Life

Eight years on WordPress.com

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.

Down the Road, v. 1.0

Down the Road, v. 1.0

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.

600-visits

A recent day’s stats

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.

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82 thoughts on “Eight years on WordPress.com

  1. jon says:

    Hi Jim,

    I not only read it, every day, but follow and very much enjoy most of the links to other interesting sites. I have most of the same interests, so I usually enjoy whatever you post. I’ve really enjoyed watching you improve a lot as a photographer. You are an inspiration on many levels. Good stuff!
    Regards,
    Jon

    Like

  2. Dick davis says:

    I look forward to seeing Down the Road in my Inbox. I read daily and thoroughly enjoy each post. You have spurred my interest in old cameras and film photography. Thanks for making Down the Road happen.

    Like

  3. bwc1976 says:

    Regular subscriber. Originally found you through the old camera stuff, but saw lots of other things I liked too, you really come across as a great person who I’d love to hang out with if I lived closer or ever visit Indiana.

    Like

  4. Christopher Smith says:

    I read every day and also look at your older post I have not read, we have mutual interest in Old Camera’s and Photography but I enjoy your other posts as well. I don’t always comment as for some post I don’t know what to say that would contribute to the discussion, but I always read and enjoy. So please keep going and I am looking forward to the next 8 years. Thank you Jim.

    Like

  5. Mike Bauman says:

    Jim,

    I have been reading for a couple of years now. I subscribed because of the entries about the Indiana road trips you have taken. Actually, I went back and read all of the old entries from the beginning.
    Over the past 10 years, I have tried to drive on every U.S. highway segment in Indiana that I am aware of. Your blog has helped me immeasurably with that.
    Also, my son went to Rose, graduating in 2007, so I feel we have a connection there.
    Thanks ever so much for all that you do.

    Mike

    Like

  6. Mike Allard says:

    I’ve been reading for the past couple years, since we connected on Facebook. I enjoy your writing style, and I appreciate the glimpses into your life – especially your more personal posts about faith and family. I usually read from email, and I often follow the links to related earlier posts. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Like

  7. Congratulations on your 8th anniversary! A great accomplishment. I am not a camera enthusiast, but I dearly love the “Indiana” stories; posts about your life, your personal growth, God and faith; and, most especially, stories about our shared childhood neighborhood. Keep the posts coming; they are appreciated!

    Like

  8. Bob Burt says:

    As a 76 yr old vintage camera collector that enjoys resurrecting and shooting here on the Monterey Pennisula, I enjoy reading your film/camera stories. I have several Nikon’s, Spotmatic’s, SRT’s, Ziess’s and Exakta’s. I am in the process of selling some of the excess on eBay (bobaburt), as the kids don’t want them! Bob Burt

    Like

  9. Michael says:

    As one of my best friends, I’m sort of obligated to read your blog, right? :) Truth be told, you’re my only friend with a blog that I’m aware of so that makes it easier. However, I will admit that during my busier times I skip over the antique camera posts and some road or historical ones that may not interest me as much personally. I still think you should get to writing a book though. ;)

    I have you on Feedly, but sometimes come across your new posts on FB first.

    Like

    • You’re certainly not obligated, but your patronage is encouraged and welcome! But yes, if all your friends had blogs, this would be burdensome. I expect that some posts won’t interest you; the blog is pretty eclectic. Just hang on, I’ll get around to something interesting to you sooner or later.

      Like

  10. It’s the variety that appeals to me. Never quite sure what’s coming next. I’ve been following you for some time now and look forward to your posts, both old and new.
    Keep them coming I’m sure there’s still plenty in the tank.

    Like

    • I’m glad to hear you like the variety. There was a point a couple years ago where I considered splitting this into five blogs: photo, faith, stories, roads, and software. Glad I didn’t now.

      Like

  11. Hi Jim – I subscribe and stop by regularly. Have to admit, I’m not much of a camera buff, but I still enjoy the beautiful photos you post and look forward to your life stories and faith-based posts. Our daughter is a car fan, so I usually send her links to your posts about old cars. Congrats on sticking with it for as long as you have!

    Like

  12. Rush Rox says:

    I’ve been following your posts daily (or nearly so) for a few years now. I first discovered “Down the Road” through a highway history search I was conducting, the specifics of which are now forgotten. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the accounts of your road trips throughout Indiana and beyond.

    I respect your steadfast, diligent approach to your blog and admire the humility and courage demonstrated when you’ve shared some not-so-pleasant event in your life. I find your writings to be uniquely inspirational and entertaining to the extent that I often catch myself thinking of you as a close personal friend — despite the fact that we’ve not met nor have we spoken to each other.

    Keep up the great work, man.

    Cam

    Like

  13. Wes C says:

    Like many others I found your blog by searching for something related to vintage cameras. But, I really enjoy just about everything you blog about. Thanks and I will be sticking around to see what you have to say Down the Road!

    Like

  14. Hi Jim,

    I’m sub and I read your posts and see pics every day. Thanks to you, I’ve started my adventure with analog cameras. Good job and please don’t give up!

    Greetings from Poland!

    Like

  15. nick says:

    Dear Jim,
    thank you very much for sharing so much insight!
    (I came here following a link for “top reading list” by some fellow blogger of yours.)

    Ever so often I find foto-enthusiast around the world regaining part of their life after divorce, by picking up a contemplative hobby such as photography with analog cameras. The enthusiasm for these old mechanical beauties has helped me getting into contact with my sons again. We even set up a darkroom, and the boys are taking pictures I cannot accomplish anymore due to faltering eysight.
    Sharing your enthusiasm inpired me to do so many things again in life !
    Thank you,
    Nick

    Like

    • Nick, that’s an insightful comment. Yes, photography is a contemplative hobby. So is blogging, at least the way I’m doing it. And I had a lot to contemplate after my divorce.

      Like

  16. I just recently following you, although I can’t remember how I stumbled across your page. It’s very cool that people would find your page when they’re googling something specific. In that way, you’re providing real value and info. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  17. Justin Eisfeller says:

    I read your blog every day and occasionally search for a review. I like the variety and discussion. Your site is one of about a dozen favorites I browse on my tablet while relaxing before/after work. Keep the posts coming…

    Like

  18. Todd Warnken says:

    I don’t follow your blog but stop by on a semi regular basis to see what you are doing. Found your blog from some forums about highways and saw your posts about traveling on Rt 50. By the way that state line marker at the Indiana/Ohio border is leaning over again.

    Like

  19. bodegabayf2 says:

    I discovered your blog while researching old Polaroid cameras. I was fascinated by your photographic adventures. As a result–you were the inspiration for An Undeveloped Roll (my attempt at being digitally relevant).

    You certainly are and I doubt I ever will be.

    Congrats my friend!

    JR Smith
    http://www.bodegabayf2.com

    Like

    • John, thank you. You have been a blessing to me, both in encouragement and in great gear. You were a big part of how and why my work has improved so much over the past year or so.

      And to the extent I’m digitally relevant, it’s due to one thing: perseverance. I just kept writing and taking pictures.

      Like

  20. Nancy ( Roe ) Stewart says:

    Checking in with you is something I do every day Jim. Not a camera buff, but love to look at the beautiful photos that you take. Always enjoy your stories of your road trips and the old roads and bridges and buildings. Also the old cars at the car shows you go to. And of course the memories from Rabbit Hill and Monroe School. Keep up the good work ! Thanks and congratulations

    Like

  21. I don’t post. I’m a die hard lurker.
    I discovered your blog last year while looking for information on an old camera I won on ebay. I then spent the next week reading every blog post on here. As a born and bred Hoosier hailing from tiny Tippecanoe (the town not the county) I fell in love with the information on old roads, bridges, and of course the cameras.
    I don’t subscribe but I hop on a few times a month at least. Sometimes scrolling back through your posts. Coming back from a dog show last year I passed the Sycamore Row you posted about awhile back, it was thrilling to see it in person.
    I love history and to have an individual who happily shares history of an area I’m familiar with… well it’s not hard to stick around.

    Like

    • Wow, that’s determination to read the entire archive! Wow. I don’t know that anybody else has done that. But I’m grateful; the archives do get lonely. I’m glad you enjoy my posts about Indiana. Thank you for commenting!

      Like

  22. I came here because of seeking some tests before buying my baby from 1970th again, the Konica Autoreflex T, but now I’m reading regularly nearly every day. I love your blog, your pictures and your loveof analog cameras: Rangefinder, Instant etc. They are my love, too. Stay on, you are doing a very good work!

    Like

  23. Richard Scholl says:

    Jim,
    I started following your blog when you posted something about Dandy Trail (you may recall I commented about whether the original intersection with 46th Street is now submerged). As an Indianapolis native (transplanted to CA), I especially enjoy your old roads posts & photography of Indianapolis and Indiana. As a long-time film photographer, I occasionally comment when you post questions about developing and printing. I receive and read your posts every day.

    Like

  24. hmunro says:

    Congratulations on your blogiversary, Jim. I was one of the random people who clicked “follow” some four years ago, and I’ve seldom missed a post since. I don’t always comment — but I do always appreciate your wonderful photos and thoughtful writing. And I’m very glad you decided not to split your blog into five topic-driven sub-blogs! It’s been a pleasure to get to know YOU a bit through the variety of your interests.

    Like

  25. hmunro says:

    PS: I should have also mentioned that you’re one of my blogging role-models. I discovered your blog when I was still a newbie and you taught me much about writing consistently, and always from the heart. So … thank you for that.

    Like

  26. Jim, I read your blog each time you post. I don’t always comment, but I do enjoy your work. And even the camera info is entertaining, though I am neither a photographer nor a collector. I enjoy your photographs, the road trips, and your life’s spiritual journey.

    Congratulations on the run; keep it moving forward!

    Like

    • Thanks David! I do try to make the camera posts interesting for non-photographers — primarily, the idea is to skip down to the photos. Glad to have you along for the ride.

      Like

  27. Tammy says:

    I’m a new reader of yours. I enjoy your creativity and your excitement over “old things” like roads and buildings and your eye that catches shadows, colors and pleasing perspectives. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  28. Wow, impressive stats! What have you learned over the years about blogging and increasing readership/community? I’d love to hear your tips.

    Happy anniversary to Down the Road. I always read through Feedly, though today I felt like scrolling and scrolling on your blog. Always a good time.

    Like

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