Looking back where we started this year and what we have achieved as of today, December 31st, we have nothing but to be proud of ourselves and if needed, even giving a self-pat on our back. 2009 started with a promise that a new design will be rolled out, and not just any design, but an unique one, that will focus more on the user experience and improved navigation and content format.

After 6 months of planning and usability testing, we rolled out a design that us and many others, believe it was a huge step forward and a road opener for other publications as well, mostly because of the increased reading experience and the large center column that allows us to display higher resolution photos.

While the design was just the icing on the cake, our main focus in 2009 was to offer you a variety of BMW news, covering every angle of the BMW world, from spy photos, test drives, auto shows, videos to funny stories, technical articles, editorials, columns and so much more.

Overall, we published exactly 1,555 articles, an average of 129 posts per month or 4.3 articles/day. We have not missed a single day this year and while the amount of work has been exhausting sometimes, the passion for BMW cars kept us going. All these articles drew around 13,900 comments and that shows how large our community is.

Add to these the tens of millions of pages delivered by us, and you will understand our excitement.

Along with BMWBLOG, two of our other properties have evolved to become the leaders in their market. BimmerToday is visited today by hundreds of thousands of German speaking readers and it has established itself as the main source of BMW news in the german community.

BMWBLOG Romania followed a similar path and it adds even more value to our network.

Another goal in 2009 was to engage more writers and give you different “voices” and opinions, not that mine wasn’t good enough, but it’s nice to hear others as well. Joking aside, I am personally proud of our team and without their efforts and involvement, our goals would have not been achieved. So please join me to thank the team, in no particular order: Andrew, Josh, Benny, Shawn, Joey, Hugo, Stjepan, John, Al, Jim and Jake.

Okay, so all good and dandy so far, and some of you might think that other publications are doing similar things, but here is we stood out this year. We have constantly looked at ways to include you, our community, in our plans and involve you even more with the publication.

Therefore, we launched the “Be A Designer” program, a project that focuses on the redesigning process of some of the popular  BMW models available now. Together with Automarket, we hired an exceptional 3D rendering artist(currently doing an internship at Lamborghini) and we began to render different BMW models, based on your suggestions. The project has been a huge success and we’re proud to say that it has NEVER been done before by any automotive publication. For those of you that wonder, YES, even BMW noticed the project and we received thumbs up for the idea.

Back in April, we were the first one to publish, what we called, the “Billboards War”, an article that created a huge amount of buzz and coverage in all the automotive publications and not only. A week later, New York Times used the same words in one of their articles.

Today, the news industry has changed, providing real-time information and engaging with the audience has become an important goal for every news outlet out there. With Twitter and Facebook growing at a rapid pace, we found different mediums to connect with you. It all began with the Detroit Auto Show where we provided, for the first time, live tweeting and photos uploaded directly to Twitter or Facebook. This way, we were able to give you real-time news without having to head back to the press room and crank up some quick articles. The success has been unmeasurable and today, we have close to 2,000 followers on Twitter (twitter.com/bmwblog), and growing every day.

Twitter has also become a medium of communication for us, a way to connect directly with you, a more personal approach that was beneficial to all of us. We were there to answer questions, offer suggestions or simply chit-chat with you. The result? A closer relationship with our readers and we also made some good friends on there.

Our Facebook fan page followed a similar path, today, hundreds of BMWBLOG fans are with us and receive exclusive news and photos as soon as they go live on the site, even faster sometimes.

Another project that we would like to continue doing is the “BMW Of The Week”, an idea that started earlier this year which allowed BMW fans around the world to submit their BMW photos to our BMWBLOG pool and one of them, would be chosen as the “BMW Of The Week”.

A new innovative, unique feature launched by us was the Twitter integration across our content. Some articles on our website will be associated with content from Twitter, BMW related content of course. Basically, this is a way for you, our readers, to discover more content related to the articles you’re reading, but this new information comes from Twitter, so from other blogs/websites, including competitors. Yes, we have those too and we’re not afraid to send you to their articles as well.

Some may say this is crazy and an online media suicide, but the truth is that we want to guide you to great BMW news and information we might have read across the web and found useful or entertaining.

Some of you might have not realized, but we made an habit of replying to almost all the emails we received, regardless if we knew the answer or not, we wanted to acknowledge you and build that so needed trust between a publication and its readers. If we missed any, we apologize and we will try to do better in 2010.

The list of 2009 achievements could continue, but this article has already gone above what we wanted to be. It’s time to look forward and while 2009 was a great success for us, we have no doubt that 2010 will surprise you even more. Sure, it is hard to top up some of the things we’ve done this year, but believe me when I say this, we will do our best and beyond that.

There are some things already in the pipeline and slowly, we will reveal them.

That’s all for now, thank you once again for just being with us and see you in 2010!