Well, here we are at the end of another year, and our little blog is still going strong. Thank you, dear readers! In 2018, we made the decision to cut back a little on the blogging, or to be more precise, to cut back on the outings but to still try to post something every week. Our social media consultants advised us to use some of our “evergreen content,” which we did by posting short “quick look” posts that revisit some of our earlier adventures dating back all the way to 2015. I thought it was a good strategy, but was a little worried that our viewership stats would suffer if we weren’t generating new content every week.
There’s a reason our social media consultants are thriving in their careers — they were right! As I write this, we’ve had 20,577 views in 2018, which is a 66% increase over 2017! It turns out that feeding, clothing, and sheltering our social media consultants had benefits we didn’t even imagine at the time. Of course, we love our daughters and would have fed, clothed, and sheltered them anyway.
Though we did cut back on our outings, we still managed 23 hikes and one float trip over the course of the year. We visited some of our old favorites for new hikes (the Sipsey Wilderness, Green Mountain Nature Preserve, Lake Guntersville State Park, South Cumberland State Park) and discovered some new (to us) places to hike that will probably get return visits in the future (Natchez Trace, Franklin State Forest, Red Mountain, to name a few). We made only the one float trip, but it was on the Paint Rock River. Our previous Paint Rock River float trip post is our most-viewed post over the life of the blog, so we were really happy when a company started offering rentals and shuttles on this lesser-traveled waterway.
The highlights for the year? It’s an easy call for Ruth — Taylor Hollow State Natural Area, an astounding spring wildflower Nature Conservancy property north of Nashville. For me, it would be the collective hikes we took in Oregon, particularly the little two-mile stretch of the iconic Pacific Crest Trail we covered in the Columbia River Gorge. Here are a few other interesting tidbits from 2018 for Woodlands and Waters.
- Counting this one, we put up 50 posts for the year. It’s the first time we’ve not managed to post something every week, but there were extenuating circumstances — a home internet outage for over a week, and cross-country travel.
- Of those 50 posts, 23 were Quick Looks and 27 were new content. Our goal was to have an even split of recycled and new content, so yay for us!
- We had views from 12 countries in 2018, with 97% of the visitors from the U.S.
- We had 11,680 visitors in 2018, compared to 7,627 in 2017. That’s a 53% increase in the number of visitors year over year.
- Our shortest hike of the year was approximately .25 miles, a short ramble in the Huntsville Botanical Garden. Our longest was approximately 7 miles of walking in Portland, Oregon’s Washington Park and the general area.
- Our total hiking distance for the year was 75 miles. That’s about half of what we did last year, and isn’t a surprise given that we’ve cut back on our trips. Our average hike length was 3.1 miles.
- Our one float trip was about 4 river miles.
- Our adventures took place in four states: Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Oregon.
- We didn’t have any overnight hikes, but stayed in a CCC-built cabin in Tennessee, a lake house in North Carolina, and three AirBnBs in Oregon. OK, we weren’t exactly roughing it!
- We visited three private parks, one county park, one city park, two Land Trust of North Alabama preserves, and one college campus.
- We visited two state natural areas, one Nature Conservancy property, and one state forest.
- We hiked in two Oregon state parks, three Tennessee state parks, one Alabama state park, and two national forests.
- Our most popular new post for 2018 was a post about new trails on the Land Trust’s Green Mountain Preserve, with 306 views to date. Our most popular for the year was our post from 2015 on kayaking the Paint Rock River, with 1,025 views this year alone.
- We had some activity in picking up followers on our various social platforms. We gained 22 new WordPress followers over the year (hello, fellow bloggers!) — about a 25% increase. We ended the year with 115 Facebook followers, about a 15% growth. We’ve also got 73 Twitter followers. Not exactly tearing up the Internet, but not bad for a hyper-local blog.
In looking back on our goals for 2018, we had pretty much one plan — to cut back on our posting of new content, and we nailed that. We hoped to post more or less weekly, with about 50% new content, and we were pretty much on the mark. For 2019, we’d like to keep to the same general plan – post weekly, with new content about half the time. We’ve got one trip planned already for April to an interesting nearby destination, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we throw in a few dayhikes in areas that would require us to make an overnight trip. I’ve retired from my soccer activities, which will free up quite a few Saturdays for hiking (and some lawn maintenance, much to the relief of our long-suffering neighbors). There are news trails finished, planned or in progress on Land Trust properties and we’ll be paying them a visit. We keep a running list of ideas, and it’s exciting to think about getting out there in 2019.
So happy holidays, dear readers, and wish us luck in working off all those holiday mince pies and gingerbread houses. As you can see from the photos above from actual holiday sweets made by in the past two days by Ruth and our multi-talented social media consultants, I’m going to have to put in more than a few miles on the trails.