Eight years on WordPress.com

82 comments on Eight years on WordPress.com
3 minutes

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.

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.


82 responses to “Eight years on WordPress.com”

  1. jon Avatar

    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!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m glad you’re along for the ride! Thanks for leaving a comment today.

  2. conspicari Avatar

    Hello Jim, I subscribe to your blog, always find something interesting for me.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m glad you subscribe! Thanks for commenting today.

  3. Dick davis Avatar
    Dick davis

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m glad Down the Road is part of your day. Thanks so much for reading and for commenting today.

  4. josephdecker0 Avatar

    I’m a sub. i look at your emails sometimes more than the actual posts. I’ve an interest in old film bodies and we’ve a mutual friend in http://www.dehk.wordpress.com so i’m always down to see what’s happening in IN, its close enough to Chicago to be home. ;)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Ah yes, Dehk, a friend of the blog. Thanks for reading and for commenting today!

  5. bwc1976 Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I often wonder how people find the old camera stuff. Must be Google. Glad you’re a reader and thanks for commenting today.

  6. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Christopher, I always appreciate your support! I’ll keep this going as long as it’s fun, and it will be fun as long as people like you read and comment.

  7. Lone Primate Avatar

    Congratulations, Jim. You’ve really created a baby. As if there were any doubt. :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      And it demands to be fed, my friend.

  8. Mike Bauman Avatar
    Mike Bauman


    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.


    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s a mighty ambitious goal, to drive every Indiana highway! And here’s hoping that by now you’ve recovered from the bills from Rose-Hulman.

  9. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

    Happy Anniversary, Jim! I’ll admit I came for the camera reviews, but I stayed for the depth of your insight and your gift for writing. Thanks for supporting my own blog! :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Joe, I’m glad you stuck around. Thanks for commenting today!

  10. Mike Allard Avatar
    Mike Allard

    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!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Mike, I’m glad we reconnected on FB and that you’re following my blog. Thanks for commenting today!

  11. Robyn Weber Avatar

    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!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Robyn, it’s so good to be reconnected to you after Rabbit Hill. Thanks for reading and commenting today!

  12. Bob Burt Avatar
    Bob Burt

    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

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Bob, thanks for being along for the ride. One of these days my kids won’t want my old cameras either.

  13. Michael Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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.

  14. traveller858 Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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.

  15. dmswriter Avatar

    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!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for being a longtime reader. I always enjoy your comments.

  16. Dani Avatar

    You’re tops on Feedly, my friend.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Glad you’re still reading!

  17. Rush Rox Avatar
    Rush Rox

    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.


    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’d like a moratorium on not-so-pleasant events, please. Thanks for reading! And I’m glad what I write seems to speak so plainly to you.

  18. Keith M Avatar
    Keith M

    Hi, Jim–

    I don’t subscribe, but your blog is listed in my bookmarks, and I read it every day. I enjoy it tremendously.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for reading, Keith, and for commenting today.

  19. Wes C Avatar
    Wes C

    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!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Wes, I’m glad to know a search brought you here. Thanks for commenting today!

  20. triumphrat Avatar

    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!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for representing Poland on Down the Road! I’m glad to know I influenced you to pick up film photography.

  21. nick Avatar

    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,

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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.

  22. pesoto74 Avatar

    Congratulations on eight years.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Ted! I’m grateful for your readership.

  23. Rachel Leshaw Avatar

    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!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for commenting! And I’m glad you stumbled upon my blog.

  24. Justin Eisfeller Avatar
    Justin Eisfeller

    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…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Justin, I’m glad to know you look forward to my almost-daily updates! Thanks for commenting today.

      1. Justin Eisfeller Avatar
        Justin Eisfeller

        I also collect film cameras and gear, so I enjoy the pictures and reviews.

  25. Todd Warnken Avatar
    Todd Warnken

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Todd, thanks for checking in on my blog from time to time. Too bad that the state line marker is leaning over. Hopefully it can be permanently righted.

  26. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    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

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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.

  27. Nancy ( Roe ) Stewart Avatar
    Nancy ( Roe ) Stewart

    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

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you Nancy! I’m delighted that you follow my little blog.

  28. J. M. Brewer Avatar

    Well done Jim!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you!

  29. letschatabit Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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!

  30. dehk Avatar

    Happy Anniversary

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Derek!

  31. Norbert Reher Avatar

    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!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Norbert, I’m glad to know that a Web search brought you here! Thanks for reading, and for commenting.

  32. Richard Scholl Avatar
    Richard Scholl

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Ah yes, I remember the discussion about 46th and Dandy. I’m glad you’ve stuck around!

  33. hmunro Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you Heather — I’m happy to have you as a reader, even in lurk mode!

      1. hmunro Avatar

        “Lurk mode”? Hahaaa. I like that, Jim. It pretty much describes my default state. :)

  34. hmunro Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      What an outstanding compliment to pay me! Thank you!

  35. davidvanilla Avatar

    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!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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.

  36. Tammy Avatar

    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!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Tammy, I’m glad you feel my excitement over old things. I do find them exciting! Thanks for commenting.

  37. DennyG Avatar

    Congratulations on the milestone. I subscribe through RSS/Feedly (which I don’t believe shows up in many statistics). Scan all, read most.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Denny! Glad you’re along for the ride.

  38. Steve Miller Avatar
    Steve Miller

    FWIW, I probably found your blog through posts about driving the Dandy Trail, or US 40. Not a subscriber, but a regular visitor.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for reading, Steve, and for commenting.

  39. Scott from Maine Avatar

    I “met” you through Curbside Classic. I come by your blog every month or two or three. I like (in ascending order) your life musings, photography and road trip posts. Thanks for all you share here.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Scott, thanks for coming over from CC!

  40. Kaitlin Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Kaitlin! I did write a tips post a few years ago; here it is: http://blog.jimgrey.net/2011/07/25/six-ways-to-build-blog-readership/

      But the top two things I’ve learned: keep writing fresh content, and persist.

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