Update: I am leaving this post visible as an archive, but unfortunately this method no longer works. Google Reader was shut down July 1, 2013. You can use a similar process with other readers such as Feedly. However, the RSS reader market is so fragmented now that it’s hard to get an overall picture. Sorry to those who found their way here from the WordPress support forum. I wish I had a better answer for you!
In response to Tony Karrer’s request, Wendy Wickham posted that she only has 29 subscribers for her blog, a number that sounded absurdly low to me. I was so sure it had to be wrong that I went to check it myself in Google Reader and Bloglines. I do see much higher numbers from those sources than what Feedburner tells her she has: probably closer to 90. Clearly the numbers don’t match up, but as I’ve done some digging around, I think I see why. Wendy did ask how I found the numbers, so here’s how to get some rough subscriber stats on Google Reader or Bloglines regardless of what blogging platform you use. Note that all of this is of questionable accuracy, as none of these measures are perfect. (Update 10/11/2010: As Bloglines closes November 1, 2010, you can now just look at Google Reader for your rough estimate. In 2008, Bloglines was a more common reader.)
- Click Add Subscription.
- Type your search terms (the blog author or title).
- With your search results, you’ll see the number of subscribers for each feed in Google Reader. Here’s Wendy’s 31 subscribers (which show up twice in the list here, but it’s the same feed).
Note that you have to check the URL for the feed (in this case, http://in-the-middle-of-the-curve.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default). This isn’t Wendy’s Feedburner feed though; the Feedburner feed doesn’t show up in the search list at all for whatever reason. To find that number, I actually did a search for her Feedburner URL (http://feeds.feedburner.com/InTheMiddleOfTheCurve). That shows me another 20 subscribers. If Wendy was redirecting from her default URL to Feedburner, Google Reader’s stats might count those redirected subscribers twice. However, she said she never set that up, so this should be two separate sets of subscribers. If you’re looking for stats for your own blog, you could just go into Feedburner and see the same number and skip the second search. If you’re nosing about other people’s stats like me though, you might want to do both searches.
It’s a similar process with Bloglines; when you search for a feed, you see the number of public subscribers. Make sure you search for feeds rather than for posts. This shows me 32 subscribers for her default feed, plus another 6 for her Feedburner feed. (Update 10/11/2010: As Bloglines closes November 1, 2010, you can now skip this step. In 2008, it was a more common reader.)
Adding It Up
Google Reader (default feed): 31
Google Reader (Feedburner): 20
Bloglines (default feed): 32
Bloglines (Feedburner): 6
I only found 26 subscribers with Feedburner, but Wendy said she saw 29. My guess is that she has three subscribers to her Feedburner feed using some other reader. She probably has a handful of other subscribers on her default feed too.
I’m curious why Wendy has almost equal numbers of Google Reader and Bloglines subscribers, while I have three times as many Google Reader subscribers. I also have more people using other readers–probably about a third overall when you count my default WordPress feed.
Just to make it fair to Wendy since I publicly picked apart her stats, here’s the breakdown for my subscriber stats:
Google Reader (default feed): 97
Google Reader (Feedburner): 30
Bloglines (default feed): 23
Bloglines (Feedburner): 10
Other Feedburner: 28
I assume I have some other subscribers to my default feed on other readers, but I have no stats for them. I’m going to round up to 200 total just because it’s a nice round number though; this is just a rough estimate anyway.
Now of course, if I had Google Analytics–or was even able to redirect my default feed to Feedburner–this would be a much less convoluted process. Anybody happen to know a way to redirect my WordPress subscribers to Feedburner?