Annual Report: 2017

Thanks to all the visitors to USWildflowers.com in 2017.

Small Green Woodland Orchid - Platanthera clavellata

Dozens of Small Green Woodland Orchids were blooming in Sullivan’s Swamp at Grayson Highlands State Park

Statistically, USWildflowers.com grew from 560 species at the end of 2015 to 593 at the end of 2017 – 33 new species added in 2017 compared to 27 new species added in 2016.  Part of the impetus for the increased production was a few well-time trips made to middle-Tennessee in mid-May (Couchville Cedar Glade and nearby sites) and mid-July (May Prairie) – 23 new species added to my lifelist and photographed on those trips! Some of those species have made it into the USWildflowers.com database; some are still sitting in my ever-growing “pending species” list.

Each species on this site represents several hours (in some cases MANY hours) of work photographing, researching, writing descriptions, and publishing the photographs and updates to the database. That work is easier at home than while on the road, so almost 8 weeks traveling in the fall (trailer-camping trip out to Boise with a grandson; return trip with my wife) and in December (anniversary trip to Florida with my wife) took “species addition time” away from me. Additionally I continue to pursue my additional hobby of rock climbing (albeit mostly in the gym rather than on real rock,) and in November I spent some time upgrading some code on USWildflowers.com to ameliorate a potential SQL injection vulnerability. Because of these “distractions” no species were added in the 4th quarter of the year. Maybe also I have gotten a bit lazy; perhaps a New Year’s resolution should be to simply get back in the saddle and reestablish the habit of working on these new species…

USWildflowers.com continued its visitor growth in 2017, albeit at a slower rate than in the past.  Page views were up just over 8% above 2016, exceeding 2.1 million pageviews. In 5 months of 2017 there were fewer pageviews than in those corresponding months of 2016, but fortunately most of those (except the peak month of May) were the low-use months of late fall and winter.

While pageviews were up in the single digits, the number of visits increased nearly 16% over 2016. The transition from desktop computers to mobile devices continues. While rummaging through a website is probably not as likely to occur on a phone or tablet as it is when you have a large screen and pointing device like that on a desktop computer, and the page views per visit has continued to decline, to about 2.5 pages per visit (from 2.7 in 2016.) This is a bit higher rate of decline than the prior year, so I don’t know if the decline is due to continued move to mobile devices, or if perhaps more of the visitors are familiar with the website and no longer spend time just poking around (pure speculation here.)

With the changed focus of my social media from Twitter to Facebook in 2016, the USWildflowers.com Facebook page now has over 700 followers. I also moved from Hootsuite to Contentcal to schedule my Twitter “tweets” – it is much easier to use so my involvement in Twitter continues to be less time-consuming. However, since the posts on Facebook are more “persistent” than are Twitter tweets, I continue to wonder if the move to Facebook is partially responsible for the slowing growth in website traffic.

Advertising revenue was a bright spot in 2017, increasing by about 33% over 2016, significantly better than the page-view increase. USWildflowers.com is still a self-sustaining hobby in my retirement, and that revenue is important in helping partially finance some some of the travel to more “exotic” locations for wildflower photography – such as those mid-Tennessee trips which yielded photographs of at 23 new species. It also allows me to set aside money for equipment, such as the inevitable day when my Nikon D7000 will give up the ghost and I need to purchase a new camera body.

As mentioned before, in 2017 I continued my alternate hobby – rock climbing; still mostly in the gym. While I suspect I have peaked in my level – I occasionally complete a 5.11 (33 clean redpoint sends of 5.11s on my record so far) – moving further would require more commitment and pain than I think I’ll be able to muster. However, I do hope to be able to move into more outdoor climbing, and maybe that will allow me to combine the hobbies of climbing and wildflower photography a bit more than now.

Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV) – “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

Goforia (V0) at Rocktown

The author on Goforia (V0) at Rocktown, 3/10/2016

I hope that you and yours will have a happy and rewarding 2017. Thanks for your ongoing use of USWildflowers.com as a resource in your effort to enjoy and identify wildflowers of the United States.

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