Bloggers seem to be into numbers. Likes, followers, comments, page views, posts, sessions, bounce rates … The list goes on and on and on. When Steve and I started our blog, we couldn’t help but watch the numbers ourselves. Then, last May, we went to TBEX North America, a conference for travel bloggers and we heard a fantastic speaker named Lou Mongello. Lou is a Disney expert, host, speaker, and entrepreneur whose WDW Radio show has been named the Best Travel Podcast nine years in a row!

Two of the best bartenders we’ve ever met, Edgar and Bruno on the Celebrity Eclipse, helped us celebrate a milestone last summer.

Lou said some things that really made sense. He told the audience that “success is measured in levels of happiness.” It’s not really about the numbers. And he is so right. We still track some numbers as a way to gauge our growth. But at the end of the day, the numbers that mean the most to to us are these: How many people were inspired to travel somewhere new? Did someone write out a postcard for the first time in years? Were new perspectives understood? Who changed their views of a place or experience because of something we wrote? Is there greater understanding of the world  today than yesterday?

These are the numbers that we care about. They’re not easy to track or quantify but they represent what matters most to us. So, please keep telling us your stories, sending us your postcards, and sharing your ideas on what you’d like to see on Postcard Jar.

And for those of you who ran to your 8 a.m. stats class with excitement, here are a few breakdowns about how we’ve grown, by the numbers.

Facebook

Facebook is interesting. Just about the time we figure something out with Pages, it changes, so we’re constantly learning and trying to figure things out. Despite all of this, we saw a 74% increase in followers this year. We ended this third year with 1,491 followers, most from our home state of Nebraska. Posts about our travels abroad helped us increase our international followers from 17 countries last year to a whopping 43 countries this year! We now have followers from places like St. Kitts, Tunisia, the UK, and even Romania, Sri Lanka, and Norway. And by the way, you all speak 17 different languages, which is quite impressive.

It’s always nice to get likes, shares, and comments on Facebook, but the number we really look at is engagement. What we love most is when people are engaged with our content (i.e. “like,” “comment,” “share”). We love meeting new people online, hearing your stories, and answering your questions — so thanks for reaching out! You can follow us on Facebook HERE.

Instagram

I’m not ashamed to admit it. I have a crush on Instagram. I love taking photos. I love seeing other people’s photos. And yes, I’m falling madly in love words that weren’t even in my vocabulary five years ago, like Perpetua, Ludwig, and Hudson. We had 216 new Instagram posts this year and saw a 209% increase in followers.

 

I’m not really sure how to track which photos were the most popular, but I can share my favorites: the blue bricks in San Juan, Puerto Rico; the close up of sweet corn from a local farmer last summer; and the small section of a mosaic wall in the gold room at Stockholm City Hall in Stockholm, Sweden. You can follow us on Instagram HERE.

Pinterest

Pinterest has me in a conundrum. I enjoy pinning things from our blog to our Pinterest boards and seeing what others are pinning. However, more times than not, I plan to take “just a few minutes” to do some pinning and suddenly I’m off to the nursery for supplies for a new arrangement in my front porch planters, or I’m scavenging the pantry to see if I have everything I need to make salted caramel brownies. It is just so easy to get distracted!

Nonetheless, we added 11 boards this year and our followers grew by 101%! Some of my favorite boards on our Pinterest page include: Decorating with Travel, Teaching Kids About Travel, and Travel Gifts. You can follow us on Pinterest HERE.

Twitter

Steve manages our Twitter account and we grew our followers by nearly 160% this year. Of course Twitter is a bit difficult to manage when you have a full time job and no access to your feed during the day. Steve is in his 7th year as a middle school principal and sadly, the Twitterverse rolls on without him while he’s supervising the 6th grade lunch room and tending to the rest of his duties at school.  We do try to tweet evenings and weekends and of course, when we’re traveling.

Twitter moves so quickly and we’re trying our best to keep up. We’ve joined some Twittter chats with our midwest travel bloggers and are still finding our way. While our account may not have quite the pizzaz of President Trump’s, we typically have some interesting travel-related tweets and tips that we hope don’t offend anyone. You can follow us on Twitter HERE.

YouTube

We have exactly one YouTube subscriber. But then again, we haven’t done too much with YouTube just yet.

We have posted 19 videos so far, including our mixology class on the Celebrity Eclipse, airplanes landing over Maho Beach in St. Maarten, and our most viewed video of the sounds from the Gonda Building at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota [below].

You can follow us on YouTube HERE.

We’d love to get your feedback about Postcard Jar, as well, so let us know what you’d like to read more about. Did we share something that has inspired you to travel more this year? You can reply in the comments section below. Again, thanks for following along on our journey. You mean the world to us!!

  • What a privilege to be in @visitbentonville this weekend to celebrate the opening of @themomentary and our friend, @addie_roanhorse. Addie’s Osage ribbon work- inspired design is featured on this tower at the Momentary and it is just fabulous! 
This new space opens to the public Feb. 22 and general admission is free, thanks to the generosity of the @waltonfamilyfdn.
  • In @visitmasoncityiowa, you'll find the boyhood home of famous composer Meredith Willson. Perhaps best known for his musical, "The Music Man," Willson based the show in large part on his experiences growing up in his hometown.⁣
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Mason City has kept Willson's memory alive through an extensive museum and convention space, which we got to see on our hosted tour of the town, called The Music Man Square. A part of the experience at Music Man Square is a tour through Willson's childhood home.⁣
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Now is the perfect time to head to Mason City for a visit. Hugh Jackman is set to play Professor Harold Hill in a Broadway revival of, "The Music Man." With that show opening in 2020, all eyes will be back on Mason City.⁣
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@thehughjackman @musicmanbway
  • When the @museumofamericanspeed invited us to come for a complimentary visit, we weren't sure what to expect. ⁣
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Yes, the museum is chock-full of race cars, engines, history, and car-related memorabilia. But it also houses other collections like one of old lunch boxes.⁣
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We had so much fun standing and taking in the lunch boxes, looking and trying to find the ones we had when we were kids. Ann had "Charlie's Angels" and Steve had "Super Friends." ⁣
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If you're ever near Lincoln, Nebraska, check out the Museum of American Speed. It's a true hidden treasure in the midwest. ⁣
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What kind of lunch box did you carry to school? Any kids of the 70s and 80s who had the ones we had?
  • Sometimes you find things in your own backyard.⁣
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Just up the road from our home in Crete, Nebraska, we found the National Museum of Roller Skating. Our curiosity piqued, we stopped in and took a look around. There we found the world's largest collection of historical roller skates, costumes, and memorabilia. ⁣
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It took us back to our childhood and spending time at the roller skating rink (do kids even skate anymore?). We remembered crossing over on the turns for the first time and bending at the knees for "Downtown" by Petula Clark. So many great memories. ⁣
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Sometimes, we focus so much on getting away that we forget that we have some really interesting places close to home, as well. The next time you feel a hankering to go somewhere, maybe try going down the street. You never know what treasure you might find and what memories it evoke.
  • This was our Valentine’s Day dessert last year. Chef Kurtess Mortensen at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile created this memorable dish he called “Fat Elvis.” It was a chocolate bread pudding, served alongside banana brûlée and caramelized peanuts then topped with marshmallow cream, homemade peanut butter ice cream, and a candied bacon garnish. We are giddy with anticipation to see what he comes up with tonight! We are budgeting our calories accordingly. 😉
  • “Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.”
– Lewis Carroll
  • It's been a long winter. I need to see flowers again! Are you with me?Let's talk about these flowers. ⁣
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We are often asked about our favorite place we've ever visited. While that question is hard to answer, we almost always mention Tallinn, Estonia, as a contender.⁣
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Estonia has an interesting history. Conquered in 1227 by Denmark, it never again enjoyed independence until  1920. That freedom was short lived, however, as the Soviet Union occupied the country in 1940. Finally, in 1991, Estonia regained its independence and has remained free ever since. The country joined NATO in 2004. ⁣
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Visiting Estonia, we could see the remnants of Soviet control. Large block buildings dominate the landscape. They are of Soviet Communist design: utilitarian in nature with no thought given to design. They look just like the buildings you've seen in movies about the Soviet Union. ⁣
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Now free, Estonians have done what they can to erase the gray days of Soviet control. The Soviet-style buildings are painted bright colors, and flowers abound in the streets. The people are warm, cheerful, friendly, and welcoming. ⁣
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Yes, Estonia is a wonderful country, and we can't wait to return.
  • Each year from late February to early April, hundreds of thousands of Sandhills Cranes migrate through Nebraska on their way north to their breeding grounds. It's considered one of the greatest spectacles in nature, so thousands of people come to experience this incredible time.⁣
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We traveled to Kearney, Nebraska, one of the best cities for crane viewing, last year. Because the best times to view the cranes is sunrise and sunset, we found ourselves with some free time during the day. It turns out that Kearney has a lot to offer in terms of things to do.⁣
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Scroll across our highlights on Instagram, and you'll find the stories highlights we made during our time there. On our blog (link in bio) you'll also find a post we wrote with ideas for 20 things to do in Kearney while you wait on the cranes. ⁣
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Put crane viewing on your bucket list. It really is one of the most amazing experiences we've ever had in nature. And don't worry about being bored between sunrise and sunset--Kearney has too much to offer.

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