February 7 is a date I know as well as I know my birthday: it’s the day in 2007 that I created Down the Road and published my first post. Happy blogiversary to me!
I’ve been fortunate, as my blog has become popular. Relatively, anyway. It gets about 500 page views every day. That’s pretty good for a fellow from Indiana who writes about his life and his hobbies.
It took about three years for this blog to begin to find its readership, thanks largely to one of my posts being included in WordPress.com’s old Freshly Pressed feature. Later, Google started ranking some of my film-photography posts high in its search results. Those salad days are over. But a lot of people liked what they found here and have stuck around.
I can’t believe my incredible luck. I love to talk about my hobbies but nobody in my “real life” cares about them like I do. Through the magic of networked computers, I’ve found my people.
And I’ve always been introspective — to a fault. Writing helps me sort my thoughts and feelings, which tangle easily. I’ve found myself much more likely to write when I know someone will read it. I’m not sure I understand this about myself, because some of what I write is private. But every time I share, many readers tell me they’ve had the same or similar challenges. I feel less alone with them. And sometimes someone will share a perspective in a comment that meaningfully helps me through.
Last year, on my 12th blogiversary, I expressed disappointment that my blog wasn’t even more popular. I’ve worked through those feelings and am now simply grateful that this hobby has connected me with so many kind and interesting people who share some of my interests.
Yet I continue to polish this blog and try to extend its reach. I want to attract more people who will find what I do to be interesting. I recently finished updating all 128 of my camera reviews. I’m also quietly refreshing many other old posts that get good search traffic, lightly editing them and enlarging their images. Finally, I’m doing some SEO work on all of my posts — more than 2,600 — that I hope will rank my film-photography and road-trip posts higher on Google. It had better, because the work is ultra tedious.
In my blog’s 14th year I plan to keep reviewing film cameras. About 10 cameras sit in my to-shoot queue, all donations to my collection. I also have a wish list of cameras I’d still like to try I also have a few more cameras to evaluate in Operation Thin the Herd: do they stay or do they go? I’m only keeping cameras that I think I will shoot regularly. I will keep practicing developing black-and-white film until I get consistent results. I will also keep posting my road-trip reports from my old site. Eventually I’ll either shut down my old site or redo it from the ground up with a new purpose.
I also want to self-publish a book of stories and essays from this blog. Many of you tell me that these are your favorite posts here. I’ve been writing them since long before many of you found Down the Road, and I think you might enjoy having them all collected into a volume. I’m thinking about offering a bound paper book and a Kindle book via Amazon Publishing, as well as a PDF I can offer through this site.
I started working on this book while I was unemployed in late 2018, but paused during the heavy challenges my family encountered in 2019. I had hoped to resume work on it late last year so that I could announce its publication today! But that didn’t happen either. I’ve decided not to pressure myself, and instead make it a soft goal to publish it in 2020 sometime. So watch this space for further announcements.