can contact Beth at starrynightastro@aol.com.
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