How is it already the end of 2019?? It’s the end of a DECADE?!?! Today’s December 31, which means it’s my birthday. Yay for New Year’s Eve babies. It’s also an apt time to post this look back at 2019. So grab a glass of something bubbly (yes, even if it’s 8 a.m.) and let’s take a look at Oui In France’s 2019. I’m sharing top performing posts, some stats, and a word on creativity.
Another year in the books… and I’m still here in France blogging away.
When I started Oui In France, I never imagined it would mean this much to me. As silly and sentimental as it may sound, Oui In France has grown to be so much more than just a blog. It’s given me purpose when I’ve felt like I’ve had none. It’s given me an outlet to process my thoughts when I’ve been a little lost or fired up or confused. It’s acted as my guiding light and a reminder to stay the course. It’s home to me and has always felt right.
It’s also opened my world a little and put me in contact with kind, generous readers like you. You’ve let me entertain you, teach you, talk things out, and share my heart. So merci. Merci, mille fois.
The year has had a lot of ups and downs. I think life gets more complicated as you get older and having a support system is so important. Privately, I’ve done a lot of looking back over the past year and as they say, only look back to see how far you’ve come. Yeah, I’ve come far and I’m happy to end 2019 on a positive note.
Ask Tom Tuesdays: How the French celebrate New Year’s Eve >>
A look back at 2019 in numbers
Number of posts published: This one makes 50
Number of YouTube videos published: 13 (subscribe to my channel here)
Hours spent working on the blog: Too many to count. On average, I probably spend 30 hours/week on all things related to Oui In France (email, social media, writing, editing, backend work, etc.). And yes, I have a day job too.
81% of readers are women.
36% of you are in the 24-35 age range.
Most of my readers come from these 5 countries (in this order): USA, France, UK, Canada, Australia.
62% read Oui In France on their phones, only 27% on desktop.
Top mobile device? 70% of you read Oui In France from your iPhone.
Blogger who sent Oui In France the most traffic: Ashley Abroad thanks to this expat feature.
Countries visited: 7, which were the USA, Bosnia, Haiti, Rwanda, Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Jersey, Channel Islands not including France and plane stopovers (and what I learned from a summer of work travel)
June marked 7 years of blogging here at Oui In France.
This holiday season marks 8 years of living abroad in France.
My top blogging pet peeves that make me want to scream >>
My favorite posts
How to support bloggers you love (without spending a cent): Readers don’t always know how to support bloggers and why it’s so incredibly important, so I break it down here.
Mistakes tourists make when booking apartment rentals in Paris: This post just missed my top 10 of 2019 since it was published last month. It’s informative and worth a read if you want some tips on apartment rentals in Paris and France in general.
How I afford sustainable fashion brands: This topic has become increasingly close to my heart and here I’m transparent about how I afford the clothes I buy with some tips for you.
What I learned after my YouTube video went viral: Probably the post closest to my heart and one that spoke to a lot of content creators out there.
When does life in France become regular life?: France is not a 24/7 party full of skipping to the market with your wicker basket. It’s real life after a while.
On creativity and content
So for my fellow content creators, this is for you. I was inspired by a recent video from YouTuber extraordinaire Peter McKinnon. What he said really spoke to me, so here’s an excerpt:
“Create whatever you want… it’s just going to be a myriad of things that are me because this is my channel. This is what I do here. I don’t think you should ever put a limit on your creativity.”
He reminds creators to create content that gets them excited and motivated. Don’t do it for the likes. Don’t do it because you think it’s the type of content you should be creating. Create content that you LOVE to create and do it for yourself. That doesn’t mean create content that only benefits you. Do it to help, inform, entertain, and inspire others but let it come from a genuine place. You cannot sustain a creative endeavor like a blog for years on end if you don’t take his advice to heart.
And I get why Peter made the video. People know you for one thing and then if you do something “off-brand,” they wonder where that seemingly off-topic post came from. Experts say niche down, do this, do that. It can be confusing. I know it’s scary to try something new. I was scared to branch out in terms of subject matter, afraid no one would read my posts or like me anymore.
In fact, after 3 years of blogging, I wrote a post about a shift in focus on Oui In France, informing readers I’d be branching out to more than just France-related topics and was basically looking for approval. It was almost like I was officially giving myself permission to branch out by writing that post and hitting publish. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that I had permission all along. This is my show. I write a personal blog so the constant is me. No approval needed.
While I still stand by that post because I know the why behind it, I always come back to France-related content. That’s what feels right and I’ve embraced the mix of content I put out… with France/living abroad content as my backbone. I was resisting the fact that France content was what came naturally to me (I’m “in it” every day after all), so I learned to stop fighting it along the way and do what readers love and what I’m good at. I throw in other topics close to my heart whenever I feel like it. So that’s what I’ll continue to do.Once you've established yourself, people will stick around because they like you and want to hear what you have to say -- even if it's not 100% about the main focus of your blog. Your content doesn't have to be narrow. It just has to be focused.Click To Tweet
Once you’ve established yourself, people will stick around because they like you and want to hear what you have to say — even if it’s not 100% about the main focus of your blog. Your content doesn’t have to be narrow. It just has to be focused. So remember that. YOU are the main focus. Be yourself. Try new things if you want. Do what makes you happy. It’s the only way forward in the long term.
There is one caveat to this that I should point out. It’s that if you’re a brand new blogger, YouTuber, etc., you need to establish yourself first in one area so your audience can get to know you before you start throwing a mixed bag of content at them. If you’re just starting out and write about parenting one day and then talk about your love of fast cars, then review a cleaning product, then talk about your health problem and favorite eyeshadow, then talk about a marathon you’re running, it can be confusing for readers to know what your point of view is and who you are.
Why should they care? What can you consistently offer them? It can be difficult to build a readership when the reader never knows what to expect.
Here’s what I mean: If someone found you because you did an amazing review of a new makeup product and they want to see more videos like that, but upon looking at your archive thy see all kinds of unrelated topics, they probably won’t subscribe or bookmark your site since 99% of your content doesn’t interest them. Establish yourself in your niche and once you’ve done that, test other types of content with your audience.
Regardless of what you write about, what’s important is that you’re consistent in your voice, personality, and brand. I’m talking about the essence of who you are…. the stuff you can’t fake. Those things will shine through and that’s why people will stick around.
So yeah, to keep the creation spark alive, you have to write about things that light you up. It’s the only way to stay authentic and passionate about whatever you’re creating for years to come.
Why I read your blog and keep coming back >>
My plan for 2020
My plan for 2020 is simple. I want to keep on doing what I’m doing… continue to regularly write content for Oui In France and have fun doing it. When I started my blog in 2012, if you told me I’d still be at it in 2019 and love it even more, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I say this every year and it’s true. It’s not that I thought I’d lose interest, but man, 7+ years is a long time. I love blogging more than ever and am incredibly motivated, so I hope 2020 brings new opportunities and lots more content for my readers.
On the YouTube front, I hope to make a few videos during the first quarter of 2020 — maybe one in Brittany and a return to the Channel Islands — so we’ll see how that goes. A ton of time goes into conceptualizing, filming, and editing a video and when you’re a one-woman show (who also has a job), it’s hard to put out videos consistently. If I have a couple of hours over the weekend, it’s relatively easy to work on a blog post, but there’s so much more that goes into planning a video. I want to make fewer videos of me just talking to the camera and do more of me going out and meeting people, like what I did with my bakery series.
To wrap this section up, I think video is here to stay. Whether it’s video stories, YouTube, whatever, video is hot and will stay that way. Personally speaking, I love when I see people’s faces and hear their voice. Yeah, it’s scary and can make you so self-conscious, but video helps us connect to our audience in a way the written word can’t. Without that connection, what’s the point?
So let’s hope I can figure out a better balance for YouTube in 2020. Although, looking back, 13 videos isn’t too shabby.
Top 10 posts of 2019
Now let’s get into it. Out of the posts I published in 2019, here are the top 10. (#1 being the most-read post). Keep in mind these aren’t my all-time top 10 posts on the entire blog. They’re just the most-read posts published in 2019.
FYI, when I publish a post, I still never know if it’ll do well with my readers, or even Google, ahead of time. I’m happy to say my SEO skills are getting better and my top-read post (as well as #3) were non-France topics that continue to perform well in search engines.
My readers have always loved comparison posts where I take a look at French vs. American culture so it’s no surprise my houses comparison came in at a top spot.
Oui In France's most-read posts of 2019
These are the most-read posts written and published in 2019 on Oui In France in terms of total page views as noted by Google Analytics (#1 being most read).
Peloton bike alternative: A cheaper way to bike at home with a Peloton app subscription
I’m a big fan of doing whatever type of exercise activity gets you moving on a regular basis. I took my first indoor cycling class when I was a freshman in college and have been a die-hard fan ever since. From my New Jersey YMCA, to boutique studios in NYC, to now using the Peloton app while living abroad, I can’t get enough. If you live abroad like me or just don’t want to fork over $2k+ on an exercise bike, there’s a cheaper Peloton alternative that might make more sense for you. You can use the app with a non-Peloton bike and still have a blast.
Let me tell you about it and why I wouldn’t buy the Peloton bike even if I could get it in France. It’s not just about the cost!
Differences between French and American houses
French and American homes look similar enough on the surface. They have front doors, a roof, windows, a kitchen. You know, regular house stuff. But if you look closer and step inside, you’ll notice that not everything about French homes is what you’re used to from back home. There are all kinds of interesting things to discover and that’s part of the fun! Over the years, I’ve pointed out aspects of French homes that are different than the USA but I don’t think I’ve ever compiled them in one place. So to that end, I’m rounding up a bunch of differences between French and American homes.
Rothy's flats reviews, are they worth the price? Plus my Rothy's discount code for $20 off
I’ve made more of an effort in recent years to invest in eco-friendly, sustainable products wherever possible. When I started seeing Rothy’s shoes popping up everywhere online, I took notice. But truth be told, I’m not much of a flats person. I like flat boots, but regular old ballerina flats? Aside from one pair of Tieks and my Toms, they aren’t really my thing. But the fact that Rothy’s flats are made from recycled plastic and come in fun colors piqued my interest. I bought some and I’m giving you my honest thoughts about if they live up to the hype. Here are my two Rothy’s shoe reviews.
France travel tips: 3 Important things tourists often forget
In the 7 years I’ve lived in France, I’ve seen my fair share of bad tourist behavior. Here are the 3 top France travel tips that go a long way… but tourists often forget about them entirely or just aren’t aware.
Everyday USA conveniences you won't find in France
The USA is a huge country, and no matter where you go, you’ll find all types of everyday conveniences that make our lives easier and more efficient. In France, many things we take for granted in the USA are done a little differently. Let’s talk about them.
3 French language basics that don't exist in English
Language learning is a fascinating process, especially at the beginning stages when you know next to nothing about the language you’re studying. You learn so many interesting things, and even today, I am still amazed by the French language — new words, expressions, grammatical nuances, and more. When you start studying French, there are few simple things about the language you need to know. Here are some French language basics that don’t exist in English.
I finally got air conditioning in France
As I type this at 9:56 p.m., it’s 95 F/35 C outside. Temps topped 100 F today and there’s no letting up until Sunday. France is in the middle of a heatwave, or une canicule, and sweet Jesus is it hot. I’ve told you before that winter is my favorite season and summer is my least favorite. I melt in the heat, sweat easily, and just hate being hot or sweating unless I’m working out. During the summer in France, I’ve been hot since 2012. You see, air conditioning in French homes is far from the norm and this year is different. 2019 is the year where I finally bought myself a portable air conditioning unit and it’s the best money I’ve spent all year. Why didn’t I do this 7 years ago???
5 Ways living in France has helped me to embrace a sustainable lifestyle
In recent years, I’ve made a shift to try to live a more sustainable life. I haven’t done anything extraordinary but small actions that take barely any effort add up over time. Here are some things I do to live more sustainably in France.
Haunted photos: Did I really take a picture of a ghost in France?
Do you believe in ghosts? If so, do you think it’s possible to take a picture of one? I personally do believe in ghosts and spiritual beings, but I’d never taken a picture of one… until last month when I was out filming a couple of videos on Loire Valley wine for my YouTube channel and my husband snapped a curious shot… So let’s get to it. Tom and I were in Noizay, France, visiting Cathy and Nigel of Le Tasting Room when Tom decided to have a look around the neighborhood. It’s an area known for its troglodyte formations and things got a little weird. It wasn’t until 10 p.m. that evening when swiping through photos we’d taken that day that I noticed something out of the ordinary. I think we took a picture of a ghost. For real. I’m going to start this story from the beginning and show you the photo. Let me know what you think!
7 Assumptions people have made about me and others who live abroad
Everyone makes assumptions and most of the time they’re harmless even if they are majorly off base. But you know what they say when you assume… Here are some things people have assumed about me over the years after moving abroad and I’m setting the record straight.
So tell me, how are you? Yes, YOU! How was your year? Tell me below! Also, if you’ve never commented before, I’d love to hear from you — especially if you’re a longtime reader. If a particular post spoke to you, would you share it on social media for me or send it to a friend? That would be the best birthday gift. 😉
As always, thank you for your support in 2019 and always. Whether you’ve been reading my blog for 7 days or 7 years, I’m so glad you’re here. Sign up for my mailing list below (no spam, promise!) if you haven’t already. Onward and upward into 2020. Wishing you a wonderful New Year’s celebration and a fantastic start to 2020. See you soon!
P.S. Check out the Helene in Between year-end linkup here.
Niculina McClanahan says
Happy Birthday and a Happy New Year! What has made me a reader of your content is your honesty, your kindness and your analytical skills.I’m grateful to learn more about life in France because you generously share your experiences with us. Looking forward to see what 2020 will bring to us!
Thank you, Niculina. Really. Your kind, thoughtful comments always make my day and people like you remind me why I started blogging. So happy to have you as part of the Oui In France community. All the best in 2020! xx
Judy Arginteanu says
Love this, especially about your experience blogging, YouTubing and creativity in general. I”m going to pass along the advice to my daughter, who has dreams of her own YouTube channel. 🙂
Thanks so much, Judy! Tell her to go for it! A few people have told me that they’ve found my blogging/YouTube insights helpful so I think I’ll take my own advice and write more about the backend side of things in 2020. Even if it only helps a small fraction of my readers, it’s a topic I’m passionate about. So thank you again!
Jo-Anne From Downunder says
Birthday wishes and what a year you have had
Thanks so much! Happy New Year down under!
Long-time Kiwi reader here. I really enjoy your posts, and I especially loved today’s. So well-written, and I felt quite drawn to everything you said. Best wishes for 2020!
Great to hear from you, Alison. Happy New Year to you! So happy you enjoyed this post. Are you a blogger yourself? Would love to check out your site/channel. 😉
I had a blog 10 years ago when I lived in France. Sometimes it’s there if I Google it, and sometimes it’s not. Alison – The French Experience. But no, I do my writing on Facebook these days.