Through the magic of networked computers you will find your people

Back in Feburary on this blog’s 12th anniversary, I wrung my hands here over feeling dissatisfied that this blog hasn’t been more popular.

tl;dr: I like to think that I’m doing this for my pleasure, and for the pleasure of people like you. But during this blog’s life I’ve watched other film-photography blogs launch, greatly surpass mine in pageviews, and become darlings of the film-photography community. It bugs me. A lot. I’m more competitive than I like to admit.

When I was a kid my dad took up golf. He liked it, he said, because no matter who he shot with he always felt like he was competing primarily with himself. Could he better his last game today?

I want to be happy for the other film-photo bloggers in their achievements, but keep improving my own game because I enjoy it.

It’s also important that I understand what game I’m playing and measure the right things about it. Pageviews are not the right measure. They’re a little depressing this year anyway, as at the current rate I’ll end up with about 25,000 fewer pageviews than last year.

Search just isn’t driving as many views my way as in 2015-2018. Posts of mine that used to be a top-five search result aren’t anymore, because competing posts on more popular blogs have knocked them down. This post about the Kodak Pony 135 camera, for example, used to be ranked third at Google. Now it’s not even on the first page of results. It has been pushed aside by an avalanche of Kodak Pony 135 reviews that didn’t used to exist.

Here’s a measure that shows what’s really happening at Down the Road: comments. If you keep commenting at the rate you have been this year, this blog will gather about 1,100 more comments than last year.

About half of those comments are mine, as it’s my pleasure to respond to nearly every comment. I’m realizing it’s why I blog: to find and cultivate the community of people who share these interests.

When I was a kid with boxes full of old cameras, I had nobody to talk to about it. I would have been thrilled for just one friend who shared this interest even a little. As I rode my bike to yard sales all over town hunting for camera treasure, I would have loved to have had a companion.

I’d like to send a message to that young man: hang on, through the magic of networked computers you will find your people.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!


28 responses to “Through the magic of networked computers you will find your people”

  1. J P Avatar

    I have occasionally lamented that I do not have a popular niche to blog about the way photography has been for you. But then as you say it should not be all about page views.

    The flip side is that I turn up fairly high in some Google searches for obscure things like French burnt peanuts candy (for which the worldwide community is pretty much non-existent).

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You write a great blog. Your niche really is jazz. You could go all jazz all the time and I’d be in heaven.

      1. J P Avatar

        Awww, thank you.

  2. Dan James Avatar

    Love this post Jim, especially the title.

    I completely agree, for me also, any “goals” I have for my blog are about the interaction and community, not raw page views or visits.

    I’ve read a similar theory about online communities on more than one occasion, that suggest that for every 100 people in the community (ie readers) perhaps only about 10 comment regularly, another 10 comment occasionally, and the other 80% simply read and never comment. I can’t remember the exact stats but the point was that the vast majority are silent readers, sometimes called “lurkers”.

    So even if we have hundreds of readers, it always feels like the same relatively small handful of people who support the blog with their comments and give so much extra value.

    And this proportion stays pretty consistent, regardless of the size of the readership.

    I think you said before that your most read posts (which are usually camera reviews) do attract more visits, but don’t necessarily translate into the kind of readers who will comment and add value to the community. They just read the review then leave again.

    So to have as many comments as you do I think is an excellent achievement, long may it last.

    1. Joe Gigli Avatar

      Hi Jim, It’s your blog I read first every morning. You have a consistent schedule with knowledgeable content. A job well done.
      Thank you for the time and research effort you put into every post. I have been around cameras since the day I was born 53+years ago, and you are always spot on.
      Joe Gigli

      1. Jim Grey Avatar

        Joe, I’m thrilled to have you in the audience — thank you!

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      This was one of those posts where the title came to me after I wrote the post.

      I agree, getting the volume of comments I do is an achievement. One built slowly!

      It’s great to find people who share my arcane interests.

      1. Dan James Avatar

        That’s where the good old long tail theory comes in! You have to be consistent over time, you can’t just try blogging for a couple of months, not get much interaction then abandon it.

        Everyone’s into “arcane interests”, and the internet lets us find people like us. Fellow weirdos!

  3. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    I always send people to your blog that like driving around and exploring defunct roads, small towns, and other oddities. You can’t imagine how many people, including myself, love that stuff; and your entries are always fascinating…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I do my best Andy, thank you!

  4. Rhianne Avatar

    My blogs ten years old this year and I often wonder why I keep at it (if a bit inconsistently at the mo…) but ultimately it is all about the connections like you say and being able to share what I love doing. I stopped checking my blog stats a few years ago, mainly because I think I really peaked in 2011 haha – the blog crowd was different then though, none of the people I chatted to have blogs anymore, its all on Instagram or FB.

    I’m glad your comment numbers are reflecting all your hard work though, I’ll stop being a lazy reader and make sure I comment more often :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Congratulations on 10!! Yes, the interaction has moved to IG and FB. It’s too bad.

      Never feel pressured to comment! It’s so hard to keep up with it all.

  5. jon campo Avatar
    jon campo

    Hi Jim, If it makes you feel any better I don’t read any of those other blogs anymore, I cut back to just a handful that I follow, and yours is one of them.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      And I thank you Jon! You’ve been around here for a long time now.

  6. DougD Avatar

    I used to feel disappointed in my Curbside Classic articles, I typically get less than 50 comments and I think my lowest is 10. Then I realized that I’m mostly writing for my own enjoyment, and for about a dozen people that I’ve come to know, so it doesn’t bother me as much.

    Yours is the only photography blog I follow, even if I don’t always understand what you’re talking about :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      CC doesn’t get as much commenting now as just a few years ago. I’m not sure why that is. But it’s too bad. The comments were so much fun just a few years ago.

    2. J P Avatar

      Keep at them Doug, I enjoy them a lot. Even the motorcycle stuff, which I say as one who generally tunes out on motorcycle pieces.

      1. DougD Avatar

        Thanks, you two are part of the dozen I’m writing for. I think maybe CC is getting close to having run it’s course.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          You miiiiight be right about that.

  7. Photo A Day Avatar

    Comments are great. I blog for a place to organize my photos; I want a place I can go to like people used to go to albums. Comments would be awesome and more page views great. But they are not my goal. Collecting and organizing great photos and links to like minded photographers; these are my goals.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      And that’s a great goal!

  8. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Quality is better than quantity.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Here’s hoping my quantity is of quality!

  9. analogphotobug Avatar

    I wish I had tons of followers and endless comments…..But I have to remember that I am really blogging for myself. and I’d rathr offer something meaningful to me rather than popular.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I started my blog for myself, and then people started to read it. When I started writing about film photography it really took off – and I found the community I always wished for.

  10. WIA Avatar

    How cute of you to have such great hopes. I have been blogging for more than 5 years and still have not found my people. Infact I have been born grew old and am at the stage where death is the natural next phase and still never found my people. The lesson I’ve learnt is that there is no my people there is only people and I can inform and teach them about my interest to make them my people.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh, I never had those hopes. But when it started to happen, I was thrilled.

  11. […] via Through the magic of networked computers you will find your people — Down the Road […]

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.