Thursday, October 10, 2013

The "follow by email" gadget: an easy way to add an email subscription to your blog

Blogger have made it very simple to offer an email-subscription to your blog, with the "Follow by Email" gadget.  This article describes adding it to your blog, and how it works for your readers.

Previously, I've explained why RSS is important for your blog, and how to give your blog a subscribe by email option using Feedburner.

The Follow by Email gadget that Blogger provide makes this even easier:  you can add an email subscription option to your blog by following these steps:

How to add the Follow by Email Gadget

  1. Log in to Blogger
    Use a Google account with admin rights to the blog, and which you want to use to get statistics about your email subscribers.
  2. Go to the Layout tab
  3. Select Add a Gadget in the area where you want to put the email subscription option
  4. Choose Follow by Email from the list of available gadgets
  5. Enter the title that you want displayed on your blog (initially it's "Follow by email")
  6. Press Save.
This puts the gadget onto your blog.  But there are two more things that you should do:
  • Check that your blog's RSS feed is enabled: it should be either "Full" or "Until Jump Break", not "None".  You need to do this because the Follow-by-email tool will only send out emails if your feed is turned on.   
  • Subscribe to it yourself- by entering your own email. 
    This isn't absolutely essential - the tool works even if you're not signed up to it.   But it's a good idea to try to see your blog from the reader's perspective.  
    And some items in your posts (eg slideshows or PowerPoint presentations) may not work as expected in the emailed version - and you won't know about it unless you're getting the emails.

What your readers see

On Your Blog

The Follow by Email gadget looks like this:

The title was set when you were adding the gadget:  you can change it by editing the gadget in the usual way.

The background colour, button colour, title underline and font are based on the settings for your theme:  you can only control them by editing the gadget colours in your theme.

You cannot put text immediately before our after the place where people can enter an email address:   though you could put a text-gadget before or after the Follow-by-email gadget.

When they enter an email address

When your visitor enters an email address and presses Submit, a new window opens:

This window:
  • Welcomes them to Feedburner
  • Acknowledges their Google account, if they are logged in at the time - remember, not all your visitors will be Google users
  • Tells them about the feed that they are asking to subscribe to
  • Warns them that a confirmation message will be sent to the email address they entered 
    "will receive a verification message once you submit this form" and that "FeedBurner activates your subscription to ... once you respond to this verification message"
  • Asks them to solve a text-catpcha puzzle, to prove it's a real person (not a computer) setting up the subscription.
The colours, design and content of this window are totally controlled by Feedburner.  You can't influence them in any way.

After the anti-spam-test is successfully completed, a second screen opens.   This tells the reader that
Your request has been accepted! Please check your inbox for a verification message from “FeedBurner Email Subscriptions”, the service that delivers email subscriptions for <<your-blog-name>>. You will need to click a link listed in this message to activate your subscription. If you dont see a confirmation e-mail in a reasonable amount of time please check your bulk/spam folder.
Again, you have no control over the color, format or placement of this window, it is totally up to Feedburner.    You also don't control the message text, which many people are likely to ignore.

In their email in-box, today

Your potential subscriber gets an email from Feedburner, usually within 2-10 minutes, asking them to click a link to complete the subscription process.
  • If they click the link, they become a verified subscriber.
  • If they don't click the link, then they stay on the subscribers list as unverified.
You can customize the "click the link to subscribe" message, using some fairly simply settings in Feedburner.  

In their email in-box, when you pos:

On days when you have posted to your blog, every verified subscriber is sent one email message, with all your posts during the day.

The message may include the full post or just a summary, depending on what settings you have for your blog's RSS feed  (Settings > Site Feed > Blog Posts feed).

Feedburner provides a number of options for controling how this email looks, and when it is sent:  see the Publicize > Email Subscriptions > Email branding tab in Feedburner for these.    (full article coming soon).

More information about the gadget

This new gadget has been widely requested, and is an exciting addition to Blogger.  But there are some challenges with it, which are discussed in Understanding the Follow-by-Email gadget.

You can get a list of the people who have signed up to receive your blog-posts by email - be aware that this is all people who have subscribed, not just ones who used the widget.

What happens if you delete the widget

Even if the follow-by-email gadget is deleted from your blog (by accident or deliberately), the Feedburner subscription that it created, and the list of people who have subscribed, is still kept in Feedburner.

However to add the gadget to your blog again, you need to use Feedburner's gadget tool to make sure that you access the feed that you created when you added the gadget the first time around.

(Thanks to reader +Mary Bostow whose question got me thinking about this.)

Related Articles

Why RSS is important for your blog,

How to get a list of people who are subscribed to your blog by email

An alternative to "Follow-by-email":  giving your blog a subscribe by email option using Feedburner.

Customizing Feedburners verification message

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  1. Hi, I recently changed the domain name of my blog and since then people haven't been receiving the emails from my blog! Can you help please?! So confused! Thanks.

    1. You need to go into Feedburner and change the feed-source for your feed to the new address for your blog.

  2. Will this option send an e-mail update to subscribers as soon as I post? What's the usual wait-time between post and e-mail?

  3. My readers are not receiving update blogs when I post. I've subscribed myself plus my wife and we haven't received any. Tried your RSS tip but when looked is full. Any ideas why?

    Also, the follow by email doesn't show on mobile apps only web versions. How can I add this?


  4. If my blog is NOT public, subscribers of FeedBurner won`t receive an email when I post - is that correct? Is there a way someone can sign in to receive an update without making the blog public at all?

    1. Yes, that is correct. Your blog only offers a feed if it is public - because RSS offers no security at all.

      Ways around this ... you could consider setting up a private Google+ community (ref and updating it yourself every time you post to the blog.

  5. I tried to add this widget to my blog, and it shows up in my template layout but wont actually show up on my blog. Why is that?

    1. I'd suggest asking about this in the Google Product forum - there are too many issues for me to try to diagnose the problem here.

  6. As far as I can see, this gadget does not work. We've never had an email go out to our subscribers, even though all the data on the FeedBurner side looks nominally ok. If anyone knows of a way to make it work, please let us know!

    1. Anna, have your subscribers confirmed their subscriptions? What is your blog's address, and I'll try to subscribe for you.

  7. What happens to email subscribers if you accidentally delete the subscribe by email widget? Do you loose them?

    1. They're kept in Feedburner - but you need to add the Feedburner gadget to your blog to get it back.

  8. I added this widget on my blog .Is there any way to see the list of people who are using this option .?

  9. Our blog is set to public and we update our blog weekly but it will not send out updated via email. Is there a reason for this or how to fix it?

  10. One of my blog users tried to enter their email address and they received the message 'We are sorry, but you do not have access to this service'. How can this be corrected?

  11. What is the limit for subscribers to whom e-mailing will be done (Per day)

  12. How to know the emails which are entered in this,? i.e. the list of verified subscribers who follow the blog by mail?

  13. I have the same question as Nikhil. How can you look at the list of follow by email subscribers with both name and email? Thank you!

    1. LIke this:

    2. That seems to only pertain to feed burner. How do I see who has "subscribed by email" to my blog, I saw it once before, but now it says I have 0 followers. Is there a difference between followers & subscribers? I cannot find either!

  14. Can you change what is in the subject line of the automatic emails...? I cant see a way to format that...

  15. Yes - but you have to go into Feedburnwer, choose the Publicize tab, then Email subscriptions,

    Then go into Email branding - to change the subject line of the regular emails or
    Communication Preferences - to change the subject line of the verification email.

  16. I have the same question as Brenda. Many people have told me that they tried to follow my blog but were unable to. It just says "We are sorry, but you do not have access to this service" How can I fix this?

  17. Just changed my blogger account to a google +. It's a private blog but more than 100 readers want access. I read from a google post that if I switched the blog to a google + this would be available & it was the only way to do this.
    Yet it's still no different in this aspect. HELP please as I have well over 100 readers

  18. I added it to my blogspot. It seems to work. Thank you. Is there a way to also add it to the bottom of each post?

    Thank you

  19. is there a way to comment on the blog by replying to the email subscription service email itself?

  20. I have subscribers who all seem to be receiving my posts by email without a problem thanks to the feedburner gadget in my blog. However my stats say 0 followers and 0 subscribers. Its driving me a little bit crazy! Please let me know how to fix this
    Thank you for your great posts

  21. According to my Feedburner account, I have 10 subscribers (including my own personal email as a test). When I post, no email is sent out. I read through your post and it seems like I'm doing everything correctly. Any ideas?? I can't seem to find any contact for Feedburner to ask them for help. Very frustrating!

  22. I there any way to see subscribed user list..

  23. I've just spent over 2 hours trying to get this feature to work. A prime example of the chaotic and conflicting, often nonsensical world of online publishing. No one has a straight, simple set of step-by-step instructions that work for anything. It often feels like we're still in the Wild West of the web. I'm giving up for now.

  24. How can someone who is following by email unsubscribe and stop following my blog?

  25. if you already have an email subscription widget can u add a follow me through email that leads to feedburner ?

  26. How can I see who has signed up for email links?


    1. Hi Bryan - that is described here:

  27. I just learned about the follow me gadget and was so glad to find it because I've been sending an e-mail to a group of people who asked to be notified each time I posted and wanted to quit doing that. I tested it by signing up myself and doing a test post and it worked. Then this morning I opened my inbox and there was a post that I had posted in October, 2014! Is this a glitch I can fix? I hope so cause I love the idea!

  28. I think I have done all this because i can see the follow by email option when I view my blog but the problem is that the subscribe option Is not showing up on my blog when readers try to subscribe.. Why is this happening I know it is in my blog but why others can't see it.. I have checked myself it doesn't show up. Plz help :)

  29. Hi. I added the follow me gadget and have a subscribers (because they told me and I tried it out). According to feedburner I have no subscribers. I added the "feed address" to Blogger. What am I doing wrong?

  30. I checked my RSS settings as suggested and wonder about the Post Feed Redirect URL.

    What does "If you have burned your post feed with FeedBurner, or used another service to process your feed, enter the full feed URL here. Blogger will redirect all post feed traffic to this address. Leave this blank for no redirection." mean?

    Right now, I have my blog's address in that box, but does that mean that anyone who uses the "follow-me" gadget to sign up and get my posts in their inbox will be redirected to my blog? If so, I'll certainly delete that!

    I'd really appreciate an answer as I'm getting ready for a trip to Spain and Italy and am suggesting to people that they sign up to follow me. Thanks so much!

  31. How can we add this follow option to the mobile version. There some tricks to add some words in text but it didnt work.

  32. Hi I recently started my blog and I have the follow by email set up. I went into my feed burner and it says I have ten subscribers but on my overview page on blogger it says i only have one. Do you know why this might be?

    1. jackie that is just because of the different widgets the feed burner is different gadget from the Overview of blogger that 1 is Member of your blog hope it is answer of your question

  33. I have a blog and people can follow me by email..The thing is when O check to see whos following by email all seem to have addresses and are names and addresses that I have to idea who these followers are..Why..