It’s 20th January 2018 – our blog turns 2 today!! 🎉🎈 This is the perfect time to write a new post after 2 months of hibernation. 2017 was a great year for the blog and most of the learnings we put up on our first blogversary post remain the most important for new travel bloggers. Hence, we’ll focus more on our readership and travel summary and provide new learnings towards the end.
Countries: 13 (11 if the UK is counted as one). We revisited a few countries quite happily.
New: Iceland, Wales, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal
Repeat: Spain, Switzerland, USA, India, England, Scotland, France, Germany
Favorite city: Dusseldorf, Germany (Unblogged) & Lisbon, Portugal (Blogpost)
Dusseldorf was a surprisingly diverse and vibrant city to visit with some excellent food (do not miss Schweine Janes & the Japanese food). It was also home to Europe’s largest fair when we visited which was a ton of fun. Lisbon is world famous for its food and culture (the tile museum is awesome) but what makes it special are the colours.
Apart from buying & eating Gouda cheese in Gouda, the town was very picturesque. And Brienz is undoubtedly one of the prettiest villages on the planet, more than nearby Lauterbrunnen in our opinion.
Additionally, we have our 7 favourite villages in Europe as its own blogpost.
Least favourite place: The Cotswolds, England (Blogpost)
The architecture is definitely pretty to look at but it’s not that unique for the UK and the nature definitely cannot hold a candle to Scotland. Plus the crowds are massive and take off a lot of the small village charm. Great for first time UK visitors short on time. We recommend visiting Luss in Scotland or Grasmere in the Lake District instead for UK residents / repeat visitors.
Favourite natural attraction: All of Iceland’s South Coast (Blogpost)
Walking on a glacier and sitting on massive jewel-like chunks breaking off onto a black sand beach are unforgettable experiences that Iceland’s South Coast provided. The $350 Ice Cave Express tour with Goecco is expensive and tiring but so worth it.
Best food / drink
- Duck liver & Blanc de blanc in Champagne, France (Champagne region blogpost)
- Pork Knuckle sandwich in Dusseldorf, Germany (Unblogged, shame)
- Pasta & Roman food in Rome, Italy (Rome blogpost)
- Scarlet & tiger prawns in Lisbon, Portugal (Lisbon blogpost)
- Bluefin tuna sashimi in Seattle, USA (Seattle blogpost)
Blog readership summary
With a healthy dose of surprise, we take great pleasure in saying that beyondourhorizons grew 500% year-over-year in terms of views! This is a far cry from the initial days of seeing 0 traffic for many consecutive days. Getting prominence in search (12.1% of our views) is key for a consistent daily stream of traffic. However, Facebook (29.3%) remains the single largest source of our views underscoring the importance of activity on social media.
Social media growth was unfortunately not in line with our traffic growth which is fair enough because our social media feeds aren’t manicured and our posting schedule is erratic. Our FB page went from 429 likes to 1306 across the year and has flattened out ATM because we’ve been posting lesser for some time. Instagram is the hardest to keep any following on. It is imperative to have a social media strategy to ensure long term growth, something we have not been able to give time to (tips appreciated).
Top 3 posts (by views, all Scottish posts)
Scotland pulls in a lot of the traffic to this blog mostly because we’ve put up a ton of documentation but also because it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. We did another week long trip across the country with family and friends in 2017, here’s a couple of pictures.
Lessons learnt (Sometimes about ourselves)
Travel blogging responsibilities are important to us (but so is life): We remain committed to spelling out our travel experiences exactly as they are. We thankfully do not need to “ask for freebies” (ex: the currently viral #bloggergate) as we believe it does introduce some bias in the review itself. Even if we do freebie-based blogging someday, we hope it’s because a business owner approaches us and that we keep posting our thoughts honest on this blog. This, for us, is our travel blogging responsibility.
Separately, we both have taken a step back from creating content for the blog as many “real-life” priorities have cropped up. Blogging is a lot of work and we both can’t commit the hour daily we used to spend on creating new posts. We’ll create new posts as time allows but expect the number of blogposts published this year to be lower (around 20).
A bank of posts help keep traffic steady: WordPress Reader used to be one of our top traffic referrers but obviously posting less reduces that. Thankfully, because we have already published 142 posts, we get many visitors who read multiple pages during a single visit, that too from the same country that they plan to visit (ex: many Scotland posts). So if you are a new travel blogger, do make sure you have 4-5 posts about each country you visit and that they are linked to each other in some way. We write summary posts for a trip that link to each individual detailed post for further reading (ex: our Iceland summary)
Diversify your social options: This year, we created pins as best we could based on past stats and this has led Pinterest to be our largest “minor social media source”. We put in more effort on Instagram and almost no one comes to the blog from IG.
We are insane: There are a few days of travel where we know that our itinerary is simply a bad idea but we go do them anyway. These days are invariably tied to owning time-sensitive public transport passes. They end up being some of the most memorable. We had a couple in 2017, we made a big circle around the Netherlands covering 800 km in a single day using the Holland Travel Ticket (blogpost).
It is hard not to fall in love with certain countries: Some countries are so addictive that you visit them again and again to see more regions or take family and friends along with you to show them places you’ve been to. France and Switzerland are absolutely in that category for us. This is also the reason why we repeated so many countries in 2017.
“Clickbait” works: To clarify, our definition of clickbait is “N things to do in X”. We avoided doing any such post in 2016 but experimented writing a few in 2017 and they do pull in a lot more traffic. So we typically write our summary posts in a “top N” manner.
I need some space: Finally, we currently stand at 82.4% of our free tier usage and reducing our Instagram posting cadence has hurt our space reduction efforts. We’re afraid we might need to start paying (*gasp*) soon just to double our storage to 6 GB. Tips to avoid this appreciated.
Thank you again for spending time with us on this blog and for your continued support. Hope you all have a fantastic 2018. Follow us on Instagram where we regularly put up stories while we travel (even if the blogpost is a few months late).
Favourite photos – 2017
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