Today, December 4, I celebrate the first anniversary of my travel blog The Venice Insider. This post is therefore slightly different from the usual articles on my website. It is the perfect moment to reflect on what happened during this year and to look at my future plans.
Overall, it was a very active year. Writing the articles is only a very small part of running a blog. I spend a lot of time reading and trying to keep up to date about what’s going on in Venice, but also about all the technical aspects of maintaining a blog and attracting new readers. I have dedicated more time on The Venice Insider than I imagined before I started, but I really love it.
What have I been up to this first year?
As you can read in my very first post ‘How I started my blog on Venice’, my goal was to ‘provide frequent visitors to Venice with insights, background information and insider tips on events (not only the well-known ones such as Carnevale or the Biennale, but also the more local ones), sestieri (neighborhoods), history, culture and so on’. Looking back, I still believe in my plan to make this blog your new reference guide for future visits and to make you better understand the dynamics of the city, its history and daily life.
Over this one year period, I wrote 31 posts, which is about one every two weeks, on a variety of topics related to Venice. The most popular articles were ‘Top 10 ideas to find the perfect gift in Venice’, ‘12 exhibitions you cannot miss at the Architecture Biennale’ and ‘Castello: Mark these hidden gems on your Venice map’. This perfectly resembles the mix of articles I wrote and plan to do so in the future. I put a lot of effort in the research behind each post, as I want to ensure that frequent travellers learn something new when reading it. This takes time, but I personally think it’s worth it.
The Biennale lasts almost 6 months and is hence an important element for frequent visitors in Venice. It is also an event which I love attending. As a result, I wrote 26 articles on the different national participations. I really cherish the relationships I developed with many of these teams.
Social media takes up a large part of my time. It allows me to develop a close relationship with my followers. Although I am still sometimes surprised by the popularity or unpopularity of a post, I start to better understand the dynamics of what will work and what not. I try to publish approx. 5 times per week on Facebook and Google +, which makes a total of 286 posts in the last year. I (re)tweeted a total of 1,401 tweets, which is 3.8 per day. My ‘Tip of the day’ on Twitter makes me stay up to date on what’s happening in Venice. I hope you find it useful to help you decide what to do that day in Venice. I’m also active on other social media such as Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Steller, but I have to admit these are not up to speed yet.
I haven’t limited my writing to The Venice Insider. So far, I wrote a guest post for Travelitis, an article on the acqua granda for MO.be and an article on Ca’Foscari which is still to be published in a travel magazine on Italy.
I also get lots of questions on Venice. They range from very basic ‘What should I not miss on my visit’ to more complicated ones. Let me share with you two recent questions I received. The first one was from an English woman who had a picture of her father in Venice while he served in the army during World War II. She wanted to locate the building where he was attending a party on the picture. Thanks to my Facebook followers, we identified the location as the second floor of Ca’Giustinian (the headquarters of La Biennale). She was very excited about this and has visited the location a couple of weeks ago. The second example is from an architectural firm. They wanted to understand whether it makes sense to participate to the 2018 Architecture Biennale and if so, how they should go ahead with it. Their analysis is still ongoing, so I cannot tell you yet if they will participate or not.
Finally, I developed a 3D printed sculpture as part of my effort to find Venice related gifts online. The miniature lion is a replica of one of the lions which you can find on the Piazzetta dei Leoncini, on the left side of the San Marco basilica. It is available in a limited edition of 100 pieces, and comes with a certificate.
What was your role in this?
So far, I count a total of more than 14,000 unique visitors on my website. The 350 visits of the first month have in the meantime increased to approx. 2,750 visits per month. There is still a lot of growth potential if you consider the millions of people that visit Venice, so this is only the start. The majority of the visitors come from Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Germany. On social media, I have 1,179 followers on Facebook and 577 on Twitter.
When I started one year ago, I couldn’t imagine how quickly I would develop close digital relationships with people in Venice and from all over the world. With the risk of forgetting someone, here are some of the people who earned a special place in my blog heart, but my gratitude is of course not limited to them. Monica, who knows everything about preparing food in Venice and takes every opportunity to share my posts and tweets and help me out; Jo Ann, who is an incredible source and spider in a huge network of Venetophiles; Francesca, the social media lady of the Venice tourism agency, who guides me to the right contacts and loves my posts; Sofie, Nina and Jempi, fellow Belgian travel bloggers who always take time to answer my blog related questions; Claudia and the press team of La Biennale di Venezia, who support me and distribute my posts within their organization; Dora, a loyal follower who always replies to my newletters with a personal comment; Jef, my husband, my friends and family who continue to support me and don’t complain when they have to read something over and over again; and finally, but not in the least, you, who continues to read my posts with lots of interest and shares it with your friends.
What are my plans for the future?
Of course, I will continue writing articles related to Venice which are targeted to frequent visitors. I still have a long list of interesting topics that I would like to cover, combining events, the Biennale, hidden places in Venice and background information on the history or the daily life in Venice. My inspiration list keeps growing when I read or discover something new, but feel free to send me any ideas you might have. I certainly look forward to start writing about the 2017 Art Biennale. I am already in contact with some of the teams, so you can expect the first article in January.
The website will be changed in the coming weeks, but nothing drastically. I hope to make it a bit easier to navigate between the different topics. Whenever you think of an improvement, feel free to let me know. I will certainly appreciate it a lot.
I will spend more time on drawing personalized travel plans, to make sure that those who book such a VIP program enjoy a perfect trip in Venice. I am also working on a new project, which should guide you to some unexpected locations, exhibitions, bars or restaurants. You can expect more news on this in the coming weeks. If you don’t want to miss it, I suggest you subscribe to the biweekly newsletter.
What changed for me during this year?
Even though I always used to write down interesting addresses in Venice for future reference, this has now become a passion to find the best ideas for you. Visiting Venice is now more planned and structured than it used to be, as I want to make sure I have enough material to write about. The advantage is that I’m better prepared and I get to meet lots of interesting people. Even more than before, Venice feels like my second home.
So, what do you think of the first year of The Venice Insider? If you have any comments or suggestions, I look forward to read them.
Thanks again for your support and for reading my articles!
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