It’s now been almost 10 years since I started to help my fellow newcomer move to Germany. Honestly, this is a bit crazy: it’s almost a third of my total lifetime!
This blog started with 0 visitors and 1 post. It grew along with me on my journey as a newcomer in Germany, documenting my struggles and with time, the struggles of others. I edited posts late after my day-time jobs. I replied to your questions in the comments’ section during weekends. I added new posts a few days before my first child was born. I answered questions via email or FB during my holidays. A demanding but rewarding project.
This year, as we are soon reaching the 100th post and 10 000 comments*, something is clear to me. I need to up my game. This is for 3 reasons.
3 reasons to change
1- The need for assistance is still there
The continued success of this blog is a testimony to how much a blog like SiB is still needed. Clear “How-to guides” written in plain English are as desirable as ever, perhaps even more so, as Germany’s stability attracts newcomers from all horizons to its shores. It is proof that while German bureaucracy is efficient most of the time, it is unnecessarily complex and lacks a didactic approach.
The founding mission is still alive. Interacting with you over the years has kept its meaning intact.
2- Safeguarding this audience from lesser alternatives
In the 10 years doing this blog, monetization centered around Expat-friendly services has boomed. There are more & more services catering to non-German speakers. While it definitely has profited me, it also has created a lot of opportunistic platforms and blogs similar to SiB’s approach. Several of them (not all) are prioritizing monetization over honest content.
As I openly state on the blog, I earn money with SiB now too. However, I believe that I have stayed true to my creed. I will always be remembering the newcomer that I was, lost and clueless. I never wanted anyone to take advantage of my lack of context/knowledge for their own profit. Great content makes you less vulnerable to this.
I earn less to keep this promise. Free options are always listed next to paid ones and clearly explained too. The idea is: if you have more time than money, you can probably do it on your own. If you have money to spare and less time, a paid option might be more relevant.
It’s easy to understand why I believe in this. While I might earn less in the short term, it earns me something indefinitely more precious: trust. In the long-run, trust and reputation is what keeps a blog like this running.
3- SiB is not a personal blog anymore
What started as personal blog is now a completely different beast. It’s a reference in its niche, used by thousands everyday. The reality is: SiB has now become a fully-fledged knowledge base. And your user experience should reflect that. To be honest, it has been horrible to navigate the website, browse the resources and look for answers. And look at the old menu: it went passed the screen below the fold on most laptops!
This new look aims at:
- letting you find answers faster.
- improving the reading experience.
- providing a better overview of all available resources.
- making a long-lasting impression.
- loading pages faster.
I need to up my game: what does it mean exactly?
What has happened with SiB is truly remarkable, but it does come with responsibility. If I want to continue to serve you well, I need to pledge to do a little bit more. Here it is:
- Spend as much time updating than publishing new posts. This is an effort at keeping accuracy as high as possible in this ever-changing landscape. I haven’t updated posts as regularly as I would have wished in the past.
- More transparency about the freshness of the content. Publishing and updating dates being clearly displayed on page. Sources will also be labeled better over time.
- Resort to different media than just text if possible. Some people react better to cross-media content. Using a bit more video could be one way. But honestly, video costs so much more time, skills and budget. I don’t know if it’s feasible.
- Make the knowledge base easier to navigate. As I said before, that’s what this new design update is about. An example is this “rally point” post on the homepage, if a visitor doesn’t know where to start. It comes with a new knowledge base page too, for a comprehensive overview.
- Put my face a little more in the front. It’s not so much about flattering my ego (of course it’s MASSIVE). It’s more about standing behind what I do, being responsible for it, with the good sides and the bad sides.
With a bit of luck, work & support, SiB will help newcomers for years to come.
With these words, see you in 2031. 🙂Bastien
Bonus: going down memory lane
Travelling in time to see how SiB’s looks have changed over the years. I’m doing a facepalm over the first version right now…
PS: *Right now: 8864 comments, 92 pages. Not exactly round numbers, but I needed a cool title to this post, allright!?