Looking back at four years of blogging

I have looked back in the past, around New Year’s. Those reflections were on which whisky’s were awesome, which weren’t. Of course, there has been attention on music, events, tastings, festivals, and other things that happened during the year.

This time, I’m looking back in a slightly different way. This time, it’s about blogging itself, and what has happened in that respect, and because of the blog.

The start
The first 12 months were a bit of trial and error. At first I dabbled a bit in Dutch, and I still mean to translate these posts. I did a couple of bottle-shares to see what that would bring. Luckily, I was already on Twitter yapping away about whisky and that did a lot for hits, visits, statistics in general.

The bottle-shares worked rather well, except the first one with SMWS whiskies, since I expected to fill two bottles of each whisky (which I didn’t) I ended up with a lot of unexpected whisky (for which I had to pay. A lot).

Even though that happened and I spend a few months’ budget in one go, I continued doing bottle-shares. I eventually stopped for a bit and have picked it up much more slowly since there is a shitload of work, financial management (at which I suck) and trips to the post office involved. I don’t do four to five per year anymore. One, sometimes two. Smaller ones at that, sometimes just one or two special bottles. I like it this way.

Of course, ‘us bloggers’ are supposed to get all kinds of freebies from the industry to give positive reviews. And of course, that happens sometimes. Just keep in mind that for most of us small time bloggers, an occasional sample is all. The professional writers were giving us a lot of flack a while ago for ruining their work and polluting honest reviews because of the free shit we get. We don’t. Not often at least, and most of us never get anything more than a sample.

I’ve never been invited on a paid trip to a distillery. I’ve not gotten any freebies to go to festivals or tastings except when I was volunteering behind a stand or organizing that particular tasting.

I am very grateful for the stuff I do get. There have been some epic samples, not least the ones from Wealth Solutions (to continue the celebratory stuff, the 1948 Glen Grant will be reviewed next). In total, over the four years I’ve been at it, I expect I’ve gotten about 150 samples for reviewing. A lot if you think about it, but when you do some 250 posts a year, you need some fuel to keep the engine going! Anyway, thanks to all who supplied booze!

When I started this blog, I was still getting used to owning a house for grown-ups and the financial ramifications that brings. Then we got our daughter, and now we have a second one on the way. Keeping in mind that we lived really cheaply before we moved to our current residence this tells you two things:

  1. My budget was truly staggering when I started blogging
  2. It has been shrinking every year since

I try to keep my spending in check, but not a day goes by that I am not tempted by some new release that’s coming out. I am also ridiculously bad at thinking ahead. I know when the Feis Ile bottlings are coming out. I know when our club bottling comes out. I know when Maltstock is. I still manage to spend all my budget before I need it, on bottles I don’t want as bad as what comes next.

This is something I’m trying to cope with but I have to admit that with the current state of the whisky world and the high prices asked per bottle, it’s not as hard as it was before. I don’t mind missing some bottles that I would otherwise have ordered without thinking. I taste first on almost all occasions. And something WhiskyNotes’ Ruben once said which rings very true: “The moment has gone”.

My collection
The amount of bottles I own has not changed much in the last four years. It grew massively before, and the first year I was at this shtick it grew considerably. The last couple of years it’s stagnant. What has changed, massively, is the amount of open bottles. About two years ago I had 140 bottles open. Let that sink in for a bit. One hundred and forty. This currently is down to just over 75 and my target for this year is to bring it down to 65. It’ll go down again next year. I hope to end up around 30 in a few years time.

I’ve been shifting focus quite a bit too over the last couple of years. Three years ago I was in a quality over quantity mode. By this I mean I bought less but more expensive bottles. Better whisky, so to say. With the budget cuts this is not really feasibly all the time and as I wrote a little while ago, I like buying bottles too much to save up for months for that special one.

I am now, and have been for a while, in a state of mind where I want to pick the best value for money. That doesn’t mean a bottle cannot exceed a certain amount. That means that I compare a bottle to the price and what else I can do with that money. Based on the reviews I might find the £ 200 for a Feis Ile Lagavulin worth it, but I’m not taking that risk. I like it when I find a good deal like last week’s Benromach 10. I also love that I bought that Mortlach by SMWS, since it’s epic.

The blog has gone from below 30 visitors per day to averaging some 110 currently. It has been significantly higher earlier this year when I was posting a solid 6 times per week, but that wasn’t manageable in my current situation.

I know that compared to other bloggers out there this is peanuts and my daily hits happen on their site every hour, but I guess my style or level is not as appealing as theirs. That’s fine.

What I love is that there is a steady group of readers who checks my wee site every now and then. I love to get feedback on Facebook, Twitter and the occasional comment on the blog itself. There might be some tricks I can pull to increase the numbers, but I don’t feel much for digging into SEO and SEA. I’ll see what happens organically.

Currently, after all is said and done I get somewhere between 40000 and 50000 hits per year. I find that a lot for my inconsistent ramblings. Thanks all!

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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4 Responses to Looking back at four years of blogging

  1. Teun van Wel says:

    Ha Sjoerd

    gefeliciteerd uiteraard met the 4th anniversary. Vroeg me af voor je statistieken: ik lees je blog altijd in de mail. Telt dat ook las een view?

    Teun van Wel +31-644.642.602 teun@maltstock.com

    the relaxed whisky weekend http://www.maltstock.com

    Whiskysamples? http://www.mywhiskysamples.com

    Op 4 aug. 2014, om 22:09 heeft Malt Fascination het volgende geschreven:

    > >

  2. whatever Teun wrote:)

    and more. Congrats on 4 years. keep it up, one of the nicer blogs around.


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