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.
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’ 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.
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:
- who’s that girl? (the ‘about me’ page)
- tours – rondleidingen (my Dutch-language tours in London)
- eating & drinking (a selection of my favourite places to eat and drink in London)
The 3 most read blog posts over the last 5 years:
- Richard Ayoade’s ‘The Double’: Film Review and Q&A Excerpts from the BFI Preview Screening
- 10 European Street Art Festivals in 2018 to Put on Your Calendar
- Confessions of a Eurorack Virgin
These search terms led to my website
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.
Looking forward to reading your input! Thank you and good luck!