Helene’s Best of 2017 Review and Link Up
You know in school when you had the write the date on the top of your paper? Whenever a new year rolled around you had to keep erasing to write the correct year. I feel like I just got used to writing out “2017” and now it's already 2018. BUT HOW?! Since I've moved abroad time seems to be in some weird kind of warp. I feel like I have been here for 5 minutes and other times it feels more like 5 years. Or maybe I'm just getting old.
One of my favorite things to do each year is reflect on the good and the bad. I hope you'll join me and feel free to link up your post below!
I already reviewed my best blog posts, best books to read, and best photos. This post is going to focus on blog stats, travel, and personal life. I'm also laying out my goals for 2018. So, let's take a look back.
Best of 2017
Travel by the numbers
I visited over 85 cities and traveled to 17 countries in 2017. That's the most traveling I've ever done in my life. I'd say I'm slowing down in 2018 but that's not the truth at all. We already have a month of travel planned within the first 3 months of the year! I was named one of the most traveled bloggers of the year.
Want to see where I went? Sure. Let's list it out because this is a review after all.
I have a LOT of writing to do because I still haven't written posts about more than half of these places. I'll find the time, some day.
Best of Travel
My favorite trip had to be Rome, Florence, and Venice. Michael planned the absolute perfect itinerary (you can see it here) and I felt like we did each city justice, and then some. We ate gelato every day (okay, more like twice a day), basked in the gorgeous history and architecture, and walked more steps than I thought humanly possible.
The most surprising trip was to Romania in the Fall. I spent 19 days traveling through the country and found it to be absolutely gorgeous. I hope to go back again soon to see even more.
We stayed at an Airbnb outside of Munich for Oktoberfest. When we arrived down a dark alleyway the cab wouldn't go forward so we walked the block or so. The host and her husband greeted us with minimal English but very large smiles. After showing us the room (complete with microwave, refrigerator, and hot plate inside the room) they invited us down to our cellar. I was kind of nervous as we kept going down it kept getting darker. But it turned out to be a room they converted into a bar with string lights, a projector TV, and a music area with keyboard and microphone. After they invited us to have a beer with them at midnight the man told us he was a musician. Naturally, he started playing “I'm dreaming of a white Christmas” on the keyboard. Remember, this was September! You just can't make this stuff up.
Traveling to 85 cities means I stayed in LOTS and LOTS of hotels. But I had to pick two because they just blew me away with their level of customer service, location, and overall ease of use. Many times, I find that hotels try too hard to be beautiful, then severely lack in function.
I know exactly what I like in a hotel and those are pretty simple: good location, quiet, friendly staff, good bath products and soaps, a blow dryer, a robe (this may be a little bit odd but hey, I like what I like), and a good breakfast.
Two hotels that totally nailed this were Canal House in Amsterdam (see my review and tips on Amsterdam here) and Golden Key in Prague (see my review and tips on Prague here.)
Canal House had a sophisticated elegance, an incredible view, and some of the friendliest staff I've ever come across. The room was plush purple velvet, serene, and the bed was huge and soft. Also, the shower was like a dream.
Golden Key hotel in Prague was quaint and lovely with just the right amenities. The director of the hotel went above and beyond to tell us more about Prague and had an infectious enthusiasm about this beautiful hotel. I felt like we had our own private apartment with the benefit of a hearty breakfast each morning.
Helene in Between by the numbers
The blog had its best year ever with more pageviews than I've ever had before. I hit over 1,500,000 page views (half a million more than last year, this is how I think I grew my pageviews). I really tried to focus on my content this year and hoping to hit 2 and a half million next year.
I hit a milestone on Instagram: I received over 1 million likes this past year! I definitely upped my game with a new camera and editing my photos. Photography has become a huge part of my blog and something I really enjoy.
This year, my Instagram grew the most it's ever before. I more than doubled my Instagram following and my Instagram really helped me land travel and hotels. (I have a whole post here on how to leverage your worth in order to get sponsored travel). My favorite Instagram posts were definitely some of the above, but I had to pick two not featured. One of me, because I'm a blogger and Instagrammer and that's what we do, and one of my favorite scenery shots.
A little background on this shot: Michael told me about this lake in Austria and said it's known to be one of the clearest. I thought sure, but how clear can a lake really be? Turns out: crystal. It was absolutely stunning. Despite the scenery, Michael and I got into a little tiff right before taking this photo. So when he took this shot I was actually looking away in anger. But I liked the way it turned out! If you look closely you can see I'm definitely not smiling.
One of my favorite photos (and moments) was when my parents came to visit and we headed to the Black Forest. We didn't have much of a plan, just drove around to see the Christmas Markets in Baden-Baden and grab some Black Forest Cake. We made our way up the mountain at sunset and discovered this beauty! We were all in awe we just parked the car and watched it go down.
I have lots of posts on growing your Instagram, check them all out here. And don't forget to follow me on Instagram @heleneinbetween.
Last year I started the group Boost Your Blog on Facebook. Now it's grown to over 30,000 members! I'd like to think it's a bit different from other groups out there since there are only limited rules and opportunities to meet people and share your blog posts. Many posts went “viral” from others who shared and interacted with the community.
Things I didn't grow: I did an abysmal job of growing my own Facebook page. Next year that's going to be a main priority for me.
If you know me, you know I absolutely love Electronic Dance Music. One of the best trips we took this year was to my favorite festivals Tomorrowland in Belgium. We got to see all my favorite DJs in the absolute best setting. My favorite song this year is without a doubt Martin Solveig's “All Stars“. We saw him perform on stage at Tomorrowland and it was one of my best memories this past year.
Ed Sheeran's “Shape of You”
Cash Cash “Matches”
M1, Press Play Remix “Emotions”
Axwell and Ingrosso “More Than You Know”
Highlights From 2017
I wrote a book on Instagram. I wanted to write a book documenting how to beat the often elusive Instagram algorithm and how you can use your own skills and images to grow on Instagram.
My parents came to visit. My mom came in January and both my parents came this past December. We went aroubd Germany, France, Switzerland, to Prague and Vienna.
Millie and Hugo did their fair share of traveling too. They went around Germany , Austria, and to Strasbourg, France. We bought a car this past year which was a big bonus and helped make our life much easier. Living abroad isn't always easy, but this really helped add to our enjoyment and finding hidden gems in Europe. I also wrote about what I've learned about Germans since living in Germany. It's definitely very different than living in America.
This might not sound like news to you, but for me, it was a big deal. I gave up Diet Coke (aka Coca Cola Light in Europe). I've done it once before for six months. Let's see how long it will last this time!
We were on TV! House Hunters International documented a small part of us trying to find a place to live in our home Heidelberg, Germany.
Michael and I got settled into life abroad and explored more around our own city. It crazy to see the number of castles and history just right around us. After living in Heidelberg, Germany for over a year we still think it was the perfect choice.
Goals for 2018
Grow my pageviews to 2,500,000 (that'd be an additional million from this past year) by posting more detailed posts.
Work on my app. I feel like I have a promising app idea that will hopefully help bloggers grow in a major way.
I'd also like to focus on Facebook and really make an effort to see more interaction.
Travel plans are to visit Croatia, Iceland, Portugal, and really anywhere I haven't yet been in Europe. Greece is on the list too!
Now that I gave up diet coke I really want to start working out more regularly and continue to lose weight. I'm hoping to be at my goal weight by December of next year.
To end the year I'm wrapping up my giveaways with a $100 and a chance to win a one on one session with me to grow your blog and Instagram (worth $1500!). Enter below!
Link up your year in review (or any review posts) below!