Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Big changes afoot at Blogtrottr!

Edit - The Free plan is now ad-supported, and Unlimited again!

Blogtrottr began as a personal hobby a couple of years ago now, as I was unable to find an RSS to email service that did what I wanted - so I wrote one.  It has grown spectacularly over the last 18 months, and while we'd love it to remain an entirely free service, the reality is that there are bills to pay and servers to feed.  So the time has now come to transition it to a sustainable business model to allow us to continuously improve our unique offering - and importantly, whilst retaining the free service that has brought us to where we are.  We've got many exciting features lined up, and this change will allow us to bring them to you in the future.


But we've got some new toys ready now...

  • Improvements to email layout on a wider range of readers and devices
  • SSL across the website
  • Super quick updates for non-PuSH capable feeds.
  • Customizable email templates.
  • Customizable feed titles.
  • Customizable sender names.
  • Send updates as attachments - either PDF, text, or HTML with embedded images.


And now I'm pleased to introduce our new subscription plan line up!  All plans even come with a 1 month free trial, so you can take them out for a test drive before you commit.

The Free Plan

The free plan offers the same features and functionality as you're used to, with the exception that it will now be limited to 25 subscriptions.  This means that for 98.5% of our users, absolutely nothing will change.  For those remaining 1.5% of 'heavier' users, we believe the paid plans still offer excellent value.


The Lite Plan

Only €4.00 a month, up to 250 subscriptions.

Additional features:


  • Super quick updates for non-PuSH capable feeds.
  • Customizable email templates - have things laid out as you choose.
  • Customizable feed titles.
  • Customizable sender names - get emails sent from your choice of name.
  • Control over the item sort order in digests.
  • Send updates as attachments - either PDF, text, or HTML with embedded images - keep up with your favourite feeds offline, or in your e-reader.

The Full Plan

As above, but all you can eat for €7.00 a month - no subscription limits.



What will happen if I have more than 25 subscriptions?

Nothing will happen yet!  But on the 1st of August, if you're still on the Free plan, we'll simply pause any excess until you have just 25 active subscriptions.  If you choose to upgrade after that, you can simply re-enable any paused subscriptions.


Take a plan out for a spin, free for a whole month, and see what you think!  Not only do you get to use this first round of features, but you'll be helping speed development of some really cool future functionality.


What's in the pipeline?

Customizable send times - bringing in the ability to choose a particular time of day your digests are sent.

Flexible schedules - we want to introduce arbitrary and longer reaching scheduling, so you could have digests sent every hour, every week, every month, or anything in-between.

Feed grouping and aggregating - we understand that some things are best managed in groups, so we want to add the capability to add, manage, and receive multiple feeds as one.

Subscription management API - some of you have expressed interest in an management API, and a few people have already been playing with a beta version.  We'll finalise that, and make it available to any Full plan subscribers.



Upgrade today!


Sam Bryan
Founder

73 comments:

  1. Hey guys, you're providing an excellent and much needed service. I'd be willing to pay even if you needed a flat fee for every subscription.

    On a side note, are you planning a content parser functionality matching that of fulltextrssfeed.com? They have an API, would love to see this integrated.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Good to hear!

      We'd definitely be interested in some form of integration - copying URLs around works, but the whole process could be much nicer from a user perspective. We're signed up to fulltextrssfeed.com's mailing list, although as I understand it the API is still 'coming soon'.

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  2. First, I agree that you should be paid for this service and I think that the basic structure you have selected is good, with a small free account and paid for accounts with more feeds.

    But the price for me will be pretty high. Have you considered offering a yearly subscription for a discount?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Matt,

      Absolutely, a discounted longer term subscription is something that we're keen to have!

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    2. I'm definitely also interested in being able to pay for a year in return for some kind of discount. Not necessarily because I don't think the service is worth what the price is right now, but when converted to dollars, there's absolutely no way I can afford it. I have health issues, and just can't afford to pay out money like that every month for something like this :x

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  3. Please please please increase the max number of feeds for the free plan, decrease the polling frequency to once a day instead of hourly if you have to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you miss the stats that were included in the post? You're in a very small minority of people who've got that many feeds.

      I do encourage them to go ahead and do what I mentioned in another comment about having a "just let me have more feeds"-type plan that costs a bit less than, or as much as, the "Lite" plan :)

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  4. Sounds great! Thank you for striving to make Blogtrottr sustainable.

    I'd love to see a discount for annual plans too :-)

    It would be nice if there was some way of not treating all feeds equally. For example, I have some feeds that are updated many times a day, and I receive several digests from them daily. I have other feeds that are only updated every few months (or less) that I still want updates for. I currently have them set to daily updates, but weekly (or less) would work for them. Currently both types count equally toward my 25/50 feed limit. I'm not sure how to do this well while keeping it simple. Perhaps if feeds polled weekly (for example) didn't count toward the limit?

    Currently I've subscribed for the unlimited plan. But I'm not really happy with paying that amount, so I'm likely to remove enough feeds to fit in the 50 Feed plan and move them over to some other service. I would be much happier if they were all kept together in one place, but they're not worth an extra $50 (Canadian, annually) to me.

    That's my 2 cents :-). Overally, I'm still delighted with the service.

    Andy

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    Replies
    1. Hi Andy,

      Most pleased to hear you remain delighted!

      I agree, that kind of flexibility would be an excellent thing to have, and would provide the best of both worlds. Like you say, the trick is to keep it simple, but it's the kind of functionality that I'd love to get implemented.

      It may or may not be an elegant solution depending on your needs, but what you could do in the meantime (presuming you use a mail provider that supports subaddressing or aliases), is to register another account (e.g. user.name+free@example.com), and use that for the less frequent feeds.

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    2. I may do that. I'd much prefer to keep it all at Blogtrottr. I find email is by far the best way to receive my updates. Thank you for the suggestion.

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    3. It seems like maybe you misunderstood what he was getting at. He wasn't suggesting you not use blogtrotter for the rest of your feeds. Rather, he was saying to create a second blogtrottr account, and use the subaddressing/aliasing feature to have it be sent to the same place as the first account. This is what I did with FeedMyInbox, which allowed only 5 feeds per account. Honestly, I didn't expect to see the owner of the site recommending something like this as a workaround to paying money -- it just makes me like him even more :v

      ps. Another alternative to the aliasing/subaddressing would be forwarding. If you don't have the ability to do either of the original 2 ideas, contact me privately and I can provide you with a forwarding-only email address from my web hosting account, since I can have an unlimited amount of them. I've got about 5-10 different forwarding-only email addresses that all forward to the email address I use here at blogtrottr, in the form of myemailaccount+identifier@gmail.com :)

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  5. Hi Sam...First of all, thanks for creating such a good service. I'll need the Lite plan. Since I live in Canada, I would pay around $5.60 Canadian monthly (€4 at the current exchange rate, plus 2.5% currency conversion fee from the credit-card company), which is a bit high compared to other services that I pay for in US dollars, so I'm tempted to look for alternatives. However, you mention in a response to a comment above that you're keen to have "a discounted longer term subscription". Would you be willing to offer such a thing right away? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rohan,

      Very glad to hear you enjoy the service!

      Unfortunately we're not in a position to be able to offer an annual discount right at this moment - but if you want to get in touch at support@blogtrottr.com, we can probably do something about offsetting those pesky conversion fees if nothing else.

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    2. Would it be alright if I emailed you at that address as well about a potential price per month that would emulate what an annual discount would be? And, if so, would it be a (a) percentage discount regardless of the plan, (b) a specific amount, based on the plan (eg buy a year, get 1 month free), or would it be a 'flat' amount taken off?

      Purely for example's sake, and using $11 a month because it works well in all the examples, to clarify... (don't bother reading it if you already get what I mean, of course):

      Situation 1: the annual discount would take the yearly price down from the resulting $132/yr by 15% ($112.2), setting it up to charge 9.35/mo instead
      Situation 2: the annual discount would take the yearly price down from the resulting $132/yr by making one month free ($121), setting it up to charge 10.08/mo instead
      Situation 3: the annual discount would take the yearly price down from the resulting $132/yr to, say, an arbitrary $115 a year, setting it up to charge 9.59/mo instead

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    3. Absolutely, feel free to get in touch with any queries you might have.

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  6. Months ago I sent you an e-mail asking how many subscribers I had on Blogtrottr. I was informed that you were still working on this and didn't yet have a solution. Now I understand that I'm to be charged depending on how many subscribers I have? I have no idea how many subscribers I have. Have you figured out a way for me to monitor this?

    Chubby Chatterbox

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Stephen,

      Worry not, the pricing isn't about how many subscribers you have to your blog, but about how many subscriptions you yourself might have to other blogs using the Blogtrottr service.

      I've reached out to you on your support ticket about the subscriber stats, as I'd be interested in getting you onboard the beta for that.

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  7. Two questions:

    1) I see no mention of adding a persistent log-in to blogtrottr. This is my main request for future upgrades, and will probably determine whether I pay for the service.

    2) Any plans to accept payments through PayPal?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Larry,

      1) Yes, that's definitely coming.

      2) Not immediately - although if it's a popular request (and I assume from your asking that it'd be useful to you) we'll be sure to add it to the roadmap.

      Delete
    2. Seconding being able to pay through paypal :)

      @Sam: For what it's worth, you can currently get a (free) card from Paypal that you can use like a debit/credit card, which means you can pay anybody through your paypal account without them specifically accepting paypal. Maybe you already knew this, but I thought I should mention it!

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  8. Too bad, this has been a great alternative to Google Reader. Time to move on. So long and thanks for all the fish!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some people just can't be happy, can they?

      They are not really asking for a lot to keep up a service you are using.

      (Disclosure - I don't have enough subscriptions to subscribe myself at this time, but if I did I'd be more than happy to pay such a small monthly sum for this service)

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  9. I am very happy to hear about a functioning business model. Email is at the centre of my work environment and Blogtrottr thus fits perfectly to my work flow.

    I wish you all the best in the future. And please consider a donation option. Although I am a free user due to my usage I would be willed to donate once upon a time.

    Regards

    Robert

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  10. Funny that you guys put out this plan days before Google ceases operations. I don't mind paying, I do mind being played.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi David,

      Unfortunately these things have a fairly lengthy gestation period, and aren't something that can be put together in short order. Ideally I'd have like to have seen this launched some time ago, but we are where we are. There's certainly no conspiracy :)

      Delete
  11. I doubt I need more than 25 feeds, but I really enjoy this service and I would be glad to make some contribution to offset costs. Do you have a tip jar?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jon,

      Glad to hear you enjoy the service! We don't have a tip jar at present, but we do appreciate the offer.

      Delete
    2. I feel the same way, I'd be happy to have a tip jar, or a smaller payment on an occasional basis even for the level you give for free.

      Delete
  12. Oooooh geez...

    Do you remember sendmerss?

    Do you remember what happend when greed got in the way?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have no plans to sell out to NBC and meet a disastrous and messy end, if that's what you mean :)

      I would hope that it's not perceived as 'greed' - this service was funded from the beginning out of my own pocket, and we've reached the point where my pocket is no longer deep enough to fund the considerable amount of time and machinery required to keep a service of this size going without some form of recompense.

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    2. What if you transparently declare how much is needed monthly to maintain the service and then try to reach that monthly amount through donations?

      Maybe I am too much of a do-gooder but I still believe in the human appreciation for a worth service.

      Delete
    3. I don't really think that going donation-funded is a something that would work, but I do think that having a "Pay What You Want" feature, where, as long as it wasn't *lower* than the current price, a person could choose to pay as much as they want each month. Hell, depending, that could even allow prices to be a bit lower for the masses if some people with a lot of money paid large amounts. You get one trust fund kid that pays $100 a month just because they like the service, and you've got yourself a good thing going :v

      Alternatively, a "tip jar" feature would be very easy to implement and have a similar effect

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    4. I should also add that, although it's his choice whether or not to say how much it costs to run things, that doesn't necessarily mean that that is how much he wants each month--nobody, most especially him, has at any point stated that this was never intended to provide him with anything in return for his efforts. Heck, I'm hoping this becomes successful enough to become his full-time job, meaning we get him all to ourselves :P

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  13. I dislike the fact that I will have to pay for the largest account purely because I have ~160 feeds. I like blogtrottr, I've told blogs who I follow that blogtrottr is good. I do not have the technical understanding to want to use any of the fancy new features. I just like emails :-(

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I obviously can't speak for the founder, but I can pitch an idea: Maybe have an alternative pricing scheme which solely provides the unlimited feeds, without any of the other extra features, and have it priced more around the "Lite" plan? That would be a win-win, would it not? :)

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    2. Kinda like two separate packages, unlimited package or tech package or both for a discount. I follow a lot of crafting blogs, and love adding more, I'm at 165 blogs at the moment, I doubt I'm going to be able to cut it down to 50 let along 25.

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    3. Sounds good to me :)

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  14. I regret recommending your service as a Google Reader replacement.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, how dare he hope to recoup the money he's put out in order to make this fantastic service a reality...

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  15. I do not like the idea, are more than 5 dollars!

    should be some promotion for older users, are launching, how stable will the service?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I definitely agree that it would be nice if the fairly standard price of "$5" was employed rather than 4Euro/5.22 USD, epsecially since (from what I've seen, anyway) the majority of blogtrottr users are american. I could be wrong about that second part, though, in that the sample of users I've seen has been skewed.

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    2. Yes, the $5 level is so established (and usually accompanied by $50 annually) that going even slightly beyond that seems to "break the rule".

      And it's not just Americans who are used to paying USD prices: many useful online services are US-based and priced only in USD regardless where the customer is. I'm in Canada (and at least one other commenter here is also) and I pay for so many things in USD that I've even obtained a US dollar credit card so I can do the currency exchange at a slightly better rate.

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    3. Hi Rodrigo, now with some funding behind us we can continue to invest and improve the service, increasing stability to what I'd hope would be some fairly excellent levels.

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    4. yes, just a plan of 5 dollars per month or 50 per year, it would be great!

      if the fee is in Euros, I think I'll have to use only the free service.

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  16. Aww, it's really a shame to see that the sorting feature is Premium-only :( It's literally the one feature that didn't exist on blogtrottr I have wanted from day one. as i said in my other comment, due to my health issues, I have no income and have been denied twice for disability so far, so I really can't afford to pay the monthly fee.

    Is there any chance you might meet me in the middle with that feature? Something like making it so that premium would have full sorting options with a dropdown list, while non-premium would have a single checkbox labeled "Sort Feed Headlines in Reverse Chronological Order" and have it checked by default for the current behavior? That would let you have various sort methods premium, with the exception of just reversing the default order.

    I realize that I'm just one user and you really don't owe me anything in the usual sense, but I'm hoping that maybe you'll make an exception between the fact that I offered the potential middle ground and due to our various discussions over time on Twitter about BlogTrottr :X

    Thanks for reading, at least :) Feel free to respond on twitter if you'd prefer it to here

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  17. Great to see you expanding. Honestly I cannot imagine that anyone would want (and should) work for free, at least in a longer run.

    I love the fact that you based pricing plans mostly on a number of subscriptions.

    And of course good to see you considering (and implementing!) features I mentioned on your 'Feedback' page some time ago.

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  18. Have you considered adding ads to the emails (for free accounts)? It may be another possible way to offset the cost and let the user have more feeds without paying out of their own pocket. I don't know if it would be viable but it sounds worth considering.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kevin,

      As it happens yes - and indeed that was one of the first options explored. We've been in touch with many ad networks over the last couple of years, but sadly none have been able to able to provide contextualized ads suitable for email.

      However the larger we grow, the more likely it becomes that we can work out a custom deal with an ad network, so it might be a possibility for the future.

      And if any advertising representatives are reading, do feel free to get in touch :)

      Delete
  19. 2.5% is too low, you don't want to end up having to shutdown. 25 feeds is a crazy lot. Make it less to start with, because then you can increase it later if you want and people won't be as peed off as if you decrease it later. Start low, make happy times later by increasing.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I think it's quite sad, a bitter pill to swallow, and perhaps opportunistic to announce a move to a paid model on the eve of Google Reader closing down. Seriously I'm not going to be paying over £70 a year just to read my subscriptions, so it looks like I'll have to find a new solution.

    I have getting on for 100 subscriptions, but most rarely if ever update. I have them listed so I'm notified should they ever post in the future. (And sometimes old sites are resurrected like that.)

    I was perfectly happy with Google Reader, so ultimately I blame Google for this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I find Blogtottr too expensive. I have over 100 feeds and paying over 70 pounds a year is crazy. For about 5 pounds or less one finds a decent dedicated feed reader. So I will ditch Blogtrottr although I am willing to pay for the service. Just not such a high price tag. So if the developer needs this amount of money from us, perhaps this business is just not viable. Great work, by the way: the service is very good as it is.

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  21. Add me in for -tip jar- 1£ a month for 25 feeds - paypal

    Ps: do you have an estimate of how many free users are using aliases now + how many users will be doing this after the service is payed?

    I think your BM will have to adress this fact, and maybe the best solution is to hold back sending images with an update, just a txt linking back to the update (with just maybe the first paragraph of it), flat fee ( would gladly pay 10£ a year for 10 subs with no image and no real time updates, or big texts, just simple updates).

    Soldier on. Hope you manage to keep your business.

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  22. And yeah... Reader pretty much f***ed us all.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have no problem paying for this service. It's great and I can't believe it's been free this long. The only thing I would ask is that you find a way that we can pay in our local currencies or pay in a lump sum. I am from Australia, and if I have to pay in euros then I will have to pay a penalty "foreign transaction" fee every month. That will add up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Josh,

      Very pleased to hear you enjoy the service. A discounted annual option is in the wings, and should be ready to go within a couple of weeks.

      Local currency support is something I'm very keen to see, although currently technical limitations with the provider we use (ChargeBee) prevent us from offering that at the moment. We're assured that feature will be available in the future however.

      Delete
  24. blogtrottr is excellent! i've been using it for free for over a year, and its been awesome

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  25. I am one of the 98% that would be fine with the free service. Personally, I think you are being way too generous in offering 25 feeds for free. I would have expected something more like maybe 5 or 10 feeds for the free account. Thank you very much, and please do whatever you have to do to keep this service sustainable!

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  26. I've decided to leave. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Victor,

      Sorry to see you go, but it's been nice having you. Hopefully we can offer something more suited to your needs and entice you back in the future!

      Delete
    2. I'm glad to tell you: I'm back, after checking all the poor rss readers.

      Delete
  27. I'll pare down to 25 feeds, but I appreciate your service, and would probably pay $20/year for it if that were an option. I hope that data helps.

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  28. A simple question. What do you consider a "subscription"? When you say you are offering 25 subscriptions, what do you mean.
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jeremy,

      It would be a subscription to a particular blog or feed. For example, if you were to use our service to get updates from, say, the BBC news feed, that would be one subscription.

      So for free, we would offer you updates from 25 blogs or feeds of your choosing.

      Hopefully that helps!

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    2. That is more than enough for me.
      Thanks.

      Delete
  29. Sounds great! I'll be sticking around since I like your service. I guess an annual plan with a little discount would be really appreciated. Wish you best of luck! And remember to keep the features coming.

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  30. Great service and I like the future plans to provide feed categories and merging.
    However current price is pretty high. I have too much subscriptions and need to go for Full account. I have to pay 84 euro per year to get it. This is totaly high for something I used to get for free and I still can get it free elsewhere. Please charge for features not for number of subscriptions. For features I am using currently I am not willing to pay more than 20 to 30 euro max per year.

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  31. That is great. You still rocking and I will continue to use your service.

    And I have some suggestion,
    Turn your service into a Website Publisher platform for Revenue sharing. RSS Feed type Email is the only ad industry that doesn't have competition.

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  32. I agree with all the generally positive comments, and also with the mood that the price is a bit on the high side. I have 130 subscriptions, even after a bit of pruning, so fall well into the "luxury" bracket. But most of these are very low volume, and I don't think the correlation between price and resources consumed is working out too well at the moment.

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    Replies
    1. That is a very good point Miles. I also have a couple of RSS subscriptions that I fetch in real time but they very rarely publish new RSS feed items. Thus it is unfair to have them the same weight than feeds that produce regularly a bunch of new items.

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  33. Hello. I like blogtrottr, but current price is pretty high. I think $20-30 a year would be a good.

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  34. The management API sounds really exciting. We use Blogtrottr to get daily digests of our subscribers results (workout data) via each individual's blog/journal.

    The API would allow us to capture their blog address and add it, potentially, within our sales flow process! My major question, and i'm sure a big hurdle - is how you'll deal with situations that a URL serves multiple feeds (like what happens with wordpress sites having a rss content feed and comments feed).

    Keep us posted

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  35. I love Blogtrottr...it is what makes Dropbox worthwhile. I was just wondering if it works with Google Drive as well?

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately it doesn't look like Google Drive offers anything we can monitor I'm afraid. There's a thread over on the Google product forums with a similar request, and a Google representative replied that they'll "take this into consideration", so perhaps it'll be available at some point in the future.

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