I probably shouldn’t be so discontent on this blog’s twelfth anniversary

Twelve years ago today I published my first post here at Down the Road!

Down the Road, v. 1.0

This didn’t start as a photography blog, but it’s surely become one. More accurately, it’s a personal blog that’s mostly about my film-photography hobby, flavored with some of my other arcane interests: old roads, old buildings, and old cars.

I’ve been pleased with how popular my blog has become. Over the last four years, it’s averaged about a quarter million visits a year.

However, in recent years other film-photography blogs have started, grown — and surpassed mine in popularity and notoriety. I admit to feeling envy.

I would love for this blog to become extremely popular, for me to become a well-known figure in the film-photography community, and for my work to generate a healthy side income. I admire EMULSIVE, Casual Photophile, 35mmc, and Kosmo Foto and their founders for accomplishing some or all of these things.

Not only do I envy their success, but I worry that the evolving online world is rendering my blog, and blogs in general, slowly obsolete. I feel uncertain, discontent on this twelfth blogiversary. Yet I persist, as creating this blog, both words and pictures, is a great joy.

Getting lots of pageviews

All-time views as of 2/6/19.

Casual Photophile founder James Tocchio admitted in his year-in-review post on Patreon that his blog got 2 million views last year. Wow! In 12 years my blog has cleared just 1.5 million views.

Casual Photophile has earned its pageviews through a combination of hard work, good luck, and deliberately and relentlessly targeting an audience.

Targeting an audience involves deciding exactly who you are writing for and publishing articles that appeal to them. If I were to do that here, I would figure out what gear the broad film-photography audience is interested in, buy it, try it, and write about it. I’d work hard to report film and camera news in realtime, to be a trusted source of valuable information.

That doesn’t sound too bad until you realize that all blogs that do that wind up writing about Leica other luxury gear, because that’s where the money is. Unfortunately, high-end gear doesn’t light my fire. I don’t care to ever own any. I’d rather shoot an old box or an obscure rangefinder. I don’t want to give that up in the name of growing my audience.

Frankly, I’m not willing to give up writing about all of the things that interest me. I want to just be fully myself here, in all my quirky glory. But this eclectic mix of topics fragments the audience. If you come here for film-camera reviews, for example, you probably don’t enjoy my histories of old highway alignments. On any random day, a new visitor to this blog will struggle to know exactly what it is about.

Generating side income

But to get two million visits a year! I fantasize that would make me happier. I’m not sure it’s true, but it’s a nice fantasy. That many visits would dramatically increase advertising income, though. Octuple it, probably.

I can afford the costs associated with the blog and with my photography. But deep down, I feel like what I do has value in the world. If I can find ways of capitalizing on that value, I want to do it. Ways that are reasonably simple for me, and minimally annoying for you, anyway.

It’s why you see ads at the end of every post. They generated $299.25 for me last year. That pays for my jimgrey.net domain, Flickr Pro, and the WordPress.com Premium package each year with a little left over, which paid for some film and processing. It’d be very nice to find ways to cover all of my film and processing so this hobby supports itself.

I’ve considered soliciting patronage through Patreon. But to do Patreon well is a lot of work that would reduce the time I can spend creating this blog. Besides, I don’t want it to feel like I’m constantly rattling my donation cup at you. I think it grates pretty quickly.

I’ve considered shifting off WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress so I can use more lucrative advertising networks. But that would be a big project, and then I’d have to do my own site maintenance. It’s so nice to just trust the fine people at WordPress.com to keep this thing running well.

I have other fundraising ideas. I’ve published two books of my photographs, in part to put my work into your hands and in part to help fund my photography. The books didn’t sell well, though, I think in part because they cost too much. I need to figure out how to publish at lower cost. I’m also considering learning basic camera repair so I can keep reviewing gear here, but sell the cameras I won’t keep at modest profits. I’ve had good luck selling cameras through my blog.

Hobby vs. business

Some of the best-known film-photography blogs (and their associated businesses) are making a run at being at least a side hustle and maybe even a primary means of supporting their founders. You can see it in how hard they work to promote themselves on social media, create communities around their brands, and/or create a product or service and have a storefront.

I don’t want this to be a full-time job. I have a fulfilling career and don’t want to step away from it. But if I did want it, I’d have to lean a lot harder into promoting my blog.

I like making photographs and writing far more than I like promotion.

Living room
My father built my coffee table, as well as that high chair, which served my sons.

I feel like my father. When he was about my age he had been building and selling bespoke wood furniture on the side for several years. The extra money was nice but not life changing. He loved building his skill and knowledge in joinery, and enjoyed the respect and admiration he gathered from the wealthy people who could afford his furniture.

Demand increased enough that he quit his job to do it full time. But he didn’t realize how much promotion and sales he’d have to do to grow his business enough to pay the bills. He just wanted to build furniture and hoped word of mouth would carry him. It didn’t. After a few frighteningly lean years he went back to a regular job.

I feel a pull, similar to what my dad must have, to lean harder into this and make it into something bigger. But I’m just like my dad: far more interested in making the thing than selling it. My promotional efforts have been thin at best.

I expect there are no easy ways to promote this blog that will generate big results. Selling anything is real work. However, I am willing to put a little extra effort into it. I’m not sure everyone who would enjoy this blog is reading it, and I’d like to find more interested souls. I’ve spoken with other photo bloggers who have found some promotional success and am trying what they suggest.

Beyond that, I commit to keeping this blog a hobby, to enjoying the process of making it, and enjoying the response I get from you.

The changing online media landscape

Because we’re in the post-blog era, however, it’s a lot of work to build a blog audience, no matter how intentional you are about it. If you’re looking to reach a big audience and don’t already have a blog that reaches one, I advise you write for an existing popular blog, or start a podcast or a vlog.

Have Camera, Will Shoot
Me, working on this blog

Fortunately, I got into blogging while it was still young and readers like you found me. It’s a darned good thing: I am a writer and a photographer. I want to do these things. Blogging is the medium that best supports what I do.

But I’m watching carefully for signs that this blog’s day in the sun is passing, and that blogs in general are dying. If readership were to slow to a trickle, much of the joy would be gone and I’d stop doing it.

I worry a little that I’m like the radio actor who couldn’t or wouldn’t shift to television, and found himself irrelevant in a new age. If I want to retain an audience for my work, I must remain open to trying new ways of reaching it.

I could probably do a podcast. I’ve considered starting one, of interviews with other film photographers. Guests could join me on Skype and I could just record our conversation. I was a radio disk jockey in my 20s; I’m sure it would take me no time to be comfortable behind a mic again.

But video? That’s work. When I worked in radio I could control the entire station by myself through my four-hour airshift. Meanwhile, the TV station down the street needed a crew of 10 to put on a thirty-minute newscast. The effort multiplies similarly from podcasting to vlogging. It scares me off.

Fortunately, this blog is still in its salad days, and I can publish it in the time I have available. Therefore I continue to make photographs, write stories, and share them here. It remains a rich reward that you like what I do enough to keep coming back. Thank you! Every time I post, I hope to see your name among the comments.

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60 responses to “I probably shouldn’t be so discontent on this blog’s twelfth anniversary”

  1. Greg Clawson Avatar
    Greg Clawson

    Keep it up Jim, Your blog is the only one I read on a daily basis!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m delighted and honored!

  2. nostaligicitalian Avatar

    Congrats on 12 years! I’m a radio guy, too. I also started blogging after my divorce. I used to blog on My Space (I will pause while you chuckle) and stopped because the ex told me nobody cared about what I post! I have been blogging for a little over a year – writing on things that I want to write about and things I want to remember. I enjoy it. I enjoy your blog too….someday, I hope to see the amount of visitors your blog gets. Take care and keep up the good work!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m happy I don’t know what my ex thinks about my blogging.

      I should update and republish my post about how I built this audience. Persistence and luck, in summary.

      1. nostaligicitalian Avatar

        I would love to read that!

  3. brandib1977 Avatar

    Take it for what’s it worth from a new blogger (about 7 months here) – yours is one of the few blogs I look forward to reading every day and I have been lurking here for about six or seven years. I follow a guy who writes about how to make your blog successful. He’s obsessed with stats but repackages basically the same message every day and is sort of a snob about blogs like mine that use photography and words to tell stories about life and the little adventures I take my camera on. He’s all about finding the hook that’s going to bring people in everyday regardless of whether it’s actually worth reading. Gotta get those clicks! Keep doing what you’re doing. It helps people like me and, I think it helps you by providing a creative outlet and the occasional therapy session. Thanks for what you do. :)

    1. Dan James Avatar

      I’m really curious about why you still follow that stats guy? Why not stop and find some more rewarding and interesting blogs? : )

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Ha ha. He’s comic relief! He takes himself so seriously that it almost feels like a parody. And I do follow some absolutely beautiful storytellers like Jim, for example.

        1. Dan James Avatar

          Glad you get some entertainment value! I think some people get so obsessed with the niche thing they paint themselves in a corner and yeh, just say the same thing in every post. I guess that’s fine for a highly targeted business blog, but not the kind of blogs most of us enjoy, and certainly not over a sustained period.

          1. brandib1977 Avatar

            He does have a smooth writing style and was interesting for the first week or so. After that it became stale and dull. I don’t read every post but just pop in when I need a giggle from his utter arrogance and lack of creativity. That sounds mean spirited – I’m not really a bad person but he’s sort of asking for it! Lol.

            1. Dan James Avatar

              Joking aside I think sometimes anti-role models are just as helpful, or more so, than role models. In other words, people we come across and think “I definitely don’t want to be like that” help us better find what we do what to be like.

              1. brandib1977 Avatar

                You speak the truth, my friend. We can learn so much from the people we don’t want to be.

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      I feel honored that you’ve stuck with me so long! I often wonder what causes people to lurk and not comment, but then I love leaving comments on blogs so maybe that’s just me!

      Clicks really are nice. They feel validating and they drive ad revenue. But I wouldn’t trade comments like yours for clicks.

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Clicks are great but they don’t reflect how a reader feels about your work. It just means they took a look. As for the lurking….. I’ll have to think about it but I suppose I do it out of laziness.

        You know, I have enjoyed watching your blog evolve and look forward to seeing what you have to share every day. That’s why I’m still reading! And I know it’s disappointing to not grow more but quality is always more important than quantity.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          To be sure, the community of commenters that has formed here is richly rewarding to me. Even people who delurk only very occasionally make me very happy. I’m gratified to know that my blog is must reading for some.

  4. Dan James Avatar

    Jim, maybe my head is in the sand, but I think you’re worrying too much about the supposed decline of blogs. I think they’re more valuable than ever, and give a depth of writing and space for contemplation and then conversation that doesn’t happen on the relentless fleeting and superficial social media platforms.

    You know me, I don’t really do any social media, love the comments sections of blogs, and get disappointed to “only” get “likes” on my own.

    Two of the big blogs you mentioned I used to read religiously. I rarely read either now. One, because despite the great writing and in depth tech posts, it was always filled with links to buy the kit either on eBay or in their own shop. I started to doubt the impartiality and usefulness of their reviews when they seemed predominantly focused on selling the reader the particular camera/lens they were reviewing. If you’re a car salesman and currently you have a surplus of Fords, of course you’re going to try to big them up to sell them. Next month you might have no Fords but three VWs, so you’ll be raving about those being the best brand – the Fords all but forgotten. And so on.

    The other has become so full of “guest” posts of greatly varying quality (but crucially most are much lower quality in terms of the writing and the photographs than the author’s occasional own posts) that I got bored of reading uninspiring poorly written posts, then at the end being asked to support the blog.

    A third you mention I have left (and seen others leave) fairly comprehensive comments only to see no response from the author. Which I personally just find rude. If you write posts and have comments enabled, I feel you owe your readers the courtesy of responding when they take time to share their thoughts.

    Your blog I still read at least 90% or more of the posts, and often comment. In my eyes that makes your blog a far bigger blogging “success” than any of those others.

    I know you’ve done this, and have explained and “thought out loud” above, but I think any of us who blog need to sit down now and then and think long and hard about why we’re doing it, and if it’s still meeting those aims, or if and how the goals have evolved. Without comparing ourselves to others, or taking on someone else’s goals.

    I fully expect you to still be here with a dedicated audience in another 12 years.


    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You might be right, perhaps I do worry about the decline of blogs too much. I know you’ve been at it for a long time, too, and have watched the era end where a blogger could support him/herself with a popular blog. It’s very difficult to build a blog audience today, unless you’re willing to make a real job out of promoting it. I get away with lighter promotion because I have been at it so long and have slowly built momentum.

      I don’t have a beef with someone who wants to make a serious side or primary business and have their blog be a part of it. I don’t get as hung up on whether the reviews are independent, unless they start sounding like marketing puffery and oh by the way please buy one from us. The blog you’re talking about has avoided that in my book.

      It is a pet peeve of mine when I leave comments on a blog and they go unanswered. I don’t know that I expect every comment I write to be answered, especially if I’m just leaving a kind word (e.g., “lovely photo, great detail”). But at least answer some of them. I tend not to return to blogs where my comments keep going unanswered.

      I probably spent ten or twelve hours writing and rewriting this post over a six-week period because I used it to explore my thoughts and feelings about my blog. I came to the conclusion in the end, if it wasn’t clear, that I’ll live with my feelings of envy and keep doing what I’m doing.

      1. Dan James Avatar

        But what is it exactly you’re envious of Jim?

        I know for both of us engagement and conversation is important, more so than raw eyeballs seeing the pages. A quick look at CP, which you mention as a blog you’re envious of with those millions of views, shows that the last five posts had 14, 14, 7, 7, and 11 comments respectively. This is including any replies the author(s) made, and averages out to just under 11 per post.

        This is in similar territory to me (and on average a bit less) in number of comments – I had 348 over 21 posts in January which averages 16 per post. These are numbers I know your blog regularly exceeds. So who’s leading who in terms of reader engagement?

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          There’s something in me that wants to be very well known for something. Something positive, I must be swift to add. I always feel envy when others surpass me in notoriety — especially when I’ve been at it longer. But I also know that I’m going to get more day to day satisfaction interacting with commenters like you than I ever would being famous.

  5. J P Avatar

    Comments? Happy to oblige. I understand where you are coming from. Personally, I am envious of the stats you get and am coming to terms with the idea that a blog as eclectic as yours but without something as concretely popular as film photography will never get there. And that’s OK.

    I read here every day and it is a rare day that is not made at least a little better because of it. I must not be alone.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      JP, bear in mind that I’ve been at this TWELVE YEARS and that for the first eight my stats sucked. I wrote several posts that attracted lots of Google searches and my stats soared. I think there’s lots of room for well-written personal blogs.

  6. jon campo Avatar
    jon campo

    Hi Jim. Has it been that long? I think I have only been a follower for 10 years, but yours is one of only a few I read regularly. I used to read the blogs you mentioned but stopped a while ago. You have to be proud of your large online presence, just last night I googled Fomapan 200, and several of you pictures came up right away. I do love your blog, it’s sincere, human, and I happen to be interested in most of the same things you are, so that probably helps. Its been a lot of fun to watch you grow as a photographer over the years. By the way, I have some of the expensive cameras you mention, but everybody and their cousin writes about those,Congrats, and keep up the good work.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve just switched from Google to DuckDuckGo. I always assumed that when I searched Google from my account that it was prioritizing my own work in search results. It’s nice to know that perhaps that’s not so.

      I’m happy to have you in the audience, and thank you for being here for 10 years! Wow, this blog has changed a lot since then — and I really have become a better photographer. It’s been fun getting better behind the viewfinder.

  7. Ward Fogelsanger Avatar
    Ward Fogelsanger

    Congratulations. You already know I’m a “roadie” and having grown up near Terre Haute in Clark County Illinois I enjoy all the places you have explored in the area.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      A trip out that way is in order. It’s been four years! Thanks Ward for hanging in there with me.

  8. Nancy Stewart Avatar
    Nancy Stewart

    I guess the most heartfelt thing I can say is that I would truly miss your blog. Yours is the only one that I check out every day. You have recommended some that I enjoy … but not on the daily basis that I do yours. You have reminded me of things and times from the past. You have shown me little known places and old roads that I would like to visit someday. And though I know squat about photography and cameras, I sure do enjoy the photos that you take and the adventures that you share with us.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Nancy, what a lovely thing to say! I love putting this blog out every day. I’m not sure how I came to all of this but here I am and I don’t intend to stop.

  9. Don Milne - Roadtrip62 Avatar

    “I like making photographs and writing far more than I like promotion.”
    Jim, you have hit the nail on the head for my own blogging experience. My blog has far fewer readers than yours yet still I carry on for similar reasons. Mine too was supposed to make money but does not even pay for itself. But it’s become about the joy of doing the research and writing, and enjoying the comments from the readers. Thank you for carrying on.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Don! You’ve been at this at least as long as I have, haven’t you?

      1. Don Milne - Roadtrip62 Avatar

        Not quite, but since early 2011.

  10. Lisa Marie Stevens Avatar

    Nice post Jim. You hit on al the checkmarks that swirl around my photoblogging grey matter (no pun). Well said all of it. There are just simply too many hats for one person to do this effectively without having moments of anxiety or running out of steam eventually. Not that it can’t be done but like anything in life there is risk. Give up the paying gig like your Dad to devote more time (at a risk). Or, plug along part time and work furiously to get traffic to your site or social media accounts. And when do you make the work? I feel your pain. And, I applaud those who are doing it.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I feel really fortunate that I started my blog when I did, before Facebook and Twitter were the juggernauts they are now. I built audience organically and that got Google’s attention and that’s how I have the pageviews I have today. But attracting regular readers — that’s been almost a one-at-a-time job.

  11. P Avatar


    It is my opinion that written materials — whether in the form of a blog, a book, or anything else — are in almost all cases vastly superior to other formats. Audio and video may be on the rise among content creators, and it may indeed be the way to generate more site traffic, but I personally still derive way more from written works than I do from listening to or watching other people talk, even if the verbal discussion has legitimate value (a rarity).

    I believe it’s difficult to argue against the idea that if a person sits down and spends a couple of hours reading about a topic, and thinking about it for themselves, that they will have gained infinitely more from that process than if they had spent the same amount of time listening to or watching others talk about the same topic. I think it’s safe to say that there is inherently more substance and value in anything that’s written down. After all, people are still reading books from a hundred (or several thousand) years ago, but how often does anyone seek out an “ancient” radio or television broadcast? In my view the superiority of written materials applies across the board: technical or non-technical, fact-based or opinion pieces, personal experience or general commentary, serious or lighthearted, fiction or non-fiction, etc. It doesn’t matter what the topic or content is, when a person reads something I feel they’re gaining a lot more from it. And conversely, when a person takes the time to write something down that’s on their mind, they also benefit greatly. That has definitely been true for me, in both cases. Reading tends to make people think for themselves, whereas other mediums don’t based on my observations. In fact, I think they do just the opposite. And that’s not good, as there is way too much garbage floating around out there today, in every format imaginable, and way too many people who are consuming it wholesale.

    That being said, I’m by no means against podcasts or vlogs, assuming they actually have value. I keep track of a few of them myself, and if you ever started a podcast I’d definitely tune in. But all too many are just a genuine waste of people’s time. And maybe that’s why some people like them, I really don’t know. Basically all TV is the same thing (a time waster) and we all know how popular it is. In today’s world it seems most would rather spend their time being entertained by mindless and worthless content than thinking and learning about things of actual value. Likewise, it appears they’d also rather live their lives vicariously through social media platforms (not reality) versus actually building and developing meaningful (and real) relationships/friendships with others. It’s rather scary what has happened since the dawn of the internet, to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, the internet can certainly be a useful tool, but most of what it’s used for today is just a waste of everybody’s time and energy. This actually applies to technology in general. Thankfully, people such as yourself exist and produce content of value amidst the vast sea of garbage.

    So please don’t feel at all discouraged. Even if your blog hasn’t taken off the way some others have or the way you wish it had, you still have a healthy number of followers. And I’d venture to say that there is a lot more value in what you do versus some (most) of the rest of what’s out there. Your followers are undoubtedly appreciative. Keep doing what you’re doing. Plus, while there is a renewed interest in old cameras and film photography, there are still not nearly enough people who appreciate the history of old roads, old buildings, and old cars, or at least people who write about them. Thanks for taking time to write everything you have over the past twelve years. I hope to continue to read your writings for many more years to come.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Why thank you, P. I agree, written words are best for comprehension. And depth. But that doesn’t mean that podcast or vlog popularity won’t have blogs taking it on the chin. Other commenters say I’m overworried about that. I hope they’re right! Because I intend to persist as a blogger.

      1. P Avatar

        Regardless of what the future brings, I agree with other commenters who think there will always be a place for well-written blogs, or well-written material in general for that matter. Reading books fell out of popularity with the introduction and mass adoption of television. And yet, plenty of people still choose to read physical books (thankfully). Analogously, now that broadband internet speeds are such that streaming audio and video in real-time is no longer an issue (remember not that many years ago when it would take hours, or even days, for a low-resolution audio file or video to load?), perhaps the majority of people will choose those formats. But I have no doubt that plenty of people will continue to read and support written blogs as well. So I’m glad you intend to persist as a blogger!

    2. Dan James Avatar

      P, what a thoughtful, insightful and encouraging comment. Love what you say about reading and writing – they are such fundamental forms of human communication and expression that they won’t ever be replaced. Blogs allow both freely, not like most of the more fleeting picture based social media. I can’t see a time where blogs won’t still be popular in some form, just as people are still reading books written decades, hundreds, even thousands of years ago…

      1. P Avatar


        Thanks for your kind comment with regards to mine. Reading and writing are indeed fundamental, and they remain unsurpassed in terms of their ability to educate or entertain.

        Picture-based social media is indeed fleeting, and has very little, if any, real value. Just look at how many social media platforms have come and gone over the past fifteen years, and how many collective billions (or more) of hours of people’s lives have been wasted on them. It’s mind-boggling. When was the last time somebody was looking for information on a topic and found it on somebody’s Xanga site? Does anyone even remember Xanga?

        Blogs on the other hand, as well as civilized internet forums from yesteryear, are still brimming with invaluable information. The sad fact that authors of many of these older blogs and forum posts have since passed away, but yet their knowledge and experiences live on, is a true testament to the power of things in writing. I can only hope that these blogs and forums will either continue to be maintained, or at the very least will be archived for future generations to benefit from them.

        It is my sincere hope that people such as yourself and Jim will keep on writing and sharing their knowledge as well as personal experiences with others, even if the overall scene migrates away from text-based content and towards flashy audio-visual content. Because as I’ve already stated, I gain much, much more from a well-written blog/article/post/comment than I do from watching/listening to “talking heads.”

        So to everyone out there spending the time to share your personal experiences and knowledge in a written format — keep it up! It has lasting value and does not go unappreciated.

        You guys take care.

        1. Dan James Avatar

          P, I wonder if it’s partly because blogs are simply an extension of, or a different platform for, something we’ve been doing for hundreds of years – reading, writing, sharing, conversing… I don’t really give the technology behind them a second thought.

          Whereas with other social media platforms there seems to be more of a need to be abreast with the technology, and the vocabulary – emoticons, likes, DMs, Retweets, Shares, Hashtags, etc etc.

          As a reader, with a blog you just need to know how to read, and click in a box to write your reply.

          It’s almost invisible technology overlaid on what we already know how to do.

          I think other factors favour blogs – the simple fact that they are neatly archived chronologically, as one page per post. It’s not unlike having a collection of magazines on a subject, or a series of novels, and keeping them in order on your bookshelf.

          My stats for January showed virtually all of my most viewed posts were not written that month, further evidence that blogs are an ongoing archive that people enjoy dipping back into. They’re much greater than just the latest post, whereas much social media seems to be just about the latest post and everything before that is gone and forgotten…

          As I’ve said before, I can’t see how blogs aren’t going to be around in some form for decades to come, and those of us writing them continue to grow our body of work with each new post we publish.

  12. albanynewssentinel Avatar

    Happy Belated 12th Anniversary! Keep up the good work! Thanks!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you very much!

  13. Hamish Gill Avatar

    Do what makes you happy – which is of course the most cliched thing anyone can say, but it’s all the more important when it’s connected to something so personal!
    I’ve aspired to have a popular blog since a few months after I launched it and it started gaining traction.
    I run three businesses by day – all of which I am trying to build.
    I won’t bore you with the details, but stuff that happened in my childhood has made me this way. I like chasing things that give me a sense of being good at something. I find it very difficult to quantify success, as I think most people do, but I know that it’s something I chase.
    Things like page views do give validation, but there’s no end to it. I’m always after the next big number. By that measure, I may never reach the point of success as there is always another website out there with bigger numbers, which if I think to hard about just makes me feel like I’ll never be truly successful…
    But, when I reflect on what I’ve achieved outside of the numbers I do feel successful, and the massive majority of that sense of success is based on the connections and friendships I’ve made.
    In short, I won’t stop chasing the numbers, my brain and the slightly broken person I am will see to that. But the real happiness I find in what I do comes from talking to other photographers…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Hamish, thank you for stopping by and offering your thoughts. I have my own broken reasons for wanting to be Big Man of Film Photography. I want to be Big Man of Something, Anything, Really, and it’s exhausting.

      I am working hard to just be happy with what I’ve built here — an interesting, engaged, and vibrant community of readers.

      1. Hamish Gill Avatar

        It’s an odd feeling isn’t it – mine comes from essentially repeatedly being told I wouldn’t amount to anything. There is a little more to it than that, but I think thats the root of it. The odd thing is, I like the idea of being a “big man” of something, but at the same time, I don’t really like the idea of being well known. Theres a fight between what I guess is my natural nature, and the “nurture” (or lack thereof) that I received as a child.
        Anyway, you’re in the little chat group now, so you know where to go if you need any feedback on specific thoughts about how to promote the site. I am always happy to field direct questions too, so just shout if there is anything I can do to help to feed your inner megalomaniac ;)

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I’m sorry that was your childhood reality. We internalize so deeply the messages we receive, whether communicated directly or indirectly. I probably got some level of “who do you think you are” from my dad all the time growing up because all I’ve wanted since childhood is to prove I’m somebody.

          It’s great fun being on the chat and thank you so much for your offer to advise!

          1. Hamish Gill Avatar

            Yeah, similar deal, though my step mum was the antagonist in my childhood story. That said, though I had a lot of anger toward her in my late teens/very early 20’s there came a point when I refocused that shite and let it be the motivator we are talking about. I don’t really even have bad feelings toward her now. It’s hard to be angry at someone for helping – all be it in a negative way – form the person I now am. So yeah, I wouldn’t change it now – I wouldn’t thank her, she doesn’t deserve that, but I’m very comfortable with it all. If that makes sense?!
            And no need for the thanks, it’s a pleasure – it goes back to my original point about making contact and getting to know others online. It is a genuine pleasure! And besides, you’ve go twice the experience as I have, so I really don’t think it’s a one way street when it comes to sharing wisdom in the group

        2. Don Milne - Roadtrip62 Avatar

          I have a similar internal fight between wanting to be a well-read writer and not wanting any fame from it. I had the same fight in another business I once owned. It often feels strange (like I should go for broke) and it definitely colors one’s decisions.

          1. Hamish Gill Avatar

            HI Don, I guess a part of this for all of us is likely societal influence to. We are pretty much programmed to aspire to something for ourselves from a young age…

  14. […] I regularly read, Jim Grey’s wonderful “Down the Road” site is the oldest, and in preparation of his site’s 12th anniversary, Jim takes a look back at how far the site has come, but also attempts to internally resolve a dilemma he has for the direction he wishes the site to […]

  15. DavidDavid Avatar

    I have to admit, that when I see you’ve made a comment on a post on any of the blogs that you mentioned( that I also follow), it’s somehow validates that post in my mind. So you’re doing something right

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Lol, it’s the Jim Grey Seal of Approval! :-)

  16. Peggy Avatar

    I am always happy to see you on my feed. Whether a blog or a photo. I don’t always have time to comment, but I am part of your stats. I hope you are around for another 12 years or more. I find your posts thoughtful and the reviews true. I have often looked for cameras you have mentioned. The fact you analyse stuff means you care and that keeps you striving forward. Thank you.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      :-) You don’t have to comment — I’m just happy you’re here!

  17. Ric Bell Avatar
    Ric Bell

    Hi, I enjoy your blogs. Some more than others. I read all the camera reviews, the others not always. I find the photos fine but they are definitely places and things I will never see in person and can’t relate to them. The stories are a different matter, I like and can relate to family and inherent struggles. I’ll keep reading and you keep blogging, lol! Thanks!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m especially please you like my family stories. Thanks for being along for the ride!

  18. Olli Thomson Avatar

    Congratulations on twelve years of blogging. That is a truly impressive achievement. And congratulations on your numbers – in an era of short attention spans and the endless search for something new generating that amount of consistent interest is also an impressive achievement. I would hate to see you stop or slow down just because your numbers of readers fell away. I personally aspire to the day when my blog might reach the dizzy heights of a mere ‘trickle’ of readers! Keep going.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This blog has given me several things without which I’d be the poorer. The ability to practice writing. The ability to have people read and appreciate it. The building of a loose community of sorts — I’m mighty introverted and spend a lot of time alone, yet I do need some social interaction, and hearing from you all frequently fills that need.

      Without this blog I feel sure I never would have found photography as a hobby, would never have built the skill I have. What a joy photography has been!

      Keep at your blog for 12 years and you, too, might build an audience the size of mine. Seriously, persistence pays in blogging. That and frequent posting.

      1. Olli Thomson Avatar

        Though luck also plays an important part. My first ever blog was called Our Man in Tirana and I started it when I Iived in Albania, keeping it going through the two years I was there.At first I had the usual 20 friends and family readers then one day I had 250 readers. It took a while to figure it out but it turned out that one post of a photo of a sign outside a fishmongers shop had been seen by a guy who ran an Albanian expat forum called Peshku pa Uje i.e. Fish out of Water. He reposted my picture on that forum and for the rest of my time in Albania I had between 250 and 350 visitors per day.

        In fact, even though I haven’t posted anything there for twelve years it still gets around 1000 page views every month with occasional spikes like March 2017 when for some reason it got 7,500 page views. This was all down to luck – though there was also persistence on my part since I did post every other day.

        Of course, having a relatively successful first blog has meant that all the others have felt like disappointments! Maybe I just need to go back to Albania.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          You’re right, you can’t overlook luck. I think the secret to blogging success is actually persistence, having something interesting to say or show, and luck. I wouldn’t have the success I’ve had without a few moments of solid luck.

  19. Sean Avatar

    Cheers, Jim. Just wanted to note that if common sense or other factors dictate that you stop doing this, you’d be missed. In the past 7-8 years I’ve missed nary a post, and I’ve enjoyed your books.

    I’m here for the film shots and old gear reviews, but I’ll tell you that your real strength is in how you craft a story. Case in point – I have no interest in obscure Midwest highways, yet I read every post.

    What I really want to convey is how much I appreciate your openness as a blogger. To share very personal things has to be incredibly difficult, but your posts about your father were particularly poignant for me. I dealt with the loss of my father around the same time and, while our relationships with our fathers may have been different, and while you’d think the last thing I wanted to read about at the time was another guy talking about losing his dad, reading what you wrote, and seeing things through another perspective, really helped me deal with a situation I wasn’t prepared for (who is?). Thank you.

    Book that next trip to Ireland! It will be a few years til I get back for a 4th time, so I’m ready to live vicariously through you and your shots again. :)

    Thanks, Jim.


    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m very grateful to you for writing, Sean. It’s incredibly satisfying to know people like what I do, all/most of it, and that it sometimes speaks into their lives. I do put myself out there, in part because it’s cheaper than therapy, but also because I figure what I deal with is fairly universal and will reach others.

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