Saturday was this blog’s eighth anniversary. I created Down the Road on impulse that day in 2007, not knowing it would become my favorite hobby. It’s been a wonderful way to connect with people in the world who share my interests.
I played with a bunch of free blogging platforms on the day of Down the Road’s inauspicious launch. I chose WordPress.com because it was the easiest to use, had the best templates, and gave me the best control over post formatting.
No doubt: I made the right choice. WordPress.com has matured nicely over the years, keeping up with changes on the Web and in computing, adding features I’ve enjoyed, and becoming ever more stable and resilient. I make Web-based software for a living — this stuff is hard. The folks at WordPress.com have done a tip-top job. I secretly wish I could work with them.
Down the Road gets about 600 views a day. Search drives probably 90% of those views. Most visitors come to read my old-camera reviews or a few key posts about film photography. That’s the kind of visitor who doesn’t stick around — they got everything they wanted from that one visit. But I’m pleased that Down the Road has become a popular source of old-camera and film-photography information. Most of the cameras I’ve reviewed are at or near the top of Google’s search results.
I’m not entirely sure how many regular readers I have. If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you’ll see that I have (on the day I wrote this) 1,597 followers. But that’s a little WordPress.com tomfoolery. Because this blog automatically shares my posts on my Facebook and Twitter accounts, WordPress counts my 331 Facebook friends and 170 Twitter followers. Very few of them click through. The remaining 1,096 are people who clicked the Follow button on this page at some point. A lot of them had blogs of their own that have since gone defunct; I assume they’re not actually reading my blog. And many followers are spammy, by people who started a blog to promote themselves or some organization they run. They follow me hoping I’ll click through and be dazzled by their awesomeness. Nope.
Still, WordPress.com is good about building community. Their Reader feature makes it easy to find like-minded WordPress.com bloggers just by surfing tags. That’s how I found several other film-photography bloggers that I follow. Also, four times now WordPress.com has featured my blog on its daily Freshly Pressed feature. Each time, readership spiked and several new readers stuck around. Many of my regular readers are WordPress.com bloggers themselves.
I figure the best measure of real readership is how many views each new post gets on its first day, which is between 20 and 50. That’s not bad for a blog about such an odd mishmash of topics: photography, old roads, faith, and life stories. If you read my blog regularly, thank you! I’m grateful for you. Without you, this would be no fun at all. I can’t imagine giving up this blog, as long as you keep reading and commenting.
Do you read Down the Road at least semi-regularly? Do you subscribe, or sometimes click through on Facebook or Twitter, or just drop by occasionally to see what I’m up to? If so, I’d be very happy if you would say so in the comments today — especially if you’ve never commented before. I’d love to know who you are.