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Step 5: Adding a Subscription Form or Link to Your Blog Template

Remember, I’m using WordPress, so that’s what the instructions in this section will cover in detail. If you’re using another blogging tool, you might have to do some research to handle this task for your blog. The FeedBurner site offers some help, and you should be able to find assistance in your blogging tool’s help system.

You have a choice on how users can subscribe to the email notification feature—by filling in a form on your site, or by clicking a link and filling in a form that appears. I use the form in the sidebar of my site because I can modify my template files easily. If you can’t modify template files, you’ll probably need to add the subscription feature as a link.

To add a subscription form, start by selecting and copying the contents of the Subscription Form Code box (refer to Figure 5 in the preceding section). Click in the box, choose Edit > Select All, and then choose Edit > Copy (or use the corresponding shortcut keys). Then open the blog template file where you want the form to go (usually sidebar.php for a WordPress blog, but it could be something else), position the insertion point where you want the form to appear, and paste in the code. Then save the file.

Keep in mind that, depending on the theme your blog is using, you may have to modify the code so that it properly utilizes the theme’s CSS. For example, Figure 6 shows how the code looks in my sidebar.php file; Figure 7 shows the resulting form on a blog page. This might be a trial-and-error process; be sure you check the appearance of the form after you save it. You can find more information about modifying themes in WordPress 2: Visual QuickStart Guide.

Figure 06

Figure 6 Here’s the form code for my blog’s sidebar, integrated with existing links for RSS.

Figure 7

Figure 7 Here’s how that code looks on the page when viewed with a web browser.

If messing around with templates and code is more than you want to deal with, or if you don’t have the ability to modify your templates at all, you can add a link to the subscription code to your site. That process is a bit easier.

If you have a WordPress.com blog (as opposed to a WordPress server installation), I recommend that you add the subscription link as a regular link with the bookmarks (formerly "links") feature. Open a new web browser window or tab and use it to open the Dashboard for your blog. Click the Add a Bookmark link. I hope it will still be there; the WordPress folks keep modifying the administration features on WordPress.com. (And it’s driving me nuts!)

Now switch back to the FeedBurner Email Subscription page, and scroll down to the Subscription Link Code box. Click in the box and select all of the text between the quotation mark (") characters. The text you want should start with http:// and end with a number. Choose Edit > Copy (or use the appropriate shortcut key) to copy the selected text to the clipboard.

Switch back to the WordPress Add Link page. In the Name box, enter the text that will appear for the link. In the Address box, paste in the URL you just copied. In the Description box, enter a description for the link. This description may appear when a site visitor points the link. In the Categories list, turn on the checkbox for an appropriate category. When you’re finished, the result might look something like Figure 8.

Figure 8

Figure 8 Use a form like this to add the link.

Click the Add Link button. The link is added to your site and appears with your other links (see Figure 9).

Figure 9

Figure 9 The link has been added to a WordPress.com blog’s Blogroll list.

Keep in mind that if you want to add the link to a template file, you need to copy the entire contents of the Subscription Link Code box (refer to Figure 5) and paste that code into the template.

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