5 Years ‘Dutch Girl in London’ Giveaway!

5 years Dutch Girl in London giveaway

Last October Dutch Girl in London hit the 5-year mark! To celebrate this milestone, here’s a little overview of the blog’s evolution over the years AND a giveaway – because, you can’t have a birthday without presents, can you now?

5 years, 3 different looks

Although I’m not as adventurous with changing my own personal looks  – I’ve been doing my make-up exactly the same for the last 23 years and the most ‘edgy’ thing I’ve done with my hair is put some blonde and red strands in it – I did give my website three drastic make-overs over the years.
Dutch Girl in London first website

This is what my website looked like in the very beginning. Now it hurts my eyes, but it served me well at the time.

As my goals for my website changed, so did its looks. At first it was a more traditional, static website where you could find helpful tourist information on London. Back then, my blog posts were completely secondary and were buried somewhere within the website. But I changed that completely last year when I decided to highlight my blog posts and put them right on the homepage. I unfortunately didn’t think of taking a screenshot of my second website design, but you can get a glimpse of it in the photo of me below.

Dutch Girl in London website 2017

‘Dutch Girl in London’ January 2018 make-over

How I almost didn’t reach my 5-year blogging anniversary

I almost quit blogging in 2016 and then again in 2017. I wasn’t in a particularly good place emotionally and didn’t have much energy for this ‘stupid’ blogging, as I referred to it then. I started to wonder whom and why I was actually blogging for. My website didn’t attract as many readers as I’d hoped for, but I was also reluctant to change my blogging topics in an attempt to grow my audience. Feeling frustrated and uninspired, I only wrote 10 blog posts in the whole of 2017! Of course anyone with half a brain would understand that this low number is far from ideal if you want to be successful – which for me means being able to build a meaningful relationship with my readers.

So, as 2018 made its entrance and I felt the darker clouds lift, I decided to dedicate more time and love to my website. Instead of posting irregularly over the month, I set the goal for one post a week, always (well, almost) on a Sunday. Having a fixed blogging moment made it more feasible and structured for me. I actually felt less stressed about it all and even managed to plan blog posts ahead of time in case I was travelling.

Dutch Girl in London

She who wants to blog seriously must use a suitably sized pencil.

And so I wrote 48 blog posts in 2018!

Yes, that’s almost one post for every week of the past year! I only missed one Sunday in September when I was quite sick and also three editions early 2018 when hubby and I were travelling across New Zealand.

In previous years I only wrote between 10 to 32 blog posts a year, so this was quite a significant increase. This also resulted in the highest reader engagement I’ve ever had over the last 5 years. Lots of readers made the time and effort to stop and leave me really lovely and meaningful comments and I can’t thank you enough for your support over the last year!

My most popular posts and pages according to you

It’s fun to see what information visitors of my website come and look for. They’re apparently mostly curious to know more about me as that page is the most visited one!

Here are the top three pages that are visited most by you and other readers:

  1. who’s that girl? (the ‘about me’ page)
  2. tours – rondleidingen (my Dutch-language tours in London)
  3. eating & drinking (a selection of my favourite places to eat and drink in London)

5 years of Dutch Girl in London // Dutch Girl in London

The 3 most read blog posts over the last 5 years:

  1. Richard Ayoade’s ‘The Double’: Film Review and Q&A Excerpts from the BFI Preview Screening
  2. 10 European Street Art Festivals in 2018 to Put on Your Calendar
  3. Confessions of a Eurorack Virgin

These search terms led to my website

Dutch Girl in London search terms

A small selection of the online search terms that led to my website. Based on these, I think a lot of visitors were disappointed to land on a cultural blog…

Introduction of Dutch-language posts, more personal articles and recurring topics

From the start my blog has been categorised as an Arts & Culture blog. (I was even a finalist for the UK Blog Awards in this category during my first year of blogging!) I still write about pretty much the same topics as I did 5 years ago, i.e. films, music, exhibitions, culture, street art, travel and London.

There have been some changes as well though. I noticed recently I hardly do interviews anymore. This hasn’t been intentional, but transcribing and then editing interviews is quite laborious so I guess I’ve unconsciously stepped away from them.

I did introduce two new monthly features in 2018. On each last Sunday of the month I write a little review of that month for my series Reflections and on each first Sunday of the month I write a blog post in Dutch for The Dutch Girl Tales. These Dutch-language posts are very diverse, but are often more personal in content.

And then there was even a second website!

Considering I almost wanted to give up on Dutch Girl in London, it’s quite remarkable I started a completely new website called Done That Been There. This is a bilingual (Dutch and English) cultural travel blog where I share my personal travel stories with my readers, but also give cultural recommendations for (city) trips. It took me a while to get it to look and function as I wanted, but I think I’m pretty much there now. Now it’s just a matter of getting more content on it!

Your chance to win some tasty goodies!

To celebrate hitting my 5-year blogging milestone, I want to thank my readers with a tasty giveaway! You can win a box with a selection of typical Dutch sweet treats and some other surprises. The competition is open for everybody all over the world. However, only sincere and meaningful entries will be added to the prize draw. You can enter up and until Sunday 3 February 2019 (deadline is midnight, GMT) and the winner will be announced on my Dutch Girl in London Facebook page on Wednesday 6 February. The box with goodies will be sent that same week.

How to enter

All you have to do is tell me which of my blogging topics you like most and would like to read more about in 2019. OR you can choose to be more original and suggest new topics that would fit into my brand and would lend itself for recurring posts (think of a series of articles on the same topic). Leave your thoughts and suggestions on blogging topics in a comment below.

5 years Dutch Girl in London giveaway

Looking forward to reading your input! Thank you and good luck!
Zarina xx

22 thoughts on “5 Years ‘Dutch Girl in London’ Giveaway!

  1. I’m new here, found the link on Twitter. Anyway, I searched through your various blog posts and as a self proclaimed foodie, I enjoyed reading through the places to eat in London. If ever traveling to the area I would have to make a point to visit Lardo Pizzeria and try their Désirée potato, mozzarella, anchovies, and crispy sage pie. I also enjoyed the Street Art, Animal from the Muppets takes me back to my childhood years…a very long time ago! Congrats on your 5 year anniversary and good luck in the future!

  2. Hi. The most relatable posting (which may have been a tweet rather than a blog entry) was the Standardgate on the train. Going forward, msy be more reflections on changes you see in the UK.

    1. Thanks for your comment Mark! That’s really good to hear that you enjoyed that post actually. Interesting idea you suggested here, but this might just get too grim and depressing for me considering Brexit etc. Perhaps a Netherlands vs UK comparison though, that could be interesting. Having grown up in NL, but now having lived here in the UK for nearly 7 years now, I do notice some typical cultural habits/values which could be fun to explore. I’ll keep it in mind! 🙂

  3. A Day in the Life of Dutch Girl in London – we all love what you offer us here, but what do you do in the day? How is DGIL HQ run? A photo series taking us through a day in your life would be such fun. We could see what you get to see!

  4. Tell us more about what you are listening to. Tips on music to hear, venues to visit, which cities are best for music? Share some stories on bands you’ve seen and all the adventures Dutch Girl in London has!!

    1. Many thanks for the suggestion Nikki! I do include music in my monthly recaps, but it’s been a while since I wrote a whole post just about music. I’ll keep this in mind! 🙂

  5. A Day in the Life of Dutch Girl in London – we all love what you offer us here, but what do you do in the day? How is DGIL HQ run? A photo series taking us through a day in your life would be such fun. We could see what you get to see!

  6. Happy anniversary! I always enjoy the interviews with street artists. You say you don’t really like to do interviews anymore, but perhaps even just highlight some street art photos would be nice I think. Keep up the good work!

  7. Congratulations on your anniversary! I love all the art & cultural tips you share, but I’d like to know more about theatre & musical shows. I always try to go to the theatre whenever I’m in London, so would appreciate to see recommendations here. Thanks! And keep up the good work!

    1. Ah, thanks so much for your kind words and suggestion Tricia! Yes it’s true, I don’t really share theatre recommendations! But to be honest, that’s probably because I don’t really enjoy going to the theatre… I’ve been a few times and have been very impressed by every show I’ve seen, but it’s not one of my top priorities (tickets are also quite expensive usually). I’d rather go to the cinema or a music concert. But I could add some listings of current shows once in a while, let’s see. You’ve given me food for thought here 🙂

  8. Lovely post Zarina how amazing that it’s been five years. It’s one of my favourite blogs and I’m glad you kept going during the dark times. Also had to laugh at some of those search terms 😀

    1. Aw, thanks Stuart, that’s really nice to hear 🙂
      Those search terms are great, aren’t they? (I didn’t include the rude ones though…) I think a lot of those hits are because of my interview with Mr Fahrenheit 😉

  9. Great to see an overview of everything you have done in these few years and how your blog has changed. Had to laugh when reading the search terms, they probably were very disappointed indeed when finding your blog! 😉

    As for your question, this is hard! I have read quite a lot of great posts! Suggesting what to blog about is hard as well, for I think your choices are fine, but then again when you are likeminded there is no argument there.
    So I choose to go for ‘the best post’. {{And not because I am mentioned in it, but}} I find the post about “To blog or not to blog” one of your best (next to the ones about street art, musea, holiday trips, it is so hard to choose 🙂 ).

    My reason to choose this one is that it is written out of your heart, you share a lot of fears and thoughts that are actually quite common, but that is something you only find out, however scary this may be, once you share. It touches multiple subjects that are (in my opinion) very important nowadays, like MSM, fake news, depression, self consciousness and the importance we give to stats/clicks.

    Anyhow, I always read your posts with enthousiasm, and I am looking forward to them every Sunday. Often I quickly read them and come back to them to give a reaction or comment when I can really sit down for it (very much necessary with those long posts of mine, haha!!). I like your monthly overviews for since you do this, I look back at my own activities in that month and often I have done more than I thought. I always enjoy your holiday posts, the expositions or exhibitons you visit, it really enriches my life, but this you already know!

    Keep it up, I for one am very glad I found your blog and I hope you will continue it for many years to come!
    Lots of love, xx Esther

    1. Hello dear Esther, once again thank you so much for your sweet and supportive feedback!

      Yes, ‘To Blog or Not to Blog’ is one of my favourite posts as well and I’ve noticed that readers really appreciate these more personal articles. However, I try to find a balance between these very personal articles and more informative ones as my blog is mostly about other topics and I don’t want it to be about me primarily. But I do agree that these personal articles are more appealing to read and write and that’s why I started my Dutch-language series which is more about me and the world around me.

      As for my monthly review: I’m so pleased you like this series! I tried to do quarterly reviews a few years ago, but that was just too exhausting 😀 It’s quite nice now to look back at the month and see what I’ve been up to. As you say, it always feels like not much happens within one month but it isn’t until you look back, you realise how many lovely moments you can experience, whether if it’s enjoying a spectacular sunset from your window at home or meeting up with friends you haven’t seen in a while.

      I feel 2019 will be another great blogging year and looking forward it 🙂
      Thank you for your support, it definitely motivates me to keep going! 🙂

      Big hugs xxxxx

  10. I’d love to see more book recommendations! Love all the arts and culture stuff but particularly interested to see what you and others are reading.

    1. Hi Natasha, thanks so much for your suggestion. Good idea too! The thing with me and reading is that I go through cycles. Sometimes I can read one book a week while other times I hardly read anything for months because I find it difficult to concentrate. I also have a less sophisticated way of choosing books: I often just go into the library and choose whatever looks appealing based on the cover and precis. I’ve discovered some unexpected gems this way (but it doesn’t always work this way, haha!). I often think I should read more though so I’m happy you suggested this idea. Thank you! 🙂

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