Saturday, March 5, 2011

How to set up a public or private RSS feed for a private Blogger Blogspot

So, you've been looking at Google Analytics for your personal blog lately and you can't help but wonder "who is from Thailand that keeps looking at my blog?"  In the end, you decide it's time to wrap just a little more security around your blog and "go private"

But then, you remember reading an article somewhere that described going private as akin to Blogger Suicide.  Apparently without seeing when there are new posts to your blog, your readers eventually get in the habit of just not checking anymore.  If only there were a way to make the blog private and still let people know when you publish new posts.

If you're like most people you'll find the email notifications first:

There are a couple of problems with email notifications.  First, you are limited to 10 email addresses.  Second, did I mention you are limited to 10 email addresses?!  Why would anyone write a blog for only 10 people?  Needless to say, this isn't a viable option for most people.

This is when geeks get involved and when there's a will, there's a way.  Google offers another great service called Feedburner that can help us out.  The first thing you'll need to know is where to find the rss feed for private blogs.  It's easy, you just need to add /rss.xml to the end of your blog address.  So, for example, if your blog is then it's RSS feed URL is

If we go to Feedburner and we put in the now private blog's rss url here's what we see:

Now, there's really nothing stopping you from using your own real personal Gmail credentials in there, but let me just say that I'd rather not have my real credentials sitting in there.  Instead, go ahead and create a new Gmail account and send it an invitation to your private blogger blogspot.  Be sure not to use special characters in the password because it has to be URL-safe (you get an error "invalid leading or trailing character in the hostname" if you have things besides letters and numbers).

Continuing the example from above and assuming you created a new Gmail account named with the password mypass1 then the URL would become

After successfully entering your feed into Feedburner it let's you pick a name and URL for the feed:

Afterwards it takes you through some options and lets you pick and choose what to turn on for your feed.  This is probably a good time to point out that Feedburner also allows you to password-protect your feed under Publicize there is a Password Protector option:

You would have to share that username and password with all of your readers, but it would give you a little more security seeing as the RSS feed is going to contain everything from the blog that you just made private.

Finally, you can go back into Blogger and set the Post Feed Redirect URL Under Settings>Site Feed:

Then, that's it.  Tell people they can subscribe to the RSS feed and pass around the Feedburner URL and optionally a username and password for it if you opted into the Password Protector functionality at Feedburner.  Now people can see your new posts through your new RSS feed and you (hopefully) won't lose all your readers to going private.

Edit:  If you're reading this post and are truly geeky, I went one step further and added the new gmail account to the Email Notification list and pointed Feedburner to the Gmail RSS Feed formatted thusly: for a couple reasons.  First, it's using https.  Second, The feed that Gmail provides only shows the title and a short snippet from the beginning of the post.

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